1936 – Albert Fish executed. American serial killer, also known as the Gray Man, the Werewolf of Wysteria, the Brooklyn Vampire, the Moon Maniac and The Boogey Man.
A child rapist and cannibal, he boasted that he “had children in every state,” and at one time stated the number was about 100. However, it is not known whether he was talking about rapes or cannibalization, less still whether he was telling the truth.
He was a suspect of at least five murders during his lifetime. Fish confessed to three murders that police were able to trace to a known homicide, and he confessed to stabbing at least two other people.
At his trial he was found sane and guilty – none of the jurors doubted that Fish was insane, but ultimately, as one later explained, they felt he should be executed anyway.
Which he was, in the electric chair at Sing Sing prison.
According to one witness present, it took two jolts before Fish died, creating the rumor that the apparatus was short-circuited by needles that Fish had inserted into his body – he would self-embed needles into his groin and abdomen. After his arrest, X-rays revealed that he had at least 29 needles lodged in his pelvic region. He also hit himself repeatedly with a nail-studded paddle and inserted wool doused with lighter fluid into his anus and set it alight.
At a meeting with reporters after the execution, Fish’s lawyer, James Dempsey, revealed that he was in possession of his now deceased client’s “final statement“. This amounted to several pages of hand-written notes that Fish had apparently penned in the hours just prior to his death. When pressed by the assembled journalists to reveal the document’s contents, Dempsey refused, stating: I will never show it to anyone. It was the most filthy string of obscenities that I have ever read.
Not really a very nice man, Albert…