Friday, June 4, 2010
If it hadn’t been for that constant itch, that need to gloat, the letter he just had to send to the dead girl’s parents, he might never have been caught. He could have finished his life in the shadows, stayed the boogeyman, the gray man, the Brooklyn Vampire, all those names they called him after he was safely locked away.
But the business felt unfinished; it pricked at him over the years. He needed someone to know. Not just anyone, really. He needed the little girl’s parents to know how she died – and how she tasted. How she’d fought him, kicking and scratching. And how “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.”
The letter arrived in November 1934, more than six years after 10-year-old Gracie Budd (right) had vanished from her Brooklyn home. In the intervening years, the police had mistakenly arrested a neighbor and been forced to let him go. The real killer had been twice sent to Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital for stalking and harassing women. He was both times treated and released.
But this time all the pieces came together – the killer, the letter, and a police detective who set a perfect trap. Their quarry was a disappointing sight at first, just an aging house painter with a tired face. Albert Fish didn’t look so much dangerous as exhausted, a scrap of a man, gray-haired and thin, dark rings circling pale eyes. But when the police found him, he pulled a straight razor from his pocket, slashing at the face of the closest one.
Posted by Deborah Blum at 12:20 AM