Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Henry Lee Lucas: Prolific Serial Killer or Prolific Liar?

Legal Challenge

While it was clear that Lucas had committed four murders, including his mother, even one of those — "Orange Socks" — eventually came under doubt. The only thing linking Lucas to "Orange Socks" was, essentially, his confession. In fact, some 213 cases had been "cleared" through Lucas's confessions, which concerned the writers of the "Lucas Report," a document commissioned by the Texas Attorney General's office.

Ultimately, Lucas was convicted of only 11 homicides, says Egger, though some criminologists believe he was responsible for between 40 to 50 murders. Still, no one knows for sure. The death sentence for the murder of Orange Socks stood for many years, although Lucas received two stays of execution because the evidence was too slim. Apparently it was now the case that the work records that had been discredited at the trial were now considered viable evidence on Lucas's behalf. That's because a lot more research had been done.

Former Attorney General's investigator Michael Feary had developed a thick file about Lucas's whereabouts on the night that Orange Socks had been murdered. The documentation made it clear that he was indeed in Jacksonville, Florida. Feary had utilized records such as paycheck stubs and insurance reports to track Lucas as he drifted around the southeast. He was ready to submit all of this on Lucas's behalf, and it was entered into evidence when Lucas received a hearing in 1996 about his death sentence.

Lucas took the witness stand, writes Jean Pagel for the Associated Press, to say that he did not kill the woman known as Orange Socks. He cried and for about fifteen minutes spoke in a trembling voice before U. S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings. Lucas said that he'd given false information when he'd confessed to the murder and added that he was able to give a lot of facts about the crime because he had read the case file. In fact, he had an alibi — he was in Florida putting out a car fire. The Assistant Texas Attorney General, Gena Blount, took him to task for playing games with investigators, and Lucas denied that it had been a game. "I had my reasons," he responded. He received the stay and two years later, the matter went to the governor.


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