Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Henry Lee Lucas: Prolific Serial Killer or Prolific Liar?

The Whopper

Lucas's story is told in two full-length books, The Confessions of Henry Lee Lucas, by Mike Cox, and Hands of Death, by Max Call (although Call apparently believed everything that Lucas said, which in light of the details below, makes his book less then credible). Lucas has also been featured on several television documentaries, such as A&E's "Myth of a Serial Killer," and the 1986 movie, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, which was recently released in a 20-year anniversary edition. The Road, a 1988 play by David Earl Jones, was also based on stories Lucas told.

After admitting that he had killed, Lucas was charged with the murders of Kate Rich and Frieda "Becky" Powell. He gave the authorities plenty of evidence, including the decomposed pieces of Becky, and at his June 21 arraignment in the Montague County courtroom, Lucas stated that he'd stabbed Kate Rich to death. But then he went on, waiving his right to an attorney, to say that he'd had sex with the body, cut it into pieces and burned it in a wood stove behind his cabin. "I killed Kate Rich," he told a courtroom full of curious cops and reporters, "and at least a hundred more."

Lucas claims responsibility for more deaths
Lucas claims responsibility for more deaths

The reaction was a stunned silence. One hundred! Either this guy was an out-and-out liar or he was about to officially become the most proficient serial killer in American history. The judge asked Lucas if he'd ever been diagnosed by a psychiatrist and he said he had not (he was lying, since he'd had several assessments during stints in prison). Yet he added, "I know it ain't normal for a person to go out and kill girls just to have sex with them." In response to the judge's next question, Lucas believed he was competent to stand trial, so he was granted a public defender, Don Maxfield, to represent him. When the judge entered a plea of not guilty for Lucas, the drifter asked, "Will I still be able to go on helping find bodies?" He was urged to discuss it with his attorney.

By June 22, thanks to a front page story, Henry Lee Lucas had become a nationally famous serial killer.


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