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Albert fish, a.k.a. The Gray Man was an American cannibalistic serial killer, rapist and pedophile who targeted children in the 1920s. He claimed his own tally of victims, mostly children around 100. Albert Fish had a way with children, being kind to children and offering them candy. Fish would lure children away from their homes, torture them in various ways, rape them and often ended up eating them. His crimes can’t be put into words.

Albert Fis.
Albert Fish Photo Credit: Wikimedia commons

On the morning of November 14, Budd family received a letter which left them shivering, the letter was from the man who took their daughter to his niece’s party in 1928 and never returned. The letter was from Albert Fish, a.k.a.The Brooklyn Vampire, The letter described the horror of what he had done to the girl.

“My dear Mrs. Budd,… On June 3, 1928, I called you at 406 W. 15 St. and brought you pot cheese and strawberries. We had lunch. Grace sat on my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her…How did she kick- bite and scratch, I choked her to death then cut her in 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…”

Early Life of Albert Fish

Albert Fish was born in Washington D.C. on May 19, 1870, with the original name Hamilton Howard, to Rendall and Ellen Fish with his 3 other siblings, Albert’s father was 43 years older than his mother, 75 at the time of his birth.

Mrs. Fish was unable to financially support the family after Albert’s father died at the age of 80 of a Heart Attack in 1975. Her mother gave him to St. John’s orphanage at the age of 5. It was then he started calling himself Albert after a dead sibling.

St. John's Home for boys, orphanage.
St. John’s Home for Boys, the orphanage where Fish spent most of his childhood. Photo Credit Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection

Fish remarked the time at his orphanage as “I was there till 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”. By 1880, his mother had a government job and was able to take Fish back home.

At the age of 11, Albert fell from a tree and suffered a serious concussion. The weird started happening when he began a relationship with a telegraph boy, the boy introduced him to a range of depraved practices including drinking uring and eating feces(poop). He began to visit public baths where he could watch other boys undress.

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The Gray Man

Hamilton Howard “Albert” Fish had many names, The Brooklyn Vampire, The Werewolf of Wysteria, The Gray Man.

Albert Fish moved to New York City in 1880 with his mother and started working as a male prostitute. According to his testimony, he regularly molested young children, preferring those who were under the age of 6, he also enjoyed writing obscene letters to the women who had placed personal ads for which he was arrested in 1930 and 1931.

Albert Fish during his trials
Albert Fish during his trials, Charles Hoff/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

In 1898, his mother arranged a marriage for him with a 19-year-old girl Anna Mary Hoffman. They had six children Albert Fish Jr., Anna, Gertrude, Eugene, John and Henry Fish.

Late in January 1917 his wife left him for another man and took every possession his family ever owned.

The Begining of Albert Fish crimes

At the time of his marriage, he worked as a painter and said in his testimony that after he became a prostitute he began raping young boys. Fish was fascinated by a bisection of a penis when he visited a waxworks museum. His first victim Thomas Kedden was an intellectually disabled man.

Thomas Kedden, a 19-year-old-man met Albert fish in Wilmington, Delaware in 1910. Fish took Kedden to where he was staying and began their sadomasochistic relationship.

Fish recalled “I shall never forget his scream or the look he gave me”, he originally intended to kill Kedden, cut up his body and take it home. The torture for Kedden lasted for two weeks, Fish eventually tied Kedden up and cut off half of his penis.

In the end, Fish left a $10 bill for Kedden, kissed him goodbye and left. Fish never heard from him and never tried to contact him.

Albert Fish Family

After his wife abandoned him and his children Albert was the only one to feed and raise 6 children, however, none of them ever claimed that their father physically abused them.

Albert Fish’s children claimed that sometime they found him wrapped in a carpet and Fish would encourage them to hit him or bare buttocks with his nail-studded paddle. He also stuck pins under his fingernails in front of his children.

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The Game

Albert Fish x ray
Albert Fish’s pelvis x-ray with 29 needles embedded. Wikimedia Commons.

Albert Fish taught his children a game where he would lie down on his hand and knees and give his children stick or a paintbrush. They would sit on his back one at a time and be told to hold up their fingers and if Fish guessed the number of fingers wrong they would hit him for as many fingers as they were holding up on his buttocks, and Fish never guessed the fingers right.

Did Albert Fish eat Kids?

Albert Fish was suffering from psychosis, felt that God was commanding him to torture and sexually mutilate children.

Fish choose mentally handicapped or African American as his victims, as he believed the police would be less inclined to pursue the disappearances of these children. Fish tortured, mutilated and murdered young children with his “implements of Hell”; a meat cleaver, a butcher knife, and a small handsaw.

Wight-year-old Beatrice Kiel survived Fish’s implements of Hell as her mother chased him down when he was about to leave the farm with her daughter Beatrice.

Francis McDonnell

Francis McDonnell, WikimediaCommons

After 4 days of disappearance, on July 14, 1924, 9-year-old Francis McDonnell’s body was found under branches of wood, he had been badly beaten, sexually assaulted and then strangled with his suspenders. Near where a neighbor had seen Francis and an old man going earlier in the afternoon.

Bill Gaffney

Investigators check over a doll’s wig, women’s shoes and a man’s suit and ties found near the deserted Westchester home where Albert Fish murdered Grace Budd. Photo: Daily News

“The Boogeyman Took Him”

On 1 February 1927, When 3-year-old Bill Beaton and his 12-year-old brother were playing along with 4-year-old Billy Gaffney, after the 12-year-old left for his home. Both the boys disappeared at once but Bill was found on the roof when asked what happened to Gaffney he said: “The Boogeyman took him”.

Gaffney’s body was never recovered. When Albert Fish confessed for the murders, he recounted the horrifying details of what he had done to the boy.

Albert not only killed him but mutilated him beyond recognition, drank his blood and cut his body into several parts and ate them for four days.

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Grace Budd

On May 25, 1928, after seeing an advertisement, “Young Men,18, wishes positions in counter Edward Budd, 406 West 15th Street” in the newspaper Fish went to visit Edward Budd.

Grace Budd,
Kidnapped victim Grace Budd.
Bettmann/CORBIS

Albert Fish introduced himself as Frank Howard, Fish met the family and Mrs. Budd invited him and sent his younger sister to fetch his brother, Edward from next door. Howard offered both boys jobs on his farm and said he would return on Saturday.

Mr. Howard didn’t turn up on Saturday instead there was a telegraph which told the boys that Howard had been delayed and come the next day.

He returned the next day and was invited to lunch, it was then he saw Grace Budd for the first time, The pretty 10-year-old Grace was dressed in her best Sunday dress.

It was then Howard told that there is a certain change of plan, he had to attend his young niece’s birthday party that afternoon but he would return for the boys in the evening and asked if he could bring Grace with him as there would be many children of her age.

When asked where the party is going to be Howard answered that it was at his sister’s place at 137th street at Columbus Avenue. The Budd’s had no idea that Columbus avenue ends at 110th Street.

When Mr. Howard did not return with Grace till next morning Mrs. Budd sent Edward to the nearest police station. The family had gotten a detailed look at the so-called Mr. Howard and flyers were printed across the US and Canada.

Grace Budd with her family.
Fish murdered Grace Budd (above with her family) and then wrote her mother a letter about eating the 10-year-old. Source: Supplied

Albert Fish Letter

The telegraph that Albert Fish sent to the family saying he won’t be able to make it on Saturday turned out to be a solid lead. The telegraph office was identified and the food basket that Mr. Howard brought to the Budd house was identified and the man who sold it was tracked down, but after that, there was no further lead and the case went cold.

It was almost 6 years later when the grieving Budd family received a gruesome letter which police later confirmed was from Albert Fish after comparing the letter he sent years ago to the Budd family.

End of Albert Fish

The letter didn’t bring the police closer to Albert Fish, the envelope which it came in did. The letter had a small hexagonal emblem with the letters “N.Y.P.C.B.A.” representing “New York Private Chauffeur’s Benevolent Association”. A janitor at the association has taken a bunch of envelopes home to his tooming house at 622 Lexington Avenue.

 Child killer and cannibal Albert Fish is led into homicide court by detective William King.
Child killer and cannibal Albert Fish is led into homicide court by detective William King, who captured Fish after a six-year search. photo Acme

When the detectives reached there no one recognized the description of Mr. Howard. The janitor told the police that he left some of the envelopes at his rooming house at 200 East 52nd Street when he moved out.

The landlady when shown the description of Mr. Howard, immediately recognized Albert Fish and said that Fish checked out of that room a few days earlier.

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The detectives found out from the landlady that Fish received regular support checks from his son and asked her to cash the check on his behalf. The next check was due and Fish would return for it any day. Constant surveillance was called off after 3 weeks when there was no sign of Fish.

On December 4th, the landlady called the police to inform them that Fish had just come for the check. She was told to stall him, she gave Fish a cup of tea and minutes later Detective came in and said Albert Fish? Fish was taken aback and reached out his pocket only to take a razor blade out but the detective quickly closed in and grabbed the old man’s wrist.

Trial

Throughout the trial, Fish maintained an indifferent attitude and showed no interest in what was going on, a reporter described him as resembling a corpse.

The defense readily admitted that Fish committed the crime, it was their contention, however, that he was legally insane at the time of the killing. The prosecution, on the other hand, set out to prove the opposite that he knew what he was doing and therefore he must answer for his actions.

Albert Fish was executed by electric chair at 11.06pm on January 16, 1936.
Albert Fish was executed by electric chair at 11.06 pm on January 16, 1936. Picture: New York State Corrections.Source: Supplied

In the end, Fish was found guilty of murder in the first degree, the sentence was an execution in the electric chair at Sing Sing prison.

Many of the jurors believed that Fish was insane but deserved the electric chair. On January 16, 1936, Fish was given execution in the electric chair, becoming the oldest man to executed in the Sing Sing prison and the monster was no more.

Read about the Japanese Jeffrey Dahmer, The otaku Killer and more from True Crime.

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