Henry Lee Lucas, one of Texas’ most
notorious convicted murderers, died late Monday in prison where he
was serving sentences for nine murders.
Lucas, who was best known for making bogus confessions that prompted law officers nationwide to clear hundreds of unsolved killings, was found dead in his bed at the Ellis I prison unit, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.
The one-eyed ex-drifter, who was in his mid-60s, was narrowly saved from execution in 1998 when then-Gov. George W. Bush commuted a death sentence to life in prison because of flimsy evidence in his capital case.
Lucas’ body was found shortly before 11 p.m. CST Monday, said department spokesman Larry Fitzgerald. He said the death appeared to be from natural causes.
History of Heart Problems
Lucas had a history of heart problems and had been previously hospitalized. His body was taken to the Huntsville Funeral Home, Fitzgerald said, where it will be determined whether there are relatives who want to claim the remains.
Although physical evidence linked Lucas to only two murders, his confession spree prompted authorities to clear their books of more than 600 unsolved killings. Many never were reopened.
In 1999, Lucas told reporters he had become fascinated by Rafael Resendez-Ramirez, the fugitive authorities had connected with at least eight slayings in Texas, Kentucky and Illinois.
'I Made the Police Look Stupid'
“He’s really playing cat-and-mouse with the FBI,” Henry Lee Lucas told the Houston Chronicle at the time. “I follow his case on the TV. ... I’d like to meet him.”
“If this was 1983,” Lucas said, “I’d claim these murders, too. ... I made the police look stupid. I was out to wreck Texas law enforcement.”
Fitzgerald said that Lucas had been in state custody since 1985 and spent most of his time working as a sewing machine operator in a garment factory that produces trousers for correctional officers’ uniforms.
“He spent all of his time running the sewing machine,” he said. “He was our best.”