On February 6, 1961, Carolyn Lima and Leslie Douglas Ashley arrived at the Houston office of realtor Fred Tones for a prearranged sexual encounter. Authorities discovered Tones’ body later that night. He had been fatally shot six times and then burned. Lima and Ashley evaded police for three weeks, driving Tones' Lincoln to Galveston and New Orleans before the FBI found them in New York City. The “Beatnik Killers”—as they were referred to by the Houston Press—were back in Houston the following month, facing charges of capital murder. During their joint trial, Lima and Ashley claimed to have killed Tones in self-defense. On May 24, a Harris County jury passed a guilty verdict and sentenced both to death. Lima would have been the first woman legally executed in Texas in nearly a century.
Federal Circuit Judge John R. Brown issued stays of execution on March 29, 1963, just four hours before the pair were scheduled to die. The US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals later ruled that the prosecution had suppressed evidence favorable to the pair, and ordered new trials for both defendants. Following their second trials, Lima was sentenced to five years in prison, and Ashley was declared insane and sent to a mental hospital in San Antonio. Ashley escaped from the facility, spending six months on the run before being apprehended by the FBI. Ashley was tried again for Tones’ murder and sentenced to 15 years, serving five.