Thursday, March 6, 2014

Francis Hernandez and the Death of a Friendship

Long time, no write! I wanted to share something with you that has been troubling me.

Back in 1977, when I was 17 and lived in Long Beach, California, I was briefly acquainted with a 15 year old boy named Francis Hernandez. A mutual friend introduced me to him. The three of us went partying together at El Dorado Park in the friend's car.

In 1981, after I had moved to California's High Desert, I was watching the news on television one afternoon. The newscaster said that the bodies of two young women had been found at the junior high school and the high school I attended in Long Beach. Shortly thereafter, the friend who introduced me to Francis telephoned me and told me that Francis had been arrested for the murders. He was accused of raping, torturing and murdering Edna and Kathy. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to death. For many years, Francis Hernandez was the youngest man on California's Death Row.

I wrote the articles about Francis Hernandez for my blog after I learned that his death sentence had been commuted to life in prison. I was concerned because I had heard that he might be eligible for parole. Frankly, I believe that  the crimes that Francis were so horrendous that he should have to spend the rest of his life in prison. I wrote about him, hoping to encourage others to ask California's Parole Board to keep him in prison.

Shortly after I wrote the articles about Francis, I invited the mutual friend to read my blog. I wanted to invite her adult daughter too, but I thought the right thing to do was ask the mother first. The mutual friend responded by sending me an angry email written in all caps. She denied that she ever knew Francis Hernandez. I told her that she had known Fran -- when she introduced him to me, she told me he was one of the young people who hung out at her neighbor's house. At that point, she said that if I told her daughter anything, she would never speak to me again. She told me that she didn't want to be my friend any more because I "remind her of things she doesn't want to remember." She told me delete her as a Facebook friend, so I did.

This was hurtful to me. I assume that she is angry with me because I used her first name in an article about Francis Hernandez. I did not think I had done anything wrong because her first name is very common among our age group. I have tried to apologize to her, but she refuses to have anything to do with me. This is not the first time that she has become angry with me and refused to speak to me for years, but it might be the last.

To my former friend:  If I said or wrote something that offended you, I am sorry. When I wrote about Francis, it was NOT my intention to embarrass anyone, except for maybe Francis. I'm not the type of person who would deliberately say something to a friend's child that I thought would embarrass the friend.

Unlike my former friend, I am not embarrassed that I was briefly acquainted with Francis Hernandez. Many, many people in Long Beach were acquainted with him. When the three of us went partying, I had absolutely no idea that some day he would murder Edna and Kathy. If I had known that he was violent, I would not have gone. If my former friend had known, I do not think she would have partied with him either. But we could not predict the future.

Frankly, I am just happy and grateful that I survived.


  1. I too use to hang out with Francis. This is when he was going out with Heidi Williams. I don't know why I feel like I need to comment on here, but I do. Heidi was my friend. We use to cruise around with him, in his van, all the time. I left right before all of this happened. It scares the hell out of me just thinking about it. I hung out at Heartwell park mostly. But I would venture to the Keyhole with them every now and then. I think Francis just snapped. I knew there was something wrong with him, just wasn't sure what. He could have done what he did to anyone. I couldn't believe it when I heard what happened. I have had 3 friends, not including Francis, that has snapped and killed people in a horrific manner. One is dead and the other 2 are in prison. So I can relate to being a survivor.

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