Beatnik Killers


On February 6, 1961, Carolyn Lima and Leslie Elaine Perez (then known as 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 Perez 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 Perez 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 Perez was declared insane and sent to a mental hospital in San Antonio. Perez escaped from the facility, spending six months on the run before being apprehended by the FBI. She was tried again for Tones’ murder and sentenced to 15 years, serving five.

Depression-Era Desperadoes
Deadly Love Affair