There is nothing worse than a depraved serial killer with an appetite for brutality – other than when two of them meet and form a cold-blooded team that reads like a terrifying horror story. This is the story of Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole who met in the late 1970s; they began a relationship together and committed some of the sordid murders in U.S. history.
Toole was convicted of six murders and Lucas was convicted of eleven, although they both separately confessed to many more with the numbers reaching into the hundreds. Lucas also made false claims that he supplied the poison used in the mass suicide of the Peoples Temple in Jonestown, that he killed Jimmy Hoffa, and he murdered in Japan and Spain – although he never left the country.
Lucas has featured in the 1986 movie Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, which also featured Toole, and the pair became part of macabre history. Here are the most sinister facts of their shared evil.
10. They Both Had Suffered Horrific Childhood Abuse
Born on August 23rd, 1936, in Virginia, Lucas had the worst start in life. His mother, Viola Lucas (pictured above), beat him regularly and would force him to watch her have sex with strangers. His father, who lost both of his legs in a train accident, often slept outside which ended in the loss of his own life when he contracted pneumonia. Viola also sent her son to school wearing ringlets like a girl and shoeless. When Lucas was 17-years-old, his eye was permanently damaged after his brother swung a knife at him. His eye was later removed and replaced with prosthetic glass.
Toole’s upbringing was similar in it’s depravity. Born March 5th, 1947, in Florida, his mother was a Christian extremist and his grandmother a Satanist; he was molested by his older sister and made to wear girl’s clothing. He was also forced to carry out sexual acts on for his father’s male friends and for a local salesman when he was only a teenager.
It wasn’t long before Lucas and Toole were sent down a very dark path where they would both eventually meet. (SOURCE)
9. They First Murdered As Teenagers
Aged 14-years-old, Lucas abducted a young girl from a bus stop, beat her unconscious before assaulting and killing her. Then aged 18-years-old, he was let out of prison after spending one year inside for burglary. He moved to Michigan with his mother and became engaged to a girl. Viola was not impressed with her son’s engagement and they had a huge violent row. Lucas slashed her neck with a knife but he claimed it was in self-defense as she was beating him with a broomstick. He was sentenced to at least twenty years in prison for the murder, however, due to overpopulation, he was released early.
Toole’s first murder was also when he was only 14-years-old. Fleeing from his difficult home life, Toole was a regular runaway and he met a much older traveling salesman who took him into the woods for sex. There, Toole used the man’s car to run him over – killing him. This was the first cold killing in a long line of more victims that were to come. (SOURCE)
8. The Two Deviants Met By Chance In A Soup Kitchen
In 1976, Lucas and Toole met in a soup kitchen after both doing time inside for various crimes. They quickly began a sexual relationship together and for a while, there was some stability in their lives. The couple moved to be with Toole’s family in Jacksonville, Florida, and they both found employment working for a roofing company. However, it wasn’t long before they both returned to their old twisted ways.
Between the years of 1979 to 1981, Lucas claimed that they killed more than 100 victims together, often with Toole cannibalizing the remains. The victims were selected completely at random and as Lucas put it boldly, “Killing someone is just like walking outdoors. If I wanted a victim, I’d go and get one.” (SOURCE)
7. Lucas Showed Toole How To Get Away With Murder
In an interview after his arrest, Lucas claimed that he was responsible for educating Toole in how to murder and get away with it based on stories he had heard from other inmates during his first stretch in prison. He said, “(Toole) was doing his crimes all one way. I started to correct him in his ways, in doing the crime where he wouldn’t leave information.”
His suggestion was to keep changing up the modus operandi so the police would become confused and not be able to tie the murders to an individual serial killer. Lucas added, “I killed ’em every way there is except poison. There’s been strangulations, there’s been knifings, there’s been shootings, there’s been hit-and-runs…” The confession was later used as the basis for the psychological thriller ‘Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer’ starring Michael Rooker in the role of Lucas. (SOURCE)
6. Lucas Didn’t Agree With Toole’s Cannibalism
The main difference between this pair of cold-blooded killers is that Toole was a cannibal and Lucas – despite all his own evil – was completely against such depravity. Toole even made his own twisted recipe for BBQ sauce, which recommended adding one cup of human blood.
Cartoonist Mike Diana, whose animations are notorious for their depictions of sexuality and violence, met Toole for an interview. When questioned about his cannibalistic ways, Toole detailed, “(The victim’s taste) same as a roasted piglet. Boys and girls taste about the same when you roast them 8 to 10 years old. The flavor is a shade different when they’re teenagers. The boys are gamier than the girls. Give me the roasted meat of a boy age 14 and a girl age 14 and I can tell the difference when you use a spicy sauce.” (SOURCE)
5. Lucas Ran Away With And Murdered Toole’s Niece
Shortly after Lucas befriended Toole, they both settled in Jacksonville, Florida, and Lucas began a romantic relationship with Toole’s niece Frieda ‘Becky’ Powell. When Powell’s mother passed away in 1982, Lucas convinced the 15-year-old girl, who had an intellectual impairment, to run away with him.
They lived as drifters, before eventually ending up in Texas where they eventually befriended the daughter of an 82-year-old woman named Kate Rich and they both landed a job looking after the elderly lady. According to the Rich family, they soon let Lucas and Powell go as they suspected them of writing checks in their own name.
Lucas revealed he had murdered both Powell and Rich during his later confessions to detectives. He even led them to where he buried the remains and was found guilty of both murders. (SOURCE)
4. Ted Bundy Was Blamed For Their Murders
Serial killer Ted Bundy was found guilty of murdering more than thirty victims in several different states between 1974 and 1978. One of the murders he was accused of was actually committed by Toole, according to the serial killer himself.
Toole confessed, “I got (a female victim) when she was hitchhiking in Colorado. I had me an old pick-up truck. I picked her up, took her up into the Rocky Mountains and killed her. She was naked when I killed her. A pretty one. It was the summertime in 1974 and what was funny is that the police blamed the killing on Ted Bundy but Ted didn’t get that one, I got her.”
When questioned if there were any other murders he committed that the cops got wrong, he replied, “Yeah. I got me a chinese girl out by Colorado Springs in 1974; cut her throat and she had a friend and I stabbed her up, too. The cop got a guy named Estep for that case but I did it. Cops don’t always get the right person.” (SOURCE)
3. Lucas Boasted About Murders Which Landed Toole Behind Bars
In 1983, Lucas was arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm. Detectives were beginning to unravel the seriousness of his crimes and piece together exactly how many victims he was responsible for. During his time behind bars, Lucas began to boast about his murder spree and that his partner in crime was Toole.
When first questioned, Toole denied any involvement but eventually began to confirm all the confessions. Toole also confessed to the murder of 6-year-old Adam Walsh who was abducted from a Sears department store in Hollywood, Florida, 1981. The severed head of the young boy was found two weeks later. Lucas confirmed that Toole was telling the truth about the Walsh murder, however, due to loss of evidence and a recanted confession – Toole was never charged. (SOURCE)
2. Their Chilling Phone Calls Were Recorded
Despite being kept in separate jailhouses, Lucas and Toole still managed to keep in touch through chilling phone calls and investigators later released the transcripts. The conversations recorded in 1983 featured the two serial killers recalling some of their most gruesome murders.
In one recording Toole said, “(Remember) that Mexican that wasn’t going to let me out of the house? I took an ax and chopped him all up … What made me — I been meaning to ask you. That time when I cooked some of those people. Why’d I do that?” Lucas replied, “I think it was just the hands doing it. I know a lot of the things we done, in human sight are impossible to believe.”
Lucas later tells Toole, “Otis, you and I have become something people look at as an animal. There’s no way of changing what we done but we can stop it and not allow other people to become what we have.” (SOURCE)
1. They Both Made Hundreds Of False Confessions
Lucas was dubbed in the press as ‘The Confession Killer’ after claiming responsibility for a staggering 3000 murders. In the courtroom, Lucas declared in front of reporters, “I killed Kate Rich and at least a hundred more.” After entering a plea deal of not guilty, Lucas asked the judge, “Will I still be able to go on helping find bodies?”
The shocking confession from Lucas would have made him one of the most prolific killers in U.S. history, however, not everyone was convinced. Many of the murders he confessed to all happened within the same month. For Lucas to be the killer, he would have driven his 13-year-old Ford station wagon 11,000 miles (18,000 km) in one month – around 370 miles (600 km) per day, which was just not believable. Toole also was involved after offering endless false statements that confirmed Lucas was indeed responsible for the murders.
Lucas was sentenced to life imprisonment and died from heart failure behind bars in 2001 aged 64. Toole has also spent the rest of his life behind bars until 1996 when he died of cirrhosis aged 49. They both will be remembered as two of the most depraved killers in history. (SOURCE)