Raymond and Martha Fernandez and Beck

Raymond and Martha Fernandez and Beck

Serial killers
Country: USA

  1. Raymond and Martha Fernandez: The Lonely Hearts Killers
  2. Raymond Martinez Fernandez
  3. Martha Beck
  4. The Murders and Capture
  5. The Execution

Raymond and Martha Fernandez: The Lonely Hearts Killers

Raymond Martinez Fernandez and his common-law wife Martha became known as "The Lonely Hearts Killers" after their arrest and trial for a series of murders in 1949. Between 1947 and 1949, they are believed to have killed 20 women.

Raymond Martinez Fernandez

Raymond Martinez Fernandez was born on December 17, 1914, in Hawaii, to a Spanish family. Soon after his birth, the family moved to Connecticut. As an adult, Fernandez moved to Spain, got married, and had four children, whom he abandoned in later years. After serving in the Spanish Navy and British intelligence during World War II, Fernandez decided to seek employment. However, while crossing the American border on a ship, a steel hatch fell on his head, causing a severe head injury. This trauma could have influenced his social and sexual behavior. After being released from the hospital, Fernandez stole some clothes and spent a year in prison. In prison, one of his cellmates taught him rituals of voodoo and black magic. Later, he claimed that black magic endowed him with irresistible charm that no woman could resist. Upon his release, he moved to New York City and began responding to lonely women's advertisements. He would wine and dine them, then steal their money and belongings. Most of his victims were too shaken to report him to the authorities. In one case, he went on a trip to Spain with a woman, where he visited his wife and met two other ladies. His travel companion died under suspicious circumstances, and Fernandez took possession of her property by forging a fake will.

Martha Beck

Martha Beck, born Martha Jule Seabrook on March 6, 1920, in Milton, Florida, had weight issues from a young age. She claimed to have been sexually abused by her brother. When she told her mother, she was beaten and blamed for the abuse. After finishing school, Beck trained to become a nurse but struggled to find work due to her weight. She became an assistant to an undertaker, preparing female bodies for burial. Beck eventually moved to California and found a job as a nurse in a hospital. Her promiscuous sexual encounters eventually led to her pregnancy. She tried to convince the father of her child to marry her, but he refused. Pregnant and alone, Beck returned to Florida. She created a story, claiming to have married a soldier who died in the Pacific during the war. The town believed her heartbreaking story, and it was even published in the local newspaper. Shortly after giving birth to her daughter, Beck became pregnant again, this time by a bus driver named Alfred Beck. They got married but divorced six months later, and Martha gave birth to a son.

As an unemployed single mother with two young children, Beck immersed herself in a world of fantasies, reading romance novels and watching sentimental movies. In 1946, she found a job at a children's hospital. A year later, Raymond Fernandez responded to her advertisement seeking a life partner. Fernandez came to stay with her, and she told everyone that she was about to get married. Due to rumors about her and Fernandez, she was fired from the children's hospital, and Martha went to New York City to be with her "fiancé." Fernandez enjoyed Martha’s adoration, as she fulfilled his every desire, and he decided to reveal his criminal activities to her. Surprisingly, Beck wanted to become his criminal partner, and she sent her children to an Army Salvation home. She presented herself as Fernandez’s sister, a charming man who easily won the hearts of wealthy women, and she became extremely jealous, unwilling to share her "fiancé" with anyone. When Fernandez slept with the victims, Beck became a true beast.

The Murders and Capture

In 1949, the criminal lovers committed three murders. 66-year-old Janet Fay became engaged to Fernandez and stayed at her apartment on Long Island. When Beck caught Fernandez in the arms of Fay, she struck her with a hammer in a fit of rage, and then Fernandez strangled her. Fay's family became suspicious, so the killers moved to another location in search of a new victim. They traveled to Wyoming Township, Michigan, a suburb of Grand Rapids, to meet Delphine Downing, a young widow with a two-year-old daughter. The criminals stayed with Downing, who became worried, so they drugged her. Frustrated by the child's crying, Martha attempted to strangle Downing's daughter but failed to kill her. Fernandez thought that Downing would be even more scared if she saw signs of strangulation on her daughter, so he shot the unconscious woman. Days later, Martha became infuriated by the child's cries again and drowned her in the bathtub. The killers buried the bodies in the basement, but suspicious neighbors reported their disappearance, and on February 28, 1949, the police arrested Martha and Raymond.

Fernandez quickly confessed to everything, thinking he would not be extradited to New York. Michigan did not practice the death penalty at that time, unlike New York. However, he was mistaken. Both killers were extradited, and they vehemently denied any involvement in the other 17 murders they were accused of. Fernandez eventually recanted his confession, claiming he only admitted to three murders to protect Beck.

The Execution

On March 8, 1951, the lovers were executed in the electric chair. Raymond's last words were a declaration of love for Martha: "I want to shout it out; I love Martha! What does society know about love?" Martha, on the other hand, stated, "My story is a story of love. Only those tormented by love know what I mean... Confinement in the House of Death only strengthened my feelings for Raymond."

This case has been the inspiration for several movies, including "The Honeymoon Killers" (1970), "Deep Crimson" (1996), "Lonely Hearts" (2006), and an episode of the TV series "Cold Case".