Albert Fish - The Gray Man, the Werewolf of Wysteria
Albert Fish is known for being one of the most vile pedophiles and killers of all time. After his capture he admitted to molesting over 400 children, torturing and killing several others.
Fish was a small, gentle looking man who appeared to be friendly and credulous, yet once alone with his victims, the monster inside him was unleashed - a monster so perverse and evil, his crimes seem unbelievable. He was eventually executed and according to rumors, turned his own execution into a fantasy of pleasure. Albert Fish was born on May 19, 1870 in Washington D.C., into a family which had a history of mental illness. His parents abandoned him and he was sent to an orphanage which was a place of savagery where he was exposed to regular beatings and sadistic acts of brutality.
He had very little formal education and grew up learning to work more with his hands than his brain. According to Fish, in 1890 he moved to New York City beginning his crimes against children. Fish would lure children away from their homes, torture them in (including using a paddle laced with sharp nails,) then rape them. As time went on, the sexual fantasies he would act out on the children grew more fiendish and bizarre often ending in the murder and cannibalisation of his young victims. In 1898 he married and later fathered six children.
The children led average lives up until 1917, after Fish's wife left him for another man. It was at that time the children recall Fish occasionally asking them to participate in his sadomasochistic games. One game included the nail filled paddle Fish used on his victims and he would ask the children to paddle him with it until blood ran down his legs. He also found pleasure from pushing needles deep into his skin.
After his marriage ended, Fish spent time writing to women listed in the personal columns of newspapers. In his letters he would go into graphic detail of sexual acts he would like to share with the women and the descriptions of these acts were so vile and disgusting that they were never made public even though they were submitted as evidence in court. According to Fish, no women ever responded to his letters asking not for their hand in marriage, but their hand in administering pain.
Fish developed his skill for house painting and often worked around the country. Some believe he selected states mainly populated by African Americans as it was his belief that the police would spend less time searching for the killer of a African American child than a Caucasian child. There for, several of his victims were black children selected to endure his torture using his own "instruments of hell" which included the paddle, meat cleaver and knives. In 1928, Fish answered an ad by 18-year-old Edward Budd who was looking for part-time work to help out with the family finances. Albert Fish introduced himself as Mr. Frank Howard and met with Edward and his family to discuss Edward's prospects.
Fish told the family that he was a Long Island farmer looking to pay a strong young worker $15 a week. The job seemed perfect and the Budd family, excited about Edward's luck in finding the job, instantly trusted the gentle and polite Mr. Howard. Fish told the Budd family that he would come back the following week to take Edward and a friend out to his farm to begin working. The following week Fish failed to show on the day promised, but sent a telegram apologising and setting a new date to meet with the boys. When Fish arrived on June 4 he came bearing gifts for the Budd children and stayed for their family lunch. To the Budd's, Mr. Howard seemed like a typical loving grandfather. After lunch, Fish explained to the family that he had to go to a children's birthday party at his sister's and would return to pick up Eddie and his friend to take to the farm. He then suggested that the Budd's bring their oldest daughter, ten-year-old Grace along to the party. The unsuspecting parents agreed and dressed in her Sunday best, Grace, excited about going to party, left her house for the very last time. Grace was never seen alive again. The investigation into the disappearance of Grace went on for six years before detectives received any break in the case.
Then on November 11, 1934, Mrs. Budd received an anonymous letter which gave grotesque details of the murder and cannibalism of her precious daughter. The writer tortured Mrs. Budd with details about the empty house her daughter was taken to in Worcester, New York. How she was then stripped of her clothing, strangled, cut into pieces and eaten. As if to add some solace to Mrs. Budd, the writer was insistent about the fact that Grace had not been sexually assaulted at any time. By tracing the letter to Mrs. Budd, the police were eventually led to a cheap hotel where Fish was living.
Fish was arrested and immediately began confessing to killing Grace Budd and several hundred other children. Fish, smiling as he described the grisly details of the tortures and murders, appeared to the detectives to be the devil himself then on March 11, 1935, Fish's trial began, he plead insanity. He said it was voices in his head telling him to kill children that made him do such appalling crimes and despite many psychiatrists who described Fish as insane, the jury found him sane, guilty after a 10-day trial.