Albert Fish – The Werewolf of Wysteria

8 min read
Albert Fish – The Werewolf of Wysteria

Few names evoke as much revulsion, horror and utter disbelief as that of Albert Fish.

The story of this nightmarish serial killer seems scripted from the most extreme of horror movies. In fact, few scriptwriters could have dreamed up the pure evil which turned out to be Albert Fish.

This cannibal, sadomasochist and serial killer is a sordid embodiment of humanity at its most depraved. The nicknames Albert Fish was given perfectly illustrate the sheer horror which he aroused. At different times, he was referred to as “The Werewolf of Wysteria,” “The Boogey Man,” “The Brooklyn Vampire” and “The Moon Maniac.”

Albert Fish - The Werewolf of Wysteria | Stay At Home Mum

Early Life

Albert Fish was born in Washington, D.C. on May 19th, 1870. His father, Randall Fish an American of English descent was 43 years older than his mother, Ellen Fish. At the time Albert Fish was born, his father was 75 years old.

The youngest of four living children, Albert was named Howard Hamilton Fish, after a distant relative the politician Hamilton Fish. He later preferred to call himself “Albert,” after a dead sibling, and also to try to avoid a nickname “Ham & Rolls.”

When Albert Fish was 5 years old, his father died. Unable to support him, Albert’s mother put him in an orphanage in Washington. Albert spent 5 years in the orphanage where he reported being regularly beaten up.

According to him, that is when things started to go wrong. “We were unmercifully whipped”, he said of his time at the orphanage. “I saw boys doing many things they should not have done.”

Fortunately, in 1980, Fish’s mother got a government job and was able to take him out of the orphanage. However, being out of the orphanage did not put an end to Fish’s twisted upbringing. In 1882, he struck a relationship with a telegraph boy. This boy introduced the 12 year-old Fish into bizarre practices like urolagnia (drinking urine) and coprophagia (eating foeces).

Albert Fish | Stay At Home Mum

Early Criminal History

In 1890, when he was 20 years old, Fish moved to New York City. He reports working as a prostitute, and claims that at that point, he started raping children. When he was 28 years-old, Fish’s mother arranged for him to marry a woman 9 years younger than him. They went on to have six children.

Despite being a husband and a father, Fish claims that he did not stop molesting children. He also started having sadomasochistic affairs mostly with men. And, occasionally, he would retrieve a woman’s name from a classified advertising and send them an obscene letter. Throughout this time, Fish’s only run-in with the law occurred in 1903 when he was arrested for grand lacerny and sentenced to imprisonment in the infamous Sing Sing prison.

Albert Fish | Stay At Home Mum
Via Murderpedia


Around 1910, Fish reported having met a 19 year-old man in Wilmington, Delaware. At that time, he was working in Wilmington. The young man’s name was Thomas Kedden. Fish took Kedden to his home, and the two started having a sadomasochistic relationship.

After about 10 days, Fish took Kedden to an isolated farmhouse. He tied him up and started to torture him. Fish said his initial intention was to kill Kedden and cut him into small pieces. However, he decided against this.

Instead, after torturing him for two weeks, Fish cut off half of Kedden’s penis. Recalling the incident, he remarked “I shall never forget his scream, or the look that he gave me.” He then poured peroxide over the wound, dressed it up, kissed Kedden goodbye and left. He never bothered to find out what became of poor Kedden.

Getting Worse

In 1917, Fish’s wife left him, and he became a single father. His wife’s departure must have devastated him. He started having hallucinations. At one time, he wrapped himself up in a carpet, claiming that he was following instructions from St. John the apostle.

Around this time, Fish began indulging in self-mutilation. He would repeatedly stick needles into his abdomen and groin (an X-ray later revealed at least 29 needles embedded in his groin). He would also beat himself with a paddle which was studded with nails. He also occasionally doused wool with lighter fuel, inserted it into his anus, and set it alight.

Albert Fish | Stay At Home Mum

Around this period of time, Fish also started becoming obsessed with cannibalism. His initial steps involved preparing meals consisting entirely of raw meat. He would eat the meat, and sometimes serve it to his children. The meat he was serving at this point wasn’t human flesh.

In 1919, Fish stabbed a mentally handicapped boy in Georgetown, Washington. In 1924, he started having hallucinations in which he heard God telling him to torture and mutilate children. He went and bought his infamous “implements of Hell” which consisted of a butcher knife, a meat cleaver and a small handsaw.

In 1928, Fish decided to try out his implements on a Cyril Quinn a young boy he was molesting. One day, upon noticing Quinn and his friend playing on the sidewalk, he invited them in for sandwiches. While the two boys were playing on Fish’s bed, they lifted the mattress and saw the “implements of Hell.” They were so frightened and ran away.



In May 1928, Fish noticed a classified advert placed by Edward Budd, a young man who was looking for a job in the countryside. He went to see Edward, posing as a farmer. He promised to hire Edward and later confessed that his actual intention was to tie Edward up, cut him and watch him bleed to death.

During his follow-up visit to Edward’s family home, he met Grace Budd, Edward’s 10 year-old sister. He immediately changed his target from Edward to Grace. He convinced Grace’s parents to let them leave with him on the pretext of taking her to a children’s party. He left with her that evening, and never returned.

The police searched for Grace Budd in vain. In 1930, a retired police superintendent was arrested in suspicion of Grace’s disappearance. After 108 days of incarceration, the ex-cop was put on trial and cleared.

Albert Fish | Stay At Home Mum

In 1934, an anonymous letter was sent to Grace’s parents. The letter detailed how Grace Budd had died. The letter writer (later confirmed as Fish), detailed how he took Grace to an isolated house. He left her outside, picking flowers, as he went inside to prepare.

While inside, he took off his clothes, to void them getting soiled with blood, and then called out to Grace through the window. When she entered and saw him naked, she started to cry, and said she would tell her mother.

Fish grabbed her, and what transpired is better told in his own words. Here is an excerpt of from the letter:

“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.”


Although Fish hadn’t signed the letter, the police managed to link it to him basing on where it was posted. When they traced the origins of the letter, all fingers pointed towards Fish. The police hauled him in for questioning, and he confessed to both writing the letter, and killing Grace Budd. He was charged with kidnap and murder.

After his arrest, Fish confessed to killing two other children the 8-year-old Francis McDowell and 4 year-old Billy Gaffney. These two had mysteriously disappeared in 1924 and 1927 respectively.

Francis McDowell’s body had been found hanging on a tree. He had been sexually molested, strangled with his own suspenders, and had severe lacerations on his legs. His left calf, for instance, had been stripped almost clean of meat.

As for Billy Gaffney, Fish reported having picked him up and taken him to an isolated house. He had stripped him naked, tied him up and gagged him. He had then beaten his bare buttocks with leather stripes until he bled. He had then cut of Billy’s nose and ears, slit his mouth from ear to ear, and gouged out his eyes.

After the boy had died, he had cut off his head, arms and legs. He had put these in a sack, weighed down the sack with stones and dropped it in a muddy pool. He had then cut off Billy’s buttocks and genitals, cooked them in an oven (together with pickled onions and pepper) and had eaten them.

Albert Fish | Stay At Home Mum
Via Examiner

Trial and Execution

Albert Fish was placed on trial for the kidnap and murder of Grace Budd. The trial began on March 11th, 1935 and lasted just 10 days. Although his defense lawyers tried to plead insanity, the jurors rejected this plea. He was found guilty, and sentenced to death.

Albert Fish’s execution was carried out at Sing Sing prison on January 16th, 1936. His execution which was by electric chair lasted about three minutes. His death brought an end to one of the most devious serial killers in the history of the United States.


Wikipedia (2015) Albert Fish

About Author

Jody Allen

Jody is the founder and essence of Stay at Home Mum. An insatiable appetite for reading from a very young age had Jody harbouring dreams of being a pu...Read Moreblished author since primary school. That deep-seeded need to write found its way to the public eye in 2011 with the launch of SAHM. Fast forward 4 years and a few thousand articles Jody has fulfilled her dream of being published in print. With the 2014 launch of Once a Month Cooking and 2015's Live Well on Less, thanks to Penguin Random House, Jody shows no signs of slowing down. The master of true native content, Jody lives and experiences first hand every word of advertorial she pens. Mum to two magnificent boys and wife to her beloved Brendan; Jody's voice is a sure fire winner when you need to talk to Mums. Read Less

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