|Born||in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA|
|Died||in Huntsville, Texas, USA (apparent heart failure)|
The Deadly Drifter|
The Confession Killer
Mini Bio (1)
An unwanted child born to a destitute family in Blacksburg, Virginia, Henry Lee Lucas' mother, 41-year-old Viola, turned tricks in their dirt floor cabin in front of the family. She hated her new son from the time he was born and continually abused him. Her husband Anderson, who had lost his legs in a railroad accident, was also constantly subjected to Viola's violence, but Henry, being a child, got the worst of it. Anderson eventually committed suicide by sleeping outside in the snow when he could no longer bear it, Viola entertaining another trick in his home; he contracted pneumonia and shuffled off this mortal coil. Henry, thus, bore the full focus of Viola's wrath after his pappy's unseasonable demise.
When Henry entered school in 1943, Viola in her meanness deliberately dressed him as a girl, even going so far to coif his hair into sausage curls, then sent him off to the schoolhouse, all dolled up, albeit barefoot. Not only forced to face the antagonism of his boy schoolmates as he attended to his education in such unlikely duds, he also had to face Viola's wrath when a teacher, pitying the lad, bought young Lucas a pair of shoes. Viola beat her son for accepting charity. This charmless woman killed any animals that her son tried to keep as a pet, and denied him medical attention when he cut his eye with a knife, leading to its surgical removal.
Viola once beat Henry with a a piece of lumber that put him in a coma, off and on, for three days. Viola's live-in lover, familiarly known as "Uncle Bernie," eventually took the Lucas lad to the hospital. In the demerit column, Uncle Bernie introduced Lucas to the joys of bestiality, teaching the boy how to kill hapless and unhappy animals after they had been tortured and sexually abused.
In March 1951, the 15-year-old Henry Lee Lucas picked up a 17-year old girl near Lynchburg, Virginia, propositioned her, then strangled her when she resisted the advances of this loathsome Lothario. He buried the corpse in the woods near Harrisburg, Virginia. (Lucas confessed to the murder in 1983.) Three years later, he was sent to prison for six years, convicted of the crime of burglary. Lucas escaped from prison twice in 1957, but was caught each time.
On September 2, 1959, he was released from prison and moved in with his sister in Tecumseh, Michigan, but his now-elderly mother demanded that he return with her to Blacksburg. It was there, on the night of January 11, 1960, that an intoxicated Viola struck her likewise intoxicated son with a broom and was stabbed to death for her transgression against his person. After his arrest, Lucas confessed that he had sexually assaulted his mother's corpse, though he soon recanted, a pattern of behavior that was a harbinger of things to come.
Henry Lee Lucas was sentenced to 20-40 years in prison for the killing of Viola and was clapped in the hoosegow in March 1960. He was soon transferred to the state hospital for the criminally insane, where he remained for six years. Paroled on June 3, 1970, he moved in with his relatives in Tecumseh. However, he ran afoul of the law in December 1971, charged with molesting two teenage girls, a charge later reduced to simple kidnapping. Sent to the state penitentiary, he was paroled in August 1975, over his own objections. Employed by a Pennsylvania mushroom farm, he married his cousin's widow in December of that year. They moved to Maryland, but they broke up, his wife eventually divorcing him in the summer of 1977, claiming that he had molested her daughters by a previous marriage.
Cast out, Henry Lee Lucas became a drifter, roaming throughout the South, allegedly killing female hitch-hikers as he moseyed along Interstate 35 in the Lonestar state of Texas. Fatefully, the 40-year old, one-eyed bisexual met the 29-year-old homosexual drifter Ottis Toole in a Florida soup kitchen in late 1976.
They hit it off immediately, becoming lovers and boon traveling companions; whether they actually were serial killers together is still clouded in mystery, though it likely is true.
In 1978, Toole and Lucas moved in with Toole's mother and sister in Jacksonville. Lucas fell in love with Toole's 10-year old female cousin, Frieda "Becky" Powell, whom he eventually adopted and lived with as husband and wife. But that lay in the future. Toole and Lucas went to work for a local roofing company, but they often missed work as they frequently went back on the road, two men born to ramble, spreading their version of hell along the highways and by-ways of America.
In 1981, Toole's mother and sister died within a few months of each other, and Becky and Frank were placed in juvenile homes. Returning to Jacksonville, Lucas helped obtain their release, and Becky and her brother Frank were taken on the road by the Henry Lee and Uncle Ottis, where they were exposed to the depravity of their murderous traveling show. It was at this time that Becky, Ottis Toole's niece, became the common-law wife of Lucas, who was over 30 years her senior. When child welfare authorities launched a search for Becky and Frank in January 1982, Becky fled to California with Lucas. Her brother Frank eventually wound up in a psychiatric facility in 1983 after bearing witness to the the brutality of his uncle and "brother-in-law."
From California, Lucas and Becky made it to Texas, winding up in the All People's House of Prayer, a religious commune outside of Stoneburg, Texas. But Becky was homesick, and in August 1982, this odd couple, husband and wife, were on the road again, hitchhiking, returning to Florida. On the night of August 23rd, in Denton County, Texas, the unlikely pair of lovers had an argument, and Becky slapped Lucas. As he had done 22 years earlier, Henry Lee reacted with a knife. He stabbed his young common-law bride to death. He then dismembered her corpse before returning to Stoneburg,
Lucas' story about Becky's disappearance was that she had vamoosed with a passing truck driver. Three weeks later, Lucas turned up missing the day after the disappearance of a local, Kate "Granny" Rich, an octogenarian. Lucas' car was found abandoned in Needles, California, less than a week later, on September 21st, then Lucas showed up again in Stonesburg on October 18th, the day after Rich's home was destroyed by a mysterious fire. The police arrested Lucas on a fugitive warrant from Maryland, but he was soon released.
Eventually, Lucas was jailed after returning to Stoneburg on June 11, 1983, arrested as he was an ex-convict who possessed a handgun. Lucas was remorseful for his murder of Becky, and had returned to the field where he had scattered her body parts to commune with the soul of his beloved. On the night of June 15th, Lucas summoned the jailer and offered a confession to expiate his sins: "I've done some bad things," he began.
Henry Lee Lucas confessed to the murder of Granny Rich, commenting that "he had killed at least a hundred more." For a year and a half, Lucas confessed to multiple murders.
At first, Lucas estimated he had killed 75 to 100 people, then he boosted the body-count to between 150 and 360, eventually reaching the 500 to 600 range when he factored in killings by his friends. Lucas implicated his erstwhile pal Ottis Toole in many of the murders, furthermore claiming that he and Toole had committed many murders as a hit-squad directed by a Satanic cult, "The Hand of Death," that Toole had introduced him to. A cannibal, Toole sometimes ate the flesh of their victims, although Lucas didn't join him in his insalubrious repast.
Toole, who was serving time on a Florida arson charge, didn't mind being implicated in mass murder by his former lover. In fact, he offered confessions of his own. By October 1983, police were sure that Toole and Lucas had committed at least 69 killings, which they announced at a press conference. The number was increased to 81 at a January 1984 press conference, and by March 1985, 90 murders had been attributed to Lucas in 20 states, and he and Toole were credited with a further 108 killings. Police would eventually claim over 200 murders were solved due to Lucas' confessions, as Lucas was taken to various states and had his memory prodded about unsolved killings.
At his trial, Lucas took responsibility for over 600 murders. He even claimed to have supplied People's Temple stalwart Jim Jones with the cyanide to effect the Guyana massacre. Ottis Toole, now on Florida's Death Row for murder, corroborated much of Lucas' confession, including his claims to have committed hundreds of murders, singly and as a duo.
Henry Lee Lucas eventually recanted his confessions, claiming that he was only trying to improve his living conditions in jail. He eventually claimed he only killed one person, his mother. Because of significant doubt as to Lucas' guilt, his death sentences were commuted to life in prison by Governor George W. Bush; it was the sole death sentence ever vacated by the then-governor, and allowed Henry Lee Lucas to die a peaceful death in prison. There were too many contradictions in Lucas' confessions which may have led to the re-opening of cases, so he could not be executed.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood
|Betty Crawford||(5 December 1975 - 1977) ( divorced)|