Murder, Mayhem, & Miles

Murder, Mayhem, & Miles - Jolly Jane, The OG Female Serial Killer

October 24, 2022 Christine Hetzel Season 1 Episode 26
Murder, Mayhem, & Miles
Murder, Mayhem, & Miles - Jolly Jane, The OG Female Serial Killer
Show Notes Transcript

Hey, fellow true crime fiend,

This 28-day virtual mileage challenge is the perfect way to get excited about racking up your miles while learning about some infamous crimes along a virtual route!

Don't forget about the AWESOME prizes! And speaking about prizes! Congratulations to the week 2 winner, Jen-Jen C.
Awesome work, Jen-Jen!

We learn about one of the first recorded female serial killers in the United States. Jolly Jane was seen as a wonderful, exuberant caregiver and beloved by many of her patients, but well...not all that glitters is gold. She would often kill her patients by injecting them with morphine, and she received sexual satisfaction in watching them take their final breaths.

Yep, this chick had some issues.  You'll learn about this Angel of Death from Boston in this fun pyramid workout. We will start conservatively and work our way up to an all-out fast effort before descending on the other side. This workout lets you work on speed, stamina, and strength!

Have any questions, reach out to me at

Our 40-minute Pyramid workout (Walking, running, hiking, cycling, or elliptical)

5-min warm-up
5-min Conversation Effort (3-4 RPE)
4-min Sentence Pace (4-5 RPE)
3-min Harder Effort (5-6 RPE)
2-min One-Word Pace (6-7 RPE)
1-min all-out effort (7-10 RPE)
2-min One-Word Pace (6-7 RPE)
3-min Harder Effort (5-6 RPE)
4-min Sentence Pace (4-5 RPE)
5-min Conversation Effort (3-4 RPE)
6-min cool-down

We will be using RPE found here >>

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You can find it here >>

Running Scared and Murder, Mayhem, & Miles merch here>>

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Please consult a physician before starting any new exercise routine.

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Welcome to Running Scared with Coach Christine, I’m Coach Christine a Level 2 RRCA and Run/Walk/Run Certified Coach. If you enjoy are a bit of true crime junkie and enjoy running, then welcome, friend. You have found your corner of the internet. 

Let’s go ahead and get started right into today's workout with a walking warmup.  

You’ll want to make sure that you are walking tall, relaxed, and staying light on your feet. If you are outdoors, please be very mindful of your surroundings and it is always a good idea to make sure someone knows where you are heading. If you are inside on a treadmill, bring the incline on your treadmill to 1% to help minimize the impact on your joints.

This is the 3rd episode of the Murder, Mayhem, and Miles challenge. We are on a virtual journey from Fall River to Salem while learning about true crime events along the way. 

The first episode kicked off this mileage challenge with the infamous Lizzie Borden, In the second episode we were able to meet a serial killer that was considered an Angel of Death, but really there was nothing angelic about her. 

If you want to learn more visit the Facebook group page! 

And stay tuned at the end of today’s workout we will learn the winner of week 2 challenge! The prize is a Murder, Mayhem, & Miles tote. Link to the collection is in the episode notes! 

Okay, friend, this is when we get into the disclaimer. You know we gots to do that. For today’s workout our Mistress of Murder and Mayhem, got her “jollies” off by seeing people die or almost die and well she couldn’t resist waiting for them to die on their own so she would hasten their death by injecting them. She goes onto say her goal was to kill as more people, helpless people, than any other man or woman. Talk about the worst goals I have ever heard. However, this murderess, claimed 12 confirmed victimes, she confessed to 31 and the thought is that she likely had over 100 victims. 

So needless to say, while I tend to keep my cases a bit on the PG side, do know that a case featuring a nurse with a sexual fetish of watching people die is going to likely have a wee bit of not suitable for all audience situations and language. So please take into consideration that this may have triggers since it’s fair to say that the folks that she explored her fetish with were not consenting to it. 

And, for today’s workout, we are going to do a Pyramid-style workout, why? Cause I like it and my goal is to make as many people healthy, happy, and badass as possible. These style workouts do just that. They have you test your speed a bit at the top, and your stamina as you continue to push back on the other side. Testing your mental strength all the way through! 

I use the rate of perceived effort aka RPE to help structure this workout. However, we are going to use the RPE scale True Crime style. 1. We are out for an ez peasy, lemon squeezy stroll and 10 is Bisshhh there is a murderer on the loose heading your way, you better sprint for your life. 

I’ll add the full scale into episode notes. 

We will start with a 5-minute CP block at a 3-4 RPE and shorten the time with each successive block, but we will also bump it up with a 1-minute strong PUSH at near a 8-10 on the RPE scale before working our way back down the pyramid on the other side and with a cool-down..okay let’s get to it. 

Today we meet Jolly Jane, but she was born Honora Kelley on March 31, 1854

Her parents were Irish immigrants and she had an older sister named Delia. And, just like every single classic Disney movie and most true crime cases, Jane and Delia’s mother, Bridget, died. Yep, folks you didnt think I could tie Disney and true crime together, but guess what…i can. 

Okay, back to the story.- Their father’s name was Peter and it appears that while information from that time may not be 100% accurate that he was an alcoholic. And just like Jane earned her own nickname of Jolly Jane, her father was known as "Kelly the Crackpot", Peter was known to be mentally unwell and well back then folks weren’t as kind to those with mental conditions. So the neighbors and his co-workers, all called him Kelly the crackpot. To further reiterate how mentally unwell her father was, well one day as he was working as a tailor, he sowed his eyelids shut. Yep, that definitely makes me cringe friends. 


In 1863, a few years after Jane and Delia’s mother died,

Peter their father was going to be admitted to a mental hospital so before he was he took Jane and her older sister to the Boston Female Asylum which was an orphanage

And, I’m sure it surprises you not at all that the orphanage wasn’t exactly the stuff that dreams are made of. When the kids were dropped at the orphanage, the staff would make notes in their file describing something about them, like the children. In both of the girls file, it was noted that both came from a very bad home. 

However, Jane wasn’t there for long, before a woman by the name of Mrs. Ann Toppan stopped by the orphanage. See she had a really large home with plenty of rooms and space, so she wanted to give back. No, not really, what she wanted was to get someone to come home with her and help her take care of the house without having to pay them. Yep, she thought that an orphan would make a great servant. So that's when Mrs. Ann Toppan decided to take in Jane. However, she wasn’t adopted likely because that would have caused Jane to be named an heir, but they did give her the Toppan surname. So that is how Honorara Kelley became the Jane Toppan that lives on infamy today. 

What happened to Jane’s older sister at this time, I don’t know, but later on she did pass away. 

However, in the new home Jane did have another child to welcome her. Mr and Mrs. Toppan had a biological daughter named Elizabeth, but again in a parallel to Cinderella, Elizabeth was treated with care and love, while Jane was reminded that she was there as a servant. 

Now, I didn’t find anything that spoke of physical or sexual abuse, but suffice to say while those didn’t seem to exist, I think we can all assume that Jane was still not being loved or cared for in a way that was conducive to growing up to be the most confident and well-adjusted woman she could be. 

However, since Elizabeth and Jane were of similar ages, they ended up being good friends, 

Jane knowing her place in the family hierarchy was always polite to Elizabeth, but underneath the polite niceties, there was troublin’ a brewin. 

Now let’s fast forward a little bit and take Jane to her teen years. She was regarded by man in the neighborhood as well-trusted and dependable and really cheerful and good with children, so often Jane was tasked or asked to babysit the neighborhood children. When the Toppans would entertain, they would have their Friends come over for a party at the home, drop the kids off with Jane, she would watch them.

Now one of the reasons why the neighborhood kids loved Jane so much and why she was seen as such a great sitter was because she was considered an incredible storyteller. She weaved great tales of fancy including telling folks that her father was a sailor and that her sister had married a royal. Though clearly we know both of these are far from true, it likely was a coping mechanism for Jane. 

However, her stories started to go from the fanciful fantasies and they started to take quite the turn as she started to develop detailed plots of her classmates and family friends engaging in bad or risky behaviors. 

She even caused fellow students to get in trouble and some were even expelled. So while we look back and see a troubled young woman making up stories and malicious lies as a way to gain attention, back then she was perceived as someone that was good and brave. Which likely didn’t help the situation any and caused her to feel emboldened by her lies and fallacies. 

So we know that she was seen as trusted and dependable young woman and despite all of the lies she told never seemed to be in trouble at school. 

In the late 1880's, from 1885 to 1887, Jane began nursing training at Cambridge Hospital. Jane wasn’t a frail fragile flower, she was sturdy and strong. Which helped her in her chosen nursing career as she was able to help move patients and again, she was seen as dependable and helpful. And her storytelling and extroverted nature made folks think she was the bees knees. Literally they considered her charming and helpful.  She was also tons of fun, she was always able to get folks to feel comfortable and laugh, likely because she was seen as “jolly” herself. Ah-ha..connecting the dots are we…so Honora Kelley became Jane Toppan and now we see that as a young nurse starting out her career, she is nicknamed Jolly Jane. This sure beats out her dad’s nickname of Crackpot Kelly. 

But again, we are here talking about Ms. Jolly Jane in a true crime podcast clearly because well not everything is what it seems. 

It appears that around this time, Jane decided to become a bit of a scientist. Albeit self-trained and not with the finest of intentions. She started to misuse morphine on her patients. She was intrigued by the way it affected her patients, and she would often use her patients as guinea pigs, she would mix medicine to see how the body would react to it.

Jane would inject her patients with morphine and atropine. The mixture could knock her patients completely out. It induced a coma like state, she was careful not to kill them at this time, she just wanted to put them out and make sure they stayed still and well comatosed. And in her quest to continue testing out what would happen to them, she would continue playing around to see, you know, what kind of result she would get when she mixed the two medications together. 

Now a lot of the time she liked it, when the patients would be in like this comatosed state, where they're awake, they know what’s going on,

but they can't move their body. She spent a lot of her time alone with patients, making up fake charts and medicating them to drift in and out of consciousness. Now remember when I first started this I told you that our Mistress of Mayhem had a very peculiar fetish, well this is it my friends…so if this isn’t for you, pop out those airpods for a minute. 

Around this time when she had her patients in this comatosed state she would climb into bed with them and would sexually abuse them. She wasn’t a stupid woman though, so she would only do this with the patients that she knew she had sufficiently medicated and that they wouldn’t recall her sexually abusing them. 

For the most part, Jane would administer the medications through syringe, but sometimes she would mix it into their drinks or food. 

However, as any good scientist would tell you. There is only so much you can experiment with before you have some unsuccessful formulas and failed experiments. So when Jane’s concoctions and dosages didn’t work, the patients would die. However, this seemed to titillate Jane. She became incredibly drawn and sexually attracted to the patients as they took ther final breaths. She would climb back into bed with them and sexually fondle them as they died. We don’t know what she said but, she said some times she would just whisper like soothing things into their ear.

 I know. Gross….I mean not judging however, you want to fly your freak flag, but this is a bit too much right? If a person can’t consent and they wind up dead, I think this is where we can draw the line of it being too damn far. Later she would admit that the death of her patients held a sexual release for her.

Now, before you think…wait how in the world is this possible. How did folks not notice this, well my friends dont’ forget that last week we learned about nearly the same thing happening with the Angel of Death that worked at the VA clinic in the 1980s and 1990s. 

So suffice to say if folks could get away with this in 1980s then back in the 1880's, this was even easier for our Jolly Jane to get away with it. 

As it was very common for a certain percentage of patients to not make it through the night, or not make it through their illness so when Janes patients died, the hospital wouldn’t really question Jane too much, they would ask her what happened, but it was more of a cursory check-in versus a full investigation. 

Again, remember she was seen as beloved, trusted, caring, and dependable. 

So they trusted that she tried her best, that she used her best judgment, and sadly they died, and they didn’t think anything other than that.

It was also very common for nurses to give like an injection of medicine, and watch their patients to make sure that nothing was going wrong.

So when they would see Jane would stay with her patients the hospital officials didn’t see it as out of the ordinary. 

So with this stellar record, Jane was recommended for the prestigious, Massachusetts General Hospital in 1889, and she went to work there, but well there she didn’t give up her latest science meets sexual fantasy experiments. So she claimed numerous more victims before being fired.

But She wasn’t fired because she was caught murdering people; she was fired just because she was not being responsible as far as taking care of her patients and giving them the right amount of drugs,

She returned to Cambridge, but she was fired from there for administrating opiates recklessly.

Also - it’s not quite lost on me, that this is the 1880s and she loses her job at two places, meanwhile our Angel of Death from last week, was never FIRED until the very end when the police came a-knockin’. Oy vey. 

Okay, so back to Jolly Jane, she finds herself fired from two places, so no income and no way to get her jollies off she thinks, huh…what is a girl to do? Wait, I’ll just become my own boss babe! 

"I'm just gonna become like a private nurse.",

I’ll become an in home caregiver that people can hire directly, and not have to go through a hospital.

Which, it worked out for her, because she ended up getting a lot of patients this way. And again, patients and people loved her. 

It was perfect, for her. So becoming an in-home caregiver,

it was a way for her to continue offering her support, without the big guys in charge firing her. She was able to be completely alone with her patients this way as well, like nobody, there's no oversight y'know?

Jane was well sought out in the private sector. She had access to a lot of sick elderly people, that she could take care of, and/or experiment upon, and just take advantage of.

So as often happens when you know that you can get away with murder….literally is that you start to become more emboldened and it could be said even reckless. 

So around 1895, she kills straight out kills an elderly couple that were her landlords. She had also been living with them. So first she had poisoned Israel the husband, and then once he had died, she moved in with Lovely, the now grieving wife. and she lived with her for almost two years, and then she poisoned and killed Lovely. 

After that Jane got a job taking care of an elderly woman, who’s husband had just died, he was her main caretaker. This widows granddaughter just loved Jane, she met her, decided like, Jane is gonna now be the caretaker, "Oh she’s great, she’s so cheery, so positive, I just love her personality!".

She thought Jane would just be great to take care of her grandmother. Sadly though, Jane did not work for her long, as Jane poisoned the poor elderly woman and told the granddaughter it was due to natural causes. Because the grandmother was an elderly woman, it just wasn’t questioned. So Jane was kind of smart about this because she was targeting elderly men and women, who were already sick and being taken care of.

Buttttttt…well Jane decided…man…I’ve gotten really good at this, maybe I should settle in old score. So she decided it was time to pay her dear foster sister a visit. So while Elizabeth had moved on and married…Jane reaches out and says, dearest friend and foster sister…I’d love to connect with you again. How about you come and meet me in Cape Cod for a much-deserved vacation and some respite. 

And, Elizabeth, said,...yeah…the old ball and chain is driving me batty, I could totally get down with a beach vacay just the two of us. 

Does it surprise you that Elizabeth never made it back home? Nope, Jolly Jane went on to confess later that Elizabeth was her only victim that she killed out of sheer malintent. 

And, friend….mal intentions indeed. As she didn’t just kill her off with one fell swoop and syringe full of opiates, nope she drew it out for weeks before Elizabeth finally succumbed to the medication. But again, just before she died, Jolly Jane recounts climbing into bed with her dear foster sister and lovingly holding and caressing her to death. 

For the record folks, while physical touch is my love language, I would kindly ask to never be loved by anyone like Jolly Jane ever. I’ll just give myself a hug and call it a day. Thank you very much. 

Then Jane went on after killer Elizabeth and moved into a home owned by the Davis family, where we repeat the story again. She was beloved due to her diligence and sweet nature. Jane grew the little circle of friends and neighbors again and was once again beloved by the neighborhood children. 

However, during this time Jane had accrued quite a big debt of $500, which today would be equal to $18000. It was money that she had borrowed from the family over time,she said it was for her supplies, or any medications, stuff that was like work related.

While Jane was indeed beloved and trusted this was still quite a bit of money so one day, Mattie Davis comes over to Jane’s room since she was living in their home and she asked Jane to repay some of the money. And she went over, 'cause Jane was like living in the back house.

Jane did what Jane does….she figured out it was likely best to dispose of this little problem since she couldn’t repay Ms. Mattie. So she said, hey, Mattie why don’t you sit for a spell, let me bring you a glass of mineral water. 

Oh….dear baby cheez-itz. You know that there was indeed a special ingredient right? 

So once Mattie drinks her water and passed out, Jane took her to a spare room in the home and shot her up with morphine. 

She would continue to drug her and then let her rest, keeping her going in and out of consciousness, for an entire week. Jane had told the family that Mattie had some kind of illness and was being treated.

But Mattie was so out of it, nobody could even ask her what was wrong, or what happened. Sadly, Mattie died one week later.

Soon after this, Jane stayed on to live with Mr. Davis and the rest of the family since Mattie had died and they needed the extra help. 

So Jane still owing this family money decides to kill them all. 

So Jane ended up starting with the youngest daughter, Genevieve, first, poisoning her by putting it in her drinks, and sadly she died pretty quickly. 

Jane spread a rumor around town saying that Genevieve had been suicidal, and that she had been seen holding arsenic like, glass before returning it to the shelf.

Jane ended up killing her with her traditional overdoses of morphine. So, Jane had this rumor going around that Genevieve killed herself,

people believed it. 

Not even two weeks after Genevieve's death, Jane killed Alden. And then four days after his death, Jane finished off the Davis family

by killing the eldest daughter, Minnie. 

Doctors were confused by these deaths because there were no signs leading up to the death, they couldn’t figure out what had caused them in general, and they couldn’t seem to get any answers as to what killed them.People are thinking but there's no proof that, any kind of foul play is going on. 

However, friends…..the night that Jane had killed or injected Minnie,

Somebody was watching. 

Somebody saw what Jane was up to. Minnie's father-in-law had dropped by the home the day Jane decided to inject Minnie.

He went looking for, you know, for the family, kinda looking around, and Jane is over Minnie's bed about to inject her. So this father-in-law is like peeking through the door.

You know? He's like "What's going on in here?", and he sees that Jane was injecting her with something and then Standing there watching. 

And then this father-in-law found out later that Minnie had died.

And he’s putting the pieces together, like "Oh shit, I saw Jane just kinda standing over her," "inject her with something" "I mean maybe she’s up to it?". 

He didn’t have any proof that Jane had killed Minnie, but he had that gut feeling that something wasn’t right. He is the one that went to doctors and asked more questions.

 He's like "What's up with this whole Davis family?"

"What caused the death?". He's the one pushing. "Can you find some answers? We need answers." "Something's just not right here."

"Has anyone looked into this Jane lady?". And he’s just pushing, pushing, pushing. 

And because of his advocacy and because it's a wealthy family, investigators decide to exhume the bodies of the Davis family.

Jane is like roh-roh….so gets out of dodge a little and heads over to Elizabeth’s house. She decides that maybe it’s time to turn on the charm as he is likely a bit weakened as a bereaved widow. 

His name was Oramel,  and he was working as a church pastor.

And, somehow she convinces a church pastor and bereaved widow that it would be a good idea if she moves in with him, his sister, and their housekeeper to become their live-in nurse. 

She likely though realized that her days as a live-in nurse to a family that was healthy would be weird so she started to covet the housekeeper position as it would prove to be a bit more of a job security thing. So by now, Jane has a full-on Modus Operandi, she goes after what she wants and kills the housekeeper…Yall I seriously can not make this up. It’s too crazy to not be true. 

But anyways, after the housekeeper winds up dead, she says…hey Oramel I can be your housekeeper wink wink. Trading in the sexy nurse costume for a french maid outfit and feather duster. 

But women know better right? So Oramel’s sister began to question Jane, she was like "I'm not getting a good feeling with this Jane girl". 

Ohhhh child…well you can’t get in the way of Ms. Jolly Jane can you…so jane says to the sister…hey girl can’t we just be friends…here let’s have a drink. And what do you know? The sister gets really sick? And she just keeps getting sicker until she dies. 

I don’t know what she wants, Jane thinks this Oramel guy's gonna like solve all her problems, but he's not.

So, everyone is now dead around Oramel, the whole family. Jane is trying to show some interest, get his attention.

And Oramel showed no interest in Jane and he wanted nothing to do with her.

But she didn’t really want to kill herself, she just wanted the attention, because she knew what she was doing.

She then gave herself enough morphine to make herself go unconscious, but she didn’t give herself enough to kill her. 

On October 29th, 1901, Jane was arrested. 

Police initially began to suspect that Jane had used arsenic to kill her patients, but the police couldn’t prove that she purchased arsenic. 

Now they went to court, and when Jane appeared in court, she wore a nurse's uniform to persuade the public.

police finally found the morphine and atropine in the bodies of the Davis daughters. Their bodies were exhumed, and they were actually going to look and see if they could find something in the system. They found it. They got it. So at this time she was going to be charged with just three murders.

But before she could stand trial, Jane needed to be interviewed by a psychiatrist to see if she was "sane".

At first, Jane wouldn’t admit to the murder saying she was "afraid of corpses", so she couldn’t kill anyone, because she had this big fear of corpses. "You have to believe me I'm afraid of dead people."

But this act didn’t last long. Jane ended up confessing after some pushing, and she told the psychiatrist that she had killed only about 12 people, but the doctors believe that she had killed a lot more. Way more than that. Additionally, Jane told the doctors that she had gotten sexual pleasure from the murders; Jane told her defense lawyer a completely different story. Now she told them that she had killed about 31 people, and probably a lot more than that. she went on to describe them and use her fingers to count them off, and that's how they got to 31, 'cause she could remember 31. 

The trial lasted 8 hours, and Jane was found not guilty, by reason of insanity. She was sentenced to life, in Taunton Insane Hospital, and when her verdict was read aloud, it was said that Jane just laughed.

So her confession was published in the paper. The superintendent of the asylum said that she had no remorse for the murders. She was proud of the number of murders she had committed. As time went on inside the hospital was said that Janes's mental well-being declined.

She was seeing people who weren’t there, she would have conversations with people that weren’t there, and she had no idea why she was there in the first place. 

Jane would stay at the Taunton Insane Hospital until the age of 81,

when she died of pneumonia. 

Jane, was considered to be the first female serial killer, and it's believed that she had over 100 victims, because she had worked at so many hospitals, and saw so many patients.

Alright, my friends, great work on this pyramid workout! 

Let’s wrap up with our lessons learned…

Lesson #1 - Just because someone seems likeable and fun, doesn’t mean they don’t have something quite a bit more sinister at their core. 

Lesson #2 - Always buy your own Topo Chico, ain’t no need to drink someone else’s mineral water. 

Thank you again for joining me in this Murder, Mayhem, and Miles challenge! Next week we are finishing up in Salem, but we have a couple of surprises along the way. And congratulations to Jen-Jen our week 2 winner! Awesome work Jen-Jen!

Friends, if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me at and now go get your good recovery in!

Thank you for running scared with Coach Christine.