Edward Budd, an ambitious 18-year-old, placed an ad in the local newspaper for a job in the country. On May 28, 1928, a man named Frank Howard came to Edward's house with a job proposal.
Howard said that he had a 20-acre farm in Farmingdale on Long Island. The old man had gray hair, a large mustache and seemed kind and sincere. He said he would hire Edward for $15 a week to replace one of his farmhands. Edward eagerly accepted.
On June 2, the day Howard was supposed to come get Edward, he sent a handwritten note explaining that he had been delayed and would come the next day. On Sunday, he came bearing strawberries and pot cheese that he said came from his farm.
The Budds invited him in for lunch. As they were eating, Edward's 10-year-old sister, Grace Budd, came home from church. Howard marveled at the beauty and charm of the girl.
Howard said he would come back later to get Edward. He explained that he had to go to the birthday party of one of his sister's children. He invited Grace to go with him and promised he would bring her home by 9 p.m. That was the last Grace's family saw of her.
The next morning, Edward was sent to the police office to file a missing report for his sister. The police told him that Frank Howard did not exist and that there was no farm on Long Island.
On June 7, the New York police sent 1,000 fliers to police stations throughout the country that told of the missing girl. They were able to locate the Western Union office from which "Howard" sent the letter, as well as the stand from which he bought the pot cheese. Both were in Manhattan.
Billy Gaffney, 4, was playing in the hallway outside of his apartment with a friend on Feb. 11, 1927. Both of the boys disappeared suddenly, but the friend was found on the roof.
Gaffney's friend, 3, was asked what happened to Gaffney. When he said, "The boogeyman took him," no one listened. They thought he had fallen in the river, but his body was never found.
In July of 1924, Francis McDonnell, 8, was playing on the front porch of his home on Staten Island. As she watched her children, Francis's mother saw an old man walk by clenching and unclenching his fists. He walked past without saying anything.
Later in the day, the old man was seen again, but this time he was watching Francis and his friends play. He called Francis over and they disappeared.
Francis's body was found in the woods near where a neighbor had seen Francis and the old man going earlier that afternoon. He had been assaulted and strangled with his own suspenders. No one thought that the old man could have been capable of such evil.
On Nov. 12, 1934, seven years after her daughter's disappearance, Grace's mother received a handwritten letter describing the brutal murder of her daughter.
Here are parts of the letter:
"On Sunday June the 3- 1928 I called on you at 406 W 15 St. Brought you pot cheese- strawberries. We had lunch. Grace sat in my lap and kissed me. I made up my mind to eat her.
"On the pretense of taking her to a party. You said Yes she could go. I took her to an empty house in Westchester I had already picked out. When we got there, I told her to remain outside. She picked wildflowers. I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off. I knew if I did not I would get her blood on them.
"When all was ready I went to the window and called her. Then I hid in a closet until she was in the room. When she saw me all naked she began to cry and tried to run down the stairs. I grabbed her and she said she would tell her mamma.
"First I stripped her naked. How did she kick- bite and scratch. 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. It took me nine days to eat her entire body."
The handwriting matched that of the earlier letter and all of the details were accurate. The police found a symbol on the letter that was the name of a New York association.
The police interviewed every member of the association and then asked if anyone had taken any of the association's letterhead. A young janitor admitted that he had taken a few sheets of the paper and envelopes. He had left them in an apartment at 200 East 52nd Street.
The landlady of the apartments said that the police's description of Howard matched that of a man who had lived there for two months. That man, Albert H. Fish, had checked out just a few days before. However, she said that his son regularly sent him money and he had asked her to hold his next check for him.
On Dec. 13, 1934, the landlady called Detective King to let him know that Fish had arrived and was looking for his check. King immediately came and approached him. Fish produced a knife, but was arrested by an angry King.
During his confession, Fish described the hideous crimes that he committed.
Source: Court TV's Crime Library
|Copyright © 2003 Heather Rawlins|