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Deadly One-Eyed Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas Spun Web of Deceit (FPD CASE VAULT)

Deadly One-Eyed Drifter: Henry Lee Lucas Spun Web of Deceit
Source: AFP/Getty Images

Drifter Henry Lee Lucas was sentenced to death after being convicted of 11 murders — but he claimed to have slaughtered some 3,000 people across the country.

Apr. 21 2024, Published 1:01 p.m. ET

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Henry Lee Lucas was called the “Confession Killer” because he claimed to have slaughtered some 3,000 people.

Lucas was a one-eyed drifter who roamed the country after murdering his own mother. A few days after he was arrested in Texas on June 11, 1983, he began telling cops he’d been on a never-ending killing spree across America for years.

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While some of his confessions were true and cleared cold cases, no one believed all of his outlandish tales. Among other things, he claimed to have been part of a satanic cult called “The Hand of Death,” to have killed Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa and to have delivered poison to Jim Jones before the notorious mass suicide of the cult leader’s group in Jonestown, Guyana.

Ultimately, Lucas was convicted of 11 homicides. He was sentenced to death for the murder of an unidentified woman dubbed “Orange Socks,” as those were the only items of clothing found on her body when it was discovered in Williamson County, Texas, on Halloween 1979.

In prison, the crazed killer said he’d only been toying with police when he listed those who died at his hands. “I made the police look stupid. I was out to wreck Texas law enforcement,” he proclaimed, as he revealed he’d fabricated most of his confessions.

In 1998, then Texas governor George W. Bush commuted Lucas’ death sentence to life in prison, in part due to doubt surrounding his confessions. But just three years later, Lucas died at 64 of heart failure.

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Ironically, he spent his time behind bars helping law enforcement. He diligently worked as a sewing machine operator in a prison garment factory that produced trousers for correctional officers’ uniforms.

“He spent all of his time running the sewing machine,” said one prison official. “He was our best.”


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