Fetch the Devil

The Sierra Diablo Murders and Nazi Espionage in America

Clint Richmond

In 1938, Hazel Frome, the wife of a powerful executive at Atlas Powder Company, a San Francisco explosives manufacturer, set out on a cross-country motor trip with her twenty-three-year-old daughter, Nancy. When their car broke down in El Paso, Texas, they made the most of being stranded by staying at a posh hotel and crossing the border to Juarez for shopping, dining, and drinking. A week later, their near-nude bodies were found in the Chihuahuan Desert. Though they had been seen on occasion with two mystery men, there were no clues as to why they had apparently been abducted, tortured for days, and shot execution style. El Paso sheriff Chris Fox, a lawman right out of central casting, engaged in a turf war with the Texas Rangers and local officials that hampered the investigation. But the victims’ detours had placed them in the path of a Nazi spy ring operating from the West Coast to Latin America through a deep-cover portal at El Paso. The sleeper cell was run by spymasters at the German consulate in San Francisco. In 1938, only the inner circle of the Roosevelt White House and a few FBI agents were aware of the extent to which German agents had infiltrated American industry. Fetch the Devil is the first narrative account of this still officially unsolved case. Based on long forgotten archives and recently declassified FBI files, Richmond paints a convincing portrait of a sheriff’s dogged investigation into a baffling murder, the international spy ring that orchestrated it, and America on the brink of another world war.

Cloth: $29.95 | E-book: $19.99
ISBN-13: 9781611685343
Pages: 378 | Size: 6 in. x 9 in.
Date Published: June 3, 2014


  • After discussing the Fromes, the significance of the munitions company, circumstances of the murder, and modus operandi of the spy network, Richmond offers a plausible theory of why the Fromes were killed. He provides ample "atmospherics" of the era, such as the cost of a Packard car, and what the Fromes might have listened to on the radio during their trip. The result makes for a well-paced, engrossing true crime story.

    Publishers Weekly
  • True crime fans will be both impressed and dismayed with how close law enforcement came to answers, and give credit to the particular efforts of Chris Fox, who could not forget the case even after his own son's wartime death. Spy enthusiasts and World War II buffs will be intrigued to learn the depth of Nazi espionage in 1930s America and its collateral damage. This is a story with twists that sound like fiction.

    Texas Writers League
  • Richmond relied on declassified federal government documents and various long-forgotten El Paso archives for his research, including meticulous case notes and files compiled by Chris Fox, the El Paso County sheriff who pursued the case relentlessly.Richmond is convinced that Fox, who emerged as one of El Paso's most prominent citizens, probably came closer than anyone else to solving the case even after the Texas Rangers took over the investigation. The book contends petty jurisdictional jealousies among various law enforcement agencies hampered the investigation.

    El Paso Times
  • Richmond’s well-written, well-researched book does not solve the crime . . .  however, it does bring to light some previously unpublished materials. Plus, the author offers compelling arguments that the women probably were murdered by henchmen of a Mexico-based Nazi spy ring.

    Dallas Morning News
  • This book places Clint Richmond in the Top Echelon of Historical True Crime writers. There are writers, and then there are storytellers. Clint Richmond is both, and he is one of the best.

About the Author

Clint Richmond

Clint Richmond, a #1 New York Times best-selling author, has more than 30 years’ professional writing experience as a nonfiction book author, newspaper reporter, and freelance magazine journalist. He has published books on a wide range of topics, from domestic terrorism and true crime to pop psychology and celebrity biography.

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