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Lonely hearts killer

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Title: Lonely hearts killer  
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Subject: Internet homicide, Feticide, Pseudocommando, Axe murder, Infanticide
Collection: Crime, Interpersonal Relationships
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Lonely hearts killer

The phrase lonely hearts killer, sometimes also want-ad killer, or matrimonial bureau murderer, is a journalistic term of art that refers to a person who commits murder by contacting a victim who has either posted advertisements to or answered advertisements via newspaper classified ads and personal or lonely hearts club ads.[1]


  • Varied motives 1
  • Notable lonely hearts and want-ad killers 2
  • Lonely hearts killers in popular culture 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5

Varied motives

The actual motivations of these criminals are varied. By definition, a killing will have taken place in order for the suspected, accused, or convicted perpetrator to be dubbed a want-ad or lonely hearts club killer. However, the crime may have involved a simple robbery gone wrong, an elaborate insurance fraud scheme, sexual violence, or any of several other ritualized pathological impulses (e.g. necrophilia, mutilation, cannibalism, etc.). Sometimes murder is not the (original) intent, but becomes a by-product of rape or other struggle; in some cases, murder is committed simply to cover up the original crime. Some, on the other hand, are serial killers who utilize this method of targeting victims, either exclusively, or when it suits them.[2]

Notable lonely hearts and want-ad killers

The following accused and convicted murderers and serial killers are known to have used want ads, personal ads, and/or matrimonial bureaus to contact their victims:

Lonely hearts killers in popular culture

The theme of the want-ad killer or lonely hearts club murderer has been popular in fiction. Examples of dramatic treatments of this theme are listed in chronological order of publication or release:

  • Pièges was a 1939 French thriller film directed by Robert Siodmak; starring Maurice Chevalier, Marie Déa, and André Brunot; it tells the story of an amateur female sleuth who goes undercover to trap a serial killer who has murdered one of her friends and who stalks his prey via classified ads.
  • "The Want-Ad Murders" by Frances M. Deegan, was a novella that appeared in Detective Story Magazine in March 1944, and was reprinted in Detective Story Annual 1948, edited by Daisy Bacon, and published by Street & Smith in 1948.
  • Monsieur Verdoux was a 1947 film written by, directed by, and starring Charlie Chaplin, and based on the life of the French lonely hearts killer Henri Désiré Landru.
  • Bluebeard's Ten Honeymoons was a 1960 film that starred George Sanders as Henri Désiré Landru.
  • Landru was a 1962 film, directed by Claude Chabrol and inspired by the Henri Désiré Landru case.
  • The Honeymoon Killers was a 1970 film fictionalization of the murders committed by Ramond Fernandez and Martha Beck.
  • Sea of Love was a 1989 film drama in which a series of male murder victims are discovered to have each submitted ads in rhyme for publication in the lonely hearts column of the same magazine. The police detective on the case convinces his chief to write rhyming ads for the magazine and to investigate any women who reply.
  • Method was a film released in 2004, inspired by and loosely based on the Belle Gunness murders.
  • Désiré Landru, a 2005 French movie, was an adaptation of the story of Henri Désiré Landru.[6]
  • Lonely Hearts was a 2006 dramatized film account of the killings perpetrated by Ray Fernandez and Martha Beck.

See also


  1. ^ a b "'"Lonely Hearts Murderer.  
  2. ^ 'The A to Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers' by Harold Schechter;
  3. ^ Backstory extras: The Lonely Hearts Murder Case (This article deals with Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck of Delaware)
  4. ^ Boulder Jane Doe (This article covers a possible Colorado victim of Harvey Glatman, California’s “Lonely Hearts Killer.”)
  5. ^ "The Want Ad Killer" by Ann Rule, 1983 ISBN 0-451-16688-4. (This book is about the serial killer Harvey Carignan.)
  6. ^ Désiré Landru
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