« Lore

Episode 73: A Sweet Embrace


When our health is failing and our lives are at risk, trust is essential. The people who care for us often find themselves in a position of power, with our well-being entirely under their control. As history has shown us, however, there’s danger in handing that much control over to another person.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
In eighteen, forty one at the age of just seventeen Liddy. Married an older man named Edward and they went to have seven children two decades later, though, her youngest child died of an intestinal illness. A year later, her husband died of consumption less than two months after that three more of children passed away fever and spray Tori Illness were blamed for those over the next two years her last three remaining children would also die of horrible illnesses, and every time it happened, Liddy would be there taking care of them and making them comfortable. A cup of hot chocolate, a glass of cold water, medicine or the pain
She married again the two years after that that new husband passed away The attending physician said it was most likely cholera that did it, but Lydia found the way to move on marrying yet again in eighteen. Seventy two, a man with three children. She had a family once again month, later. Their youngest child died, then the next oldest a year after that, the last child passed away all under the care. Of poor Lydia, so when her husband died next one doktor decided to look a bit deeper past. The simple and bedside manner of the three time widow past the tragedy of so much illness and death, and what he found was horrifying. Were eight years, Lydia Sherman had been slowly killing everyone around her with poison. In fact, her last husband had enough.
Nick in his system to kill three men. It wasn't accident or a product of carelessness. Lydia Sherman, the derby poisoner, this for fun, some historians think the driving force behind it all was a deep desire to care for people to be their anchor through horrible illness in some twisted way. She wanted to help in the. Though she gave new meaning to the phrase killing them with kindness. It's a vulnerable place to be on the edge of death when illness or suffering I warn you down to a thread and you need to be cared for by someone else were at their mercy in some
instances. Our life is literally in their hands. Without a doubt, that's a lot of power power, as some people have taken way too far. I'm Aaron Monkey- and this is lore. when Peter, showed up on the doorstep of the Boston female asylum in February of eighteen sixty three. He was a complete and utter wreck. He was a tailor with fondness for the bottle, but that was a relationship. He had a difficult time controlling
it's hard to fault the guy, though life had certainly thrown a lot of speed bumps his way sometime after their third child was born, Peters wife Brigitte died from tuberculosis leaving him as the sole provider for three daughters. His oldest Nellie would eventually be commit to a state mental institution where she would spend the rest of her life, rumours about Your Kelly swirled around the bustling city of low Massachusetts, causing him All sorts of troubles he was usually described is angry, alcoholic, in more than a little insane earning him, the nickname Kelly the crack, but he hadn't arrive at the Boston female Asylum to get help no beat come to abandon his daughters and took them. This place was essentially a hybrid between a prep school and an orphanage.
Why would arrive young, be taught basic skills and manners and then placed out into local homes as indentured servants who had to work off long contracts? It was a hard life. There's, no doubt about that. The oldest Kelly girl, dahlia too, for years to be placed, but we don't know why. Maybe she was rebellious. Perhaps she protested again the slavery like conditions that awaited her always oh, is that she went on to become a prostitute and eventually after a life of too much drinking, the youngest Nora was placed much fast. In November of eighteen sixty five less than two years after arriving, she found her of moving into a new home. In fact, it was a turned to her home town of law, which must have offered at least a small bit of comfort. In the middle of all of that chaos. the family took her in and gave her a new name. Although there is no
record that she was officially adopted by them. Still from that point forward, she would be Jane, Jane, had a tough climb ahead of her the family had their own daughter, Elizabeth, but from everything I could find. The girls did not get along J was an orphan with no social status. Elizabeth, though, was well off secure her place in life and set to inherit everything urging the sibling dynamics between Cinderella and her step sisters, I think you'll get pretty close. The next twenty years were hard for Jane. Grew up. She learned about running household for Foster their aunt passed away, but rather than five herself free to go and build her life. Her sister Elizabeth took over the household and James contract. She was stuck so watch the country recover from civil war. VON into what historians call the gilded age. It's a fancy terms
an explosion of wealth in America in the late eighteen seventies, but it also hides a dark underbelly. Yes, the rich became mega rich building massive estates in places like Newport Rhode, Island, but the poor spiraled further downward. So when her contract was completed in eighteen, eighty five Jane, moved out and decided to follow her dreams. What she wanted, what she needed was a chance at a better life away to elevate herself above the poverty she seemed destined for. She found her answer at Cambridge Hospital where she went to attend nursing school. But that's where things got complex because Jane had a darker side and her training only seem to draw it out, perhaps can blame that on her rough childhood or her deep desire to prove the elites around her were wrong. Maybe she just wanted to be in control, whatever the reason might have been. Jane became a problem very quickly,
First, it was just the line she claimed that her father lived in a far off land and that royalty had asked the higher her after school she told lies about her classmates and manage to get others in trouble for thing that she herself did. Some of them were, been expelled as a result of the patients loved her Some say it was her smile how she would take serve their needs so cheerfully they felt cared for and attended to, and that was an important skill for any nurse Jane excelled at that the truth, though, was a lot less pleasant. Once during her training in Cambridge, she was heard to say there is no use in keeping old people alive, which might explain how fast and loose she was with the drugs she MR to them. Today we live in a world very good at controlling dangerous medication. Pharmacists keep narcotic killers under lock and key.
There are rules built around our complete understanding of how these drugs work, but remember this was the eighteen eighties. Jane and her fellow students didn't have the benefit of all that expanded knowledge. In fact, some drugs were completely misunderstood, morphine for example, wasn't seen so much as a painkiller. Back then as asleep aid, albeit one was highly addictive, so much that a former confederate colonel named John Pemberton, created a cocoa wine sort of a tonic made of wine and cocaine as a medicinal when the city of Lana Pass prohibition laws in eighteen. Eighty six Pemberton swapped out the wine for carbonated water, but the cocaine stayed in the beverage for almost two more decades. Today, Pemberton Drink is still sold as cocoa
but the medicinal routes are long gone. Jane, though, wasn't looking for a solution. In fact, she saw a great potential in the veritable treasure trove of drugs at her disposal. Morphine, yes, but also strychnine, mercury, arsenic and atropine, all of which were widely available. Liberally used in highly business, and it was right there at the intersection of genes, training for access and her twisted ideas at something horrifying was about to be born, morphine,
James Gateway drug. It was the tool that lead to darker things as a nursing student Jane, would often administered the sedative to elderly patience and watched them slip into a coma. Then we stand over them or sit beside them and wait for their last breath. It was her favorite part as seeing school equipped her with more knowledge, Jane added tools to her kit stimulant atropine was the perfect pairing to morphine, because it seemed to counteract the visible signs of poisoning the patient, who died under her care or more often the not completely overlooked, tragic victims of heart failure or complications from Diabetes in was getting away with murder and making it look easy to, but at the same, she was failing miserably at hiding her other less horrifying crimes should contain do tell lies about her coworkers steal from patients and even steel drugs from the hospital and eventually
caught up with her in the summer of eighteen. Ninety Jane was kicked out of Cambridge Hospital before she could complete her degree. Oddly, she stayed in town, and set up shop as a private nurse which led to glowing recommendations. From the physician she interacted with which led to then I kid you not a job offer from Cambridge Hospital yeah School that kept her out ended up hiring back? You didn't last as long as she wanted. No within months, one of the doctors on staff took notice of the disproportionate number of deaths, said happen on Jaynes watch. You assumed she was just incompetent and he fired her, and today, That would be the end of it. The future would look a lot less right and is certainly wouldn't involve caring for others as a professional nurse, but this was a different time in the darkness before the age, internet and social media paper trails were a lot harder to follow you now you really had to do was just move on and start over. That was the spring.
of eighteen. Ninety one Jane was thirty two and still lot of faith in her ability to sell her services as a private nurse for the next four years. That's exactly what she did. She in a spare room at the home of an elderly couple in Cambridge of, whenever necessary. She would move into the homes of her patience until they no longer needed. Her business it turns out was very good. Due to her around figure cheerful mood and ever present smile people begin to call her jolly Jane for patients Her and their families felt as if she really truly cared for their loved ones, and maybe she did Jane, was twisted and broken after all to her. What she did was care. She was a match maker in a sense guiding them into the sweet embrace of death, her favorite remedy, was a glass of european mineral water that she imported from Budapest. She would make
in a combination of morphine and after being, and then let the drugs do their work, not just for patients, though no she also use this trick on her landlords. The dunams burst, poisoning the husband and then two years later doing the same to his widow, Jane, it seems, was the sort of person who brought her work home with her every summer, though she got away from it she packed up her room in Cambridge Massachusetts and travelled south to the Cape COD area, where she Indeed, a cottage from an older couple, all and Mattie Davis. It was away to get away from city life and enjoy the fresh air in ocean waves, but it wasn't all pleasure seeking, Jane. Did her fair share of work there on the cape helping out window? needed medical advice or a quick remedy and they loved her for it. She would stay on for a few months, help community in her spare time and then move home to Cambridge at the beginning of winter,
at the end of the summer of eighteen, ninety nine Jane received a letter from her original Foster sister Elizabeth and invited older women to come visit her there on the cape by them, Elizabeth was married to a man named or and will bring em and had enjoyed all of the benefits of wealth and privilege that Jane had only dreamt of August. Twenty six, the two women spent the afternoon at the beach, soaking in the sunshine and salty air and then returned home for them evening meal Jane always the thoughtful hostess produced a cold glass of european Mineral Water and handed it to Elizabeth, the older woman thirsty from the warm day down it. Weekly when Elizabeth fainted a half hour later Jane, helped her to bed and quickly became the professional experience nurse and every one believed her to be, except for the poisoning part. I suppose she was attentive and did her best to make the older woman comfortable.
As Elizabeth became worse and worse, though, as that cocktail of toxic Education sent her body into fits of seizures and pushed in, and out of Sleep Jane act Let's move closer to the bed. She wanted to watch You wanted to see it all happened to see her for lost, your sister suffer and she did it all. With that smile on her face then, when the end seemed near Jane, took her obsession one step further. She climbed in bed with Elizabeth and laid herself down right beside later she would describe those final moments with a cold clinical frankness that betrayed the sheer horror of it. All
I held her in my arms. She said and watched with delight ass. She gasped out real life. Jane, left the cape at autumn and return to normal life in Cambridge, but it was more than that cheap, also left, the emotional high of murdering her foster sister Elizabeth, owing to slip back Into her less eventful life as a private nurse, that might explain why she went looking for a change in January of nineteen hundred only a few months after returning home Jane caught word that an old friend of hers, Myra Connor's, had become ill. She rushed to the woman's apartments
per, but not out of some altruistic designed to care for a friend, no Myra had something the Jane wanted, and this was her chance to take it. Myra worked in town as a dining hall matron at Saint John Theological School. It was a job. The key with a lot of perks such as an apartment on campus and even a housekeeper. It wasn't much buddy presented the high life the Jane, had always wanted for herself. After all, if resentment, that sort of life yield. Her murder of Elizabeth, perhaps murder, could also be her way of achieving it. Jane arrived at Myers Apartment at the end of January by February eleven, her old friend was dead and thanks to a bit of sweet keen and straight up line, Jane managed to take her friends, job and home, but it didn't Last long, just a year later, she was fired were the most ironic reason of all time: poor workplace ethics. So back to nursing. She went.
you rented, a room for Mister and Missus Biddle, an elderly couple in Cambridge and settled to her old routine and by routine, I mean killing. Pace by day and slowly poisoning her landlords at night. This went on for months without a hint of trouble until summer of nineteen o one, when Jane heard a knock on her door when she opened it, it was Mattie Davis if you remember Mary and her husband, Alden- were the older couple that rented a cottage to Jane during her summers on the Cape Mattie, it turns out they travelled to Cambridge, to see her own daughter. And thought she would stop in Jaynes to settle some business from the previous year. Jane you see, and been paying the full rent for years, claiming she would make up the difference later, but that deficit had begun to add up and by the time Mattie Davis knocked on genes door or tab was roughly five hundred dollars, throw in economic differences and inflation, and that's roughly fifteen thousand
in modern money Jane mild that warm jolly smile of hers and welcome Mattie inside it was unusually hot outside and with the sun blazing Brighton, the sky, it was better to have become. Station in the cool shade of her sitting room then Jane slipped away for a moment and returned with a tall refreshing, ass of mineral water formality ashore while after the older woman had finished her drink, Jane offered to walk to the bank with her and withdraw the funds to pay her debt, Mattie smiled and stood up and then sat back out as waves of dizziness washed over her. She didn't feel. Well, she told Jane and feel well at all Jane kindly said Remedies daughter and help the older woman to a bed when a physician arrived. She worked right alongside him to find the cause of the illness and restore Matisse Health, but it was a frustrating experience. One that she would be in a deep sleep in the next year will be awake and having seizures, no one could make
I'm a reason of it all, no one that is except Jane when no one was looking. She was dozing. The woman with her usual cocktail of medication, revelling in the chaos and suffering that it was creating, and she did this for an entire week at the end of which she gave Mattie one massive dose of morphine and then let the drug do its job. Mattie Davis died a short later. What happened next was a whirlwind of damage, control and covering her tracks. First Maggie's, two daughters, Genevieve and many both converged on genes House and asked her for help. Her father, Alden, now widowed in heartbroken needed some one to look after him. They trusted and loved Jane and wanted her to travel to Cape COD and take care of him. I think it serves as a powerful testimony
just how confident Jane was in her ability to fool the people around her. She had just killed their mother, and yet here they were practically begging her to go help their father. She must have felt like a kid in a candy store thinking of all the fun she would have so she agreed and true We'll self Jane wasn't done, though, in fact, as far as Davis family was concerned. She was only getting started when she I've Alden Home in Cape COD, every one in the family, let out a sigh of relief Jane, their favorite nurse had come to help. She was a ray of hope in the midst of their darkness, but Jane would quickly prove to be something else entirely. An angel of death
Genes arrival at the Davis home was met with a sigh of relief. She was very good at her job. After all, but Alden Davis and his two adult daughters were still completely unaware of just how much Jane was very good at open their home and welcomed her in for what she had planned, Jane needed to build a case needed. The answers to be obvious when people started asking questions, and they were certainly going to be asking a lot of questions people around her always did so. She said about planting evidence that could help her later on convenient reasons why Bull might be dine. She started by setting random fires throughout the house and I'll be with you, I'm not really sure what her plan was with those. Maybe it was just in it. To get it all over with and kill everyone at once that wasn't Jane style. I think she, one of the family members to suspect each other of being a bit unstable. She told many, the odor of the two
sisters and she'd seen Genevieve in the garden shed just sort of standing their eyes focused on a box of rat poison, cheap told many that she was worried about how her sister was handling the loss of their mother and suggested that they all keep an eye on her less than a week later. On July, twenty sixth Genevieve was dead, when the family went. Looking for answers Jane brought up the rat poison. Again, she even hold some one else that she'd seen a syringe on the young woman's bedside table. Perhaps she suggested it was simply a tragic suicide and, having planted those stories days before, everyone seem to accept it, not that it was easy. This would be. The second family funeral within a month It was a lot of emotional weight to carry around. Obviously all Davis and his last remaining daughter. Many were devastated as well
has being more than a little numb throughout the funeral. Jane, though, was doing much better. In fact, she later told people. I went to the funeral and felt as jolly as could be. nobody suspected me in the least two weeks later, another Davis was gone. This time it was the father, all than the stories that were whispered painted and innocent. If tragic picture already been old and unhealthy ad in the law. of his wife in one of his children and well. It all just seem to be a bit too much for him to handle. After that, there were three people left in the Davis so good. All Jolly Jane herself, many Davis Gibbs. many a ten year old Son Jesse. It was a precarious place to be with us All of the tragedy that occurred in the town, filling up with questions and theories Jane held on stayed the course for work. However horrible it was wasn't finished. Just yet.
When she found the right moment, Jane asked many about the debt she had owed her parents and wondered if perhaps in light of their recent deaths that debt might be forgiven. Many was appalled and few to even consider it that I think left you With only one option to pursue four days after the death of her father. Many went to bed say in the afternoon of August twelve. It seem to be digestive, but all she and before feeling ill was one of those early Coca COLA type drinks known as a coca wine. She was emotionally drain in overstretched and had certainly needed something to settle her nurse. But, as I'm sure you ve already guessed that beverage had been prepared by Jane. The nurse did her best to help by heavily medicating many By that evening she was in a deep sleep completely responsive and unaware of her surroundings then
right before her usual bedtime, Jane did something entirely unexpected, rather than toying with her I am a bit more. She prepared a syringe with a massive dose of her morphine cocktail, then injected it into many. Then she walked upstairs and gathered. Minis sleeping son Jesse in her arms and care him back down now. I'm sure she woke him up either on purpose or just through the Chirac lifting him and then she said, down beside minis bed, Jesse on her lap and watched as the when's, body spasm and violently convulsed or Jesse could do nothing but watch as his mother died right before his eyes later. The family doktor with scratched his head and chalk many death up to severe exhaustion
The town was stunned, an entire family, two generations of Davis Clan gone in just six weeks. The local news, Labour ran the headline entire family wiped out, and yet Jane had already left. Town later when her past had caught up with her and she had nothing left to lose Jane, was a bit more honest about her true feelings on the events that summer in Cape cod after being asked how she felt killing so many people so quickly. Her answer was delivered with that trademark smile and a twinkle in her eye, I made it lively, she said, or the you're takers and the grave diggers
it takes a lot of trust to place ourselves in the hands of a caretaker when were sick, illness as a way of taking away our power we are at our weakest and most vulnerable, so it's under damnable to want that caretaker to be someone. We know and trust. So many levels, the Davis family, did Emily. Lulli, nothing. You or I wouldn't have done in their shoes. Then again, trust is a funny thing. Isn't it we assume the people around us are who they claim to be that they have our best interests at heart, that they care All too often the faces we see are nothing more than a mask that hides a darker purpose, a mask very much like Jolly Jaynes cheerful smile. I wish Jane story ended in the Davis home. I really do this is where we all want it to end. I think she'd already done so much taken. So
he lives and caused so much pain and suffering. now, an entire family was gone for most stories. This would be more than enough she kept trying, but her luck seem to have run while still near the Davis family? She asked Minis widower if she could be his housekeeper, but he declined next he headed north too low to try and seduce the husband of her late, Foster Sister Elizabeth without plan sort of fell apart, perhaps as a cry for attention. She took a dose of her own morphine, but was this covered and taken to a hospital, but Was it the only new Comer there with a secret one of the past? and in a nearby room was not who they claim to be. The man who had entered the hospital, pretending to be ill was actually a detective hired by Captain Paul the Father in law of many Davis, the detective was there to watch Jane because Captain Gibbs heads
suspicions about the nurses. True nature back on the cape, the old captain was putting those missions into action by having the body of many Davis exude. He was looking for evidence of foul play It wasn't long before they found Jane, who had sense left the hospital to stay with friends. Was arrested on charges of murder and brought in for questioning this. Finally, over the trial, though exposed just how horrible her sprit of health care can means had been according to Jane herself. She had murdered at least thirty one people that she could name with ever does in more that were less known. Some estimates put the number somewhere closer to one hundred Jane was declared morally insane by the court and on June twenty third of nineteen o too, she was transferred to the Taunton Insane Hospital in Massachusetts. It said that she, entered the facility fully confident she would recover and be set free time proved wrong.
We're smile slowly slip from her face and was replaced by outbursts of yelling and complaints about everything around her. She even suspected the hospital staff of poisoning her food and, in the end She refused to eat she passed away on August, seventeenth of nineteen thirty eight at the age of eighty There is irony in her final years, of course, this woman, a nurse who claim care for so many while actually delivering death to them in a glass of water found herself in the care of other nurses. It's no wonder she suspected the staff of sinister plots. She had authored nearly a hundred debts when that same pen of trust and power. They say old habits die hard and that's very
Often the case sure Jane had been removed from society, but it was a lot more difficult to remove the thing that made her jolly Jane. One last tail provides us with chilling proof of that years after Jane I'd one of the nurses who had cared for her therein, Taunton told the story. about one experience she had. Sometimes she said Fain would waiver her over to her chair with a twinkle in her eye. Then she would point toward the door, get the morphine theory and we'll go out into the ward and then with a wide grin. She would add you and I will have a lot of fun seen them die.
This episode of Lore was written and produced by me. Aaron monkey with research help from Marseilles ok and music by Chad. Lawson lore is much more than upon guess, there's a book series in bookstores. the country and online and the second in the Amazon Prime Television show was recently released, check them both out. If you want more lore in your life, also make two other upon, casts Erin, monkeys, cabinet of curiosities and unobserved, and I think you'd enjoy both each Monica, floors. Other areas of our dark history, ranging from bite sized episodes to season long dives into a single topic you can learn about both of those shows in everything going on all over in one central place: Thou Wert. Of lore dot com, slash now and you can also follow the show on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, just search for lore podcast,
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-12.