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Albert Fish

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Real World Bio
Albert-fish-1
Name Hamilton Howard Fish
Alias Albert
Frank Howard
The Gray Man
The Boogeyman
The Werewolf of Wysteria
The Brooklyn Vampire
The Moon Maniac
Ham and Eggs
Gender Male
Birth Date May 19, 1870
Place of Birth Washington D.C.
Date of Death January 16, 1936
Place of Death Sing Sing Correctional Facility, New York City, New York
Job House-painter
Pathology Serial Killer
Serial Rapist
Pedophile
Cannibal
Lonely Hearts Killer
Modus Operandi Torture
Strangulation
Type Lust killer
No. of Victims 3+
Status Deceased (executed)

"I always had a desire to inflict pain on others and to have others inflict pain on me. I always seemed to enjoy everything that hurt."

Hamilton Howard "Albert" Fish, a.k.a. "The Gray Man", was an American cannibalistic serial killer, rapist, and pedophile who targeted children in the 1920s.

BackgroundEdit

Fish was born the youngest of four children on May 19, 1870, in Washington, D.C. The others were named Walter, Annie, and Edwin. His father Randall was a boat captain who operated on the Potomac River and suffered from religious mania. He was told by his mother that he was named after Hamilton Fish, the then-U.S. Secretary of State, to whom he was allegedly distantly related. When Randall Fish died of a heart attack, aged 80, when Fish was five, his mother was left without her husband's financial support and couldn't afford caring for her youngest son. She left him at the Saint John's orphanage in Washington, where the teachers regularly punished the boys living there by making them strip naked and whip and beat them in front of each other. Because of this treatment, Fish developed a taste for sadomasochism and would get erections and even derive pleasure from the beatings. This only led to the other boys bullying him more. He wanted to be named "Albert" after a dead relative, in part to escape his nickname "Ham and Eggs", and later adopted the name as his own. He became a bed wetter and frequently escaped, only to end up back at the orphanage again every time. In 1880, Mrs. Fish got a government job and took back Albert, aged nine. In 1882, a twelve-year-old Fish began a relationship with a telegraph boy who introduced him to coprophagia (consumption of feces) and urolagnia (drinking urine). He began spending his weekends at local public baths, where he would watch boys younger than himself undress. He also became a prolific writer of obscene letters to women, finding targets in classified ads.

He left school at the age of 15 and became a painter and decorator, proving to be extremely skilled at it. He would go on to stay in this line of work for the rest of his life. By 1890, the Fish family had moved to New York City, where Albert claimed to have become a male prostitute. He also claimed to have started raping young boys at this age and to have kept doing so even after he, after an arrangement made by his mother, married a woman five years younger than him in 1898. They had six children together: Albert Jr., Anna, Gertrude, Eugene, John and Henry. Working as a house-painter, Fish later claimed to have continued molesting children, mostly boys under the age of six, during this time and to have committed his first murder in Delaware in 1910, fatally stabbing a child named Thomas Bedden. In 1903, he went to prison for the first time, being sentenced to time in Sing-Sing for grand larceny. He had extramarital relationships with men, among them a mentally retarded man whom he tried to castrate. In 1917, his wife ran off with John Straube, a handyman who had done work at the family home, and his behavior became increasingly irregular. He began hearing voices and suffering from religious delusions. When at the family summer house in Westchester, he would climb to the top of a mountain, shake his fist at the sky and declare himself Christ before asking his children to hit his buttocks. His growing obsession with pain manifested itself as self-harm, most infamously pushing needles into his groin, eventually pushing them so deep inside that they couldn't be retrieved.

Killings, Capture and ExecutionEdit

After Fish's eldest son, unable to put up with his father's bizarre behavior any longer, threw him out, he became a drifter and was arrested several times for minor offenses such as vagrancy and petty theft and also for sending his usual obscene letters. On February 26, 1924, he married an Estella Wilcox, though the marriage only lasted a week and wasn't legal since he and his first wife hadn't filed for divorce. On July 11, 1924, Fish attempted to abduct Beatrice Kiel, 8, from her parents' farm on Staten Island. He approached her and asked for her help in picking rhubarbs, only to be chased away by Mrs. Kiel. On July 15 the same year, he committed his first confirmed murder, abducting and killing Francis X. McDonnell on Long Island. On October 5, 1926, some sources state that he killed a 5-year old girl named Emma Richardson (this particular murder is very undocumented and isn't mentioned in many sources). On February 11, 1927, he abducted Billy Gaffney, 4, while he was playing hide-and-seek with his three-year old friend, Billy Beaton, and Beaton's 12-year old brother. When Billy Beaton was asked by the police what happened to Gaffney, he said "the boogeyman" took him. Fish took Gaffney to a house at the Riker Avenue dumps and held him captive there until the next day, when he returned at ca. 2 P.M. and tortured him to death, dismembered the head, arms and the legs below the knees, put the parts in weighted sacks and threw them in nearby ponds. He then cannibalized the thighs and torso over the next four days.

NYPD Circular

NYPD circular distributed after Grace Budd abduction.

On May 28, 1928, Fish answered a classified ad made by Edward Budd, 18, asking for work and mentioning his address. He visited the family's home under the pretense of considering hiring Edward, calling himself "Frank Howard", a successful farmer from Farmingdale, New York. Fish later claimed that his original plan was to kill Edward, but felt that he was too fit to be subdued and changed his mind when he met Edward's 10-year old younger sister, Grace. He said he would hire Budd and left the house, saying he would send for him within the next few days. When he failed to do so, he apologized in a telegram and set a later date. When he returned on June 3, bringing a gift of pot cheese and strawberries which he claimed came from his farm, he said he would hire Edward, but had to pick him up later that day as he had to attend his sister's birthday party in an apartment house at 137th Street and Columbus, a fake address. He managed to convince Mr. and Mrs. Budd to let him bring Grace along and left with her. That was the last moment she was ever seen alive. Fish brought her to a pre-selected house in Rochester and went inside while she was outside picking flowers. He undressed so he wouldn't get blood on his clothes, called her upstairs, stripped her as well and choked her to death, cannibalizing her remains over the next nine days. The investigation of her disappearance, led by Detective William F. King, went on fruitlessly for five years. At this point, Fish made the fatal mistake of writing one of his usual obscene letters to Mrs. Budd, bragging about killing her daughter and describing the murder in detail.

Fish arrest

Fish (center) after being arrested by Detective William F. King (left).

Though the letter was completely anonymous, the envelope was marked with an emblem reading "NYPCBA", short for New York Private Chauffeur's Benevolent Association. A janitor there explained that he had taken some stationery from the company shortly before leaving and had left it in his apartment, into which Fish then moved. King waited outside the room until Fish returned. Upon being approached, Fish initially agreed to come along quietly, but then produced a razor blade and tried to attack King with it, but was subdued and arrested. He then confessed to the Budd murder as well as the McDonnell and Gaffney murders. A big issue raised before the 10-day long trial for his kidnapping and murder of Grace Budd was whether or not he was insane. It was noted that Fish was something of a psychiatric marvel, as no single person had ever displayed so many sexual abnormalities and paraphilias. Though psychiatrists and Fish's defense all agreed that he was mad, the jury, after an hour of delegation, found him sane and guilty and he was sentenced to death by electric chair. Though he was unhappy with the sentence, he was thrilled with the notion of being electrocuted to death and even thanked the judge for it. On January 16, 1936, the sentence was carried out at Sing Sing, where Fish had previously been incarcerated. His last words before the switch was pulled were reportedly "I don't even know why I'm here". It took two attempts to kill him. Legend has it that the first attempt failed because the device was short-circuited by the many needles that Fish had inserted into his groin over the years. He was pronounced dead at 11:06 p.m. and buried at the prison cemetery.

Modus OperandiEdit

Police search

Police officers searching for Grace Budd's remains.

"I took tools, a good heavy cat-of-nine tails. Homemade. Short handle. Cut one of my belts in half, slit these halves in six strips about 8 inches long. I whipped his bare behind till the blood ran from between his legs."

Fish targeted children of both sexes aged between 4 and 10. He would abduct them using a ruse and take them someplace secluded, where he would mercilessly torture them, often using homemade tools. While McDonnell and Budd both died of strangulation, Gaffney, based on Fish's graphic description of the murder, apparently died of the torture itself. Both his male victims were also raped. Post-mortem, he would dismember and mutilate the bodies and cannibalize the remains until there was nothing edible left on the bodies.

ProfileEdit

Fish was a genuine cornucopia of sexual abnormalities and mental disorders. Not only was he a masochist who derived pleasure from torturing himself, he was also a pedophile and a cannibal and suffered from religious delusions and hallucinations. His sexual type was young boys (he claimed that it never even crossed his mind to rape Grace Budd). He also had a number of other sexual paraphilias, including urophilia and coprophilia, and he enjoyed writing obscene letters to women.

VictimsEdit

KnownEdit

Grace Budd

Grace Budd, Fish's last victim.

  • 1924:
    • July 11, New York City, New York: Beatrice Kiel, 8 (attempted to abduct)
    • July 15, Long Island, New York: Francis X. McDonnell, 8 (assaulted and strangled with a pair of suspenders)
  • February 12, 1927, New York City, New York: Billy Gaffney, 4 (killed, apparently from the torture he suffered)
  • 1928:
    • Unspecified date and location: Cyril Quinn (attempted; he escaped)
    • June 3, New York City, New York:
      • Edward Budd, 18 (intended to tie up, mutilate, and leave for dead; targeted Grace instead when Edward failed to show up)
      • Grace Budd, 10 (Edward's sister; was manually strangled)
  • Unspecified date and location in 1934: Detective William F. King (attempted; tried to kill with a razor)

SuspectedEdit

  • Unspecified date in 1910, Wilmington, Delaware: Thomas Bedden (allegedly stabbed)
  • Unspecified date in 1919, Washington, D.C.: Unnamed boy (allegedly stabbed like the previous victim)
  • October 3, 1926, unspecified location: Emma Richardson, 5[1]
  • Unspecified date and location in 1927: Yetta Abramowitz, 12
  • July 13, 1930, unspecified location: Emil Aalling, 4
  • May 2, 1931, unspecified location: Robin Jane Liu, 6
  • 1932, unspecified locations:
    • February 15: Mary Ellen O'Connor, 16
    • December 15: Benjamin Collings, 17
  • Notes: Fish also claimed to have raped at least a hundred boys, most of which were African-Americans or mentally retarded. He chose them because he figured that the police wouldn't investigate attacks on them thoroughly. He also claimed to have killed at least one child in each of the 23 states in which he had lived.

On Criminal MindsEdit

Fish was first mentioned in ...A Thousand Words as an example of serial killers who have children. He was mentioned again in Compromising Positions as an example of serial killers who were piquerists, i.e. derived pleasure from stabbing. The latter comparison is incorrect as it referred to him injecting needles into his groin, an act known as infibulation.

SourcesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Some sources list her as one of Fish's victims, but some don't even mention her

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