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Henry Lee Lucas; Killer Confessed Many Slayings, Then Recanted

March 14, 2001|From Associated Press

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Henry Lee Lucas, the convicted killer who 18 years ago made and then recanted confessions to hundreds of unsolved murder cases, has died in prison.

Lucas, who said he made fake confessions to make police "look stupid," was found dead in his bed Monday night at the Ellis I prison unit, where he was serving sentences for nine murders, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said. The 64-year-old Lucas had a history of heart problems.

The one-eyed ex-drifter was narrowly saved from execution three years ago when then-Gov. George W. Bush commuted a death sentence to life in prison because of flimsy evidence in his capital case.

Bush commuted Lucas' death sentence in 1998, four days before the death row inmate was scheduled for lethal injection in the 1979 slaying in Williamson County of an unidentified woman known only as "Orange Socks," because that was all she was wearing when her body was found.

In recent years, Lucas insisted he committed just one murder, killing his mother in Michigan in 1960--a crime for which he served time in prison and in a Michigan mental hospital. Lucas had six other life sentences and 210 years in prison for three other slayings.

Another prison spokesman, Larry Fitzgerald, said Lucas had spent most of his time in state custody since 1985 as a sewing-machine operator, working in a prison garment factory that produces guard uniforms.

"He was our best," Fitzgerald said.

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