Coming soon to Netflix, The Confession Killer is a five-part docuseries that dissects the admissions made by a man once regarded as the most prolific serial killer in history. In 1983, convicted killer Henry Lee Lucas began a confession spree behind bars, claiming he committed some 600 murders. Lucas had already been convicted of eleven crimes, but hundreds more cases were closed by law enforcement as a result of the inmate's confessions. Despite his vivid accounts of his alleged brutalities, there was no evidence that tied him to the scene of the crime. In many instances, the timeline Lucas provided was implausible.
While Lucas’s confessions brought closure to countless families, the acceptance by law enforcement spoke to problems deeply embedded within the criminal justice system. How many, if any, of his admissions were true? And if Lucas indeed lied about the number of people he killed, what role has law enforcement played in letting the true killers walk free?
Henry Lee Lucas’s first confirmed killing occurred in 1960. During an argument with his mother, Lucas plunged a knife into her neck. Though Lucas claimed self-defense, he served ten years for the murder. Shortly after his first release, Lucas was convicted for the attempted kidnapping of three young girls and sent back to prison for five more years.
Once he was a free man in 1975, Lucas settled down in Florida, where he struck up a friendship with another notorious serial killer, Ottis Toole. After running off with Toole’s young niece, Lucas was arrested in June of 1983 for the unlawful possession of a firearm. He confessed to the murder of two more women—Toole’s niece and an employer. This was the last of his crimes which held definitive evidence of his involvement.
Not long after returning to prison, Lucas began to confess to other unsolved murders. The more confessions he made, the more his life behind bars seemed to improve. He became friendly with law enforcement and received better meals in exchange for his cooperation. His face was plastered across newspapers and television screens. The former drifter was suddenly a figure of importance.
Directed by the Oscar-nominated Robert Kenner and Taki Oldham, The Confession Killer uses interviews and archival footage to dig into one of our justice system's most troubling cases. This gripping documentary offers insight into the disbelief of attorneys and journalists, and the decreasing credibility of Lucas’s claims as the prevalence of DNA testing began to rise.
The Confession Killer premieres on Netflix on December 6th. Watch the trailer below:
Featured photo of "The Confession Killer" via Netflix