Born to parents Ellen and Randall Fish in 1870, Albert Fish is a notorious serial killer. He enjoyed rapping and cannibalizing women. While he was never thought to have physically attacked or abused his children, he did encourage them and their friends to paddle his buttocks with the same nail-studded paddle he used to abuse himself.
And that is just one of the many things he did. Known as the Moon Maniac, he was one of the worst serial killers in American history. His murders often took place at the time of full moon.
Fish spent much of his time in an orphanage due to the fact that his family was plagued with mental illness. During his time in the orphanage, he developed a friendship in which he was introduced to the perverted activity of eating feces and drinking urine.
Fish molested children, particularly young boys, but also women. He practiced sadomasochism, planned to castrate young boys, and murdered a young girl whom he subsequently ate. He was executed by electric chair in 1936.
In 1989, at the age of 28, he married 19-year-old Anna Marry Hoffman in a marriage his mother arranged. The couple had six children before she abandoned him in 1917.
Because of the gruesomeness of his crimes, he was called the Gray Man, the Werewolf of Wysteria, the Brooklyn Vampire, and the Boogey Man.
Here are facts about his gruesome and notorious crimes.
He drove needles into his own pelvis
Albert Fish was a sadomasochist. He craved feeling pain as well as inflicting it. He did it for sexual gratification. He developed this tendency for sexual sadism during his formative years.
For example he drove nails into his body, especially the area between his scrotum and his rectum. He would drive them in and pull them out again. Eventually, he started driving them in so far he couldn’t get them back out.
Following his arrest, the X-ray showed 29 needles stuck in his pelvis.
Beat himself with a nail-studded paddle
Following Fish’s arrest in 1934, his son Albert Fish Jr. told a story to a newspaper. He said he found his father naked, beating himself with a wooden board Fish had fashioned with pointed, metal nails. Some of his step-children also testified to the odd behavior.
Mutilated a mentally disabled teen’s genitalia
One of his first known victims was Thomas Kedden. He was a mentally disabled 19-year-old man. In 1910, their paths crossed. Fish and Kedden had a sexual relationship which ended with Albert mutilating the teen’s genitalia.
Fish took Kedden to an old farmhouse and tortured the boy over two consecutive weeks. He tied him and cut off his penis.
Later on, Fish talked about the event in Albert Fish in His Own Words: The Shocking Confessions of the Child Killing Cannibal. In that documentary, he told, “I shall never forget his scream or the look he gave him”. Fish also said he planned to kill him, but tended to the wound before imparting the teen with a final kiss and farewell.
Killed and ate a little girl
Another victim of the serial killer is Gracie Budd. She is the most publicized victim of Fish. In 1918, he talked with her parents about hiring their son, Edward, for some work. Initially, he planned to kill the 18-year old Edward.
But after an on-and-off friendship with the Budd family, he pretended to take little Gracie to a birthday party. But he took her to the Wisteria cottage where he strangled her, mutilated the body, and reportedly ate the remains over nine days.
Writing letters to the parents of his victims
For Fish, it was not enough to kill the victims. He found pleasure in revealing it and telling it to the parents of the victims.
In 1934, he wrote an anonymous letter for Gracie Budd’s parents, six years after she went missing. In the bizarre letter, he detailed how he learn about cannibalism.
He also included a linear timeline of the events that occurred on the day of Gracie’s disappearance. Fish talked how he took her under false pretenses and explained that she died a virgin. Yet, he described how he cooked and ate her remains for nine days.
Authorities and investigators managed to identify him as a suspect thanks to the letter.
Strangling and skinning a little boy
In 1924, Fish had another victim, the 8-year-old boy Francis McDonnell. He went missing after playing ball with neighborhood friends. Later on his body was found on a tree in a wooden area near his home.
Francis had been sexually assaulted and strangled with his suspenders. His body also suffered severe lacerations.
Initially, Fish denied accountability for the Francis murder. He admitted to it after his murder conviction in 1935.
Killing “those who would not be missed”
When Fish was arrested, he initially didn’t admit to culpability in the death of multiple children and teens. But he did eventually share gruesome details of his crimes.
In that spirit, he told police officers that he chose his victims according to whom he thought would be missed the least, such as the mentally disabled teen, Kedden.
Killed more than 100 people
Fish claimed to have raped, murdered, and mutilated as many as 100 people. Yet, there are only three confirmed victims.
Because he targeted victims that no one would miss, police believes there are many nobody knows about.
It is hard to know who Fish did and didn’t kill in New York City in the early 20th century. There are many cases of people gone missing and gruesome murders that haven’t been solved.
Everything Started Because of His Wife
Fish’s mother arranged a marriage between him and Anna Mary Hoffman, a young lady, in 1898. They were married for 19 years and had six children together. But then Hoffman left him for another man.
Many believe this rejection and betrayal triggered the dark side in Fish. Following it, he began to self-harm and developed a taste for raw meat. In the beginning he would be satisfied with bloody meals, but then he turned to cannibalism to feed his thirst for gore.
A family man
During his trial, Fish attorney attempted to persuade the jurors that Fish was a family man. The trial lasted for 10 days. His attorney, James Dempsey, portrayed Albert Fish as a family man who has himself been the victim of an abusive childhood.
He tried to use an insanity defense and asked the jurors if a man who had killed and eaten children could really be sane? The jurors knew he was insane, but they found him guilty and sane. He was sentenced to death.
On January 16, 1936, Albert Fish was sent to the electric chair at Sing Sing prison. His last words were, “I don’t even know why I’m here”.