Criminal logo

The Heinous Crimes of Henry Lee Lucas and Otis Toole

Lucas and Toole were prolific serial killers, but how many people did they really kill? They say hundreds, while law enforcement says way less.

By Lawrence LeasePublished 4 years ago 4 min read
The mug shots of Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole were a pair of serial killers that traveled across the country killing and raping anyone that crossed their paths. If you believe Henry Lucas, they killed more than 600 people together - a claim that was rejected as false by many in law enforcement.

They have become some of history's most brutal killers. The truth we know about Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole will turn anyone's stomach.

Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole first met in 1976 at a soup kitchen and hit it off from day one. By the end of the day, Lucas returned to Toole's home and shared a bed with him.

The pair have similar upbringings. They were both raised by abusive mothers, who forced them to wear dresses. Both men suffered sexual trauma before turning 10. By the time they first met, they were already murderers.

Henry Lee Lucas had already served 10 years in prison for killing his own mother. His mother was a prostitute and forced Henry as a young child to sit in the room and watch while she "serviced" her customers.

At the age of 10, Lucas lost an eye because she ignored an infection for so long that they had to remove it. By the time Lucas hit puberty, Lucas spent his time torturing animals and sexually assaulting his brother.

Lucas was 23, when he murdered his mother in 1960. The pair got into an argument and she physically assaulted Henry. Henry hit back. Henry later told police, “All I remember was slapping her alongside the neck,” “When I went to pick her up, I realized she was dead. Then I noticed that I had my knife in my hand and she had been cut.”

Toole's child could almost be considered worse. Everyone he thought he could trust ended up assaulted him as he was growing up. He was even raped by his older sister, and his father prostituted him to a neighbor at the age of five.

By the time Toole met Lucas, he was already suspected of murdering four people and was a serial arsonist. His first victim was a traveling salesman who tried to pick him up for sex. Toole was 14 when he murdered that salesman. He ran over the man with his own car. Murder would eventually become an addiction for Toole.

Considering their dark and troubled pasts, it didn't take long for them to join forces on a murdering spree across the country. Lucas and Toole traveled through 26 states in the '70s, killing as many people as they could find. They targeted hitchhikers, prostitutes and migrant workers. They would pick them up and lure them to a quiet area to kill them.

Murder was just a way for this young couple to bond. Lucas later told police that he would teach Toole on how to get away with it. Their crimes were horrible. Lucas later said they never felt the slightest moment of guilt.

The relationship between the two killers became rocky when Lucas became interested in Ottis Toole's niece, Becky Powell. He ran off with her and abandoned Toole. Allegedly Toole killed nine people just to blow off steam. Lucas would end up luring Powell into an isolated field and murdering her and scattering her body in the field.

Soon after this latest killing, Lucas was arrested in Texas. Toole would later be arrested in 1984 for burning a man alive. After years of killing, the murderers were finally behind bars. Lucas and Toole eventually began confessing to dozens of murders.

Lucas ended up confessing to more than 600 murders, although law enforcement believe he was not telling the truth about all of them. Lucas later admitted that confessing earned him special privileges. The local police would take him to the scene of the crime, and even fed him fast food. Lucas confessing let him get extra time outside, while he waited on death row.

While it remains a mystery how many people Lucas and Toole really killed, Netflix took another look with their docuseries The Confession Killer. The series mainly focuses on Henry Lee Lucas's role in the killings and his explosive claims to law enforcement. The five-episode series highlights Lucas soaking in the attention the police gave him because of his many confessions, even those that may have been false.

At first his confessions seemed believable, as he drew detailed pictures of is alleged victims. Lucas's pictures were so precise, they even had the right eye color. Eventually, his confessions began to unravel. While we don't know how much of their story is true, The police cleared 213 unsolved cases based on their confessions.

Lucas eventually died in prison in 2001, so we will never know how many people he truly killed. Toole died in jail in 1996.


About the Creator

Lawrence Lease

Alaska born and bred, Washington DC is my home. I'm also a freelance writer. Love politics and history.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.