Exactly how many people Henry Lucas and Ottis Toole murdered is a subject of debate. Lucas had been raised by an abusive mother who forced him to copulate with dead animals. He stabbed her to death in 1960, and had been in and out of jail when he and Toole, a cannibal with a fifth-grade education, met at a soup kitchen in 1976. They soon began a sexual relationship. Together they established the standard for psychopathic serial killer behavior, abducting, raping, and murdering as they drifted around the country. Their exploits would inspire the 1986 classic Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.
In 1983, Toole was imprisoned for arson in Florida and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Lucas was arrested two months later for possession of a deadly weapon, and soon began boasting about the murderous rampage he and Toole had supposedly committed during their relationship. At first, Toole denied any involvement, but later corroborated Lucas’s claims.
After being convicted of multiple slayings, Toole confessed to many more – including the 1981 murder of Adam Walsh, son of John Walsh of “America’s Most Wanted” – and died in jail of cirrhosis in 1996. Lucas, meanwhile, confessed to hundreds of murders, and was eventually convicted of 11 homicides, including the death of Frieda Powell, Toole’s young niece, and 82-year-old Kate Rich. He was also convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of an unidentified woman, dubbed “Orange Socks” because that was all the clothing that was found on her body when it was discovered. By 1986 he’d helped to clear 213 unsolved cases.