Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Henry Lee Lucas: Prolific Serial Killer or Prolific Liar?


It was about three weeks after Becky's demise, on September 16, that things went sour with Kate Rich. Lucas went into Ringgold where she lived, knocked on her door, and asked if she wanted to help him look for Becky, or so he told the Rangers. She agreed to go, happy to get out of the house, and Lucas stopped first for beer. On the car seat between them was a butcher knife. Lucas clearly had something else in mind, since he knew that Becky was dead. Whether or not Kate questioned him about going north, the wrong direction, is anyone's guess.

Lucas had downed a lot of beer when he said he was seized with the idea of killing Kate. He drove down a dirt road past a campground and then stopped the car. He grabbed the knife and shoved it into Kate's left side, pushing her against the door. He pulled the knife out and went around to the passenger side. When he opened the door, Kate fell to the ground. She was dead from a wound to her heart. Lucas was immediately aroused, so he pulled the corpse down an embankment and removed the clothing. "I got naked," he told the Rangers, "and screwed her until I finished." He then dragged her to a large drainage pipe near the road. He shoved both the corpse and the clothing into it as far as he could, until he felt certain no one would find her.

The next day, Lucas left the House of Prayer and took off, getting as far as Needles, California before the car gave out. But Lucas wasn't finished with Kate. He drifted for a month, and then returned to where he had hidden the body. He learned that he was suspected in her disappearance and endured a polygraph examination, but he got away with it. No one arrested him. Lucas retrieved the decomposing remains and put them into a stove at the House of Prayer to incinerate them.

Henry Lee Lucas
Henry Lee Lucas

After his confession, investigators went to where Lucas had indicated he'd killed Kate and found the drainage pipe, a broken pair of women's glasses, and a pair of panties. Back at the House of Prayer, in the wood-burning stove, they found ashes and what looked like human bone and burnt flesh. In another area where Lucas had dumped ashes, they also found bone fragments. Lucas also showed them where he had thrown Kate's purse — exactly the spot where it had been found months before.

Officers, including Texas Rangers, then took Lucas to the Denton area to try to find Becky's remains. He went right to the copse of trees where he had buried her and pointed to several areas on the ground. They dug at seven different locations and found clothing, bones, a skull and decomposing remains. The corroboration of two murders, both of which appeared to show experience with killing and hiding evidence, made the possibility that Lucas was telling the truth about others — even a hundred others — seemed more likely now to at least some of the officers.

Lucas wanted to clear his conscience entirely, so after he was convicted of Becky's murder, he wrote Ottis Toole a four-page letter to inform him of Becky's death and to get his assistance in recalling the details of the murders they had committed together. He said that he hadn't yet mentioned Toole (although he had) and would leave it up to him as to whether he wanted to be involved. In fact, the Jacksonville police had already been contacted about murders in their area committed by these two losers.


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