Henry Lee Lucas Biography

(Serial killer)

Birthday: August 23, 1936 (Virgo)

Born In: Blacksburg, Virginia, United States

Henry Lee Lucas was an American serial killer, notorious for confessing to more than 100 murders. However, he was convicted of killing only eleven people as it was later revealed that the majority of his confessions were hoax invented for getting preferential treatment. Born into a poor family, he had a very traumatic childhood, as a result of which he developed a very low self-esteem.  He ran away from the home at the age of 14 and was first sentenced to prison at the age of 18 on the charges of burglary. On coming out at the age of 24, he killed his mother and returned to the prison for ten years. On his release, he got involved with bisexual Ottis Toole and his preteen niece, Becky, eventually killing her when she insisted on returning home. However, he was taken into custody for killing 82-year-old Kate Rich and once in the net, he began confessing to acts, many of which he did not commit.

Quick Facts

Nick Name: The Confession Killer The Highway Stalker

Died At Age: 64


Spouse/Ex-: Betty Crawford (m. 1975–1977)

father: Anderson Lucas

mother: Viola Lucas

Born Country: United States

Serial Killers American Men

Died on: March 12, 2001

Childhood & Early Life

Henry Lee Lucas was born on August 23, 1936 in Blacksburg, Virginia. His father, Anderson Lucas, was unemployed; having lost his legs in a railroad accident. His mother, Viola Lucas, was a harsh and abusive woman, who ran the household by prostituting.

Henry was probably born youngest of his parents’ nine children. For some reasons, Viola did not like her young son, giving her live-in boyfriend, referred as ‘Uncle Bernie’, a free hand to beat him.

She also made young Henry watch her having sex with her clients, hoping to make a pimp out of him. When in 1943, he began going to school, she made him dress like a girl. The cross-dressing stopped only after the schoolteachers moved court.

When he was ten years old, he was wounded in the left eye while play-fighting with his brother. It later became infected due to Viola’s neglect and had to be surgically removed before being replaced with prosthetic glass.

Once his father died in 1949, his mother shifted her entire ire on young Henry, forcing him to run away from home in 1950. For some time, he continued to drift around, ultimately moving to Lynchburg in 1951.

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First Imprisonment

At Lynchburg, Henry Lee Lucas met 17-year-old Laura Burnsley and proposed to her. When she refused his advances, he is believed to have strangled her to death. However, there is no proof of that except for his 1983 confession, which he later retracted.

On June 10, 1954, he was convicted of two charges of burglary near Richmond. Eventually, he was sentenced to six years of imprisonment and sent to Virginia State Prison. Meanwhile in 1957, he tried to escape, but was caught.


After his release from Richmond prison on September 2, 1959, Henry Lucas moved in with his half-sister, Carol Jennings , in Tecumseh, Michigan. By then, he had started corresponding with a girl and was planning to marry her.

His plans went topsy-turvy, when his 74 year-old mother, Viola, came to visit them. She not only disapproved of his girlfriend, but also insisted that he return with her to Blacksburg to take care of her. Henry was not willing to do that.

On the night of January 11, 1960, Henry and Viola went to a tavern. On returning home, they started arguing, in course of which, Viola either slapped him or hit him with a broom. Enraged, Henry hit her in the neck with a knife, killing her instantly.

By the time Viola’s body was found, Henry had left for Blacksburg in a stolen car. Later, he decided to return to Michigan and as he was hitchhiking his way back, he was picked up by State Highway patrol.

Although he pleaded self-defense, he was sentenced to 20 to 40 years' of imprisonment for second-degree murder and sent to Jackson State Penitentiary. However, he was released on parole in 1970, after serving 10 years of his sentence.

Shortly after his release, he once again returned to the prison for attempting to abduct two teenage girls. He was finally released in August 1975.

Drifter & Killer

On his release in 1975, Henry Lee Lucas started drifting around, trying to stay alive without getting involved with criminal activities. Sometime now, he befriended another drifter, Ottis Toole, and settled down with him in his parents’ home in Jacksonville, Florida.

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While living with Toole family, he became close to Ottis’ niece, Frieda "Becky" Powell. She was in her preteens and suffered from a mild intellectual impairment. She reciprocated the feelings, boosting his low self-esteem, as a result of which, he became comparatively stable and began working as a roofer.

In 1981, Toole’s mother died, forcing Ottis, Lucas and Becky to vacate the house. Once again they began drifting. Around 1982, Lucas and Becky moved to California, where they started working for 82 year old Kate Rich. But very soon, they were dismissed from the service.

Once again on the road, they eventually found shelter in All People's House of Prayer, a religious commune outside of Stoneburg, Texas. Although Lucas was very happy Becky insisted on returning to Florida. Eventually, they left the shelter on August 23, 1982.

On their way home Lucas and Becky began to quarrel, in the midst of which Becky slapped Lucas. In retaliation, he hit her with a butcher knife, which killed her instantly. Although he was deeply in love with Becky, he then cut up her body into tiny pieces.�

Arrest & Confession

In September 1982, Kate Rich went missing and while investigating the case, the police zeroed on Lucas.Although he was released within three weeks, they kept a tab on him, ultimately arresting him on June 11, 1983 on charges of unlawful possession of firearms.

As questioning continued, Lucas confessed that he had picked up Kate to go to the church. On the way, he murdered her and then had sex with her corpse. Later, he brought her body to his apartment and put it in his wood stove in order to burn it.

He also confessed of killing Becky, eventually leading the police to the victim’s remains.However, he was first tried for Kate’s death, receiving 75 years of imprisonment for the crime. Some months’ later, he was tried for murdering Becky and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Later, he was also charged for murdering a hitch-hiker, referred as ‘Orange Socks’, receiving death penalty for it. However, it was commuted to life in prison in 1998. Later, she was identified as Debra Jackson.

Over the next two years, he kept confessing to numerous killings, as a result of which the task force was able to clear 213 previously unsolved murders.In return, he got preferential treatment.

Further investigation proved that most of his confessions were false. Eventually, he was convicted of eleven homicides, among which only three were proven beyond doubt.


On March 12, 2001, Henry Lee Lucas died of heart failure while serving his prison sentences at Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville. He was then 64 years old. Later, he was buried at Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery in Huntsville, Texas.


The revelation that Lucas had taken the police for a ride resulted in the re-evaluation of police techniques. It also increased the awareness about false confessions.

See the events in life of Henry Lee Lucas in Chronological Order

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