The Chilling Final Words Of The Infamous Lonely Hearts Serial Killers

In their twisted minds, theirs was a love story. It just happened to involve at least three murders, including the brutal killing of an infant. For Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck, they got one last chance to tell the world all about that love. It was March 8, 1951, and the pair was about to die in the electric chair for the murder of a widow from Albany, New York, who had answered a lonely heart's letter from Fernandez. Preying on women looking for love was their preferred method for finding victims, which the press quickly picked up on and dubbed them the Lonely Hearts Killers.

A few hours before the correctional officers at New York State's Sing Sing prison strapped Beck into the electric chair, she gave a final statement, which her attorney read to the press. "Prisons and the death house have only strengthened my love for Raymond," It read in part (via the Associated Press). "In the history of the world, how many crimes have been attributed to love?" After hearing Beck's final statement, her lover Fernandez echoed the sentiment. "The news brought to me that Martha loves me is the best I've had in years," he said. "Now I'm ready to die." He did just that in "Old Sparky," a few minutes before Beck, who followed him to death in the same electric chair.

Brutal murders in the guise of love

Even before Raymond Fernandez met Martha Beck he had been swindling women out of their money. Born in Hawaii in 1914, he had a history of petty crime and a penchant for moving around, bouncing from Spain to Grenada to the U.S. He began preying on women through lonely heart's clubs, the equivalent of dating apps today, and likely killed his first victim in Spain in 1947 around the time he began corresponding with Beck.

Beck, born Martha Seabrook in Florida in 1920, was a divorced nurse with two children whom she abandoned when she and Fernandez got together. Instead of swindling Beck, Fernandez fell for her, telling her about his schemes. Together they continued what he'd started. Fernandez lured Janet Fay, a 66-year-old widow from Albany, to their Long Island home in January 1949, convinced her that Beck was his sister, stole the woman's money, and murdered her. Beck smashed in her skull with a hammer. "She kept screaming," Fernandez later told detectives (via the St. Louis Globe-Democrat). "I was scared the noise would wake up the neighbors. So I took a scarf and wound it around her neck." After the murder, the couple moved to a new address and buried Fay's body in the cellar.

A mother and child murdered in Michigan

A little more than a month later, Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck were at it again. This time they were in Michigan. Fernandez and Beck, again posing as his sister, went to the home of Delphine Downing, with whom he'd been corresponding. After Fernandez convinced Downing to open a joint bank account with a promise of marriage, Beck drugged her and Fernandez shot her in the head. Two days later Beck drowned Downing's 22-month-old daughter Rainelle in a dirty tub of water. The couple buried their two victims in the cellar of Downing's home.

All the strange activity at the house aroused suspicion from the neighbors. Police soon came calling and while Beck stuck to her story Fernandez cracked under questioning. He admitted to both the Michigan murders and the one in New York as well. Fernandez later recanted his confession but it didn't matter. The pair was sent back to New York to face trial for Fay's murder, a jury found them both guilty, and a judge sentenced them to death. At trial, Beck again professed her undying love for Fernandez as she did in her final statement.

Their final moments

On the day of the Lonely Hearts Killers' executions, Sing Sing put four inmates to death in the span of 24 minutes. Raymond Fernandez went third and his lover Martha Beck was last. Fernandez had the hint of a smile as he sat down and allowed the guards to strap him into the electric chair. He kissed a crucifix proffered to him by a priest and moments later he died at the flip of a switch. When it was Beck's turn, she seemed calm and composed. Ignoring the witnesses there for her execution, she mouthed "So long" to the guards, according to the Associated Press. Soon she joined Fernandez in death.

Beck's final statement acknowledged the debt she was paying for her murderous behavior. "The sin is great and so is the penalty," she wrote. "This is not the minute to speak of who is to blame ... Only those tortured by love as I was can know what I mean." The press played up Beck's appearance and weight — the 31-year-old weighed 200 pounds — and she clapped back at the media in her final statement. "I was pictured as a fat, unfeeling woman," her statement read. "True I am fat. But if that were a crime, how many of my sex would be guilty? I am not without feeling. I am not stupid ... I am a woman who has had a great love and always will have." Fernadez's statement was more succinct. "What the hell does the public know about love?" he asked.