Howard Hamilton “Albert” Fish also known as The Gray Man, The Werewolf of Wisteria, The Brooklyn Vampire, The Moon Maniac, and The Boogey Man.
His crimes were committed approximately from 1924~1934.
Fish claimed to have “had children in every state” but no one is sure what he means by this. He was a suspect in five murders and confessed to the following three: Grace Budd, Billy Gaffney, and Francis X. McDonnell.
Grace Budd lived from 1918-1928. Fish gained the trust of the Budds by pretending to be an elderly farmer who needed help from Mr. Budd. Mr. Fish lured ten-year-old Grace by telling her parents that he would take her to a birthday party. After a little convincing, Grace’s parents let her go. That would be the last time they saw her. He took her to an old house where he strangled her then cut her up with a meat cleaver. Her body was never found because Fish ate her remains. We know the details of this crime because Fish wrote a letter to the Budd family detailing what he had done to their daughter.
Billy Gaffney lived from 1923-1927. Billy was playing outside with an older boy and a boy the same age as him when the older boy went inside for a moment. When he returned both Billy and the younger boy were gone. That boy was later found on the roof saying the Boogie Man took Billy but no one believed him. Fish confessed to the murder and its details in a letter to his attorney. The details of the crime have never been made public and the body of Billy Gaffney has never been found.
Francis McDonnell lived from 1916-1924. Fish was seen walking by Francis and his friends earlier in the day looking visibly upset. Later that same day Fish came by and called Francis over to him. A neighbour reported that he saw them together near the spot where Francis’s body was found. He had been assaulted and strangled with his own suspenders.
Fish preferred cannibalism but he had also been known to strangulate, decapitate, and mutilate his victims. After his victims were dead he would butcher them and cook them. He would eat as much as he could storing the rest for later and tossing out the bones, head, and guts into nearby woods.
Fish’s father was 75 years old at the time of his birth, and his mother was 32. He was named Howard Hamilton Fish but changed to Albert after his brother Albert died. For unclear reasons, Fish spent his early childhood in an orphanage until his mother removed him around age 10. His family is believed to have a history of mental illness including religious psychosis. Fis himself had delusions and hallucinations. Fish was masochistic. This is believed to have grown from his upbringing in an orphanage where boys were spanked. His obsession grew to the point he would smack and be smacked with a paddle studded with one and a half-inch nails, light cotton balls soaked with alcohol to his anus and repeatedly insert nails into his rectum and pelvis. He enjoyed paraphilia after a relationship with a boy who also enjoyed it. Fish’s mother arranged a marriage for him where he fathered 6 kids but this did not last long as his wife left him for another man.
Fish was caught through a letter that he sent to Grace’s mother. The letter sent to Mrs.Budd is available online here but is quite disturbing. In it, Fish details exactly how he killed Grace how each part of her body tasted and where he got the idea to start eating children. The police tracked the return address to an apartment where the landlord said Fish came every month to collect his son’s paycheque. A stakeout eventually led to the capture of Albert Fish.
Albert Fish’s trial lasted only 10 days. Fish’s defence attorney was James Dempsey. When Fish was asked for his plea he claimed not guilty by reason of insanity. He said that he heard voices from God telling him to do everything that he did. Even so, the jury took one hour to sentence him to the death penalty by way of the electric chair.
Fish was sent to Sing Sing prison to be electrocuted. There is a rumor that it took two tries to kill Fish because of the nails in his pelvis shorted out the chair.