The truth about Albert Fish's disturbing last words

At 11:06 PM on January 16th, 1936, Albert Fish was escorted to the electric chair chamber of Sing Sing Correctional Facility, 40 miles north of New York City. Three minutes and several thousand volts later, he was markedly dead.

Albert Fish is, in a pleasant twist of fate, not a name that you hear very often these days. In his own time, however, he became a very real boogeyman — a living monster whose crimes were too vile and numerous to name here. According to accounts given both by the man himself and those closest to him, Fish was a human snake pit of sadomasochistic tendencies who delighted in causing pain to himself and anyone he could get his hands on. The scope of his misdeeds will likely never be fully understood: he claimed responsibility for a hundred murders across the continental United States, but was only ever proven to have killed three people: 10-year-old Grace Budd, 9-year-old Francis McDonnell, and 4-year-old Billy Gaffney, all between 1924 and 1928.

Albert Fish was 'sane, but guilty'

It was the murder of Grace Budd that would ultimately lead to Fish's undoing. It went unsolved for six years, with one man wrongfully imprisoned for three months before the trail was designated decidedly cold. Then, seemingly out of the blue, Fish sent a letter to the girl's mother, claiming responsibility for the child's disappearance and detailing the horrifying circumstances of her death. While he didn't go so far as to sign it, a series of clues, inadvertent or otherwise, led to Fish's eventual capture.

Once in custody, Albert proved to be a one-man Gordian knot of horror. X-rays showed over two dozen needles, self-embedded by Fish into his own groin and pelvis. He regaled his attorney with stories of sexual assault, torture, and cannibalism. According to History, at his trial, the jury nearly unanimously agreed that the man was outside the bounds of sanity, but that he needed to be executed anyway. Fish, apparently, agreed at least in part, telling guards, "It will be the supreme thrill, the only one I haven't tried." Before dying, he was said to have uttered the last words: "I don't even know why I'm here," which are perhaps final proof he was very much the wrong side of sane.