Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Lonely Hearts Killers

Janet Fay

Janet Fay rented a spacious apartment in the downtown part of the city and, more importantly, had money in the bank. She had a habit of writing letters to lonely hearts clubs and despite warnings from her friends and family, she continued the practice. Mrs. Fay was a religious woman who attended Catholic church every Sunday, a fact that was exploited by Fernandez who then laced his future letters with references to God and religion. Fernandez often used the name "Charles Martin" for his correspondence with his victims.

After a period of several weeks, in which Fernandez persuaded Janet that his aims were honorable, arrangements were made for him to come to Albany just before New Years Day. On December 30, 1948 Martha and Raymond arrived in downtown Albany and checked into a hotel as Mr. and Mrs. Fernandez. The next day, he showed up at Janet's door carrying a bouquet of flowers. They spent the day together getting acquainted and discussing religious matters.

Over the next few days, Fernandez brought along Martha, introducing her as his sister, and together, they had dinner and toured the city. Janet even allowed them to sleep over in her apartment. Soon, Raymond proposed marriage to Janet and she readily accepted. They made plans to move to Long Island where Martha had already rented an apartment at 15 Adeline Street, Valley Stream, Long Island. During the first week in January 1949, Janet made the rounds of the Albany banks cleaning out her bank accounts. She accumulated over $6,000 in cash and checks. As soon as she completed her errands, Fernandez convinced her to leave Albany.

On January 4, 1949, Fernandez, Beck and Janet Fay left Albany and drove to Long Island. When they arrived at the apartment, they ate dinner together and settled in for the night. Fernandez fell asleep first leaving Janet and Martha together alone. What exactly transpired between them will never be known for Martha told several different stories later when questioned by police. But she did say: "I was just burning up with jealousy and anger!" Martha also said that when she entered Raymond's bedroom she saw "Janet naked with her arm around Raymond." Already upset with Raymond because he showed too much attention to Janet, the sight of the two of them in bed was too much for Martha to bear. According to Martha, Janet became angry and yelled, "I won't allow you to live with us! You're the most brazen bitch I've ever seen!" An argument followed during which Fernandez allegedly told Martha: "Keep this woman quiet. I don't care what you do! Just keep her quiet!"

Martha later testified she blacked out and couldn't remember what happened. "The next I knew, the defendant Fernandez had me by the shoulders and was shaking me!" she said. Janet Fay's body lay at Martha's feet bleeding profusely from a severe head wound. She was bludgeoned into unconsciousness with a ball-peen hammer and then garroted using a scarf as a tourniquet around her neck. Martha said that immediately after the killing, she was in some type of a "trance." Fernandez and Beck cleaned up the room, wrapped the body in towels and sheets and pushed it into a closet. Then, they went to sleep.

The next day, they bought a large trunk and dumped the body inside. They drove over to Raymond's sister's house where they convinced her to store the trunk in her basement for the time being. Eleven days later, on January 15, Raymond retrieved the trunk from his sister's home and buried it in the cellar of a rented house. Raymond then covered up the grave with cement. For the next week, they cashed Janet Fay's checks and typed letters to her family saying "I am all excited and having the time of my life. I never felt as happy before. I soon will be Mrs. Martin and will go to Florida!" They signed the letters "Janet L. Fay." But in their haste, they made a pivotal error. Janet did not own a typewriter and couldn't type. Her family immediately notified the police.

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