In 1934, police finally caught up to Albert Fish. His trial lasted 10 days and fascinated the public and the press. At the end, Albert Fish was sentenced to death.
Sing Sing Serenade
At 11 p.m. on a quiet winter’s night, prison guards and a warden opened a cell room’s door. Inside, a shriveled, old man with gray thinning hair, gray eyes, a gray mustache, and a gray suit, sat in a chair. His wiry, writing hand darting across the paper. This old man had a minute to finish his final words.
Albert looked at the scribbles. He knew some of the words were broken: That is, they weren’t spelt the right way, and some letters didn’t look right to him. Actually, nothing was right about Albert Fish.
The warden asked Albert to stand and put out his hands. Albert obeyed and lifted his twig-like arms toward an officer. Fish looked like a little boy buried under his father’s old coat. The cuffs clapped down on his wrists, but the cold metal clasps slid down Albert’s hands to his knuckles.
The guards, who towered over Albert, stood on each side of him. Their hands felt like vices when they wrapped around Fish’s bony arms. They pulled him alongside. Albert had to take 2 steps for every one of the guards.
And so they marched toward the end of the hall. Like a dirge. Solemn. Somber.
The final door to open that night was plain white. There was a window just above Albert’s eye level. It had thin wires criss-crossing the glass.
Albert looked at the police officers, but they didn’t look down to Fish. Their stare focused toward the wooden chair in the middle of a dark room.
Albert’s eyes darted around the concrete room. Only three things were visible under the dismal light: a wooden chair with a metal cap and straps; levered switch on the wall by the door; and, a darkened window in front of him.
The executioner stepped out of the shadows and approached Albert. The man with the wire-rimmed glasses, black tie and black suit told Albert to sit in the wood chair. As Albert sat, the guards removed the cuffs on his hands. Though, Fish could have slipped free at any time. They rested so loosely on him.
The executioner now stood behind Albert in the chair. He started to place electrodes on Albert’s head. The metal was cold and Albert shivered when they touched his temples. He asked the executioner if he could help position them on his head. The man in the black suit shook his head yes, and Albert moved them into a more comfortable spot.
“I’m sorry,” he said to the executioner, “but why am I here again? What’s happening?”
Serial Killer on Trial
It may have been Albert’s arrogance that led to his capture. He sent a letter to Grace Budd’s mother. It detailed how he killed and ate the 10-year-old. The police were able to figure out that Frank Howard, the man who took the girl to a party, was really Albert Fish.
The police used the postal routing codes to find the Fish’s address and then waited for him. Three days later, Albert returned to his apartment and the police arrested him. Albert didn’t even try to escape. He gave up.
It was clear that the police had a lock-solid case against Fish for the murder of Grace Budd. But Albert liked to talk. To boast. To prattle about his other victims.
Fish was arraigned for murdering Grace Bud. While in custody, Albert confessed to more murders, but police could only corroborate 2 additional murders.
Those victims were Billy Gaffney (age 4) and Francis McDonnell (age 8). Police also believed he murdered 5 other children. but they never found the bodies or enough evidence to charge Fish. Those children include:
- Emma Richardson (age 5)
- Yetta Abramowitz (age 12)
- Robin Liu (age 6)
- Mary O’Connor (age 16)
- Benjamin Collins (age 17)
The Fish trial lasted 10 days. Psychiatric experts said he was insane. Others contradicted that assessment. The Fish children (now adults) testified what a loving father he was. Albert’s perversions and fetishes became tabloid fodder.
When the trial ended in March 1935, the jurors all agreed that Albert was insane, but believed his crimes were too severe and that he should die. Judge Close agreed and Albert Fish was sentenced to die by electric chair.
The Execution of Albert Fish
Albert continued to amaze the police with details of murder, cannibalism and torture. But one last thing surprised them before his execution.
His pelvis was full of pins and needles.
While most people know Fish tortured the children he killed, he also loved to sexually torture himself. He would jab his testicles and penis with sharp objects. Pain was pleasure to him.
The State of New York wondered if the metal in his body would cause additional pain and suffering, which would be unconstitutional.
It didn’t really matter to the executioner.
On January 16, 1936, officers led a less-than-coherent Albert Fish to ‘Old Sparky,’ the notorious electric chair in Sing Sing. Without much ado, he died within seconds as the charge surged through his body. His remains were buried in the prison’s cemetery.
And with that, the Boogeyman of Brooklyn faded into history.
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