Lovebirds Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck make up the killing duo dubbed the Lonely Hearts Killers. From 1947-1949, they are believed to have killed at least 17 women by answering lonely hearts, which was like Tinder but somehow even creepier (at least in this case).
It should be noted that in the forgettable 2006 movie about the killings, Beck is played by the always hot Salma Hayek. Go figure.
Fernandez was born in Hawaii to Spanish parents in 1914. He served in WWII in both the Spanish and British militaries. He had a wife and four children in Spain, which he abandoned during the war. After serving in the military, he decided to return to America. While on a ship, he fell injuring his frontal lobe. This injury is said to have affected his behavior, which led to the murders, a common occurrence in killers.
After spending some time in the hospital, he was arrested for stealing clothing and spent some time in jail. His cell mate thought him about voodoo and black magic, which Fernandez believed he could use to charm and manipulate women.
Martha Beck was a teen runaway from Florida. She became a single mother and worked as a nurse and a mortician’s assistant. The father of her daughter refused to marry her and she told everyone she was a war widow. Eventually, she married a bus driver from Pensacola, had a son, and was divorced six months later. Beck became enamored with romantic novels and movies. In 1947, she placed a lonely hearts ad, which was answered by Fernandez.
Beck and Fernandez soon fell in love, prompting Beck to abandon her children for him. He took this as a sign of love, and confided in Beck about his crimes. At this point, he had been robbing various women who answered his ads. Beck moved from Florida to New York to be with Fernandez. She posed as his sister when the women who answered the ads would come over, as to make them feel more comfortable.
They were only tried for 3 murders, all of which were committed in 1949. The first was Janet Fay, 66 who became engaged to Fernandez and lived with he and Beck. Beck attacked Fay with a hammer when she saw her in bed with Fernandez. Fay didn’t die immediately, so Fernandez strangled her with a scarf. When Fay’s family started looking for her, the killers fled to a suburb of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
There, they met and lived with a young widow named Delphine Downing and her two year-old daughter. On February 26, 1949, Fernandez drugged Downing with some sleeping pills. When her daughter started crying, Beck choked her, but didn’t kill her. Beck realized she might become suspicious of bruises on her daughter. Fernandez shot Downing while she was unconscious. Beck then drowned the daughter in a sink.
Beck and Fernandez were arrested on March 1, 1949. They were extradited to New York, as Michigan had no death penalty. Fernandez confessed and then retracted his statement. Police suspected them of 17 total murders, but were only tried for the murder of Janet Fay as the prosecutors wanted to pursue the death penalty (why they were extradited to NY).
Both were executed by the electric chair on March 8, 1951, professing their love for one another until the end.