A Criminal History
Albert Fish, not surprisingly, was no stranger to police. His record stretched back to 1903 when he had been jailed for grand larceny. Since then, he had been arrested six times for various petty crimes, such as sending obscene letters and petty theft. Half of those arrests occurred around the time of Gracie's abduction. Each time, the charges were dismissed. He had been in mental institutions more than once.
When asked about his background, Fish said: "I was born May 19, 1870, in Washington, D.C. We lived on B Street, N.E., between Second and Third. My father was Captain Randall Fish, 32nd-degree Mason, and he is buried in the Grand Lodge grounds of the Congressional cemetery. He was a Potomac River boat captain, running from D.C. to Marshall Hall, Virginia.
"My father dropped dead October 15, 1875, in the old Pennsylvania Station where President Garfield was shot, and I was placed in St. John's Orphanage in Washington. I was there till I was nearly nine, and that's where I got started wrong. We were unmercifully whipped. I saw boys doing many things they should not have done. I sang in the choir from 1880 to 1884 — soprano, at St. John's. I came to New York. I was a good painter — interiors or anything.
"I got an apartment and brought my mother up from Washington. We lived at 76 West 101st Street, and that's where I met my wife. After our six children were born, she left me. She took all the furniture and didn't even leave a mattress for the children to sleep on.
"I'm still worried about my children," he sniffled. His six children ranged from age 21 to 35. "You'd think they'd come to visit their old dad in jail, but they haven't."