Albert Fish is known for being one of the most vile pedophiles and killers of all time. After his capture he admitted to molesting over 400 children and tortured and killed several others. Fish was a small, gentle looking man who appeared kind and trusting, yet once alone with his victims, the monster inside him was unleashed - a monster so perverse and cruel, his crimes seem unbelievable. He was eventually executed and according to rumors, he turned his own execution into a fantasy of pleasure.
Long Roots of Insanity
Albert Fish was born on May 19, 1870 in Washington D.C., into a family which had a long history of mental illness. His parents abandoned him at a young age and he was sent to an orphanage. The orphanage was, in Fish’s memory, a place of brutality where he was exposed to regular beatings and sadistic acts of brutality. He had very little formal education and grew up learning to work more with his hands than his brains.
Fish’s Crimes Against Children Begins
According to Fish, in 1890 he relocated to New York City and began his crimes against children. Fish would lure children away from their homes, torture them in various ways including using a paddle laced with sharp nails, then rape them. As time went on, the sexual fantasies he would act out on the children grew more fiendish and bizarre, and often ended in murdering and cannibalizing his young victims.
Father of Six
In 1898 he married and later fathered six children. The children led average lives up until 1917, after Fish’s wife ran off with another man. It was at that time the children recall Fish occasionally asking them to participate in his sado-masochistic games. One game included the nail filled paddle Fish used on his victims. He would ask the children to paddle him with the weapon until blood ran down his legs. He also found enjoyment from pushing needles deep into his skin.
The Letter Writer
After his marriage ended, Fish spent time writing to women listed in the personal columns of newspapers. In his letters he would go into graphic detail of sexual acts he would like to share with the women. The descriptions of these acts were so vile and disgusting that they were never made public even though they were submitted as evidence in court. According to Fish, no women ever responded to his letters asking them, not for their hand in marriage, but for their hand in administering pain.
Across State Lines
Fish developed his skill for house painting and often worked in different states across the country. Some believe he selected states largely populated with African Americans. It was his belief that the police would spend less time searching for the killer of a African American child than a prominent Caucasian child. Thus, several of his victims were black children selected to endure his torture using his own labeled “instruments of hell” which included the paddle, meat cleaver and knives.
Polite Mr. Frank Howard
In 1928, Fish answered an ad by 18-year-old Edward Budd who was looking for part-time work to help out with the family finances. Albert Fish, who introduced himself as Mr. Frank Howard, met with Edward and his family to discuss Edward’s future position. Fish told the family that he was a Long Island farmer looking to pay a strong young worker $15 a week. The job seemed ideal and the Budd family, excited about Edward’s luck in finding the job, instantly trusted the gentle and polite Mr. Howard.
A Loving Grandfather
Fish told the Budd family that he would return the following week to take Edward and a friend of Edward’s out to his farm to begin working. The following week Fish failed to show on the day promised, but did send a telegram apologizing and set a new date to meet with the boys. When Fish arrived on June 4, as promised, he came baring gifts for all the Budd children and visited with the family over lunch. To the Budd’s, Mr. Howard seemed like a typical loving grandfather.
After lunch, Fish explained to the family that he had to attend a children’s birthday party at his sister’s home and would return later to pick up Eddie and his friend to take to the farm. He then suggested that the Budd’s allow him to bring their oldest daughter, ten-year-old Grace along to the party. The non-suspecting parents agreed and dressed in her Sunday best, Grace, excited about going to party, left her house for the very last time. Grace Budd was never seen alive again.
Six Year Investigation
The investigation into the disappearance of Grace Budd went on for six years before detectives received any substantial break in the case. Then on November 11, 1934, Mrs. Budd received an anonymous letter which gave grotesque details of the murder and cannibalism of her precious daughter, Grace.
One Last Letter: The writer tortured Mrs. Budd with details about the empty house her daughter was taken to in Worcester, New York. How she was then stripped of her clothing, strangled and cut into pieces and eaten. As if to add some solace to Mrs. Budd, the writer was emphatic about the fact that Grace had not been sexually assaulted at any time.
Albert is Arrested: By tracing the paper the letter to Mrs. Budd was written on, the police were eventually led to a flophouse where Albert Fish was living. Fish was arrested and immediately began confessing to killing Grace Budd and several hundred other children. Fish, smiling as he described the grizzly details of the tortures and murders, appeared to the detectives as the devil himself.
Insanity Plea: On March 11, 1935, Fish’s trial began and he plead innocent by the reason of insanity. He said it was voices in his head telling him to kill children that made him do such horrendous crimes. Despite the numerous psychiatrists who described Fish as insane, the jury found him sane and guilty after a short 10-day trial. He was sentenced to die by electrocution.
On January 16, 1936, Albert Fish was electrocuted at Sing Sing prison, reportedly a process Fish looked upon as “the ultimate sexual thrill” but later dismissed as just rumor.
"I didn’t think too much of killing individual people. I used to think of killing the human race sometimes." Charles Starkweather
Just two hours after the classroom shootings, Moses Lake police Sgt. Dave Ruffin interviewed Barry Loukaitis. Here’s an excerpt:
Ruffin: How did you hold the weapon at the time, ‘cause isn’t this a lever action, one you have to pump back and forth with the lever?
Loukaitis: Well, I had loaded it and then cocked it, so …
Ruffin: OK, so it was already charged?
Loukaitis: Yeah, so the hammer was down and so when I walked in, well, I pulled the hammer back, then I opened the door, walked in …
Ruffin: And shot … shot … you aimed at Manuel (Vela)?
Loukaitis: (Response inaudible)
Ruffin: OK, now the other people that got hit, were those accidentals or were you trying to hit them or just … that was just kinda crazy then?
Loukaitis: That was kinda crazy. It might of been deliberate and it might of been …
Ruffin: So … so …
Ruffin: The only two deliberate ones woulda been …
Loukaitis: I believe it was deliberate.
Ruffin: The only two positively deliberate ones would be Mrs. Caires (Loukaitis’ algebra teacher) and Manuel?
Loukaitis: The only positive, deliberate one was Manuel.