Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Albert Fish: The Grey Man

Albert Fish: The Grey Man

When it comes to serial child killer Albert
Fish, the adjectives to describe his inhumanity hardy seem strong enough – depraved, perverted,
deviant, degenerate – he was all that and more. The crimes he committed fill the heart
with rage, while the taunting letters he sent the victim’s families make you wonder how
a human being could be so cruel. In this week’s Biographics, we venture in the sordid life
of Albert Fish – and it ain’t pretty! Early Life Hamilton Howard Albert Fish was born on May
19th, 1870 in Washington, D.C. His father, Randall, was 75 years old when he was born,
being 43 years older than his mother, Ellen . The old man died when Albert was five years
old, and the children were placed in an orphanage. At the orphanage, Albert sang in the choir.
He was also subjected to merciless beatings by other boys and staff members. The physical
pain of the beatings and whippings became something that he came to realize gave him
a sort of sexul pleasure. He would get erections mid way through a beating, which would bring
ridicule and further torment from the older boys. Albert spent four years at the orphanage.
When he was nine his mother secured a job and took her children back. Two years later,
Albert began a relationship with a telegraph boy who introduced him to a range of depraved
practices including drinking urine and eating feces. He also took to hanging out at local
bathing rooms so that he could watch young boys getting undressed. At around the age of eleven, Albert fell from
a cherry tree and suffered a serious concussion. This would result in constant headaches, dizzy
spells and a pronounced stutter. Growing Depravity In 1890 he moved to New York City with his
mother. He would later tell the police that he became a male prostitute at this time,
but this has never been substantiated. He began working as a painter and paperhanger.
Throughout the 1890’s he, according to his later testimony, regularly molested young
children, preferring those who were under the age of six. He also enjoyed writing obscene
letters to women who had placed personal ads in the newspapers. In 1898, Albert’s mother arranged for him
to marry a nineteen year old girl by the name of Anna Mary Hoffman. They would go on to
have six children. At the same time, he maintained sexul relationships with a string of male
lovers. One of them took him to a waxworks museum, during which Albert was fascinated
by a model of a dissected human penis. It was this experience that developed in him
a fascination with genital mutilation and castration. For the rest of his life he would
insert needles into his scrotum and penis in order to achieve sexual satisfaction. Religious Mania In 1903, Fish was arrested for embezzlement
and sentenced to Sing Sing prison. During his incarceration he regularly had sex with
other men. After his release, his children recalled that his behavior became increasingly
bizarre. He would regularly hear voices and claimed that he was receiving messages from
the Apostle John. On one occasion his oldest son, Albert junior, saw him standing on a
hillside with his arms outstretched screaming ‘I am Christ!’ He was convinced that he
was being directed by God to castrate little boys. Psychiatrists would later diagnose him
with a condition known as religious mania. The children also recounted seeing their father
flagellating himself on the back with a nail-studded paddle. In 1910, Fish began a sexual relationship
with a nineteen-year old intellectually disabled man by the name of Thomas Kedden. Fish was
working away from home in Wilmington, Delaware. He brought Kedden back to his room and the
two engaged in sadomasochistic sexual acts. Over a period of days, these acts became more
like torture, with Fish inflicting all of the pain. He took Kedden to an old farmhouse
with the intention of killing the boy and dissecting his body. In the end he merely
cut off half of Kedden’s penis before leaving him to his own fate. In 1917, Fish’s wife left him for another
man. Albert was left with six children to raise on his own. According to Fish, Anna
took virtually all of the possessions that the family owned. From this point, his paranoia
took on new dimensions. His children once found him wrapped up in a carpet and he would
encourage them to hit him on the bare buttocks with his nail studded paddle. However, none
of the children ever claimed that their father physically abused them. It was around this time that Albert began
experimenting with cannibalism. He started about by eating raw meat, which he would also
serve to the children and then escalated to human flesh. Kid Killer In 1919, Fish intensified his criminal activity,
abducting, abusing and murdering young boys in and around the Washington, D.C. area. His
typical victim would be black or intellectually impaired, as he believed the police would
be less inclined to pursue the disappearances of these children. He developed the skill
of luring young children away by offering them gifts and appearing to be exceedingly
kind and flattering towards them. In July, 1924 Fish came across a young girl
who was playing alone on her parent’s Staten Island farm. He had convinced the girl to
go off with him to pick rhubarb when the mother arrived and scared him off. Still his obsession
with the eight-year-old girl forced him to return and he tried to sleep in the barn.
Once again he was discovered, this time by the father, and chased off. Another botched abduction occurred when he
invited two young boys to his apartment for lunch. While he was preparing the food, the
boys waited in his bedroom. They began play wrestling on the bed and then fell onto the
floor. There they saw, under the bed, Fish’s self described ‘instruments of hell’ – a
meat cleaver, a hacksaw and a knife. Frightened out of their wits, the two boys took to their
heels, running past Fish and out of the apartment. Fish’s modus operandi of snatching the unimportant
and unmissed was thrown into chaos when, in he unwittingly abducted and murdered Francis
McDonnell, the son a Staten Island police officer. The eight-year-old was playing ball
on the street with four friends, when Fish, who had been hanging around for hours, called
the boy over. When his friends turned to see where Francis was, both he and the stranger
were gone. When Francis failed to return home, his father
set out to find him. After scouring the neighborhood and questioning the other boys, he kept hearing
about the gray haired old man who had been hanging around. Then, he telegraphed police
headquarters. The next day a massive search was underway throughout Staten Island. Eventually,
the body of Francis McDonnell was found by three boy scouts under a pile of branches
and leaves on a rural property. All of the clothing below the child’s waist
had been pulled from his body. It was apparent that he had been vociosuly seuallya ssaulted.
Fish had finished him off by strangling Francis with his own suspenders, which were wound
so tightly that they appeared to be part of his flesh. Within minutes more than fifty
police officers were surrounding the body. The next day, the case was given the highest
priority with 250 officers assigned to it. The boy’s father, Arthur McDonnell, was
transferred from Manhattan precinct to Staten Island so that he could personally work on
his son’s case. The autopsy on Francis’ body revealed that
he had been eating raisins just prior to his death. The police concluded that this must
have been the lure that the killer had used to pull the boy away. The terrible condition
of the body caused the coroner to also comcldue that the attacker could not have been an elderly
man. To cause that degree of physical damage he must have been in his prime.
Hysteria swept through the state and daily reports came in of sightings of the ‘gray
man’. In the weeks following the discovery of the child’s boy, dozens of men were questioned
with several being arrested but later released. Hopes for an early resolution to the case
vanished as the leads dried up. With public interest in the case fading, the dead boy’s
mother made a desperate plea to the public . . .
Help us catch the monster who killed our little boy. Help us find the gray man.
Grace Budd On May 25, 1928, eighteen year old Edward
Budd placed a one line classified advertisement in the New York World newspaper in an attempt
to find employment. Three days later, an elderly man knocked on the front door of the Budd
apartment on 15th Street in Manhattan. He said his name was Frank Howard and he was
replying to the situations wanted ad in the paper. Edward Budd’s mother invited him
in and sent his younger sister, Beatrice to fetch her brother from next door. Edward soon
tuned up with his friend Willie in tow. Mr Howard offered both boys jobs on his farm
on Farmingdale, Long Island. He then told them that he would return on Saturday and
drive the boys to the farm. The following Saturday the boys waited excitedly
with their bags packed. But Mr Howard never turned up. Instead a telegraph was delivered
which told the boys that Howard had been delayed and would come for the boys the next day.
He turned up in the early afternoon on Sunday, just as the family had returned from church.
He was invited to stay for lunch. It was while sitting at the food table that Mr Howard got
his first view of Grace Budd. The pretty eight-year-old was dressed in her
best Sunday dress. The old man was immediately smitten, beckoning Grace over to him. She
looked to her mother who nodded her assent. Mr Howard told Grace how pretty she was. He
then asked if she was a good counter. When she nodded, he pulled from his pocket the
biggest wad of money anyone else in the room had ever seen. He laid the cash and coins
on the table and asked Grace to count it for him.
Grace counted out $92.50, at the conclusion of which Mr Howard rewarded her with a fifty
cent piece and told her to go and buy some candy for her and her sister. Again the mother
nodded her approval and the little girl happily left the room. It was then that the old man
informed the Budds that there had been a slight change of plan. He had to attend his young
nieces birthday party that afternoon but he would return for the boys that evening. Then,
just as he was leaving, he turned to Mr Budd and said that he had just had a thought – would
they allow him to take young Grace to the birthday party with him? It was going to be
such fun, with lots of food, games and children her age. And, of course, he would have her
back by nine o’clock. Mrs Budd was hesitant – they didn’t even
know this man. But he did seem exceedingly kind and he clearly loved children. Before
she could answer, her husband had made up her mind for her, saying that the girl never
got out and it would be good for her to have some fun for a change. Mrs Budd did want to
know where the party was going to be. Howard answered that it was at his sister’s place
at 137th and Columbus Avenue. The Budd’s didn’t realize that Columbus ends at 110th
Street, so the address did not exist. And so it was the young Grace Budd was dressed
up in her spring coat and gray hat with blue streamers and headed off up the street with
the gray man. Mrs Budd stood on the door and watched then disappear around the corner,
It as the last time she saw her daughter. The Budds waited with growing alarm for Mr
Howard to return with Grace. By Monday morning Mrs Budd was hysterical with worry. Edward
was rushed off to the nearest police station to report that the girl was missing. A short
time later, four detectives arrived at the Budd home to question the family
The Budd kidnaping was big news all over the country. The case was unique in that the whole
Budd family had gotten a long and detailed look at the so-called Mr Howard. Thousand
of flyers were printed with a detailed description accompanied by a photo of Grace. These were
distributed through both the US and Canada. As expected there were a rash of false sightings
and leads that went nowhere. But then a solid lead emerged. The telegraph office where Howard
had sent the telegraph to the Budds from was identified. An intensive search of that area
then found another clue – a food basket that Howard had left at the Budd’s house
was identified and the man who had sold it to Howard was tracked down. From this it was
deduced that the kidnapper was a resident of East Harlem. But from there, the trail
went cold. Despite a raft of letters and confessions coming in, nothing panned out.
Then, in September, 1930 there was break in the case. Police arrested a 66 year-old by
the name of Charles Edward Popel for the crime. Pope was held in custody for 3 ½ months and
then put on trial only to be found not guilty. In November, 1934, the still grieving parents
of Grace Budd received an excruciatingly gruesome letter which police later confirmed was from
Albert Fish. It read in part . . . I grabbed her and she said she would tell
her mama. 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. Closing In The police were able to compare the handwriting
in the letter to the telegraph note that they had recovered years before. It was immediately
obvious that they were written by the same person. But it wasn’t the letter itself
that finally brought Albert Fish down. It was the envelope in which it was contained.
Printed on the back of the envelope flap were the initials N.Y.P.C.B.A. Police were able
to track it down to the New York Private Chauffeur’s Benevolent Association. They found out that
a janitor at the association had taken a bunch of envelopes home to his rooming house at
622 Lexington Avenue. Detectives descended on the boarding house
but were frustrated that no one there recognized the description of Mr Howard. But then the
janitor remembered that when he had taken the envelopes, he had not yet moved to Lexington
Avenue. He had still been living at East 52nd Street. When a detective showed the landlady the description
of Mr Howard, she immediately recognized him as the elderly man who had moved in when the
janitor had left. The officer asked to see the man’s signature in the register. Pulling
out the letter that had been sent to Mrs Budd, he could see that the signature was written
by the same person who wrote the disgusting letter. The man had signed his name as ‘Albert
H. Fish’. The detective discovered from the landlady
that Albert Fish, who had moved out a few days earlier, received regular support checks
from his son. On several occasions he had asked the landlady to cash the checks on his
behalf. It just so happened that the check was due any day and Fish had said that he
would return for it. The police now set up a 24 hour surveillance
of the boarding house. Yet after three weeks, there was no sign of Fish and the surveillance
was reluctantly called off. Then, on December 4th, the landlady of the rooming house phone
the police to inform that Fish had just come in and inquired about his check. In fact,
he was still there. The landlady was told to stall him. She ushered him into a room
and gave him a cup of tea. Minutes later, a detective walked into the room and, looking
at the frail old man on the couch, said, ‘Albert Fish?’ Fish was momentarily taken aback. But then
he reached into his vest pocket and pulled out a razor blade and held it out threateningly.
The detective quickly closed in grabbed the old man’s wrist and twisted. The blade fell
to the floor and the pathetic killer slumped back down on the couch. Looking down at the man he had been hunting
for years, the detective said, ‘I’ve got you now’. Trial Albert Fish went on trial for the murder of
Grace Budd on March 11, 1935. The night before, he had managed to extract a chicken bone from
the soup he had been served, sharpen it to a point and proceed to repeatedly stab himself
with it. When a guard heard him moaning, he rushed in and managed to take the makeshift
weapon away from him. It was reported as a suicide attempt, but it was simply a means
of satisfying his deranged sexual urges. Throughout the ten day trial, Fish maintained
an indifferent attitude. He sat slumped in his chair, often with his eyes closed and
appeared to show absolutely no interest in what was going on. One reporter described
him as resembling ‘a corpse insecurely propped in a chair’. The defense readily admitted that Fish committed
the crime. It was their contention, however, that he was legally insane at the time of
the killing and that he remained that way as he sat in front of them. The prosecution,
on the hand, set out to prove the opposite – that he was sane, knew the wrongness of
what he was doing and, therefore, must answer for his actions. The prosecution called a series of psychiatrists
as witnesses, each of whom stated that the defendant was sane, though suffering from
a whole host of psychotic conditions. In the end the prosecution did persuade the jury
that Fish was sane. They found him guilty of murder in the first degree. The sentence
was execution in the electric chair at Sing Sing prison. One of the jurors later revealed that most
of the jurors actually felt that Fish was insane – but they felt more strongly that
he was deserving of the electric chair. Justice? Albert Fish’s last day on earth was January
16, 1936. He was escorted into the execution chamber at 11:06 pm. He clasped his hands
together in prayer as he was lowered into the chair and strapped in. The leather cap
was fitted and electrodes attached to his skin. As the current urged through his body, Albert
Fish’s body jolted backward, the veins in his neck bulged and his fists involuntarily
clenched. Then his body went limp. The monster was no more.

100 comments on “Albert Fish: The Grey Man

  1. This is likely one of the most depraved and upsetting tales of multiple murder that I shall (I trust) ever hear. If you're checking comments before watching, I warn you that this true crime tale has more misery and hideous suffering than you could expect. My mind simply stops ~ vapor-locked ~ upon considering these crimes.

  2. Yall remember that one vocaloid song about Albert's commits to murder? How u would play the song backwards at one point and it would be like "how sweet and tender" " i cut her into pieces"

  3. albert fish is the only killer that makes me sick to my stomach. sure, there's plenty of horrible killers, but his whole person, his story, fills me with disgust and fear.

  4. His entire family have a history of mental illnesses. His mom hear and see things and his uncle has religious psychosis. His brothers was confined to mental hospitals

  5. I bet the parents were haunted by the feeling that it was their fault and that only if they had said no, their children wouldn’t have had to go through that…Fish is truly a monster and I am glad he suffered but he didn’t suffer enough…

  6. child crimes are possibly the worst and saddest ones, as all violent crimes are, just this in specificity. I am desensitized to most serial killers (only way to research them objectively, and maturely) as I can get through the details of their crimes without a few flinches but this man really turned my stomach inside out.

  7. Once again another serial killer that sustained a serious head injury I often wonder why a criminal defense has never tried to use the head trauma the brain damage as kind of a defense for their actions because their head got all fucked up and it messed up the wiring and they're basically and it made them not normal so they're kind of shouldn't be liable for their actions because it's not their fault to have those compulsions do to the brain damage I just always find that fascinating because most of all serial killers have sustained head trauma and I honestly think that it should be a type of Defense because they can't control the way their brain makes them Act

  8. The crazy thing about that letter to is that it also reveals that cannibalism was widespread in china not even a hundred years ago. You could order Child steaks in any shop in china where they bring you the body of a child that they kidnapped off the street and cut it right there in front of you. A childs buttocks would cost you about $3.

  9. I have to play Albert Fish for the next 15 days in a one man show..Its difficult to act out his type of evil without being affected by it.

  10. The most satisfying part of this video was seeing Fish fry for good!! R.I.P too all those little victims who deserved so much better than dying at the hands of this Grey Old Beast!!

  11. I'm really into serial killers because of their psyche.

    Albert Fish is my serial killer MVP for the gruesomeness.

    I'm still as disturbed as anyone. But I can look at it objectively.

  12. This asshole didn’t deserve death… he deserved a much more terrible torture method like what they used to do a LONG time ago like tying him up and putting him in a box with a couple air holes with a rat in there and throw the box into the river, then after a couple of days the rat would get hungry and slowly eat him.

  13. Oh my goodness this evil people are so obviously being controlled by the DEVIL himself. With people like this, they always somehow mention or link to Jesus or GOD!! and the devil hates God that is why they are constantly mentioning him and stuff. So disgusting how people listen to the devil. If you’re reading this, God is real please pray to him stay away from the evil one 😭💖

  14. I’ve watched lots of true crime videos and other serial killer dramas, but this one really draws the line. I honestly don’t think I’ll be finding any interest in them anymore after this. I am sad and disgusted by this man.

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