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Historical Figures Mysteries

Serial Killer Albert Fish’s Savage Life

Albert Fish Serial Killer

Hamilton Howard “Albert Fish” had many other names: the Gray Man, the Brooklyn Vampire, the Werewolf of Wysteria, the Boogey Man, and the Moon Maniac. To say that he was a bad person is an understatement. When captured, he admitted to molesting more than 400 children and torturing and killing several others. Although the truthfulness of that statement isn’t known, he is definitely known for being an incredibly vile pedophile, child serial killer and cannibal.

One of the worst of all time.

But he could easily pass off as the kindest, most trusting, gentle-looking man. And that’s probably what made him incredibly effective in his heinous crimes. Only when alone with his victim did he unleash the monster within. Fortunately, he was executed for his unbelievably sadistic crimes. And rumors have it that he turned his own execution into a fantasy of pleasure.

Here’s how it all started.

A Foundation of Insanity

On May 19, 1870, Ellen Fish gave birth to a baby boy in Washington D.C. Ellen and her husband, Randall, called the baby Albert Fish. And this was the start of Albert’s twisted destiny. Fish’s family was deeply affected by mental illness. Apart from Ellen Fish, his mother, experiencing visual hallucination, Albert’s brother was confined to a mental state institution. His sister wasn’t spared either. She was diagnosed with “mental affliction.”

Such mental illness went further than Albert’s direct family. Albert’s uncle was diagnosed with mania, and three other relatives had a mental illness. At a young age, Albert ended up in an orphanage.

His parents had abandoned him.

As Fish recalled, the orphanage wasn’t any better. There, he suffered regular beatings and sadistic brutality. But, instead of crushing his spirit, it’s said that he found pleasure in it and even begun looking forward to it. In his own words, the orphanage initiated him into the wrong path his life took.

He was barely nine years of age and went through unending merciless whipping. And, remember, he wasn’t the only one. Many other boys went through similar torment. Ellen Fish only managed to remove her son at 12 years of age. The year was 1880. She was widowed but now had a government job. However, the damage had already been done. Albert had a minimal formal education. He grew up preferring manual labor to intellectual pursuits. And he soon began a relationship with a boy who taught him to drink urine and eat feces.

The Start of Albert Fish’s Crimes against Children

According to Albert Fish, his crimes against children started when he relocated to New York City in 1890. He molested boys while working as a prostitute. He lured the innocent boys from their homes and tortured them in multiple ways. His favorite torture technique was using a paddle laced with sharp nails. Then he would rape them.

That’s only the start. His sexual fantasies grew more fiendish with time. His evil ways became so bizarre that he didn’t just stop at murdering his victims. He also cannibalized those kids.

Albert Fish: A Husband and Father

Being an evil, murderous child predator didn’t stop Albert Fish from marrying and fathering children.

In 1898 Albert married. He also fathered six children. Strangely enough, his children led normal lives. Well, that’s until 1917. Fish’s wife took off with another man, and he took the liberty to abuse his own children. According to his children, he occasionally got them involved in his sadomasochism.

He asked them to use the nail-filled paddle on him. They would paddle him until blood ran down his legs. He also requested them to push needles deep into his skin. All for his sadomasochistic enjoyment. But he hadn’t given up on his love life yet. He wrote to women listed in personal columns of newspapers. However, those weren’t the normal kind of love letters you would expect. Instead, he detailed vile sexual acts he wished to share with those women.

Apparently, the sexual acts were so disgusting that they were never made public despite being submitted as evidence in court. According to Fish, no one ever responded to his letters.

Fish’s Criminal Operations

Fish developed a second occupation in house painting. He worked across different states, and mainly targeted African American communities. He believed the police wouldn’t search for African American children as much as prominent Caucasian children. In 1928, he answered an ad by Edward Budd, an 18-year-old looking for part-time work.

Introducing himself as Mr. Frank Howard, a Long Island farmer, he promised Edward a job paying $15 per week. During Fish’s interaction with Edward’s family, he built so much trust that the Budd’s had no problem letting Fish take their ten-year-old daughter, Grace, to a children’s birthday party.

That was the last the Budd’s would see of Grace Budd.

The End of Fish’s Criminal Career

Eventually, Fish’s crime against Grace Budd would lead to his downfall. However, it took six years for detectives to break the case. And that only happened when Fish wrote a letter anonymously to Grace Budd’s mother. The murderous criminal detailed his gruesome torture of the little girl. This letter gave the detectives a trail to Albert Fish’s flophouse.

The hardened criminal wasn’t even remorseful when arrested. He smiled, describing the torture he put his victims through. He confessed to killing not just Grace Budd, but also hundreds of other children.

But that changed in court. During his trial, Fish pleaded innocent because of insanity. He claimed voices in his head compelled him to kill children and execute such evil crimes as he did. Even multiple psychiatrists proclaimed fish to be insane.

But the jury declared him sane and found him guilty. The trial was short: 10 days. Albert Fish was electrocuted on January 16, 1936. Whether he considered this “the ultimate sexual thrill,” based on rumors, or not, at least it put an end to his lengthy criminal life. At last mothers and fathers would have one less child predator to worry about.


Hopefully, orphanages will no longer become breeding grounds for future child predators.


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