Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Henry Lee Lucas (Cont. 1)

Lucas in Court

The Lucas Grand Jury
The Lucas Grand Jury
Lucas was arraigned for the Orange Socks murder on August 2, 1983, but in a surprise turnaround on August 12 claimed that he was not guilty of Becky Powell's murder, despite his initial statements. At the end of September, he waived his right to a trial for the murder of Kate Rich and pled guilty, receiving a sentence of 75 years.  The following month, his attorney asked the judge to consider throwing out Lucas's written and videotaped statements about his murder of Becky Powell.  On the tape, Lucas was shown calmly describing how he'd killed and dismembered her, and had sexual contact with the corpse, so the judge decided the material would be admissible.  In addition, the option of pleading not guilty by reason of insanity was denied.  That left Lucas's defender with few options, but it was Lucas himself who proved to be his own defender's greatest hurdle.
Lucas not only went to trial that November but also testified on his own behalf, and seemed to hope to be convicted.  His attorney was Tom Whitlock, who argued that Lucas had not intended to kill Becky.  On the stand, a tearful Lucas admitted to Becky's murder but said he didn't know quite how it had happened and he was full of remorse over it. Then after he was convicted and received a life sentence, he congratulated the prosecutor with, "You did a good job."  Lucas then issued a statement to the effect that he had not tried to win because he didn't want to.  (Previously he had bragged to police that he was smart and could get out of anything if he wanted to.)  His next trial would be for Orange Socks, but this time it would be a capital crime, where the death penalty was a possibility.
Before that occurred, Lucas got back in touch with an old friend and traveling partner, Ottis Toole.  If not for Ottis, he'd never have met Becky.


Ottis Elwood Toole
Ottis Elwood Toole
In 1976, after years in prison for various crimes, Lucas had teamed up in Florida with arsonist and serial killer Ottis Elwood Toole, 29, who enjoyed mutilating corpses.  They met, says David Frasier in Murder Cases of the Twentieth Century, in a Skid Row rescue mission in Jacksonville.  Although he's often been cast in Lucas's shadow, Toole had his own gruesome story and in the end, it may be that he was in fact the more degenerate of the two of them. He was a grade school dropout with an IQ just above mentally retarded, and supposedly he'd been introduced to sex before the age of ten by his older sister and a gay neighbor.

Ottis Toole, younger
Ottis Toole, younger
Toole was born on March 5, 1947 in Jacksonville, Florida.  Abandoned by his alcoholic father, he grew up in the custody of his mother, whom he claims dressed him as a girl, and his sister.  His mother supposedly was a religious fanatic, while Toole's grandmother had been a Satanist, writes Michael Newton in The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers, and had dubbed him "the devil's child."  He'd watch her dig up graves in search of body parts to use in her rituals.  Already a serial arsonist (getting erotic enjoyment out of the fires he set) and frequent runaway, he committed his first murder at age 14. A traveling salesman had picked him up for sex and once they were in the woods, Toole ran the man over with his own car.  And yet he dressed in drag to hunt for "dates" at the rescue mission.

Book cover: The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers
Book cover: The Encyclo-
pedia of Serial Killers
Toole was suspected in four other murders across the country before he met Lucas in Florida.  These involved shootings in Nebraska and Colorado, and two stabbings in Colorado.  Toole had been married briefly, but his wife managed to spend only three days with him before she departed.  In retrospect, it's no wonder.

Meeting of Deviant Minds

When Toole met Lucas at the soup kitchen, they went home together to have sex and soon became regular lovers.  Apparently they recognized the kindred soul in each other, so they traveled the country from 1978 until 1982.  Lucas gave an interview in which he said that he had to re-educate Toole in the art of murder (which became the basis for Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer).  Having studied prison records of how men were caught, he wanted to be certain the Toole could follow directions and avoid detection.  "He was doing his crimes all one way," Lucas said. "I started to correct him in his ways, in doing the crime where he wouldn't leave information." 

Toole & Lucas
Toole & Lucas
They traveled together from one state to another (reportedly 26 states and D.C.), and their favorite prey were female hitchhikers for Lucas, or males for Toole.  But they also slaughtered people they robbed.  Lucas indicated that he had no feelings for any of the people they picked up.  He'd have a good time with them and then kill them and dump them out along the side of the road.  One time he'd even ridden across two states with the head of a victim in his backseat before he realized he'd kept it.

During that time, Toole is mentioned in some accounts as having introduced Lucas to the "Hand of Death" cult, telling him how they killed children for sacrifice to Satan.  Max Call describes what they did in service to this cult, supposedly learning to use rape as a tool of punishment and murder as part of the cult's overall plan.  They trained people like Ottis and Henry to become killing machines.  However, there was no corroboration of this story, so law enforcement dismissed it as the imagination of a loser trying to seem more special than he was.
In 1977, Toole married a woman 24 years his senior and insisted that she share him with Lucas.  According to interviews she later gave, he told her he could not perform with a woman unless he also knew he could get a man, so the following year they separated.

Lucas's story is equally sordid and it bears some odd similarities.

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