The Lonely Hearts Killers

The Bloody Passions of Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez


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SKU: 9781476679112 Categories: , , Tags: ,
Imprint or Series:Exposit Books

About the Book

The shocking series of crimes committed by lovers Martha Beck and Raymond Fernandez dominated the front pages in 1949. Caught for the double homicide of a widow and her young daughter in Michigan, the first couple of crime became the focus of an intense debate over the death penalty and extradition. Their story climaxed in a sensational trial in New York City and concluded two years later inside Sing Sing’s notorious “Death House.” Pulp fiction era reporters, who followed every step taken by the accused slayers, christened Beck and Fernandez the “Lonely Hearts Killers”—a nickname that stuck and has since been used to describe an entire category of criminal behavior. Despite the sensationalization of the killer couple’s exploits, the story of the Michigan crime that ended their spree has until now remained largely untold. Drawing on rare archival material, this book presents, for the first time anywhere, a detailed account of this lost chapter in the saga of the “Lonely Hearts Killers.” Both biography and analysis, this book also attempts to deconstruct the myths and misconceptions and to provide answers to a few unanswered questions about the case.

About the Author(s)

Writer and researcher Tobin T. Buhk lives in Jenison, Michigan.

Bibliographic Details

Tobin T. Buhk

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 294
Bibliographic Info: 32 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7911-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3964-2
Imprint: Exposit

Table of Contents

Who’s Who 1
Timeline 3
Preface 9
Introduction: The Busiest Post Office Box in Detroit 15

Part I. Michigan
1. Love Letters in the Dark 26
2. The Twisted Fairy Tale Honeymoon 30
3. The Lady Vanishes 36
4. Secrets in Cement 39
5. “Here’s the Deal, Sweetheart” 46
6. The Golden Handcuff and the Hot Seat 66
7. More Secrets in Cement 74
8. Press Darlings 77
9. Only the Lonely Can Play 93
10. ­Tug-of-War 101
11. Love Letters Behind Bars 110
12. Surprise 116

Part II. New York
13. Double Jeopardy 126
14. The Serial Husband: Fernandez on the Stand 143
15. People’s Exhibit No. 99 152
16. A Good Offense Is the Best Defense 155
17. Beck Speaks, Again 161
18. Verdict 179
19. Prisoners #108594 and #108595 185
20. Folie a Deux 187
21. “Your favorite criminal” … Letters from the Death House 193
22. The Death House Secrets of Raymond Fernandez 202
23. The Last Mile 205
24. The Fates of the Major Figures in the Case 211

Part III. Secrets and Sins; Myths and Misconceptions
25. Trial Secrets: The Stories Behind the Stories 216
26. Myths, Misconceptions and Unanswered Questions 240
27. Born Again: Helmuth Schmidt and Raymond Fernandez 249

Appendix A: Excerpts from People’s Exhibit 55 255
Appendix B: Excerpts from People’s Exhibit 57 259
Chapter Notes 263
Bibliography 281
Index 283