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Henry Lee Lucas is one of, if not the most, recognizable and controversial serial killers of all time. That's mostly because nobody really knows if he's a serial killer. Lucas, confessed to over 600 murders in his life, but law enforcement has only been able to confirm 3 murders (his mother early in his life and two others after he got out of prison for his mother's murder). However, his story has been the basis of several movies and documentaries including "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" and a new Netflix miniseries "The Confession Killer".

The story of Henry Lee Lucas also has some pretty important ties to our local area. During Henry's run of confessions, Lucas confessed to 2 Northwest Louisiana murders - the 1978 murder of Dolly Dement & the 1981 murder of a then-unidentified hitchhiker (she was later identified as Carol Ann Cole). Despite confessing and being indicted on charges for both murders, they were later dropped after the "Lucas Task Force" came under fire and it was discovered that Lucas was falsely confessing to murders across the country.

So, the question is: Did Henry commit these crimes? And, if he didn't, who did? The short answer to both is nobody's really sure. After a full investigation, it was deemed 'highly unlikely' that Lucas was responsible for the murder of Carol Cole, the hitchhiker (this case is still believed to be an unsolved murder). However, investigators (according to this Times article from 1990) believe there was stronger evidence against Lucas in the slaying of Dement. However, given Lucas' predilection to lie, they didn't feel comfortable enough to take that case to trial.

Lucas confessed to so many crimes, that the timeline law enforcement was working off of eventually got so full, nobody truly knew where he was or what he was doing. However, one thing is known about Lucas: he did spend a lot of time in Texas and Florida and there's solid evidence that Lucas and his accomplice Ottis Toole did spend some time in North Louisiana and East Texas.

Toole was accused of a murder in the Monroe area and both Toole and Lucas eventually confessed to the crime. However, that case never went to trial. Authorities also are convinced that Lucas was responsible for a 1977 murder in the Marshall, Texas area. According to news coverage from the time, Lucas knew very specific details in the case that were not public. Which was not the case for murders in Shreveport-Bossier or Texarkana, where he had some detail but was not very specific or accurate.

Truth of the matter is, due in large part to false confessions and police just accepting them to clear cases, nobody truly knows what Henry Lee Lucas or Ottis Toole did or didn't do. Most believe he definitely committed more than 3 murders. However, the total number is disputed. Some law enforcement experts believe he's responsible for 10-12, others believe he committed up to 40.

The saddest part of the whole situation is that there are hundreds of families that don't know who is responsible for the death of their loved ones. Was it Henry Lucas? Did their killer get away with murder? My heart goes out for all of those who will never know the truth.

 

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