Lady Killers: Mary Jane “Bricktop” Jackson

The photograph above depicts the notorious Storyville redlight district on New Orleans’ Basin Street. Except for the saloon in the foreground, the rest of the buildings are brothels. It was along this row that Mary Jane Jackson plied her trade…and practiced serial murder.

A New Orleans prostitute with a violent temper, Jackson was a relative anomaly among female serial killers. Described as a “husky,” universally feared woman, she physically overpowered her adult-male victims. Nicknamed Bricktop because of her flaming-red hair, between 1856 and 1861 Jackson beat to death one man and stabbed to death three others because they called her names, objected to her foul language, or argued with her. Sentenced to ten years in prison for the 1861 stabbing death of a jailer-cum-live-in-lover who attempted to thrash her, 25-year-old Jackson disappeared nine months later when the newly appointed Union Army governor of New Orleans issued blanket pardons and emptied the prisons.

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