Albert Fish was born Hamilton Fish in Washington D.C. on May 19, 1870. His parents were from a family with a long history of severe mental illness and he would prove to be no exception. He was sent away to an orphanage, where he endured severe beatings and whippings. Later, Fish said that he was the only child at the orphanage that actually enjoyed the abuse.

In 1890 he moved to New York City, where he began raping children and committing very bizarre sexual acts. He continued this practice over the next twenty years before becoming a murderer.

In 1898 he married a woman and proceeded to have six children with her. His children reportedly led fairly normal lives except for some strange occurrences. In one case, Fish asked his children to spank him with a paddle containing sharp nails. After his wife left him, Fish spent his free time writing obscene letters to widows listed in the personals section of the newspaper.

Since he worked as a painter, he was able to move across the United States at leisure. During his travels he was able to easily murder people and he later said that he had killed someone in each of the twenty-three states that he had visited during his life. Studies later showed that most of his victims were black and from poor families. It is suspected that Fish purposely targeted this demographic since racism at the time made it unlikely that anything would be done about the murders.

Modern psychologists describe Fish as a sadomasochist, a person that derives sexual pleasure from receiving and exerting pain. He frequently mutilated himself by sticking needles into himself even lighting himself on fire. More disturbing, however, is the fact that he liked to eat the flesh of his victims as well as their urine and feces.

The process of murder that Fish utilized was slow torture. He employed several types of torture devices, which he referred to as his "instruments of hell". Each child that he kidnapped would be tied up and whipped with a belt covered in nails. His other instruments included a handsaw, meat cleaver, and various knives.

The murder that helped police to pinpoint Fish was that of Grace Budd. On May 28, 1928, Fish responded to a work ad placed by the Budd family in New York City. Despite his attraction to their eighteen-year-old son Edward, Fish decided to kidnap their ten-year-old daughter Grace instead. He convinced her parents to let him take her to a party at his home and never returned with the girl.

The Budd family heard nothing of their daughter until 1934, when Fish sent them a letter stating that he had killed Grace and ate her body after cooking it. Although the letter was anonymous, the police traced it back to his apartment building and matched the handwriting to other documents in his apartment.

Fish was finally caught and his trial began on March 11, 1935. He pleaded insanity on the basis that he had voices telling him to kill children. Numerous psychiatrists came to his defense, describing his bizarre sexual fetishes, but the prosecution contended that none of those meant that a person was insane.

The trial lasted for ten days and the jury proclaimed Fish both sane and guilty of murder. The sentencing followed with the judge giving an order for Fish's execution. He was executed on January 16, 1936 after sitting on death row at Sing Sing prison. Some say that Fish was looking forward to electrocution as the "ultimate sexual thrill", but this theory is disputed.

Albert Fish remains one of the most disturbing criminals in history. He admitted to committing sexual assault on hundreds of occasions and evidence has shown that he committed at least sixteen murders during his lifetime.