Albert Fish's final statement (lost handwritten notes of American serial killer; 1936)

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This article has been tagged as NSFL and NSFW due to its discussion of murder and sex crimes.

Albert Fish.

Status: Lost

Albert Fish is a notorious American serial killer, cannibal, and rapist most known for the murders of nine-year-old Francis McDonnell, four-year-old Billy Gaffney, and eight-year-old Grace Budd. His actions led to him being branded as "the most vicious child-slayer in criminal history" by the New York Daily Mirror. He was found guilty for kidnapping and murdering Budd on 22nd March 1935, and sentenced to death by electric chair, which was carried out on 16th January 1936. A few hours before his execution, Fish wrote several pages of notes that ultimately established his final statement, which his lawyer James Dempsey refused to release publicly.


Born on 19th May 1870,[1] Albert Fish led a troubled early life. He confessed that at only 20, he had prostituted himself in New York City, and had begun to molest young boys.[2] The sexual abuse of children continued from the late-1800s onwards.[2][1] His sexual deviancy only worsened over time, when upon viewing a waxworks museum that showcased a bisection of the male genitalia, Fish began to desire to commit sexual mutilation.[1] Fish's first known victim was Thomas Kedden, who was 19 and suffered from intellectual disabilities.[1] In 1910, Fish, after seducing Kedden, lured him into a farmhouse where he proceeded to torture the young man, including by slicing half of his genitalia.[3] While Fish intended to kill Kedden, he decided to spare him because he was concerned the hot weather could lead to his exposure.[1][2] The fate of Kedden remains unknown, with Fish himself not bothering to find out.[4]

The Murders

From the 1910s to the 1920s, Fish also began to develop a fascination with cannibalism.[5][3] This would lead to the murder of nine-year-old Francis McDonnell on 14th July 1924.[6] After being reported missing by his parents, a search ultimately led to his body being discovered in a forest not far from his home in Staten Island.[1][2] An autopsy revealed he had been sexually abused and strangled with his own suspenders,[1][2] while his left hamstring lacked any flesh.[6] Despite McDonnell's friends claiming to police that a man suspiciously similar to Fish had taken the boy, the murder at the time remained unsolved.[6] Nevertheless, it did lead to concerns about "The Grey Man", with McDonnell's mother, who had seen the individual earlier on the day of the murder, claiming that "Everything about him seemed faded and grey."[6]

On 11th February 1927, four-year-old Billy Gaffney disappeared in Brooklyn, after beforehand playing with the Beaton brothers.[1] Billy Beaton, aged three, had also vanished but was found on the roof of the apartments that he, Gaffney, and his 12-year-old brother, who had left to enter his apartment, were playing at. Beaton claimed that "the bogeyman took him" when asked regarding Gaffney,[1] leading to Fish also being dubbed "The Bogeyman" after he later confessed to the crime.[7][1][2] The body of Gaffney has never been recovered, although a letter by Fish details the boy's fate, with Fish claiming he gagged and mutilated his victim, before proceeding to murder and cannibalise the young boy.[2]

More than a year later, on 25th May 1928, Fish responded to a New York World edition advertising the services of 18-year-old Edward Budd, with the intent to murder Edward.[7][1][2][3] However, despite promising to "hire" Budd and a friend of his when he met them in Manhattan,[8][3] Fish did not show up, although he promised to do so later in a telegram sent to them.[1][3] When he arrived back, he decided instead to focus his attention on Budd's nine-year-old sister Grace,[3] luring her into his grasp by convincing her parents to let him take her to a niece's birthday party.[8][1] Once assured they were alone, Fish proceeded to strip Budd, choke her to death, and cannibalise her.[1][3] In an attempt to avoid detection, Fish wrote an anonymous letter to Budd's parents, claiming that a friend of his, Captain John Davis had cannibalised multiple children during a famine in Hong Kong.[8][3] He wrote he was so convinced by Davis' claim that human flesh tasted good that he proceeded to abduct and kill Budd to find out, admitting her had eaten her "entire body".[1][8][3]

The letter led to Fish's downfall, as a police investigation of the envelope the letter was delivered in found it was actually sent from the New York Private Chauffeur's Benevolent Association.[1][8][6] The resulting investigation led police to Fish, where he confessed to murdering Budd.[1][8] Fish would later confess to the murder of McDonnell after eyewitnesses noted Fish's similar appearance to "The Grey Man".[6] He would also write a letter to his attorney James Dempsey that confessed to killing Gaffney too.[7] His further confessions led to him being branded as "the most vicious child-slayer in criminal history" by the New York Daily Mirror.[6] Despite Fish pleading insanity, with Dempsey defending his client by noting how Fish was deemed insane and had various sexual abnormalities,[1][2][9] the serial killer would be found guilty of his crimes and was sentenced to death via electric chair on 22nd March 1935.[9] He would be executed on 16th January 1936, aged 65.[9][1] Since his execution, Fish has also been linked to the murders of other children, including Emma Richardson, Yetta Abramowitz, Robin Jane Liu, Mary Ellen O'Connor, and Benjamin Collings.[1]

Albert Fish's Final Statement

While Fish's letters confessing to the murders of Gaffney and Budd emphasised his twisted mind and can be easily viewed online, his attorney revealed Fish had also written several notes in the hours leading up to his execution.[9] Little is known about the note's contents as Dempsey refused to release them publicly,[9] and they have remained locked away as of the present day.[10] Thus, the only people to know what was written on the notes are Fish and Dempsey themselves, and with both men long since dead, speculation over the notes continues to arise.[10]

Based on Dempsey's comments to the media surrounding releasing the notes, the notes' content were too obscene for public viewing.[11] While he did conjure up the notes to form Fish's "final statement", the attorney was adamant the document would be locked away, stating "I will never show it to anyone. It was the most filthy string of obscenities that I have ever read."[9] As of the present day, it is unknown whether the notes still exist, or were destroyed by Dempsey.[10]



Biographics video on Albert Fish.

Shrouded Hand video on Albert Fish.