In 1928, Albert Fish refined his “implements from Hell” to use on young Cyril Quinn. Get the terrible tale after the jump.
Box Balls & Hand Saws
Albert looked out his apartment widow to see Cyril and his friend playing box ball on the sidewalk. He lifted the pane and called out to the boys.
“Cyril, dear boy,” he said. “Do you and your friend need lunch? I just started making sandwiches.”
The boys looked up at him and nodded in agreement. Cyril didn’t always get to eat in the middle of the day while his parents were at work. Mr. Howard always made him feel special and had candy for him, too.
The boys walked up the stairs to Albert’s apartment in Brooklyn. Outside, the city bustled and factories belched smoke. Many of Cyril’s friends had to work instead of go to school, but he and his friend skipped that day. The first graders had a spelling test to take, but that’s not as much fun as box ball.
Albert opened the door before the boys knocked on the door. “Hello boys!” he exclaimed and ushered them inside. Albert looked over the boys. Their clothes were covered in soot and mud.
“Your clothes are so dirty. Let me wash them while you eat your sandwiches,” he said. “Why don’t you go to my bedroom and slip them off? I’ll take off my pants, too.”
The boys went into the old man’s bedroom and undressed. It held a twin-sized bed and a dresser with a lamp. There was a closet with a suitcase and a few shirts in it.
Everything about Mr. Howard’s apartment seemed temporary to Cyril and his friend. It was like Mr. Howard just moved in, but he was ready to leave.
In the kitchen, Albert removed raw steak from the icebox and placed it on a plate. He grabbed a loaf of bread from the counter and cut enough white bread to make two sandwiches, but left them plain.
Mayonnaise would ruin the taste of the blood.
Albert sliced thin strips of meat from the steak. Blood seeped from it. He thought about Cyril and this knife cutting into his thigh. Would the little boy’s blood ooze or squirt when he made a sandwich from Cyril?
In the bedroom, the other boy was starting to get bored and he was hungry, too. He shoved Cyril to get a reaction. Cyril shoved back. The boys ran around the room and hopped up on Mr. Howard’s bed. They jumped up and down, laughing and roughhousing.
Albert heard the boys and smiled. Those boys will be delicious. He thought of running his slim fingers through their underpants. It made Albert aroused. Especially when he thought about choking little Cyril to death. He could force himself on the boy, one hand over his mouth and the other on his throat. The idea of Cyril’s muffled screams and crushed throat made him harder.
The boys jumped higher on Mr. Howard’s bed. They jumped so high they could touch the ceiling.
Cyril jumped as high as he could. His head almost hit the ceiling but he landed near the edge of the bed. It caused the mattress to slip off the frame, and the bed collapsed with a wham.
From underneath, a meat cleaver, handsaw and kitchen knife fell to the wood floors with a clinkety-clack sound.
Cyril and his friend stared at the implements. The handsaw was rusty and its edges bent. The knife was stained red. The meat cleaver looked warped and worn. Mr. Howard had used them a lot.
Albert rushed toward the room. His feet pounding on the floors and he burst through the bedroom door, startling the boys.
They looked at Mr. Howard, back to the implements, and then back to Mr. Howard. Their mouths opened like they were about to scream.
Albert rushed them. He grabbed Cyril by his brown hair and threw him to the floor. The other boy slipped by and ran toward the bedroom door. Albert grabbed his arm but the boy slipped free.
He ran down the stairs into a bustling street below the apartment. A panicking boy, in his underwear, yelling for help and ignored by the pedestrians.
Cyril got to his feet and tensed. Albert knew he would scream, too. But it wasn’t the screams he wanted to hear. Not the muffled screams of a little boy he would rape and eat. These screams would alert the neighbors and police.
Albert punched the boy in his face and knocked him out. He couldn’t kill him. People would know something was amiss now. The other boy was like a siren. At some point, the police would come.
Albert huffed. Sweet little Cyril would betray him. Albert could never savor his young flesh. Never touch him in an intimate way again.
Fish picked up his implements, threw them in the suitcase from the closet, and left. He stomped down the stairs to the street outside.
Fish needed to vanish before Cyril could tell anyone that the kind, old Mr. Howard had knives under his bed.
Molesting & Eating Children
Cyril matched Albert’s profile. He was believed to be 6-years-old, and he had parents that didn’t watch him. In other words, he was a boy in need of love and attention.
From court and police records, historians know Albert molested and raped children. He preferred boys over girls as sexual assault targets.
Albert usually ate the girls. That’s right: Albert was not only a sexual predator and child killer, he was a cannibal, too. He ate Grace Budd, his most infamous vicim. She was 10-years-old when he choked her to death; then hacked her up with his implements. Her body wouldn’t be found until 1934. That was six years after her murder.
Many crime buffs believe Cyril would have been the ‘warm-up’ to Grace’s murder.
Fish killed most of his known victims between 1919 and 1928, but he was active before that. In 1910, he stabbed a child in Washington, DC while on a job. He also frequented Manhattan to find street children to rape, torture or murder.
It was also during this time that he used 4 aliases to help escape detection. Those names included:
- Frank Howard
- Thomas Sprague
- Robert Hayden
- John Pell
At least, that’s what he confessed to while in police custody.
In the next chapter, the police circle Albert after a breakthrough in the Grace Budd case.
Here’s the kicker for this tale: Historians don’t know if Cyril Quinn and his friend existed.
In the late 1920s, a 50-something Albert started to lose his mind. Mental illness came crashing in and he suffered from vivid auditory and visual hallucinations. His delusions incorporated religious aspects: He thought Jesus and archangels wanted him to kill innocent children.
Because his hallucinations seemed real, many historians believe Fish imagined most of his killings. We’ll read more about those crimes in the last 2 parts of this tale.
During his later life, his employment and living situation became erratic. He bounced from job-to-job and home-to-home. Eventually, he lived in a boarding house but would go missing for days on end. Not even his (now adult) children knew where he’d go. He simply did what he was good at, besides killing.
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Various authors. “Albert Hamilton Fish,” Murderpedia.com, 23 May 2020 (retrieval date), https://murderpedia.org/male.F/f/fish-albert.htm.
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No author. “Albert Fish, serial killer & cannibal: Inside the grisly 1928 murder of Grace Budd,” New York Daily News, Tribune Publishing, various dates: 1934-1936, https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/1928-murder-grace-budd-albert-fish-gallery-1.1277430.