Albert Fish, One of the Most Notorious Serial Killers in America’s History

The United States of America has recorded tales of several crimes and criminals. However, none of them comes closer to the Albert Fish story. This man owns the distinction of being one of the most gruesome serial killers of all time. The fact that he not only killed but also ate children is enough to make you feel gutted and detest him.

He is known by many names – The Gray Man, The Brooklyn Vampire, The Werewolf of Wysteria, the Moon Maniac, and the Boogey Man. According to him, he had over a hundred victims. When the police imprisoned him for trials, he claimed he had children (victims) in every state.

Read everything about Albert Fish below.

Who was Albert Fish?

Albert Fish was born Hamilton Howard ‘Albert’ Fish on May 19th, 1870. His father was 75 when he was born. His mother, Ellen, was 43 years younger than her husband.

Albert was the youngest of all his four siblings. When he was a child, he was often called ‘Ham and Eggs’ by other children. Tired, Albert took his name Albert after a deceased sibling. Albert’s father passed away when he was only 5, leaving his mother and other children in poverty. His mother had to make the difficult decision of putting Albert and other children into an orphanage until she could find a way to provide for the family.

He spent his childhood in the Saint John’s orphanage. These were the years that had started shaping him into the monster that he became later in his life.

Albert had a Disturbed Childhood

When he was put in the orphanage, Albert was frequently subjected to physical abuse. But instead of turning from the pain, he realized he enjoyed the pain inflicted upon him. When he turned 10, his mother secured a government job and returned for her children. But he could never go back to his family mentally or emotionally. The abuse that Fish experienced in the orphanage had left a mark on the boy!

Sick Friendship that Fed Albert’s Monstrosity

When Albert turned 12, he formed a relationship with a local telegraph boy who introduced him to some disgusting practices. Albert embraced coprophagia (the act of eating feces), urolagnia, and drinking urine in his company.

He would spend weekends visiting public bath houses to spy on young boys as they undressed. He would also answer mail order classified ads placed by the women seeking marriage proposals with many obscene replies. By this time, Albert had fallen prey to mental illness.

A Criminal Who Started Raping Children

Fish was 20 when he moved to New York City. He became a prostitute and began raping underage boys. In 1898, he married Anna Mary Hoffman. Together they had six children. Despite his married life and children, his act of abusing young boys did not end.

The ‘pedophile’ Albert also developed a penchant for sexual mutilation. He claimed he became obsessed with it after seeing a bisected penis at a museum.

The Killing of Thomas Kedden

In 1910, Albert met a 19-year-old intellectually disabled boy, Thomas Kedden. He made Kedden his prey and practiced all sorts of sadomasochistic fantasies on him. Fish tortured the young boy for two weeks and bisected his penis.

Reportedly, Fish originally intended to kill Kedden, cut up his body, and take it home. But he feared the hot weather would draw attention. Instead, he poured peroxide over the wound, wrapped it in a Vaseline-covered handkerchief, left a $10 bill, kissed Kedden goodbye, and left.

When his Marriage Did Not Work Out

In 1917, his wife decided to leave him. She took most of their possessions and left him to care for his six children. By this time, Fish began to devolve into mental illness. He would often experience hallucinations and believed Apostle John was giving him direct orders.

Fish would not leave his children and traumatize them by involving them in his sadomasochistic fantasies. Although he never physically harmed them, he would ask them and their friends to spank him with a nail-studded paddle. Once upon a time, he ordered his children to serve them dinners of raw meat as he explored cannibalism.

All this while, he began inflicting harm upon himself. He stuck needles into his groin and abdomen. This practice became so prevalent that at one point an X-ray showed he had 29 needles in his groin.

Albert’s Victims

In 1924, Albert sexually assaulted Francis McDonnell. He left him hanging from a tree. Fish said he had wanted to castrate him but didn’t have enough time in the not-so-secluded area. In 1927, Albert tortured a 4-year-old kid, Billy Gaffney. The small child was taken from his apartment hallway in Brooklyn and killed. He described what happened to Billy in a letter.

In 1928, Albert Fish answered a classified ad placed by Grace Budd’s brother, Edward Budd, in which he was seeking employment. The killer pretended to be a farmer looking for farmland. When he met Grace Budd, he convinced her parents to let him take her to a party. The little child was never seen again.

The Letter with Chilling Details

Six years after Grace Budd went missing, a letter arrived at the Budd home. Reportedly, Mrs. Budd could not read the letter herself, so her son, Edward, read all the chilling words to her mother.

Here are some excerpts from the letter that Albert Fish wrote to the Budd Family in 1934. This letter further led to the killer’s arrest.

“On Sunday, June the 3rd, 1928, I called on you at 406 W 15 St. Brought you pot cheese – strawberries. We had lunch. Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her, under the pretence of taking her to a party. You said yes she could go. I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off. I knew if I did not I would get her blood on them. When all was ready I went to the window and called her. Then I hid in a closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked she began to cry and tried to run downstairs.”

“I grabbed her, and she said she would tell her mama. First, I stripped her naked. How she did kick- bite and scratch. I choked her to death and then cut her into small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms, cook, and eat it. How sweet and tender her little ass was roasted in the oven. It took me 9 days to eat her entire body. I did not fuck her, though, I could have had I wished.”

When the investigation began, parts of the letter were verified by the police, while others were not. Facts surrounding the murder of the child were accurate, although it remained unconfirmed whether Fish ate pieces of Grace or not.

The Beginning of Trial and Execution

Although Albert Fish claimed to have killed over 100 children, in reality, he was only convicted of killing one – Grace Budd. Her murder sent the psycho killer to the electric chair.

Following his record, Fish was dubbed the most vicious child slayer in criminal history. His trial lasted eleven days, and he was found guilty. Fish was put to death via electrocution.

It was reported that he helped the executioner place the electrodes on his body. Some rumors also suggested that the needles he inserted into his body caused the electric chair to short circuit, requiring twice the normal jolts of electricity to finish the job and execute the killer. However, these claims were later refuted.

After Albert was put to death, his lawyer mentioned that he had final words from Fish, amounting to nothing more than his handwritten notes. However, he refused to release those notes and stated “I will never show it to anyone. It was the most filthy strings of obscenities that I have ever read. Fish was a vile human being, right up to the end of his life.”

However, one of them was released to be read. Under the letter, Fish described how he murdered Billy Gaffney:

“I whipped his bare behind till the blood ran from his legs. I cut off his ears, and nose, and slit his mouth from ear to ear. Gouged out his eyes. He was dead then. I stuck the knife in his belly, held my mouth to his body, and drank his blood.”

There is a Documentary on this Case

The Albert Fish story spread like a wildfire all over the world. After all, nobody had read such gruesome news about killing children earlier.

In 2007, John Borowski released a documentary on the killer. He named it Albert Fish. The one-and-a-half-hour feature film can be streamed on the OTT platforms.

A movie, The Gray Man, was also made in 2007. It stars Patrick Bauchau as Albert Fish. You can stream it online on YouTube and other platforms.

The Creepiest and Disturbing Things About Albert Fish

  • After his first wife left him, Albert Fish wed two other women in short-lived marriages. One of his sons recounted the story of one afternoon when his dad ruined a family outing. He climbed the hills of Westchester, threw his fists to the sky, and screamed continually, “I am Christ.”
  • Before he was apprehended by the authorities in 1934 for Budd’s murder, all the parents and children lived in the fear of Albert Fish, the Boogeyman. After the disappearance of Francis McDonnell, panic spread everywhere, and everyone feared the thin, gray-haired man.
  • Albert Fish wasn’t apprehensive in confessing his crimes. After his subsequent confessions and conviction, prosecutors believed he had at least 100 victims. But the exact count of victims murdered by him was not confirmed even after his death.
  • When he was convicted and sentenced to death via electric chair, he looked forward to his violent end. “It will be the supreme thrill, the only one I haven’t tried”, he said to the guards leading him to execution.
  • Besides the above-stated victims, another murder by him was reported in 1927. A 12-year-old girl, Yetta Abramowitz, was strangled and beaten on the roof of a five-story apartment in the Bronx. By the time her body was found, she had passed away.
  • Albert Fish enjoyed harming himself. A testimony was given by his son, Albert Fish Jr. He stated that his father was unstable. He told the newspaper reports about his strange upbringing. “That old skunk […] I always knew that he would get caught for something like this.”
  • In the same testimony, his son stated revealed that Fish only ate raw steak during a full moon and how he had come home one day to find his father naked and beating himself with a wooden board full of pointed metal nails.
  • His stepchildren also testified about Albert’s odd behavior. His stepdaughter told the court about how Fish stripped to his underwear in front of the children.
  • Reportedly, he selected victims he believed people would not miss. It usually meant African American boys or boys with mental or intellectual disabilities.
  • Albert Fish’s torture and murder weapons included a meat cleaver, a handsaw, and a butcher knife. He called them the implements of hell.
  • At one point, his mental health became so ill that he believed God was commanding him to sexually mutilate young children.
  • The serial killer has been the subject of many true crime podcasts. You can listen to an in-depth discussion on The Last Podcast on the Left, which comes in three parts.
  • Reportedly, Albert’s family had a long history of mental illness. The list went from his uncles to brothers, sisters, and his own mother. His mother suffered regular visual hallucinations.

Creepy Quotes by Albert Fish

“A boy or girls behind which is the sweetest part of the body.”

“He told me so often how good human flesh was I made up my mind to taste it.”

“Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her.”

“I stuck the knife in his belly, and held my mouth to his body and drank his blood.”

“I never ate any roast turkey that tasted half as good as his sweet fat little behind did. I ate every bit of the meat in about four days.”

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