Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Lonely Hearts Killers

The Beginning

Once they were rid of the children, Beck and Fernandez had the apartment all to themselves. It was at this point that Raymond brought out all his lonely heart letters. He told her everything: the dozens of women he deceived and robbed, his wife in Spain and the other wives as well. Martha, already committed to Fernandez, realized there was no turning back. He was her man and she was his woman. The way Martha saw the situation; it was her duty to help him. Together, they made plans for his next victim. As they poured over the photographs of widows and lonely hearts, they settled upon a Miss Esther Henne in southern Pennsylvania.

The unlikely pair traveled down to Pennsylvania where they met with Ms. Henne. Martha posed as Raymond's sister-in-law. Within the week, on February 28, 1948, Esther Henne and Raymond Fernandez were married in a brief ceremony at the County Clerk's Office in Fairfax, Virginia. Then the newlyweds, with Martha, returned to the apartment on West 139th Street. She later told reporters: "For four days he was very polite to me. Then he gave me tongue lashings when I wouldn't sign over my insurance policies and my teacher's pension fund to him." Things went downhill after that. "I began to hear stories about how he went to Spain with a woman and she died," she said. Shortly afterwards, the new Mrs. Fernandez left the apartment minus her car and hundreds of dollars which Raymond stole from her.

Several other women followed Esther Henne in quick succession including two named Myrtle. One of them, Myrtle Young of Greene Forest, Arkansas, agreed to marry Fernandez. On August 14, 1948, he and Myrtle were married in Cook County, Illinois. Martha posed as Raymond's sister this time and did everything she could to make sure that the marriage was never consummated. It included sleeping in the same bed as Myrtle. This went on for several days until Myrtle protested so much, that Raymond gave her a heavy dose of drugs which caused her to lapse into unconsciousness. With Martha's help, Raymond carried Myrtle onto a bus and sent her back to Little Rock, Arkansas where she had to be carried off the bus by the police. She was also robbed of four thousand dollars. The very next day, Myrtle Young died in a Little Rock Hospital.

Meanwhile, Martha and Raymond continued on their way back east. They stopped in several towns and met with an assortment of women who had been corresponding with Raymond. They managed to steal some money but none looked promising as a long-term investment. They arrived back in New York and soon were scouring the lonely-hearts ads for more victims. They found one in New England but when they went to meet her, she was younger than Martha imagined and she wouldn't let Raymond work the scam.

The money was dwindling lower and lower. The winter was coming and neither Martha nor Raymond had real jobs. They were desperate for more victims. Soon, they located Janet Fay, a 66-year-old widow who lived in Albany, New York. Raymond took pen in hand and began the game once again.

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