Albert Fish

Date of crime: 27 May 1928

Motive: Sex

Crimes: Murder of Grace Budd, 12, in Irvington, New York

Method: Strangulation

Sentence: Fish was executed by electric chair at Sing Sing prison on 16th January 1936.

Interesting facts: Fish killed Grace for sexual gratification, although when asked about his motive he said "It occurred to me". He killed her in an abandoned house. After killing Grace, he undressed and dismembered her body. He wrapped her head in newspaper and disposed of it outside. He then soaked some cotton wool in lighter fuel, pushed it into his anus and set light to it, thus achieving an orgasm. He then went home, taking with him some of the body parts, and made stew with them. He returned to the body for several days after the murder to collect more body parts. Nine days after the murder, he returned to the body and threw it over a wall.

Fish found his victim by responding to a newspaper article placed by her older brother who was looking for farm work. Under the pseudonym Frank Howard, Fish met the family and offered the brother a job. He sent a telegram confirming this and inviting himself to dinner. He lured Grace away to the derelict house by telling the family that his niece was holding a party, to which he invited Grace. This telegram was vital to catching Fish, as it had his handwriting on it. In 1934, the police matched this handwriting to handwriting found on a "crank" letter to the Budd family. There was a company insignia on the envelope which was traced to an employee, who stated he'd left some of these envelopes behind at a previous residence. Albert Fish was found to have been the next tenant, and although he no longer lived there, he still collected his post from there sometimes. The police lay in wait, and eventually Fish was arrested.

It emerged during interviews that it was likely that Grace Budd was not Fish's only victim. He claimed to have attacked 100 - 400 children, preferring black children because he thought the police would not try so hard to trace them. Billy Gaffney, (4), Mary Ellen O'Connor, (15), Jimmy Glass, Edward Cudahy, Charlie Ross and Lloyd Keet were among the children it was suggested he might have killed. On Death Row, Fish confessed to killing Billy Gaffney.

Fish's perversions were extreme - in a routine x-ray, 29 needles were found embedded in his body, 27 of which were in his groin. His children also testified that he had a paddle with 2.5 inch nails in which he used to beat himself with. When told that he was facing the electric chair, he displayed excited anticipation at the thrill it would give him.