Albert Fish: Notorious Child Serial Killer

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Table of contents

  1. Early Life and Traumatic Childhood of Albert Fish
  2. Disturbing Behaviors and Early Signs of Psychopathy
  3. Descent into Monstrosity: Fish's Crimes in New York
  4. Fish's Family Life and Further Criminal Activities
  5. The Abduction and Murder of Grace Budd
  6. Trial, Conviction, and Execution of Albert Fish
  7. Conclusion: Albert Fish's Legacy as a Notorious Serial Killer
  8. Works Cited

Early Life and Traumatic Childhood of Albert Fish

The serial killer that I have chosen is Albert Fish, also known as “The Boogeyman,” and many other nicknames. Born on May 19, 1870, in Washington, D.C, United States. Growing up his name was actually Hamilton Howard, but he later changed it to Albert to honor one of his deceased siblings. Fish’s parents were Randall and Ellen Fish and had four children in total, Annie Fish, Edwin Fish, Walter Winchell Fish, and Albert Fish. His parents were of various descents, his father was of English Ancestry, while Fish’s mother was of Scots-Irish American. (Montaldo, 1) His childhood was not the ideal childhood that a kid would want, it was full of emotional and physical pain. Fish’s parents eventually deserted him, at a very young age. Since they abandoned him, he was taken to an orphanage and was there until he was about seven-nine years of age. His journey at the orphanage was not pleasant, to say the least. He and the other children in the orphanage were receiving beatings on a regular basis, causing much pain. As the beatings went on and Fish received more of them, he began to “find great pleasure” in the pain that was caused by them. (Montaldo, 1)

Disturbing Behaviors and Early Signs of Psychopathy

In 1880, Albert Fish was taken out of the orphanage that his mother placed him in at an early age. He eventually got removed from it by his mother, Ellen Fish, because she had a government job. After getting out of the terrible conditions of the orphanage, Fish did not truly know what to do because he was used to getting beatings and did not have an education. Shortly after getting free of the “home” that his mother placed him in, he became friends with another little boy, who he ended up learning disturbing ways from. While hanging around this other boy, he began to drink other's urine and eventually took part in consuming other's feces as well. (Montaldo, 1) Due to Albert Fish’s relationship with this telegraph boy, he began going to as many public places that had restrooms and would watch the males. Fish would not only watch them use the bathroom but as well as watching them undress. Everything went downhill from there for Fish, and he became a monstrous serial killer. (TheFamousPeople, 1)

Descent into Monstrosity: Fish's Crimes in New York

Albert Fish did not have many very pleasant experiences growing up, which did not benefit him in his future actions. In 1890, Fish moved to New York, New York, where he began to start up his monstrous crimes against little, innocent children. Whenever Fish first moved to New York, New York, he had to make a profit somehow, so he became a prostitute which is when he began to molest males. (Montaldo, 1) Albert began to take children of all ages from their own homes and would act upon his criminal ways towards them. He would not only molest them and harm them sexually, but he would also torture them in horrific ways. He would torture his victims because he became obsessed with the feeling that it would bring to him. His ”most favorite” way of torture that he would perform to his victims was giving them beatings using a paddle that was covered in sharp, pointy nails. (Montaldo, 1) Following after these brutal beatings to all of his victims, Fish would rape them and eventually kill them as well. Albert Fish was not only a murderer, but as well as a cannibal. After he would brutally beat his victims, then rape, murder them, he would eventually eat them. (Montaldo, 1) Fish was so well at luring his victims to himself because he always presented himself as “a sweet and harmless man,” they never saw his true self until alone with him. Whenever he would pinpoint someone he wanted to victimize, he would go up to them and introduce himself to them, but not always with his real identity. He would then proceed to talk to them about a topic, Fish would never fail to be anything but kind to them. He would then continue on the conversation and they would eventually just think that he was this nice, “everyday” man, which then is what would always lead to their abduction. As he continued to do these criminal, monstrous acts and as time went on, his “sexual fantasies” with children increased and became worse and worse every day with the crimes that he committed.

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Fish's Family Life and Further Criminal Activities

Even though Albert Fish was a serial killer and a terrible person, he still got married and they had children of their own. In 1898, Fish got married to Estella Wilcox who together had a total of six children. Their children were Albert, Anna, Gertrude, Eugene, John, and Henry Fish. (Buchanan-Dunne, 1) Albert and his wife, Estella, were married for a total of nine years together. While he and Estella were married, Fish was arrested for embezzlement and was thrown into prison. While being held in prison in 1903 for embezzlement, he was having sexual intercourse with the other men that were with him in prison. (Blanco, 1) After getting released from prison for embezzlement and his wife leaving him for another man, his children’s lives changed. Since Estelle, his wife, had left him for another man and was not there anymore, he would make his children play brutal games with him. One of his favorite games that he would play with his children was where they would have to “paddle” him with a paddle that was completely covered with nails until they could see the blood running down him, and until he could feel it. Another “game” that he would make his children play with him was pushing needles down deep into his skin because he felt pleased with the pain it brought him. After his marriage with Estella came to an end, he then wrote vulgar messages to women that he saw in the newspapers. These messages were very descriptive in what he wanted to do to these women sexually. He sent out various messages to these women that were in the newspaper, but Fish claimed that not a single one of the women who revived a message ever answered him. Even though Albert Fish was married for a total of nine years and did not bring harm to his wife, Estella, he still wrote these vulgar and nasty messages to many, many women. Because the messages that he wrote to these women were so detailed and sexual, they were never released to the eye of the public because not everyone should see them. However, these messages were later used in court for evidence. (Montaldo, 1)

The Abduction and Murder of Grace Budd

In 1928, Fish went by the name of “Mr. Howard.” He had seen an ad from an eighteen-year-old, Edward, that was looking for a side job to help with his family's bills and costs. Fish decided that he was going to meet with Edward and his family to get the job settled and when he would start. The meeting went very well with Edward and his family, so he took the job because they thought that “Mr. Howard” was just a casual, kind, and trustworthy man. At the end of the meeting, Fish told the family that he would be back the very next week to get Edward to start his work for him, but he didn’t go through with what he told them. Fish sent a message apologizing to the family and set a new date to start with Edward. After showing up on the new date, he then told them that he had a birthday party to go to for a kid that he knows. After telling them about this party, he then proceeded to ask them if their oldest daughter of ten years, Grace could go with him. Grace Budd went to the birthday party with “Mr. Howard,” Fish and was never seen again.

Trial, Conviction, and Execution of Albert Fish

Nobody knew what had happened to Grace, and the investigation of the case went on for a total of six years until they even had a break in the case. Grace’s mother, Mrs. Budd, received a letter in 1934 on November 11 from an anonymous person that told her where her daughter had been taken and what had happened to her. The police tracked the letter that Mrs. Budd received all the way back to where Albert Fish lived and he was arrested. After being arrested, Fish admitted to murdering Grace Budd and other children. While in court, confessing to all of his crimes that he had committed, he was smiling the whole time. (Montaldo, 1) Fish’s trial began on March 11, 1935, and during his trial, he tried to plead not guilty by the reasoning on insanity. But the jury declared him sane and guilty in conclusion to a 10-day trial. His punishment was not to be thrown in prison, but to be killed by electrocution. Fish was electrocuted on January 16, 1936, at the Sing Sing prison in Ossining, New York.

Conclusion: Albert Fish's Legacy as a Notorious Serial Killer

While researching Albert Fish I came to the conclusion that he is one of the worst serial killers there was. He had many nicknames from other people. He was known as “the Boogeyman, the Gray Man, the Werewolf of Wysteria, the Brooklyn Vampire, and the Moon Maniac.” Serial killers always have their own ways of doing their crimes. Albert Fish had his own way of doing things. He would lure his victims in by acting like this kind and trustworthy old man. He would pick out a victim and then talk to them, and eventually abduct them. After abducting then he would then beat them brutally, then rape them, then he would murder his victims, and as if that was not enough he would then eat them. Fish and his whole family were all insane and had various mental illnesses. It was not only his immediate family that had mental illnesses. He grew into a serial killer and his ways because of how he grew up and his family history. His childhood was gruesome and he did not have a role model to look up to whatsoever. Since he was always getting beatings at such a young age and began to take pleasure in the pain that they would give him, he would give out beatings to his victims too because he believed that they would feel the same way. He was so messed up in the head that he had “sexual fantasies” about little, innocent children and he would eventually act upon those fantasies that he would have. Every time that he would act upon one fantasy he would have another one that would be even worse than the one before. Albert Fish was not a good person at all and whenever he finally got caught after being a serial killer for a total of eight years, he got what he deserved. He was punished by getting killed by the electric chair, but that does not do justice for all of the acts of crime that he committed and all the terrible things that he did to little children.

Works Cited

  1. Montaldo, Charles. “Biography of Albert Fish, Notorious Child Serial Killer.” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 17 Oct. 2019,
  2. Blanco, Juan Ignacio. “Albert Fish: Murderpedia, the Encyclopedia of Murderers.” Albert Fish | Murderpedia, the Encyclopedia of Murderers,
  3. “Albert Fish.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Dec. 2019,
  4. Herrera, Lisa, et al. “Everything You Need To Know About Albert Fish.” Serial Killer Shop, 18 Mar. 2019,
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