1936: Albert Fish

On this date in 1936, serial killer Albert Fish was electrocuted in New York’s Sing Sing Prison for a cannibalistic murder.

The deeply troubled Fish“deranged, but sane”, the doctors thought him — was condemned for murdering and eating a 10-year-old girl.

He was free and clear of the crime until, seven years later, he sent the child’s parents a grotesque taunting letter* that ultimately led police back to its author.

From posting that note to riding the lightning was a bare 14 months, but Fish found time to confess to additional murders (and deny others — the doubtful relationship of any Fish statement to reality makes it difficult to pin down his criminal career exactly).

The newspapers called him “The Werewolf of Wysteria” and “The Brooklyn Vampire”; if as a serial killer he was far from the most prolific, the thoroughgoing strangeness of his mind has made him, at least to some, enduringly fascinating** — as this documentary trailer suggests:

A 2007 feature film, The Grey Man, is also based on Fish’s exploits.

* The mother was illiterate, and her son had to read aloud to her Fish’s descriptions of cannibalism.

** Others find him less than interesting

Part of the Themed Set: The Spectacle of Private Execution in America.