Last I checked we were all on the same page about vampires not being real. Albert Fish was then, by this logic, not an actual vampire. The serial killer had many cannibalistic and gruesome crimes, however, he earned many nicknames including the Brooklyn Vampire, The Gray Man, Moon Maniac, and the Werewolf of Wysteria. One 3-year-old child in particular even claimed him to be the “Boogey Man.” So, yeah not a real vampire. But, damn if he wasn’t close.
“Ham and Eggs”
Albert Fish was born Hamilton Fish in the late 1870s. The family dynamic was rather interesting. For starters, His mother was 43 years the junior of her husband. She was 32 and he, 75 years old. He was the youngest child of three living siblings, Annie, Edwin, and Walter. An older, deceased sibling was apparently named “Albert” and Hamilton decided to take his brother’s name to escape a nickname that was given to him when his mom made him spend time at an orphanage: “Ham and Eggs.”
At the orphanage, Hamilton started showing some signs of mental illness. From what we know today, thanks to psychology about trauma and certain mental illnesses being hereditary, it’s not very surprising. It can be assumed that the rough 1800’s conditions of the orphanage were not any help. While there, Fish was often beaten and whipped which he enjoyed…sexually. Fish wasn’t in the orphanage for very long. His mother got a job that enabled her to move him back home with her.
A few years later, when he was 12 years old, he had his first boyfriend. The boyfriend introduced him to practices like urolagnia [drinking urine] and coprophagia [eating feces]. After this, he started going to pubic baths and watching the boys there. At 20, he moved to New York City where he became a prostitute and a sexual predator. He raped and molested many young boys, usually under the age of 6. This continued even after his mother arranged a marriage for him and they had started their family. His family life did not change him in the slightest, the opposite, in fact. After seeing a bisected penis his tastes grew to include sexual mutilation. Other legal trouble seemed to follow him around this time as well. Fish was arrested for grand larceny in 1903 and was incarcerated in a Sing Sing prison.
Fish’s wife left him in 1917 and he was forced into single parenthood over their multiple children. This could have contributed to his mental health decline. Auditory hallucinations followed and had him convinced that John the Apostle was instructing him to do strange things like wrapping himself up in a floor rug. He started self-harming, exploring his masochistic urges. A set of X-rays from when he was arrested, showed 29 needles inside his pelvic region. He also practiced lighting his anus on fire and paddling himself with a nail-studded paddle. He also encouraged his kids to paddle him. For the most part, his kids weren’t overtly harmed. However, when he started exploring cannibalism he cooked meals of raw meat for himself, and at times the children.
Albert Fish claimed that he had “children in every state.” His assumed number of victims is around 100- this is assumed to be a totality of his many crimes. Since this was a self-disclosure, it is unsure if the information is factual or not. Three murders are confirmed. And admitted to in letter form.
*Warning. It gets REALLY dark. Be warned.* The first murder he was convicted for was for a little girl named Grace Budd. He originally was going to kidnap her older brother but he changed his mind when he saw Grace because she was a more ‘smaller. He wrote and mailed an anonymous letter to the family…because he was truly messed up. The letter is below. He basically admits his crime in [too much] detail.
My dear Mrs. Budd,
“In 1894 a friend of mine shipped as a deck hand on the steamer Tacoma, Capt John Davis. They sailed from San Francisco to Hong Kong China. On arriving there he and two others went ashore and got drunk. When they returned the boat was gone. At that time there was a famine in China. Meat of any kind was from $1 to 3 Dollars a pound. So great was the suffering among the very poor that all children under 12 were sold to the Butchers to be cut up and sold for food in order to keep others from starving. A boy or girl under 14 was not safe in the street. You could go in any shop and ask for steak – chops – or stew meat. Part of the naked body of a boy or girl would be brought out and just what you wanted cut from it. A boy or girls behind which is the sweetest part of the body and sold as veal cutlet brought the highest price. John staid there so long he acquired a taste for human flesh. On his return to N.Y. he stole two boys one 7 one 11. Took them to his home stripped them naked tied them in a closet then burned everything they had on. Several times every day and night he spanked them – tortured them – to make their meat good and tender. First he killed the 11 yr old boy, because he had the fattest ass and of course the most meat on it. Every part of his body was cooked and eaten except Head – bones and guts. He was roasted in the oven, (all of his ass) boiled, broiled, fried, stewed. The little boy was next, went the same way. At that time I was living at 409 E 100 St, rear – 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. Brought you pot cheese – strawberries. We had lunch. Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her, on the pretense of taking her to a party. You said Yes she could go. I took her to an empty house in Westchester I had already picked out. When we got there, I told her to remain outside. She picked wild flowers. I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off. I knew if I did not I would get her blood on them. When all was ready I went to the window and called her. Then I hid in a closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked she began to cry and tried to run down stairs. 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. I did not fuck her, though, I could of [sic] had I wished. She died a virgin.”
When questioned about the act, Fish did say that he did not even consider raping Grace. This letter led to his capture.
The Billy Gaffney case is most likely what made the world deem him the Brooklyn Vampire. When you read this please say a prayer for the deceased little Billy Gaffney. Here’s the transcript of the letter that Albert Fish sent to his attorney.
“I brought him to the Riker Ave. dumps. There is a house that stands alone, not far from where I took him … I took the G boy there. Stripped him naked and tied his hands and feet and gagged him with a piece of dirty rag I picked out of the dump. Then I burned his clothes. Threw his shoes in the dump. Then I walked back and took trolley to 59 St. at 2 A.M. and walked home from there. Next day about 2 P.M., I took tools, a good heavy cat-of-nine tails. Home made. Short handle. Cut one of my belts in half, slit these half in six strips about 8 in. long. I whipped his bare behind till the blood ran from his legs. I cut off his ears – nose – slit his mouth from ear to ear. Gouged out his eyes. He was dead then. I stuck the knife in his belly and held my mouth to his body and drank his blood. I picked up four old potato sacks and gathered a pile of stones. Then I cut him up. I had a grip with me. I put his nose, ears and a few slices of his belly in the grip. Then I cut him thru the middle of his body. Just below his belly button. Then thru his legs about 2 in. below his behind. I put this in my grip with a lot of paper. I cut off the head – feet – arms – hands and the legs below the knee. This I put in sacks weighed with stones, tied the ends and threw them into the pools of slimy water you will see all along the road going to North Beach. Water is 3 to 4 ft. deep. They sank at once. I came home with my meat. I had the front of his body I liked best. His monkey and pee wees and a nice little fat behind to roast in the oven and eat. I made a stew out of his ears – nose – pieces of his face and belly. I put onions, carrots, turnips, celery, salt and pepper. It was good. Then I split the cheeks of his behind open, cut off his monkey and pee wees and washed them first. I put strips of bacon on each cheek of his behind and put in the oven. Then I picked 4 onions and when meat had roasted about 1/4 hr., I poured about a pint of water over it for gravy and put in the onions. At frequent intervals I basted his behind with a wooden spoon. So the meat would be nice and juicy. In about 2 hr., it was nice and brown, cooked thru. I never ate any roast turkey that tasted half as good as his sweet fat little behind did. I ate every bit of the meat in about four days. His little monkey was as sweet as a nut, but his pee-wees I could not chew. Threw them in the toilet.”
Fish was brought to trial for Grace Budd. After the 10 day trial, he pled insanity, saying he heard voices from God that told him to commit the crimes. The plot thickens. It isn’t uncommon for people with certain mental illnesses to have a religious obsession. Court Psychiatrists realized that he was one of those individuals, approaching his kills and crimes through a twisted Biblical lens. Psychiatrist Frederic Wertham, hired for the trial, discovered Fish had an obsession with religion and was basing his actions in a twisted interpretation of scripture- Genesis 22:1-24. The scripture reads the story of Abraham who almost had to sacrifice his son, Isaac. God spared Isaac by sending a ram in a bush to be sacrificed instead. While Fish didn’t sacrifice or harm any of his sons, he seemingly believed that “sacrificing” a young boy would in some way make up for his wrongdoings. And if God wasn’t going to accept it, it wouldn’t be allowed to happen. The cannibalism part came in as a twisted form of communion.
Court psychologists determined that he was insane; a “psychiatric phenomenon” having almost 12 sexual fetishes, that had never been noted in any historical medical or legal records.” Fish was sentenced to death after his trial. He died in the electric chair in January 1936. Fish’s attorney, James Dempsey had Fish’s handwritten final statement and refused to show the documents to anyone. He said, “I will never show it to anyone. It was the most filthy string of obscenities that I have ever read.”