Ottis Toole and Henry Lee Lucas – Criminal Musings – 21

It is rare that we have murderous duos. There is a reason we have an image of these people in our minds being lone wolves. But every once in awhile, evil finds its’ mate and the consequences are disastrous. Today we will cover one such duo. Today, we will cover Ottis Toole and Henry Lee Lucas.

Want to learn more about these killers? Check out these shows:

Serial Killers
Last Podcast On The Left
All Killa No Filla

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It is rare that we have murderous duos. There is a reason we have an image of these people in our minds being lone wolves. But every once in awhile, evil finds its’ mate and the consequences are disastrous. Today we will cover one such duo. Today, we will cover Ottis Toole and Henry Lee Lucas.

Ottis Elwood Toole was born on March 5, 1947 and was raised in Jacksonville Florida. Toole’s mother was abusive and Toole claimed that she would dress him in girls’ clothing and call him Susan. His father was an alcoholic who abandoned him. Ottis claimed that as a young child he had been the victim of sexual assault and incest. He claimed that the abuse started around the age of 10 when he came out to his family as being gay.

Much of the information on Toole between 1966 and 1973 is unclear but  it is believed that he began drifting around the South-western United States and supported himself by prostitution and panhandling. Toole claimed to have committed his first murder at the age of 14, when after being propositioned for sex by a travelling salesman, he ran him over with his own car. Tooles first arrest was for loitering at the age of 17 in 1964.

While living in Nebraska, Toole was one of the prime suspects in the 1947 murder of 24 year old Patricia Webb, he was also the prime suspect in the murder of 31 year old Ellen Holman who was murdered on October 14 1974. He returned to Jacksonville in 1975  with these allegations hanging over his head. Soon after returning he married a woman 25 years older than him. In a later interview he said that the marriage was a tactic used to conceal his true sexuality. He was pretty bad at hiding his true identity in that regard, because the marriage only lasted three days before his wife found out about his homosexuality. Which, also, If we could break away for just one second, I’m not sure how she found out. Short of her catching him with a dick in his hand, you can’t really know for sure. So… unless he just outright told her? Hmm, the world may never know. In any case, good for her for getting out.

Henry Lee Lucas was born on August 23, 1936 in Blacksburg, Virginia. When he was 10 years old he lost an eye after it became infected due to a fight. Lucas’ mother was a sex worker who would force him to watch her have sex with clients and cross dress in public. In December 1949 his father died of hypothermia after going home drunk and collapsing outside during a blizzard.

Lucas left school in the sixth grade, ran away from home and started drifting around Virginia. Lucas claims to have committed his first murder in 1951 when he strangled 17 year old Laura Burnsley who had refused his sexual advances.

On June 10 1954 he was convicted of over a dozen counts of burglary in around Richmond Virginia and he was sentenced to four years in prison. He escaped in 1957 but was recaptured three days later. He was released on September 2 1959. Later that year he travelled to Tecumseh Michigan to live with his half sister Opal. Around this time he was engaged to marry a pen pal who he had written to while in prison. When his  mother visited him for Christmas she disapproved of his fiancée and insisted he move back to Blacksburg. He refused and they repeatedly argued during the visit about the upcoming nuptials.

On January 11, 1960, in Tecumseh Michigan, Lucas killed his mother during an argument over whether or not he should go back to her house. He claimed she hit him over the head with a broom, at which point he lost it and stabbed her in the neck, then ran away. Later he said “All I remember was slapping her alongside the neck, but after I did that I saw her fall and decided to grab her. But she fell to the floor and when I went back to pick her up, I realized she was dead. Then I noticed that I had my knife in my hand and she had been cut”.

In fact she wasn’t dead and when Lucas’ half sister Opal returned later she discovered their mother alive and in a pool of blood. Opal called for an ambulance but it was too late. The official police report stated she died of a heart attack brought on by the attack. Lucas was arrested in Ohio.  He claims to have killed his mother in self defence but this claim was rejected and he was sentenced to between 20 and 40 years’ for second degree murder. After serving 10 years in prison he was released in June 1970 because of prison overcrowding.

In 1976 Toole and Lucas met at a Jacksonville soup kitchen, they soon started a relationship. The two lived with Toole’s parents. A period of stability followed with Lucas working as a roofer, fixing neighbors’ cars and scavenging scrap. At this time Lucas also befriended Toole’s adolescent niece Frieda “Becky” Powell.

On January 4th 1982 Toole barricaded 64 year old George Sonnenberg in a boarding house and set the house on fire. Sonnenberg died a week later of the injuries he sustained in the fire. In April 1983 Toole was arrested for an unrelated arson incident in Jacksonville. For that crime he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. While in custody, he confessed to killing George Sonnenberg.

Two months later, his accomplice Henry Lee Lucas was arrested for unlawful possession of a firearm. It was then that Lucas started boasting about the murderous rampage organized by the two of them. After four days in custody, Lucas confessed to the murder of Kate Rich which investigators had good reason to believe was genuine. In addition he also confessed to the murder of Toole’s niece Becky Powell.

At first Toole had denied involvement but later started backing up Lucas’s confessions. Lucas also backed Toole’s confession to the murder of Adam Walsh. It was calculated that Lucas would have had to use his 13 year old Ford station wagon to cover 3,000 miles in one month, about 370 miles per day to have committed the crimes police attributed to him.

Ottis Toole died on September 15 1996 at the age of 49 he had been convicted of 7 murders and the police officially named him as the likely murder of Adam Walsh even though somehow police managed to lose his impounded car and machete.

Henry Lee Lucas died on March 12 2001 at the age of 64. he had been convicted of 11 murders.

Want to learn more about these killers? Check out these shows:

Serial Killers
Last Podcast On The Left
All Killa No Filla