Famous Last Words
Ossining, New York
January 16, 1936
“I don’t even know why I’m here.”
Fish was a serial killer, child rapist, and cannibal who boasted of having “children in every state.” He confessed to having over 100 victims, though did not specify if these were all murdered children or if raped but left alive.
One victim was a young man he began a sexual relationship with which ended when Fish tortured his lover for 2 weeks before cutting off half his penis. Fish’s original intent was to kill the young man and mutilate his body, but fearing the decomposition advanced by the heat would attract attention, he instead treated the wound, left $10, and kissed the man goodbye. The ultimate fate of this young man, Thomas Kedden (whose name has also been misspelled as Thomas Bedden in newspapers from the time), is unknown.
Fish was convicted and executed for the murder of 10-year-old Grace Budd, brother of Fish’s originally intended victim, Edward (18), whom he made contact with through a classified ad. Under a false pretense that he wished to take Grace to his niece’s birthday party. Fish and Grace were not seen again, though Fish sent a letter to Mrs. Budd bragging of the demise of Grace in a letter which eventually led to Fish’s arrest and conviction. The letter, including grammatical and spelling errors, read:
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 to 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 a 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 to the Butchers to be cut up and 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 yr 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 Head – bones and guts. He was roasted in the oven, (all of his ass) boiled, broiled, fried, stewed. The little boy was next, went the same way. At that time I was living at 409 E 100 St, rear – 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 wild flowers. 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 stairs. I grabbed her and she said she would tell her mama. 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, though, I could of had I wished. She died a virgin.
It took 2 jolts of electricity to kill Fish, creating the rumor the metal needles Fish was found of inserting into his groin had created a short circuit, but in reality 2 jolts is not an uncommon botching of electric chair executions, and Fish died within the average time frame of other criminals executed in the same manner.