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The Story Behind Netflix's New True Crime Doc The Confession Killer

The Story Behind Netflix's New True Crime Doc The Confession Killer

Netflix's latest true crime documentary will leave even the most hardened viewer in utter disbelief.

The Confession Killer - which landed on the streaming site yesterday - tells the shocking story of the 'most prolific killer' in US history, Henry Lee Lucas.

Convicted of almost a dozen murders, Lucas went on to confess to 600 killings, explaining in great detail how and where he committed the heinous acts - and was treated like a 'movie star' by police as he did so.

However, it would later be proven that many of these confessions were, in fact, false.


But who was Lucas? Where was he from? And how many people did he really kill?

Born in 1936, in Blacksburg, Virginia, Lucas had a troubled upbringing. According to reports, his mother was a prostitute who would make him watch her have sex with clients and had him dress up in women's clothing.

By the age of 10, had lost his left eye after it became infected and his mother refused to get it treated. He became an alcoholic, having spent most of his teenage years torturing animals and becoming increasingly violent.

Credit: Netflix
Credit: Netflix

At 18, he was sentenced to six years in prison for 12 counts of robbery.

Following his release, in 1960 he had an argument with his 74-year-old mother, over whether he should return home to care for her. Lucas stabbed his mum in the neck, causing her to have a heart attack and die.

He was handed a 20 to 40-year sentence but was released after 10 due to over-crowding in prison.

However, less than two years after his release, Lucas was back in prison following the attempted abduction of young girls.


In 1975, he married his pen pal Betty Crawford, but after he was accused of abusing her daughter, the relationship broke down and she later told the press that she hoped he would be given the death penalty.

Following the breakdown of his marriage, Lucas met drifter Ottis Toole in Jacksonville, Florida, and the two started a love affair.

Lucas then began a relationship with Tool's teenage niece Frieda Powell - 30 years his junior. The pair began a new life together in Texas, with Lucas working as a handyman and a mechanic.

Credit: Netflix
Credit: Netflix

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But after losing his job, the couple's relationship fell apart and they joined a commune called The House of Prayer.

According to the Crime Library, Lucas went on to kill Frieda, before engaging in necrophilia with her body, dismembering it, and burying her in a shallow grave.

He then went on to murder his 82-year-old former boss Kate Rich, after asking her to help him search for Powell. Again, he engaged in necrophilia with her corpse.

Despite initially denying these murders, Lucas went on to confess, leading police to their bodies. However, police were unable to positively identify them.


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In 1983, after being arrested on a weapons charge, Lucas told police that he was responsible for 600 murders in total - with police from across the country interviewing him in connection with around 3,000 deaths.

He gave detailed descriptions of his victims, even going so far as to draw some of the victims and police were able to close a number of cold cases, due to his confessions.

While handing out these details to police, Lucas was given confession interview 'privileges' including being fed steaks and milkshakes, and being given tranquillisers.

Credit: Netflix
Credit: Netflix

A voiceover from the documentary series trailer explains: "They didn't treat him as a killer but as a friend.

"Henry never lived so good - every day they brought him a strawberry milkshake. It was like he was a movie star."

He would later be convicted of killing 11 people and sentenced to death.

But it wasn't long before journalists, lawyers and other experts started to look into his 'confessions' and found that things weren't adding up.

An investigation carried out by the Dallas Times Herald was able to show that some of the killings Lucas confessed to he couldn't possibly have been carried out.

The five-part documentary gives viewers a close look at Lucas, his 'confessions' and the American justice system at the time.

A trailer for the new series teases: "Either they'd found the world's biggest serial killer, or it was the world's biggest hoax in American criminal justice history."

The Confession Killer is available on Netflix now.

Featured Image Credit: Netflix

Topics: TV and Film, True Crime, Interesting, US Entertainment, Netflix

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Dominic Smithers

Dominic graduated from the University of Leeds with a degree in French and History. Like you, Dom has often questioned how much use a second language has been. Well, after stints working at the Manchester Evening News, the Accrington Observer and the Macclesfield Express, along with never setting foot in France, he realised the answer is surprisingly little. But I guess, c'est la vie. Contact us at