From the outside it looks like a storybook cottage hidden in woodlands in upstate New York.
But in the 1930s, 378 Mountain Rd, Irvington was the scene of one of the most grisly child killings the world had ever seen.
Child predator Albert Fish, who by all accounts seemed to be a friendly old man, convinced the parents of 10-year-old Grace Budd to let her accompany him to a child’s birthday party.
Instead he took her to this property, to a now-demolished house called Wisteria Cottage, strangled her and cooked and ate her flesh.
In a letter he later wrote to the little girl’s parents he described her death in gruesome detail:
“I took her to an empty house in Westchester I had already picked out ... I told her to remain outside. She picked wildflowers,” he said in the letter.
“I went upstairs and stripped all my clothes off ... I went to the window and called her.
“When she saw me all naked she began to cry and tried to run. I grabbed her and she said she would tell her mamma.”
“First I stripped her naked. How she did kick bite and scratch. I choked her to death, cut her into small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms.”
Fish was 58 at the time but unbeknownst to authorities he had already killed and tortured a number of children and molested hundreds of others. When detectives searched the grounds of the Westchester property in 1934 they found Grace’s skull along with the remains of other victims including four-year-old Billy Gaffney who he tortured murdered and ate in 1927, and 9 year old Francis McDonald who he kidnapped and sexually assaulted before hanging him from a tree.
At his trial it was revealed Fish’s family had a long history of mental illness and Fish had become interested in mutilating his own body for pleasure from a young age, including inserting needles into his body. He said he believed God had ordered him to castrate and torture small boys.
He was sentenced to death and died by electric chair on January 16, 1936.
The property where Fish’s most sickening crimes took place was put up for sale in 2014 for $1 million. Wisteria Cottage itself is no longer standing but Wisteria House, which was also there at the time of Grace Budd’s killing remains.
It would be a brave soul who dared to live there, knowing the hell it had witnessed.