Albert Fish was an American serial killer born on May 19, 1870. HIs real name is Hamilton Howard but he is also known as the Gray Man, Werewolf of Mysteria, Brooklyn Vampire, Ham & Eggs, Moon Maniac, and The Boogeyman. HIs parents were Randall and Ellen Fish. He had a family history of mental illness. His uncle had mania, his brother was in a mental institution, his sister had mental affliction, and his mother had visual hallucinations. His father died when he was five years old and his mother put him in an orphanage. In this orphanage he was beaten regularly and was exposed to many very sadistic acts of brutality. He was so regularly beaten that he began to look forward to the abuse because of the pleasure it brought him. During his time at the orphanage, Fish saw and experienced plenty of acts of perversions like forced masturbation in front of the other children and brutal beatings.
Albert would laer blame the orphanage and what he experienced there for “ruining” his mind. He said, “I was there ’til I was nearly nine, and that’s where I got started wrong. We were unmercifully whipped. I saw boys doing many things they should not have done.” In 1880, his mother removed him from the orphanage. He had very little education and grew up learning how to use his hands to do his work and not with his brains. Soon after returning to be home with his mother, Albert began a relationship with another boy that introduced him to things like drinking urine and eating feces. He started to visit public baths so he could watch the other boys undress and spent a lot of his weekends on these visits. In 1890, he moved to New York and he started his crimes against children. He began to participate in prostitution and started to rape young boys. His mother arranged for him to marry Anna Hoffman who was 9 years younger than Albert in 1898. He had six children with Anna. The children had normal lives up until 1917, after Fish’s wife ran off with another man. Soon after their mother ran away the children said that Fish asked them to participate in his masochistic games.
During 1898 he worked as a house painter. He continued to moles boys younger than age six. In 1910, while he was working in Delaware, he met a 19-year-old man named Thomas Kedden. They began a sadomasochistic relationship. Fish later confessed that the man was intellectually disabled. He took Kedden to an old farmhouse. He then started to torture him. He tortured him for two weeks. After some time, FIsh tied Kedden up and cut off half of his penis. “I shall never forget his scream, or the look he gave me,” Fish later said. He intended to kill Kedden at first, and cut up his body, and take it home. Fish, instead, poured peroxide over the wound, wrapped it in a vaseline-covered handkerchief, left a $10 bill, kissed Kedden goodbye, and left. In 1917 Fish began self-harm. He started to embed needles into his groin and abdomen.
After he was arrested, an x ray revealed that Fish had at least 29 needles lodged in his pelvic region. He hit himself constantly with a nail-studded paddle and inserted wool doused with lighter fluid into his anus and set it on fire. He never physically attacked or abused his children, but he did encourage them and their friends to paddle him with the same nail-studded paddle he used on himself. He eventually developed a growing obsession with cannibalism often eating a dinner of only raw meat and sometimes giving it to his children. Fish started to choose people who were either mentally handicapped or African American as his victims, he rationalized that these people would not be missed when killed. On May 25, 1928, Fish saw a classified advertisement that read, “Young man, 18, wishes position in country. Edward Budd, 406 West 15th Street.”
Three days later, Fish then at 58 years old, visited the Budd family acting like he was going to hire Edward. Fish later confessed that he planned to tie up Edward, and mutilate him, and leave him to bleed out. He introduced himself as Frank Howard and he promised to hire Budd and his friend Willie, and said he would come for them in a few days. He didn’t show up, but he apologized and set a later date. When Fish returned, he met Grace Budd. He apparently changed his victim from Edward Budd to Grace Budd and then made up a story about having to attend his niece’s birthday party. He convinced the parents to let Grace go with him to the party.
Grace left with Fish that day but came back. The police arrested a 66-year-old superintendent Charles Edward Pope on September 5, 1930, as a suspect, who was accused by his estranged wife. He had to spend 108 days in jail between his arrest and trial on December 22, 1930, where he was then found not guilty. In November 1934, Fish wrote an anonymous letter that was sent to the girl’s parents which ultimately led the police to Fish. Police investigated the letter. There was a part of the letter about the murder of Grace Budd and was found to be accurate of the kidnapping, although it was impossible to confirm whether or not Fish actually eat parts of Grace’s body. The letter was delivered in an envelope that had the letters of “N.Y.P.C.B.A.” that represented the “New York Private Chauffeur’s Benevolent Association”.
A janitor at the company told the police he took some of the stationery home but left them at his house when he moved out. The landlady of that house said that Fish checked out of that room a few days earlier and that Fish’s son sent him money, and he asked her to hold his next check for him. William King, who was the chief investigator for the case, waited for Fish outside the room. Fish agreed to go to headquarters to be asked questions, but he then pulled a razor blade. King disarmed Fish and took him to police headquarters. Fish didn’t attempt to deny murdering Grace Budd, but he did say that he meant to go and kill Edward Budd instead. Fish said he never intended to rape Grace, but he later admitted to his attorney that, while kneeling on Grace’s chest and strangling her, he had two involuntary ejaculations. This information was used at the trial to make the claim the kidnapping was sexually motivated, so it avoided any mention of cannibalism. The trial for the murder of Grace Budd began on March 11, 1935, in New York. The trial lasted for 10 days. Fish pleaded insanity, and he said that he heard voices from God telling him to kill the children. Several psychiatrists testified about Fish’s sexual fetishes, which included sadism, masochism, flagellation, pedophilia, cunnilingus, anilingus, fellatio, piquerism, exhibitionism, voyeurism, cannibalism, coprophilia, urophilia, and infibulation.
It was noted that Fish was a “psychiatric phenomenon” and that no one in medical records has ever possessed so many sexual abnormalities. No one doubted that Fish was insane, but they felt he needed to be executed anyways. He was found to be sane and guilty, but the judge ordered for the death sentence. He got to prison in March 1935, and was executed on January 16, 1936, in the electric chair at Sing Sing prison. He was buried in the Sing Sing Prison Cemetery. It was said that Fish helped the executioner put the electrodes on his body. His last words were reportedly, “I don’t even know why I’m here.” According to one witness present, it took two jolts before Fish died. This created a rumor that the apparatus was short-circuited because of the needles that Fish embedded into his body. Fish’s lawyer, James Dempsey, said that he had his client’s final statement after his execution. Fish wrote his final statement just hours before his death. Dempsey refused to let anyone see his final statement and stated, “I will never show it to anyone. It was the most filthy string of obscenities that I have ever read.”