Jane Toppan, a nurse at the end of the nineteenth century, experimented on patients with a mixture of drugs that killed slowly. As they gradually lost consciousness, she would climb into bed to cradle them while they slipped into oblivion (Schechter 2003). After she went to work for a family, its members began to die, one by one, with gentle Jane by their side. Finally, someone grew suspicious and examined these deaths more closely, leading to Toppan’s arrest. During her examination and trial, Toppan admitted to being aroused by death, which places her squarely in the category of a lust killer. In fact, she said that her sole regret was that she had been stopped so soon, and had she married and had a family, she was certain she would have killed them all as well.
There has been little to no research on female lust killers, in part because it’s an unexpected phenomenon and in part because the cases are rare. However, similar to male lust murder, the female counterpart is often driven by a paraphilia, such as arousal upon viewing a corpse or when rubbing inappropriately against someone. Often, there’s something deviant in their sexual development that consistently triggers arousal and thus feeds a compulsion.
Erotic motivation is even more prevalent among women who kill in partnerships with other women, although this behavior does not show up in all cases. There aren’t many documented examples, but those this article identifies involved at least one person with a scheming mind, a degree of psychopathy, and the capacity for getting a thrill from deciding that others should die, in the first case involving two women, it’s not altogether clear who was actually the.