Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Lonely Hearts Killers

"My God, Martha, what have you done?"

After a short recess, Martha returned and resumed her testimony. She claimed that she knew Fernandez was a murderer and that she helped him find lonely women to victimize. "Raymond got quite a kick out of the photographs of some of the old hags who write to him and expected him to correspond with them," she said. At times, Martha giggled when she recalled how easily Raymond was able to deceive his victims. When the questioning turned to Mrs. Fay, Martha said the last thing she remembered was Fernandez ordering her to keep Mrs. Fay quiet. Then she found herself standing over Mrs. Fay while Fernandez shook her shoulders screaming, "My God, Martha, what have you done?"

When the prosecutor asked about her love of Fernandez, Martha defended him. "We loved each other and I consider it absolutely sacred....You referred to the love making as abnormal but for the love I had for Fernandez, nothing is abnormal!" she said. Martha fidgeted in the stand, her large frame looking out of place in a wooden chair designed for smaller people. She said "a request from Mr. Fernandez to me is a command. I loved him enough to do anything he asked me to!" She insisted she remembered nothing about the killing until she saw Mrs. Fay at her feet bleeding profusely all over the rug. At her instruction, Fernandez wrapped a scarf around Mrs. Fay's neck and twisted it like a tourniquet. With a straight face, Martha said her "training as a nurse taught her that a tourniquet about the neck would stop bleeding from the head."

For three days, she was questioned relentlessly by Nassau County District Attorney Edward Robinson Jr. At times, tearful, angry, rebellious, Martha gave details of her sexual relationship with Fernandez that made some women leave the courtroom. When she began to describe certain sex acts connected to the practice of voodoo, a contingent of two dozen cops had to be called to the Bronx Supreme Court building to contend with the crowds that tried to push their way into the courtroom. The N. Y. Times reported "the lonely hearts murder trial was disrupted yesterday afternoon by a near riot of would be spectators outside the courtroom."

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