Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Henry Lee Lucas: Prolific Serial Killer or Prolific Liar?


Apparently Lucas enjoyed shocking law enforcement with numbers, perverse activities and gruesome details. Nevertheless, he did point to places where victims were found and it's now estimated by some that he was responsible for some 40 to 50 murders. On the other hand, those who make this estimation may also be saving face, not willing to admit they may have fed him information.

Ryan reports the manner in which Lucas typically confessed to a number of unsolved murders: If a police agency suspected Lucas, and if Lucas admitted involvement — and his total of some 3,000 confessions suggests he rarely denied complicity — they would send the Lucas Task Force a case file with information pertaining to the unsolved crime. Lucas would be questioned at length and sometimes even allowed to read police reports, thus learning any number of details previously known only to police, which he could then regurgitate at will.

The Rangers insisted that Lucas was a serial killer, and they were reportedly annoyed with Feazell for interfering. They claimed that they had taken much more care in keeping details from Lucas than they were being accused of. Yet Draper says that one Ranger told the D.A., "I'm going to make you regret this if it's the last thing I do."

Lucas in custody
Lucas in custody

But the damage had been done. The media had picked up on this hoax, that was nearly too good to be true, and Lucas's status changed from one of the world's most notorious killers to one of the world's most notorious liars. No matter what he said now, no one would believe it. This made all those in law enforcement who had rushed to interview him and who had closed cases look rather lame. Several retired Rangers later said that it was their impression during the interrogations that Lucas was a liar. Still, it was difficult for them to accept that in cases where Lucas led them to the right spot where a body had lain, he had nothing to do with it. He simply knew too much about certain crimes on his own, without assistance.

Then on April 29, Lucas returned to some of his original statements. He gave an interview to a radio show personality, indicating that "I have killed the people I said I killed." He again put the figure at 360. Then he said that everything was a lie and indicated that the Hands of Death cult was going to assassinate him. No one knew quite what to make of a killer confessing to so many crimes he did not do, but then he insisted that he'd been forced to recant. His persistent waffling further reduced his credibility.


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