Albert Fish was one of the most sickening criminals of all time. His acts were not only gruesome but totally repugnant with society.
Hamilton Howard Albert Fish, known as Albert and many other nicknames like ‘the Brooklyn vampire’, ‘moon maniac’ and more, was born in Washington D. C., on the 19th of May in 1870.
His father Randall Fish, was a riverboat captain turned fertilizer manufacturer, while his mother Ellen Fish, acquired a government job after some years of Randall’s death. Due to being low on funds to support the family after Randall’s demise, she put him into an orphanage and could get him back only after she got employed. He had three siblings and was the youngest. Randall was 75 at the time of his birth.
Dysfunctional growth environment
Albert’s environment at the time of his growth can be held equally responsible for his destructive nature and motives of sexual gratification, to which he was exposed at a very young age. His parents had a whopping age difference of 43 years, his father being 75 years old at his birth. He died 5 years later due to a heart attack when Albert was just five years old. Right after which he was sent to an orphanage, where not only Albert but all the children were treated poorly and unethically. It was at the orphanage that Albert started enjoying the pain and turned into a barbaric sociopath. They were beaten mercilessly and made to do disgraceful and morally incorrect things to each other. While many reacted differently to the abuse, mostly negative, Albert on the other hand, grew fond of the pain that he suffered and the whole idea of inflicting pain on others. He was nicknamed as ‘ham and eggs’ and to get rid of it, he chose to be called Albert, after his dead brother’s name and that’s when he came to be known as Albert.
Apart from this, the kind of people he lived with, including his very own mother and sister suffered from various mental illnesses. His uncle was in a mental hospital due to being diagnosed with mania, while his sister was discovered to have mental affliction and his mother would hallucinate.
At nine, his mother brought him back but it was pretty late till then. As he had formed a relationship with a telegraph boy who wasn’t a good company at all for him. The boy introduced him to urolagnia and coprophagy, which is not only stomach-churning for the normal humans but also loathsome and totally beyond the pale. Eventually, he started associating pleasure with pain and other sexual deviancies. He even became fond of watching boys his age, undress and would spend hours and hours watching them secretively in public baths.
Commencement – The Beginning
Fish, stepped into prostitution around turning 20, in the year 1890. It was not long when he also started raping boys younger than him. During that time, the streets of New York were filled with young boys and girls hanging out and Fish started targeting young boys. His mother sensed something odd about her son. It’s uncertain whether she knew what exactly her son was indulged in but she got an idea that what Fish was doing, definitely wasn’t good. She tied him in marriage with a girl, nine years younger than him, named Anna Mary Hoffman. Together they bore six children, namely: Albert, Anna, Gertrude, Eugene, John, Henry.
Luckily, Albert never harmed his children. Although he used to make them hit him with spiked paddles and other sharp objects. He did a few times, feed them raw meat though.
Albert once claimed openly that, he loves inflicting pain to others as well as experiencing extreme pain on his own self.
Everything he did was more than sickening, the worst was raping boys below six years of age, most of his victims were of that age. One of his lovers, took him to a wax museum, where he came across a phallus bisection and it doesn’t come out as a surprise that he grew fond of it; it was the onset of his sexual obsession. Later, he got a chance to work this obsession of his and layout the bisection in his own fetish ridden way in 1910, when he met Thomas Kedden.
By then, he had become a full-fledged pedophile and rapist and resorted to even more heinous and sick crimes. When he turned 54, he suffered from psychosis and sensed that it was God who commanded him to do the crimes.
Albert was always interested in the same sex. Be it the little children he molested or his deviant and abhorrent relationships. They were never romantic relationships, rather his way of exercising his vile fetishes and fads. His first one was with the telegraph boy at twelve years of age. Later in 1910, when fish was twenty, he met a nineteen-year-old boy, named Thomas Kedden. They were in a sadomasochistic affair after Kedden started living with him. Gradually, Fish took Kedden to a farmhouse and the relationship turned into torture. He tormented Kedden and later dissected half of his phallus. He also fled from the place, leaving ten dollars and wrapping Kedden in a Vaseline dripped handkerchief, also kissing him goodbye.
Apart from Kedden, Fish was believed to have more relationships with boys, much younger than him, though no reports of the murder of torture came forward. He confessed that he earlier intended to kill Kedden. He also confirmed that Kedden was mentally disabled and that he would never forget the screams and look on his face. It was never confirmed as to during the time before the torture and moving to the farmhouse, when both were in a relationship, that the sadomasochism was both sided, it’s believed that Fish forced Kedden into it.
Fish also stabbed a boy, much like Kedden in the 1919s. It was also revealed through his actions that believed in killing the disable, preferably intellect wise and of African descent, as he assumed that they won’t be missed if killed.
Separation with his wife
Fish found it very hard to cope with his wife’s separation. He would often hallucinate. It was due to this separation that he started to hallucinate in the first place. He stated that ‘John The Apostle’ would instruct him into doing things. He once swaddled himself in a carpet in order to escape the auditory hallucinations.
Not only this, he even started self-mutilating. He inserted needles into his groin so deep, that they couldn’t be removed. His x-ray showed twelve deeply inserted needles.
Anna left him for a factotum, who apparently lived with the Fish family for some time. Fish didn’t take this well but it was a sign of relief knowing that he didn’t try to hurt his ex-wife, neither her new lover. She took away everything she and Fish owned together and never interfered in either Fish’s or their childrens’ lives. Fish was left to take care of them on his own. He worked as a painter of houses.
Fish married again in 1930, to Estella Wilcox but it was strange that they divorced within a week.
Drive towards cannibalism
It’s almost confirmed that it was during the time after Fish’s separation that he started eating raw meat and turned towards cannibalism. He told one of his interviewer’s that he made a stew out his victims body parts, adding onions and spices to it: he even gave details of how the human flesh cooked and compared it with roast turkey saying that he has never eaten any turkey half as good as human flesh. He often ate his victim’s flesh. He used certain tools for mutilation and called this set ‘implements of hell’. His crimes cannot be categorized but the one that he’s known for the most was that of Grace Budd.
Talking about cannibalism, Fish abducted a 10-year-old girl named Grace and sent her mother a letter including all the details of how he killed her and ate her flesh. Though it was never confirmed whether he really ate her but he mentioned it in the letter along with how he got introduced to human meat in the first place.
Fish and his friend accidentally sailed to China, where famine had occurred. Young children were sold to butchers to be cut off and be eaten. The lower back portion would be the best in taste: sweet and tender in his words. It was there, when he developed a taste for it and soon after returning to the USA he captured two boys; tortured them, hung them upside down like pigs when brought to be butchered and ate all parts of their bodies except bones, gut, and head.
Albert mostly searched for his victims in newspaper ads and matrimonial. He also used to call up maids and other people who put up their ads in the paper for menial jobs. He would call them up and later send obscene letters to them. He was even arrested in 1930 for doing so and was sent a psychiatric hospital.
Likewise in 1928, Fish read an advertisement was all set to attack his next prey, Edward Budd. But soon after, he set his eyes on Edwards younger sister Grace who was 10 when Fish killed her. He earlier promised to hire Edward and a friend of his and promised to call for them soon which he didn’t. he later came to their house and met grace for the first time and decided to prey on her instead. To abduct her, he made up a story of his niece’s birthday party and forced her parents to let Grace go with him to it. Grace’s parents agreed and never saw her again.
It took the police 6 years to lead to Fish, that too because of the letter he sent to Mrs. Budd, which included all the gory details of his misdoings with Grace and a backstory of how he grew fond of human meat. He also wrote how he ate Grace’s body parts and how delicious it was; he confessed that it took him nine days to eat all of the grace’s body.
After Mrs. Budd informed the police about the letter, the police tracked him down and reached his house. William F king was the investigator who reached Fish’s home and waited for him to return. Fish tried to escape, as he fought with William but William disarmed him and took him to the station where Fish confessed the murder.
Tribunal and legal proceedings
Fish was arrested for grand larceny in 1903 and was sent to a maximum-security prison named Sing Sing, situated in New York. It was a correction prison.
Later he was arrested for sending an obscene letter to a lady who advertised about her seeking a job as a maid, in 1930. Following which he was sent to a psychiatric hospital.
After Grace’s death when the letter leads the police to him, he was sent for trial in 1935, march. His lawyer pleaded for insanity, where fish also claimed that God’s voices and even of John The Apostle’s, guided him to do the crimes. Many psychiatrists intervened and testified for his crazy obsessions and fetishes like that of pedophilia, voyeurism and many more. Many biblical and religious aspects of his fetishes also came forward.
Despite many claims of insanity, it was believed that a man like must be executed. He was announced sane and also guilty of all the crimes he committed.
On Jan 16th, 1936 Fish was executed in the electric chair in the Sing Sing hospital.
His lawyer revealed that Fish’s final statement was so filthy and dirty that he would never show it to anyone.
The most shocking plea that came forward by Fish’s lawyer was that of him being a family man. He tried making the jurors believe that Fish hailed from a disturbed home and had to suffer a lot at the orphanage. He believed that Fish, despite having a rough childhood, a rather abusive one, didn’t fail to look after his kids. He never did anything wrong to them and protected them always. He single-handedly raised his children after his wife left him and took away everything Fish owned.
All this couldn’t hide the fact that Fish brutally murdered and sexually abused many children. A man like him should never be alive and hence the judge sentenced him to death, which he very much deserved.
Fish, at his orphanage made friends with a telegraph boy during 1880, who influenced him to all sorts of disgusting habits, it was Fish’s first time indulging in criminal activities, like that of voyeurism, urolagnia, and coprophagy.
Around 1890 when Fish came to New York, he started raping young boys.
He also ate up and tormented two young boys, aged seven and eleven, in 1894 or maybe a little later before the 1900s. In 1910, he met Thomas Kedden and castrated him halfway.
Soon in 1919, he stabbed an intellectually disabled boy. These are a few specific cases that came forward. Most of the cases went unnoticed. He once invited a group of children to his house for food, two of them ended up finding weapons and ran away but this didn’t stop him from killing one of the group members named Cyril Quinn. Before Quinn’s incident, he also tried to abduct an eight-year-old named Beatrice, in 1924 but couldn’t as he got caught multiple times by either of the family members of Beatrice who shooed Fish away.
In 1924, Fish targeted Francis McDonnell. Francis was nine and went missing. Later, he was found dead, hanging by a tree. Fish molested him and probably strangled him apart from leaving deep and severe lacerations in his inner thigh and abdomen region. People who saw Albert fish that day around Francis described Fish as ‘the grey man’ and hence the nickname. The mystery of The Grey Man remained unsolved until Grace’s case.
Before reaching to the Budds, Fish abducted a year old Billy Gaffney in 1927. A letter was found amongst his other documents where he wrote all the details of how he dissected the whole of Billy’s body and ate it. Billy’s mother met Fish in Sing Sing but didn’t believe that Fish killed her son.
The Grey Man, released in 2007 was a movie about Fish and how he killed Grace Budd. Another documentary film was released in the same year.
He was also pictured twice in the show Criminal Minds.
Death or sanctified?
In 1936, on Jan 16th Fish was electrocuted on the electric chair at the Sing Sing, where he was earlier kept. His death felt as if the society was sanctified.