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Driving from my hometown of Lubbock to anywhere else on God's green earth means passing through a gauntlet of small to absolutely minuscule Texas towns. Some are quite charming, have a nice Dairy Queen or large gas station, and merit a stop for a spell to stretch my legs and pick up a diet Dr. Pepper.

And then there are the "towns" that are less appealing- either just gray and frumpy or downright ominous in their poverty and disrepair. Those are the ones you hope you have enough gas in your tank to avoid.

I've driven through Nocona, and I only know so because it has a large boot factory building that's very recognizable. The boot plant has since been shut down and moved to El Paso. Now, Nocona is primarily known as a wine and brewery destination. Truly, it's a nice place to stop on the way to Oklahoma.

google maps
google maps

However, Nocona does have a dark side, or rather, one very dark cloud. Vickie Dawn Jackson, a former Nocona nurse, is rotting away in a Gainsville prison with no possibility for parole until 2042. She'll be 76 if she lives that long.

For her to live that long seems less than just, primarily because she denied her patients their longevity. Vickie Dawn Jackson plead "no contest" to 10 counts of capital murder, including the murder of her husband's grandfather.

Mivacurium chloride, a drug used to halt a patient's breathing during intubation, had been administered to patients during Jackson's night shifts, and traces of the drug were found in her trash can. And, of course, those patients' bodies.

Don't think these were "mercy" killings- some patients were in the hospital for ailments as minor as diarrhea or a sore foot. They weren't all elderly, either:

One night, she injected mivacurium chloride into a slim, sexy woman her own age who frequented a country-western nightclub that Vickie also went to, and on another night, she injected mivacurium chloride into a bespectacled teenage girl who went to high school with her children.

Small-town life means you know everyone in town, and they all know you, for better or worse. These killings weren't random, they were personal. Vengeance against an entire town that failed to satisfy Jackson's hopes and dreams. Everyone wants to be loved and liked, Jackson was quickly becoming neither.

By all accounts, 2000 was a hard year for Jackson: she lost custody of her children, a close relative died and she suffered a miscarriage after fighting with her husband.

Her daughter claims she had also been diagnosed as bipolar and had told her, "I could kill you and get away with it." So much for the kind, caring nurse that everyone knew. At home, she screamed, nagged, and slapped her children. Jackson, who had always been described as kind and caring, had snapped and become a walking nightmare.


Protocols and safety measures with medication handling continue to improve, and become downright strict, to prevent medication errors and abuses, and in this case, the deliberate poisoning of patients. Luckily, it would be much more difficult for a 2023 "Jackson" to kill this many people- at least in this manner.

For a deep dive into this case, be sure to read "Angel of Death" from Texas Monthly.

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