Satan gets into people and makes them do things they don’t want to.

— Herbert Mullin
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Albert Fish’s Murders


In 1910, Fish committed his first murder in which he mutilated and tortured his victim. From that point on, he set his sights on children as he saw them as easy targets. Fish traveled from state to state in the 1920’s leaving a trail of victims from molestation to cases of children disappearing. Fish would torture, mutilate and eventually murder his victims using what he called his “Implements of Hell” which consisted of a meat cleaver, a butcher knife, and a saw.

Though never divorced from his first wife, Fish married three more time, enjoying a sex life which court psychiatrists would describe as one of “unparalleled perversity.” (In jail, authorities compiled a list of eighteen sexual perversions practiced by Fish, including
coprophagia – consumption of human excrement.) Tracing his sadomasochism back to the age of five of six, when he began to relish bare-bottom paddlings in the orphanage, Fish’s obsession with pain was focused primarily on children. Ordered “by God” to castrate young boys, he impartially molested children of both sexes as he traveled around the country. Prosecutors confidently linked him with “at least 100” sexual attacks in 23 states, from New York to Wyoming, but Fish felt slighted by their estimate. “I have had children in every state,” he declared, placing his own tally of victims closer to 400.

For all that, Fish was careless in his crimes, frequently losing jobs “because things about these children came out.” Arrested eight times over the years, he served time for grand larceny, passing bad checks and violating parole or probation. Obscene letters were another of his passions, and Fish mailed of countless examples to strangers, their addresses obtained from matrimonial agencies or newspaper “lonely-hearts” columns.

In 1928, Fish indulged his taste for human flesh on a 12-year-old girl named Grace Budd. She was the daughter of parents who knew and trusted Fish. When fish offered to take her to a party for children, they let him do so without any misgivings. Instead of a party, Fish took Grace to his cottage in Westchester County, New York. Stripping himself naked, Fish strangled the child, and then beheaded and dismembered her with a meat cleaver. He then cooked her body parts into a stew seasoned with onions and carrots. Albert Fish then consumed this grisly repast down to the last awful morsel, and then he vanished.

Several years later, Grace’s parents received a letter from fish, telling them exactly what he had done to their little girl. After the horrific letter, investigators went into action, pulling out all stops to find the monster who had written it. The investigation was led by Detective King, who had deferred his retirement two years earlier so that he could continue to work on the Grace Budd case.
King used a microscope on the letter and discovered an almost indiscernible design on the flap of the envelope. It turned out to be the letters N.Y.P.C.B.A. and a quick search through the Manhattan telephone directory revealed the letters to stand for the New York Private Chauffeur’s Benevolent Association, headquartered at 627 Lexington Avenue. The association gladly opened its files to Detective King and he spent hours checking the backgrounds and handwriting of their 400 employees. Sadly though, he did not come up with a match. Undaunted, he called all of the employees together and questioned them rigorously.

After a long and tiring investigation, King managed to find out that killer was staying at a flophouse, and now he only had to wait for the Fisher to show up. King was then shocked and stunned when he saw a seemingly harmless old man. When asked to accompany him to police headquarters for questioning Fisher tried to assault the detective with a razor, but he was no match for the solidly built officer. King handcuffed him, then turned the man around to face him and stared into his withered face. “I’ve got you now,” King said triumphantly, ending a six year manhunt.