The Lonely Hearts Killers of the 1940s

Ex-con Raymond Fernandez had a sociopathic way of meeting women: He would answer lonely hearts ads—the 1940s version of JDate and Craigslist—gain a single woman’s trust, and then rob her.

In 1947, he answered an ad placed by Florida resident Martha Beck, who promptly fell in love with him, abandoned her kids, and moved into his West 139th Street apartment.

She became his common-law wife and accomplice. Posing as his sister, she helped Fernandez romance and rob vulnerable single women via the lonely hearts ads around the country.  

Problem was, she’d become jealous, and that led her to start killing the women in a rage. 

From 1947 to 1949 she and Fernandez killed 20 women, police suspected. They were finally nabbed by police in Michigan when a young widow’s family became suspicious.

Extradited to New York, they stood trial for three murders. It was a sensational case in the summer of 1949, with lurid tabloid tales of sexual depravity and cracks about Beck’s weight.

Fernandez and Beck were convicted of all charges. Before being executed at Sing Sing in 1951, Fernandez’s last words were supposedly, “I love Martha! What do the public know about love?”

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