Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Henry Lee Lucas: Prolific Serial Killer or Prolific Liar?

Love in Prison

In 1991, Ottis Toole received four more life sentences for the murders of three women and a man in Florida between 1980 and 1981. Lucas was charged along with him but not brought to Florida for prosecution. Five years later in 1996, Toole died in prison from cirrhosis of the liver. Before that happened, a curious incident involved his former partner, Lucas.

Many serial killer attract groupies, and while Lucas was not among the best looking men, he was certainly notorious and had his share of admirers. One woman, Phyllis Wilcox, even came up with a plot to free him by posing as his supposedly murdered former girlfriend. Ryan MacMichael includes an interview with her on his Web site, given after she wrote to him in 2000 when he posted an online blog about Lucas.

According to this story, in October 1992, Wilcox posed as Becky, all grown up (although some 15 years older than Becky would have been at that time), claiming that she was still alive so that she could get him out of that murder rap. She was actually a mother and grandmother, age 40 and living in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. She met Lucas via correspondence after reading a book about him, and she soon visited. She indicates that although she was nervous about going into prison and quite intimidated by the sight of Lucas in handcuffs surrounded by guards, she had a wonderful time and made many more visits thereafter. Among the subjects they discussed was Becky Powell.

Lucas apparently claimed that he'd seen Becky get into a truck, but he'd told authorities that he'd killed her so they wouldn't attempt to implicate her in the murders that he'd committed. In other words (she says), he told Wilcox that Becky was still alive.

Lucas also denied killing Kate Rich and Orange Socks, indicating that the oven in which he supposedly had burned Kate was too small for a woman as fat as she was and would not have gotten hot enough to have burned her to ash. He was sure that the authorities found some chicken bones, nothing more, and exaggerated their significance. About Orange Socks, he claimed that the bruises around her neck did not even fit his hands. But he did admit that he'd murdered his mother.

Lucas in handcuffs with the Sheriff
Lucas in handcuffs with the Sheriff

Wilcox bought it all and confessed to MacMichael that despite being married she soon became obsessed with Lucas, thinking and dreaming about him all the time. She knew she was falling in love. He accepted her feelings and told her he loved her, too. It wasn't long before Wilcox grew afraid that Lucas might be executed, so she devised a plan to make sure that didn't happen. She believed that he was innocent of the charges. She had even come up with a way to exonerate him in her mind of killing his mother by blaming someone else. So she posed as Becky and Lucas backed her up. He said that he'd only confessed to murdering Becky because he wanted to embarrass the police. (He seems to have forgotten that they actually picked up Becky's remains, as Lucas showed them where each piece was.) They didn't get away with it.

Frasier indicates that Wilcox was revealed when this hoax unraveled as a diagnosed schizophrenic who had also corresponded with John Wayne Gacy and Charles Manson. But Lucas was still determined to beat his death sentence.

 

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