Text taken from diary entries and official quotes by Jennifer and June Gibbons
The Silent Twins
Jennifer and June Gibbons, better known as the Silent Twins, communicated only with each other in their own made up language. They refused to speak to anyone; at times they even stopped moving in the presence of others. Doctors deemed them to be elective mutes, voluntarily refusing to utter a single word to anyone else.
They were always together, even walked in perfect unison. In an attempt to force them to interact with the rest of the world, therapists recommended they be put in different boarding schools. This only worsened their isolation.
The twins started committing crimes and were sent to a mental hospital. One day, Jennifer calmly stated that she was going to die. When asked why, she simply said, “Because we have decided.” Soon after, Jennifer became unresponsive and later pronounced dead. To this day it’s still a mystery how she died.
Without Jennifer, June was suddenly able to live a normal life, made friends, spoke regularly and needed no more psychiatric help. June Gibbons now lives alone in Wales, near her parents.
Text taken from official and rumored quotes by Jane Toppan
In 1885, Jane Toppan was training to be a nurse at Cambridge hospital where she was very well liked for her sunny personality, earning her the nickname “Jolly Jane”. She used her patients as guinea pigs and altered their prescribed dosages to kill them.
Soon after, Jane became a private nurse and she began her massive poisoning spree. She would often climb in bed with her victims because she wanted to be as close as possible when they die.
“I held her in my arms and watched with delight as she gasped out her life.”
Eventually, a family member of one of her victims ordered a toxicology team and found evidence of poison. Jolly Jane was arrested in October 26, 1901 and confessed to at least 31 murders. However it was speculated that there were dozens more victims, totaling an estimate of 70 patients over the course of her two-decade career.
She was found not guilty by reason of insanity, and was committed for life in Taunton Insane Hospital.
Text taken from Margaret Atwoods's poem, Half-Hanged Mary
Right before the beginning of the Salem witch trials, the town of Hadley, Massachusetts conducted a witch hunt of their own. It was 1684 and a respected leader in their community, Phillips Smith was experiencing seizures so the town went looking for answers. Their sole suspect was an old woman named Mary Webster.
She was easy to blame because Mary was known to be cranky, temper, sour and spiteful. This earned her the reputation of the town witch. A group of men went to Mary’s home and dragged her to a nearby tree to hang her. She was left hanging overnight before the men cut her down and buried her in the snow.
The next morning, Mary was found to still be alive. She somehow survived her hanging and actually went on to live 14 more years because it was against the law to execute the same person twice.
Well-known novelist Margaret Atwood believes Mary to be her ancestor and wrote the poem Half-Hanged Mary about her as well as dedicated her novel The Handmaid’s Tale to her.