In the postwar years, single women around the world and in the United States, including, have increased significantly. The most agile scam artists did not fail to take advantage of this. In the late 40s, many ladies who wanted to find a life partner, gave marriage announcements to newspapers and dating magazines. A young man named Ramon Fernandez, or, as he imagined to potential brides, Charles Martin, was an active reader of such magazines. He entered into correspondence with dozens of women at the same time, assured them of the seriousness of his intentions, and at the meeting he robbed, sometimes - killed. One of these "lovers", Martha Beck, became the faithful companion and accomplice of Fernandez. Daria Alexandrova tells about the marriage scams of a couple of murderers.
Ramon Fernandez came from a Spanish family. He was born on December 17, 1914 in Hawaii. First World forced the family to move to the States, namely - in Connecticut. After another 10 years, Fernandez moved to Spain, where Ramon grew up, got married and got four children. Tired of family life, he wanted to return to America, but with the beginning of World War II he was recruited by the British intelligence service SIS and for some time carried out orders from the secret service. What exactly - the general public is unknown, since this period of Fernandez’s life after his arrest and during the trial was not affected at the request of the SIS itself.
In 1945, a misfortune happened to him - a 10-pound manhole cover fell right on his head. At this time he was on board the American warship. Ramon was still alive, however, he got a bald patch on a dark cape at the site of a blow scar. Since then, Fernandez always wore a wig, covering his bald spot. After the hospital, Ramon’s behavior changed, and the SIS removed him from business due to “mental disabilities”. The oddities in his behavior were really: settling down after recovery on the ship that sailed to Florida, Fernandez stole several dozen hand towels and bedding. He was going to sell them in the city where the ship landed for a stop. He was detained and sent to a jail in Talachassi for a year. Ramon got along with his cellmate, a certain Haitian who persuaded the man of the existence of voodoo magic, showed him a couple of “tricks” for summoning spirits and even conducted a ceremony that supposedly made Fernandez extremely attractive in the eyes of all the ladies. So, having left prison, Ramon was, firstly, convinced of his irresistibility, and, secondly, he was seriously carried away by voodoo.
Fernandez tried to get a job, but simultaneously he looked at other, simpler and more effective ways to get rich. He studied dating magazines, entered into correspondence with women, taking all his charm into play. At some point, he asked the ladies to send him a lock of hair as evidence of love, and then did voodoo rituals with him, firmly believing that you could “bewitch” the bride this way. It is not known how many women deceived and killed Ramon before meeting Martha.
Martha Seabrook was a shabby girl: very full and ugly. So she never suffered from undue attention. Seabrook studied as a nurse and was a good specialist. In 1943, she became pregnant by the military, who soon abandoned her. And in 1944, Martha married the follower of Alfred Beck, from whom she bore a second child. Six months later, their marriage fell apart: Beck quit drinking and ran away from his wife. Nevertheless, she left the name of her second husband.
Ramon and Martha
One day, Martha received a letter from a gentleman who introduced himself as Charles Martin. Beck herself did not send any applications to the dating magazine, later it turned out that her fellow nurses had made fun of her by filling out a questionnaire on her behalf. A correspondence ensued, and on December 28, 1947, a meeting took place. Ramon and Martha spent the night together, and the next day he left her. Beck wrote a farewell letter to the failed lover and tried to commit suicide, but they managed to save her and took her to the hospital. Fernandez received the letter and did not believe it, but for some reason he decided to go back and make sure. He found Martha in the hospital.
Perhaps wanting to get a reliable and loyal assistant, or for some other reason, Fernandez generously agreed to continue the relationship. Soon he found out that Martha's maiden name is Sibruk, the same as the author of his favorite book about the voodoo cult. Ramon considered it a sign from above. In order to test the companion’s loyalty, he set the condition: if Martha wants to be with him, she must abandon the children. After a couple of days of thought, Beck decided on this, leaving two young offspring in the care of her mother. Of course, Fernandez told Martha exactly how he earns his living. From now on, the woman also took part in scams, traveling with him around the country and posing as his "younger sister."
In the testimony that Ramon gave on the day of his arrest, he confessed that he had killed at least 17 women in the last two years and robbed more than 130. He could not remember all the names, and in detail two stories are known.
In the fall of 1948, Fernandez corresponded with 66-year-old Janet Fay, a wealthy widow from Albany. As usual, he introduced himself as Charles Martin, a successful businessman, a spice merchant, a Spaniard by nationality. The man charmed Fay, she was not embarrassed by the 30-year-old difference in age, although her relatives had great doubts about the sincerity of his intentions. Nevertheless, at the end of December, he arrived in Albany with his “sister”. Her presence, Charles-Ramon, explained that her sister allegedly works as an accountant in his firm, and therefore she must always be around. Within a couple of days, an elderly widow told her family that she had rented a house on Long Island and intends to soon go there with the new lover. The three of them, along with Martha, they set off on a journey for 200 km. Soon the family received two letters from Janet, where she gave details about when the wedding would take place, and told about life-being.
Relatives immediately suspected that something was wrong, since both letters were typed on a typewriter that Fei could not use. The family went to the police. It became known that literally on the day of departure the lady withdrew 6 thousand dollars from her account. The owners of the house on Long Island reported that they only saw the woman on the day of the settlement, when they handed over the keys. According to the neighbors, someone lived in it for some time, but quickly left.
Janet was killed on the very first night, as soon as the trio reached Long Island. According to Fernandez, he and Fay went to bed when suddenly an angry Martha burst into the room. She was unbearable that Ramon was sleeping with another woman. Martha began beating an old woman who screamed loudly and tried to defend herself. Seeing that the woman was not able to cope, Fernandez took the hammer and repeatedly hit Fay on the head. The couple dragged the corpse of Janet to the toilet, and then made love. They decided to hide the body for a time at Sister Ramon’s house in New York, and to transfer it there without arousing suspicion, they bought a wide drainage pipe and put the corpse inside. In mid-January, they rented a house to a fictional family name, transported a pipe there, dug a hole in the basement, and buried the body, the bay from above with cement.
Detention of criminals
At the end of January 1949, criminals were already operating in Michigan. This time, Fernandez was courting the 41-year-old single mother Dolphin Downing. The woman lived with her two-year-old daughter Rainel in the city of Grand Rapids. Charles-Ramon settled in the house Dolphin, along with Martha, again introducing her to his sister and an accountant. There they lived for about a month, since the man could not wind up Downing, and she was not going to withdraw money from the account. Soon the Dolphin began to suspect that Martha and Charles were mere speculators. After a violent outburst of emotions and a showdown, the woman was given a sedative to drink, and she fell asleep. At this time, her daughter Rainel began to cry. Martha struck the child, and Ramon started screaming at the girlfriend, because the mother would probably suspect something wrong when she saw the bruises on her daughter's body. On Reinel really remained marks from the blows. Then they decided to shoot the sleeping Downing. The girl criminals drowned in a barrel of water. Both bodies they buried in the basement of the house, the bay on top of the cement. Since they couldn’t have any money with the Dolphins, Fernandez and Beck decided to sell the furniture from the woman’s house.
Downing's neighbors were worried: they had not seen her for a few days already, and for some reason the two “friends” who lived with her were taking out furniture. Arriving police began to ask the couple, and Fernandez said that the woman instructed them to sell the situation, and she had already left Grand Rapids, because she decided to move in with her future spouse, that is, to him. The policeman asked a few more questions and noticed that the man was very nervous and in general was behaving inadequately. They were both taken to the station. The interrogation lasted several hours, when Fernandez unexpectedly confessed: yes, they killed Downing and her daughter. Shocked detectives, he offered to invite the prosecutor. In recognition of Ramon was his calculation: he agreed to voluntarily tell about the murders, in return, he expected that he and Martha would be tried in Michigan, a state where the death penalty could not be applied to them. The prosecutor, Roger McMahon, made a deal. Fernandez testified the whole night. The report was 73 pages. He confessed to 17 murders. At first, during the interrogation, Fernandez fenced off Martha, calling himself the sole perpetrator, then began to stray and became confused in his testimony.
Already on March 1, 1949, the prosecutor spoke to the press, saying that the police had managed to detain the dangerous criminals involved in the death of more than a dozen women. The matter instantly caused a resonance, there was everything: blood, love and money. The governor of the state of New York has asked to give out a couple on the basis that Janet Fay was killed in this particular territory. And although Fernandez made a deal with the investigation, after the intervention of the US Attorney General, it was decided to try them in New York. Ramon and Martha were horrified: they were facing the death penalty.
Handcuffed, Ramon and Martha kiss
To defend the criminals took the lawyer Herbert Rosenberg. He built Ramon’s defense around his injury while serving on the ship, and Martha’s defense around her unfortunate fate and female bankruptcy. A story was invented that Beck was allegedly sexually abused by her brother as a child, and that she had to endure her entire adult life to be mocked by others because of her repulsive appearance. The lawyer also hoped to convince the jury that a head injury turned Fernandez into another person, that is, in fact, a ridiculous accident made a pleasant guy a murderer.
The verdict in the case was announced on August 22, 1949: Fernandez and Beck were waiting for an electric chair. They were both sent to Sing Sing Prison. Initially, the execution of the sentence was scheduled for October 10, but Rosenberg appealed the appeal, and this delayed the execution. The couple spent almost two more years in prison. On March 8, 1951, the sentence was carried out: Ramon went to the electric chair first. The man had to be carried to the office on his hands. According to witnesses, Fernandez, before execution, shouted his love for Martha. Beck went to the chair herself. So the killers of "lonely hearts" died one day.