Hamilton (Albert) Fish was born May 19, 1870 in Washington, D.C. to a birth family plagued with serious mental illnesses. Fish beaten mercilessly regularly at the orphanage he was raised in. In 1898, he was married a younger woman he fathered five children with before she left him for someone else.
He traveled the country working as painter, torturing and sexually assaulting children along the way. He consumed flesh, urine, blood, and excrement of his victims claiming God sent him on "missions" to kill. His victims usually came from poor black families. A sadomasochist, he enjoyed self-mutilation by sticking needles around his genitals, or shoving cotton soaked in lighter fluid up his rectum to burn himself.
On May 28, 1928, Fish, 58, posing as Frank Howard, a farmer, advertised in a Manhattan, New York newspaper for a young man to work on his farm. Edward Budd, 17, from Long Island responded. Fish promised to send for Edward in a few days but convinced the parents to allow him to take his younger sister, Grace, 10, to a party at his home that evening. They didn't return. November 1934, the Budd's received a long gruesome letter:
"My Dear Mrs. Budd,
"In 1894 a friend of mine shipped as a deck hand on the Steamer Tacoma, Capt. John Davis. They sailed from San Francisco for Hong Kong, China. On arriving there he and two others went ashore and got drunk. When they returned the boat was gone. At that time there was famine in China. Meat of any kind was from $1 to 3 Dollars a pound. So great was the suffering among the very poor that all children under 12 were sold for food in order to keep others from starving. A boy or girl under 14 was not safe in the street. You could go in any shop and ask for steak—chops—or stew meat. Part of the naked body of a boy or girl would be brought out and just what you wanted cut from it. A boy or girls behind which is the sweetest part of the body and sold as veal cutlet brought the highest price.
"John staid there so long he acquired a taste for human flesh. On his return to N.Y. he stole two boys one 7 one 11. Took them to his home stripped them naked tied them in a closet. Then burned everything they had on. Several times every day and night he spanked them—tortured them—to make their meat good and tender. First he killed the 11 year old boy, because he had the fattest ass and of course the most meat on it. Every part of his body was Cooked and eaten except the head—bones and guts. He was Roasted in the oven (all of his ass), boiled, broiled, fried and stewed. The little boy was next, went the same way. At that time, I was living at 409 E 100 St. near—right side. He told me so often how good Human flesh was I made up my mind to taste it.
"On Sunday June the 3—1928 I called on you at 406 W 15 St. Brought you pot cheese—strawberries. We had lunch. Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her. On the pretense of taking her to a party. You said yes she could go. I took her to an empty house in Westchester I had already picked out. When we got there, I told her to remain outside. She picked wildflowers. I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off. I knew if I did not I would get her blood on them. When all was ready I went to the window and called her. Then I hid in a closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked she began to cry and tried to run down the stairs. I grabbed her and she said she would tell her mamma.
"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. I did not fuck her tho I could of had I wished. She died a virgin."
The police traced the letter back to Fish. On December 13, 1934, after he was arrested, he took police to the house where he had killed Grace. Her skull was buried in the garden.
Even though he was tied to fifteen murdered children and countless molestation cases he was only charged with Grace Budd's murder. On March 11, 1935, he went to trial and pleaded insanity, contending voices from God told him to commit the crimes. Frederic Wertham, a psychiatrist, the defense's chief expert witness stated Fish was insane. Other psychiatrists testified about his sexual fetishes of coprophilia, urophilia, pedophilia, and masochism. After a 10 day trial he was found sane and guilty. He received the death penalty to be executed by electrocution. At Sing Sing, January 16, 1936. He was thrilled about being electrocuted. He helped the executioners strap his body down. A reporter wrote his "eyes gleamed." It reportedly took two jolts to put him down.