A Brief History
Digging deeper, we find drifter and loser Henry Lee Lucas leading a life of crime that he blamed on his miserable childhood.
Lucas’ father had died young leaving a bizarre, abusive wife to raise the kids. Lucas’ mother once shot a mule that had been a gift to Lucas and also severely beat him for accepting a teddy bear from a school teacher when he was a boy. (Apparently, he was not allowed to accept gifts.)
An even more egregious act of abuse was ignoring a wound to Lucas’ eye caused by his brother accidentally poking it, resulting in the loss of the eye and replacement with a glass eye. Lucas claimed this disability contributed to other kids mocking and rejecting him.
After serving 10 years for the murder of his mother, between 1970 and 1983, Lucas rode a non-stop crime wave, becoming what was believed at the time to be the worst serial killer in American history. Arrested in 1983 and sentenced to death, Lucas started an incredible streak of confessions and was shuttled across many states, confessing to murders by the hundreds. Law enforcement officials were frequently more than happy to receive easy resolution to unsolved murders and other crimes and Lucas used their gratitude to his advantage, receiving favors and privileges.
Unfortunately, it did occur to many people that Lucas was a little too eager to confess, and he was set up by being told about non-existent murders that he readily confessed to. As a result, estimates of the number of his true murders range from about “only” a dozen to as many as 300.
Lucas was given a death sentence for a Texas murder, but the sentence was later commuted to life in prison by Governor George W. Bush in 1998, with Lucas dying in prison 3 years later at age 64 of apparently natural causes.
The one good thing that came from this is that police are now much less likely to accept confessions at face value, especially if coerced. Henry Lee Lucas was diagnosed by psychiatrists as a psychopath. I could have made that diagnosis…
Question for students (and subscribers): What would be a fitting punishment for someone like Lucas? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see:
Call, Max. Hand of Death: The Henry Lee Lucas Story. Vital Issues Pr, 1985.
Cox, Mike. The Confessions of Henry Lee Lucas. Pocket, 1991.
Norris, J. Henry Lee Lucas: The Shocking True Story of America’s Most Notorious Serial Killer. Zebra, 1991.