“Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her”
Albert Fish was born as Hamilton Fish in Washington DC on 19 May 1870. The Fish family was beset by insanity and bad luck. His father died when Fish was just five and he was taken to an orphanage from where he regularly ran away. When he was 12 years old, he began a relationship with a telegraph boy who introduced him to coprophagia. Fish also started visiting swimming pools to watch boys undress. In 1885 he began work as an apprentice painter and 13 years later married, fathering six children. Throughout his marriage he abused young boys usually under the age of six. In 1917 his wife left him.
His psychiatrist Dr Frederic Wertham said, “There was no known perversion which he did not practise and practise frequently.” He self-flagellated, burned himself and stuck needles into his genitals. When he was arrested and X-rayed, police found 29 items in his body, some of which had been there so long that they had begun to rust. The police were aware of Fish through his habit of writing obscene replies to lonely hearts’ advertisements and through some minor financial swindles that had seen him serve a number of short terms in prison.
On 3 June 1928 Fish, calling himself Frank Howard, arrived at the 406 West 15th Street, New York home of Edward Budd who wanted a job and “Howard” offered him a job on his fictional farm on Long Island. Then he remembered that his sister was holding a party and suggested that 12-year-old Grace Budd attend. The Budds allowed their daughter to go with Fish — it was the last time they ever saw her.
In November 1934, a letter was sent to Grace’s parents: “Dear Mrs Budd… a friend of mine [worked] as a deck hand [and] sailed from San Francisco for Hong Kong, China. At that time there was famine in China. So great was the suffering among the very poor that all children under 12 were sold for food in order to keep others from starving. A boy or girl under 14 was not safe in the street. Part of the naked body of a boy or girl would be brought out and just what you wanted cut from it…
On his return to N.Y. he stole two boys, one 7 and one 11. First he killed the 11-year-old boy, because he had the fattest ass and of course the most meat on it. At that time, I was living at 409 E 100 St. near—right side. He told me so often how good human flesh was I made up my mind to taste it. On Sunday June the 3, 1928 I called on you at 406 W 15 St. Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her… First I stripped her naked. How she did kick — bite and scratch. I choked her to death, then cut her in small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms. Cook and eat it. How sweet and tender her little ass was roasted in the oven. It took me 9 days to eat her entire body.” Fish later admitted that he had raped Grace. He was arrested after police traced the envelope.
406 West 15th Street, New York City, USA
Sunday 3 June 1928
Fish’s trial opened on 11 MarCh 1935 at White Plains, New York and lasted for ten days. Fish pleaded insanity and claimed to have heard voices from God ordering him to kill children. The jury found Fish guilty and he was sentenced to death.
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Fish was executed at 11.06pm on 16 January 1936, in the electric chair at Sing Sing. He said that his death would be “the supreme thrill of my life”. The chair is said to have short circuited on the first attempt, caused by all the metal in Fish’s body.