Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Albert Fish

Where Have You Gone Billy Boy?

The New York police were not strangers to child kidnapping. In fact, there was an oddly similar case just the year before. On February 11, 1927, four-year-old Billy Gaffney played in the hallway outside his apartment with his three-year-old neighbor who was also named Billy. A 12-year-old neighbor who was babysitting his sleeping baby sister went to join the boys, but went back to his apartment quickly after hearing his sister cry.

A few minutes later, the older boy noticed that the two Billys were gone and told the younger Billy's father. After a desperate search, the father found his three-year-old son alone on the top floor of the building. His son had been up on the roof.

"Where's Billy Gaffney?" the man asked his son.

"The boogey man took him," the little boy replied.

The next day when a platoon of detectives came to investigate the disappearance of the Gaffney boy, they ignored the three-year-old witness, who stuck to his simple explanation. At first the police thought the boy had wandered outside into some of the factory buildings in the neighborhood or, worse, had fallen into the Gowanus canal a few blocks away. People in the community organized a search and the canal was dredged, but there was no sign of little Billy.


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