Dead Wrong

How consummate con artist Henry Lee Lucas resurrected the dead and went looking for a sucker. He almost found one.

And, of course, Lucas had his own explanation for it all. A new story. He told members of the press who made their weekly prison stop for inmate interviews that he was "hurt bad" by Wilcox's recanting. "Now," he said, "she's lying. I just don't get it. She knowed things we'd done together, things nobody else could have knowed." This time, however, he got little mileage from his weary listeners.

The truth about Lucas had turned to fool's gold. Even in the pen, I was told, fellow inmates who once held him in awe viewed him as a hillbilly joke. In a highly critical report on the Lucas task force's handling of the landslide of confessions, then-Attorney General Jim Maddox wrote, "Lucas would use information provided him during questioning by law enforcement personnel to fabricate confessions." Eventually, even Governor George Bush, a strong death penalty advocate, stepped in and commuted Lucas' lone death sentence--for the "Orange Socks" murder--to life in prison.

The furor over the latest Lucas scam attempt had already died when, one evening, I answered the phone to hear a long-distance operator say that I had a collect call from Lucas. "Will you accept charges?" she asked.

"No," I replied for the first time. Then, realizing that he was likely listening for my response, I added emphasis. "Not only no," I said, "but hell no." Finally, I had too belatedly realized, the time had come to put the life and lies of Henry Lee Lucas behind me.

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