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Hannibal Lecter and Albert Fish - THE UNSPEAKABLE

It wasn’t the first time Albert Fish had been arrested by the New York Police. Three years after killing Grace Budd, he had been picked up and institutionalized at Bellevue Hospital (in 1931).

  • His crime then? Writing obscene letters to women.
  • His penalty? A few months in Bellevue where he was examined by psychiatrists, including Dr. Menas Gregory.
  • His treatment? Nothing much, since Dr. Gregory let him go.

Although Gregory determined Fish "has manifested sex perversion from early life," he did not exhibit "mental deterioration or dementia." In short, Fish was a pervert who knew what he was doing.

According to Dr. Gregory’s report:

As a result of our psychiatric examination we are of the opinion that this man at the present time is not insane.

Four years later - in 1935 - the prosecution would advocate his sanity throughout the trial. So would Dr. Gregory.

As the police first listened to Fish tell his tale of horrifying proportions, however, no one believed he was telling the truth. No one wanted to believe a man (sane or insane) could kill a child and then commit further atrocities so ghastly as to make the act of murder less heinous than its aftermath.

Fish admitted to killing Grace Budd at Wysteria cottage in Westchester County.  The home - built in 1857 (a few years before the American Civil War began) - was in an isolated area (on Mountain Road in Irvington, New York). 

The house still stands, remade and beautiful.  Surrounded by trees, in full bloom during the summer months, the location would have provided significant cover for someone with nefarious motives.

When Albert Fish arrived at the scene with police officers, he showed the investigators where to recover the remains of Grace Budd, including her little skull.

Bones found in a well on the property caused investigators to wonder if they had retrieved all evidence from the water.  To be sure, they had the well pumped dry.

Gathering those remains in a basket, the police kept them as evidence. That evidence would later be used as a trial exhibit, despite the strong objections of Fish’s lawyer, James Dempsey.

But what of the claims of cannibalism? Initially, he denied it to reporters just as he denied involvement in the deaths of other children:

I don’t know anything about those other bones they say they’ve found. And cannibalism! The very thought sickens me.

The act should have sickened him as much as the thought.

Instead, Hamilton Albert Fish will be forever remembered as the real-life model for Hannibal Lecter. It was up to Dr. Wertham to tell the jury what Fish had told him.

After the testimony was over, no one doubted Fish had done what he had denied doing to reporters.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5139stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 01, 1999

Updated Last Revision: May 21, 2015


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"THE UNSPEAKABLE" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 01, 1999. Dec 15, 2017.
       <http://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/THE-UNSPEAKABLE-Hannibal-Lecter-and-Albert-Fish/1>.
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