Questions about Henry Lee Lucas will be debated for decades. This report is not offered as a final answer. There may never be a final answer. -- Report from the Texas Attorney General's Office, April 1986
A few weeks before Christmas, Tammy Andrews was rummaging through a storage space beneath a staircase in her Arvada home, searching for decorations, when she came across a cardboard box buried in the back. She set it aside without giving it much thought. But the next day, when she looked inside, she realized that she had unearthed what her mother had called the "life box," a collection of papers relating to family members who had passed away.
Since her mother's death nearly four years earlier, Tammy had wondered what had happened to the box, and when she found it, she spent more than eight hours sifting through marriage certificates, military paperwork and funeral mementos. Two documents in particular captured her attention: They had to do with Holly Marie Andrews, Tammy's older sister, who had been sexually assaulted and stabbed to death near Georgetown on December 26, 1976.
Holly was sixteen when she was killed; Tammy was fifteen. The case made headlines for years, especially after Henry Lee Lucas, a serial killer who in the early 1980s claimed responsibility for as many as 600 murders, was charged with the crime. Now, nearly 25 years later, Tammy was seeing the paperwork describing the murder for the first time. In her hands, she held a 1983 statement that a Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent had written to get a warrant for Lucas's arrest. The statement summarized Lucas's confession to Holly's murder.
But Tammy also found a report issued by the Texas Attorney General's Office in 1986, which discredited most of Lucas's confessions and urged law-enforcement agencies throughout the country to take a second look at cases they had cleared based on his statements.
Although Tammy, who is now 39 and the mother of three, had heard of the report, she was just a teenager when it came out, and her mom, Leona Madson, had been the family's liaison with the police. And Madson had always maintained that Lucas was guilty -- possibly to ease the minds of her other five children as well as her own. "If she didn't believe it, she wanted to believe," says Tammy. "She wanted somebody to hate."
Madson did indeed hate Lucas, Tammy says, to the extent that she used to call his family members and acquaintances to give them a piece of her mind. Madson kept a small notebook listing people and phone numbers she had called over the years for news about her daughter's case. (Tammy found the notebook in the "life box," she says, but most of the numbers were obsolete.) "It killed my mother," Tammy says of Holly's murder. "My mother drank more, so in turn, she smoked more. Her whole life revolved around Lucas, my sister, whoever killed her -- everything. It was very hard on her -- very, very hard. She could hardly function some days."
Madson cut all of the celebrations out of her life, especially Christmas, which was the hardest time of year. She couldn't even bring herself to put up a Christmas tree again until the early 1990s, Tammy says.
In February 1997, Madson died of lung cancer, six months after moving back to Denver from Hawaii, where she had retired in 1996. She never came to terms with Holly's murder, Tammy says. "But she had peace about dying because she knew she'd be with my sister. She didn't have any problem at all about dying. She'd died long before that."
Her wish was that her ashes be buried directly beside Holly's casket in Littleton Cemetery, a place she had visited so many times in life. Madson and her daughter now share a single gravesite marked by two headstones.
The discovery of the two documents stirred old questions that had lingered in Tammy's mind for years: Had Lucas really committed the murder, or was the real killer still walking the streets?
After rereading the report from Texas, she decided to try to find out. She picked up the phone a few days later and started calling everyone she could think of who had been involved with the case.
Tammy and Holly Andrews, only eleven months apart in age, were close friends. Both went to Columbine High School in Littleton, where Holly was outgoing, popular and took great pride in her role as a majorette.
But Holly, like the rest of the six Andrews siblings, had problems stemming from her parents' troubled relationship. "It was a very nasty marriage and, at the end, a very nasty divorce," Tammy says. Gerald Andrews and Leona Madson split in 1972, when Tammy was eleven years old. The oldest child, David, was thirteen; Holly was twelve, Curt was seven, Dawn was five and Andy was four. Afterward, the three older kids would shuttle between their father's and mother's Littleton homes, trying to stay where they could get away with the most mischief.
When they were a little older, Holly and Tammy occasionally ran away together. They'd leave for a few days, usually staying in the area, but sometimes hitchhiking as far as Arizona and California. They'd always come home, though. When they were all home, Tammy, Holly and Dave often partied and smoked pot together. "The three of us were real tight," Tammy says. But she insists that their somewhat wild lifestyle was nothing out of the ordinary for teenagers growing up in the '70s. Their parents didn't agree, but "they had no control over us at that age," she says.
Dave eventually spent time in juvenile hall; Tammy received psychological counseling for running away from home; and in late 1976, Holly spent two months at Fort Logan Mental Health Center.
"I guess back then they called it 'uncontrollable behavior,'" explains Tammy. "You know, back then, you could have your kids put in Fort Logan for smoking pot. You can't do that anymore."
Holly got out of Fort Logan just before Christmas 1976. Soon after, in her typical playful fashion, she put on her majorette uniform and posed for a photograph of herself sitting on a mall Santa's lap. The photo, taken just before Holly was murdered, is one of the only photos that Tammy has of her sister.
On Christmas day, the Andrews kids, along with two children from Gerald Andrews's second marriage, gathered at their father's house to celebrate. That evening, Tammy remembers, Holly decided to go to a friend's party in Englewood. She wanted Tammy to go with her, and although Tammy wanted to go, she was already grounded and didn't want to get into more trouble. Holly, angry that Tammy wasn't joining her, left the house alone.
That was the last time Tammy saw her sister alive.
Holly did return to her mother's house after the party, but on the evening of December 26, she left to visit a friend. An acquaintance of hers named Steve Hobbs and his cousin would later report that they had seen her hitchhiking at the corner of Belleview and Broadway in Englewood at about 5:30 p.m. Paula Albert, a relative of the Andrews family, later told police that she had seen Holly near her father's home sometime between 6:30 and 8 p.m.
Since Holly didn't come home the next day, her stepfather assumed that she had run away again, and he filed a runaway report with the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office. But that same day, a pair of cross-country skiers found Holly's body, clad only in blue knee socks, on a high cliff near Bakersville, west of Georgetown. She'd been stabbed once in the chest and six times in the back, and an autopsy revealed that she had been sexually assaulted.
Tammy remembers that a group of men wearing suits, probably agents from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, came to her father's house. "My friend was there with me, and we were babysitting my little sister. Next thing I know, my stepmom tears out the door. She's got to go see my dad. And then my dad comes home from work and tells us. But he says, 'I think they found her. They think it's her,' because, you know, she hadn't been identified. I didn't believe it."
Tammy started drinking in reaction to Holly's death, and she says that, combined with her grief, the alcohol blurred her perceptions and her recollections of the days and weeks that followed. "From then on, things got so distorted. I was drinking. I shouldn't have been, but I was."
Holly was buried on January 3, 1977. Tammy remembers that four of her younger siblings were too small to attend the funeral, so they stayed at home. She also recalls learning that the CBI had secretly videotaped the funeral, thinking that the killer might make an appearance. She remembers little else about that day. "I looked at the funeral book, and I don't remember all those people being there," she says. "I didn't remember my mom being there, but she was."
And it was her mother, Tammy says, whose life would be consumed by Holly's death. Over the next few years, Tammy and most of her siblings dropped out of school. She got married at sixteen and moved out of her parents' homes. Dave was in and out of juvenile hall and, later, prison. But Madson could never get her mind off the murder. She called police all the time to see if they had any leads. They never did. She even conducted an investigation of her own, tracking down people who might have known something about the murder. She may have even had a suspect of her own, although she never told Tammy who it was.
She found no answers.
In 1983, Colorado investigators got a break.
On June 11, a 47-year-old drifter named Henry Lee Lucas was arrested in Montague County, Texas, for carrying a weapon in violation of his parole. Soon after his arrest, he was charged with the murder of eighty-year-old Kate Rich, with whom he had lived as a boarder for a time in the Texas town of Ringgold.
It wasn't the first time Lucas has been charged with murder. In 1961 he was convicted of the stabbing death of his mother and sentenced to between twenty and forty years in prison; he did his time in a facility for the criminally insane before being paroled on June 3, 1970. A little over a year later, he was arrested for attempting to kidnap two young girls in Michigan, and he served his four-year term for that crime in the Michigan State Penitentiary, from which he was paroled on August 22, 1975.
While he was being asked by a judge if he was mentally competent to stand trial in the Rich case, Lucas made a shocking statement: He suggested that he had killed "hundreds" of women in the eight years between his release from the Michigan penitentiary and his Texas arrest. After that, he started making confessions, and he didn't stop. The Texas Rangers formed a special task force devoted solely to Lucas and his admissions. Law-enforcement officials in at least 22 states ultimately "cleared" more than 215 cases based on Lucas's confessions.
Soon after Lucas started talking, he implicated Ottis Toole, his traveling companion, as his accomplice. Toole, who had been arrested in June and charged with an arson death in Jacksonville, Florida, was also incarcerated at the time. (Toole gained notoriety by confessing to the murder of six-year-old Adam Walsh, whose father would later host the television program America's Most Wanted.)
Lucas painted a picture of himself and Toole as a ruthless, murdering duo who were constantly in motion, crisscrossing the country and killing hundreds of people -- mainly women, but also men and children -- in every imaginable way. Newspaper reports at the time proclaimed that the two represented a "new breed" of killer who indiscriminately murdered huge numbers of strangers. By June 22, 1983, Lucas had claimed responsibility for 156 murders. His final tally was over 600. In January 1984, police from around the country gathered in Monroe, Louisiana, for a three-day conference to pool information on Lucas and Toole.
By that time, Lucas and Toole had confessed to thirteen Colorado murders and were suspects in as many as sixteen. Investigators from Aurora and Pueblo and El Paso and Summit counties, along with several CBI agents, attended the Louisiana conference. Colorado police would ultimately charge Lucas and Toole with three murders.
Carl Whiteside, then deputy director of the CBI, first heard about Lucas and Toole through police contacts and started looking at Lucas as a possible suspect in the January 1980 murder of 21-year-old Helene Pruszynski, a Michigan girl who'd been working as an intern at Denver's KHOW radio station. She had been stabbed to death and raped.
Like many other investigators throughout the country, Whiteside went to Georgetown, Texas, to question Lucas. He brought along the Pruszynski file and several other unsolved murder cases, including that of Holly Andrews, hoping to get some answers. On September 8, 1983, Whiteside questioned Lucas about Pruszynski. Lucas told him he didn't know anything about it.
But twenty days later, Lucas told an Abilene, Texas, police detective that he wanted to talk to the CBI.
Over the telephone, after waiving his Miranda rights, Lucas told a senior CBI agent named James Jordan -- not Whiteside -- that during the late winter or early spring of 1976, he had raped and murdered a young woman of about seventeen and had disposed of her body off of I-70 west of Denver. Lucas elaborated, saying he had picked up the young hitchhiker -- about five feet, nine inches tall with brown hair and wearing a jacket, jeans and hiking boots -- and stabbed her in the back and chest. Investigators were convinced that Lucas was describing Holly Andrews.
Whiteside returned to Texas on December 21 for a second interview with Lucas. This time he was accompanied by CBI agent Howard Gillespie, who was in charge of the Andrews investigation and had gone to the crime scene in 1976 with officers from the Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office.
Convinced that Lucas was Holly's killer, Gillespie wrote a warrant for Lucas's arrest in case he ever got out of jail. In the affidavit that went with the warrant, he noted the elements of Lucas's confession. Lucas told him that he'd picked Holly up in the Littleton area, where she was hitchhiking, and then headed west on I-70. He said he turned off into a scenic overlook on a high cliff, where Holly -- who he said was wearing a heavy coat, rubber-soled boots, a multicolored blouse, boys' pants and a handmade tooled belt with a large silver buckle -- removed her own clothes. He said Holly got scared when Lucas didn't take his own clothes off. Then, Lucas said, he began stabbing her in the back while she was lying on her stomach; she sat up when he rolled her over to have sex with her, he said, and then he stabbed her in the chest. The final stab wound, he said, went into her heart, causing blood to spurt all over him. He said he then raped her after she was dead.
Most of Lucas's account, especially the description of Holly's clothes, matched the details of the case -- if not exactly, then close enough for Gillespie and Whiteside. Lucas seemed to know things that only the killer would know. "He was quite lucid about the details and certain about the facts," says Whiteside, who retired from the CBI in 1999 after serving as director for twelve years. He even said that Holly had told him she wanted to run away to California, something she had indeed discussed with her brother Dave in the weeks before her death, according to police reports. He also correctly described the fatal stab wound to Holly's heart and correctly listed the contents of her purse.
On December 23, 1983, just before the seventh anniversary of Holly's death, Gillespie called Holly's parents to tell them about Lucas's confession.
On March 13, 1984, the Clear Creek County district attorney's office charged Lucas with first-degree murder and with felony murder, which is murder committed in the process of committing another felony -- in this case, sexual assault.
Holly's murder wasn't the only Colorado murder that Lucas -- and Toole -- confessed to.
In October 1983, Whiteside had interviewed Ottis Toole in Florida. Toole confessed to the murder of 34-year-old Sylvia Mae Quayle, who was shot and then stabbed to death in the bedroom of her Cherry Hills Village home in 1981.
"The first thing he said to me when I walked in was, 'Oh, you're here from Colorado about that woman I shot through her bedroom window,'" Whiteside remembers. Based on the confession, Arapahoe County officials charged Toole with first-degree murder in April 1983.
In June 1984, Lucas confessed to the 1979 slaying of seventeen-year-old Linda Ruth Hutchings, who'd last been seen alive on August 14 of that year. Her body was found on September 1 in a swampy area in Jefferson County. She had been beaten to death. Jefferson County sheriff's investigator Steve Forsyth went to Texas to interview Lucas. Following the advice of a Texas Ranger, Forsyth opened the interview by showing Lucas a photograph of Hutchings. Lucas told Forsyth he had just been drawing a picture of Hutchings -- it was his habit to make drawings of his victims to show investigators. "Mr. Lucas was able to relate to me details involving the victim and himself which are known only to law-enforcement personnel and Lucas," Forsyth wrote in an affidavit for Lucas's arrest on charges of first-degree murder.
Carmelina Hutchings, Linda's mother, says she was frustrated with the police from the time Linda disappeared after going out for pizza with friends. They seemed convinced that Linda had simply run away from home, says Hutchings. "I knew she hadn't. She had just started school, and she was so happy. She got all the classes she wanted. She left me a little note saying she wouldn't be out late. She had no clothes, no money, no reason [to run away]."
Three weeks passed between Linda's disappearance and the time a man on a walk with his children stumbled upon her badly decomposed body, which had to be identified through dental records. Hutchings remembers the day, nearly five years later, when an investigator came to her house to tell her that Henry Lee Lucas had confessed to Linda's murder. "They were so positive about it then," she says.
However, because of the number of charges that been filed against Lucas and Toole in other states -- including Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, Washington, New Mexico, Florida, Texas and California -- it was always doubtful that either man would ever stand trial in Colorado.
In September 1983, Lucas was sentenced to 75 years in prison for the murder of Kate Rich. Two months later, he was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Frieda "Becky" Powell, his fifteen-year-old common-law wife and the niece of Ottis Toole. In 1984, he was sentenced to death for the strangulation murder of a woman known as "Orange Socks" for the only clothing that remained on her body when she was found in a culvert beside a Texas highway in 1979 (she has never been identified). During the Orange Socks trial, Lucas was quoted as saying, "We cut 'em up. We hanged 'em. We ran 'em down in cars. We stabbed 'em. We beat 'em. We butchered 'em. We drowned 'em. There's no way I haven't killed 'em. There's crucifixion...There's people we filleted like fish. There's people we burnt...We strangled them by hand. We strangled them with a rope. We've even stabbed them when we strangled them...I've got 360 in the United States."
Lucas would eventually be convicted of ten murders in Texas. Because of that, prosecutors in several states never got the chance to try him, and others simply didn't attempt it.
But Whiteside says he never felt certain about the charges that were filed in the Colorado cases. "I always had real doubts about these people," he says. "I've always had this lingering doubt."
Whiteside was by no means the only person with questions about Lucas's and Toole's credibility. In 1985, the now-defunct Dallas Times Herald ran a series of stories -- based on reporter Hugh Aynesworth's hours of interviews with Lucas and an exhaustive examination of reams of paperwork -- showing that it would have been physically impossibly for Lucas and Toole to have committed at least a hundred of the murders for which they claimed credit.
"I guess the jig is up," Lucas was quoted as saying. "It took them long enough, didn't it?"
"I gave 'em 100 and they seemed so pleased, and so I gave 'em 240, then 600 -- then I said I had over 1,200," he added. "Isn't any of them honest?"
The Lucas confessions were widely denounced as a massive hoax. The Texas Rangers were sharply criticized for their role in eliciting the confessions, and their Lucas task force was disbanded.
In 1986, the Texas Attorney General's Office issued a report summarizing its own investigation of the Lucas investigation. It chronicled Lucas's whereabouts between his release from the Michigan State Penitentiary in 1975 and his final arrest in Texas and included interviews with people who had contact with Lucas and Toole -- employers, relatives and acquaintances, as well as law-enforcement agents who had investigated the two men after their 1983 arrests. The report's conclusions echoed the Times Herald's findings: Lucas had set out to fool law-enforcement officials, who were, in turn, all too eager to believe his confessions in order to close cases.
Lucas had confessed to murders he couldn't possibly have committed, the report showed, including some in which other people were under investigation or had already been convicted. In one instance, a victim's husband pleaded guilty to manslaughter even after Lucas had confessed to the crime. In another, Lucas confessed to murdering a woman whose death was actually the result of a seizure that caused her to drive off the road. In fact, in 1994, Lucas even confessed to a totally fictional murder fabricated by Dallas police to test his credibility.
Investigators also looked at the meager paper trail left by Lucas and Toole (records of rent payments, time sheets and receipts from scrap-metal collection, which both men occasionally did to make money), which showed that at the exact times of many of the murders they had confessed to, they had actually been hundreds of miles away.
On December 26, 1976, the day Holly Andrews was killed, records from the report show that "Lucas resided at Benjamin Trailer in Port Deposit, Maryland." Lucas paid his rent on December 3 and was investigated by Maryland police in connection with an incident involving his nephew's car on December 8.
"Lucas lived at Benjamin's Trailer Park from January 1976 until June 1977," the report states. "Friends and acquaintances agree that Lucas was gone from the area only twice during this period: Lucas and a half-brother went to Virginia to visit another half-brother. The trip took one day. Lucas and Ben Plaski took a female resident of the trailer park and her children to Rhode Island. The woman had had a fight with her husband. This trip look less than 24 hours."
In fact, except for Lucas's original three confessions to the murders of his mother, Frieda Powell and Kate Rich, "there is a notable lack of physical evidence linking Lucas to the crimes to which he confessed."
It was noted that in addition to the murder confessions, Lucas had made a number of completely outlandish claims. For example, he'd told police that he was responsible for the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa and that he'd delivered the poison that cult leader Jim Jones used in the mass suicide in Guyana.
Jim Mattox, Texas's attorney general at the time, asked local police to take another look at their Lucas cases. "I hope that through our efforts, the real murderers of innocent victims can be brought closer to justice by a careful reexamination of Lucas's contrived confessions," he wrote. "I urge any jurisdiction with a case in which Henry Lee Lucas is a suspect to polygraph Lucas or conduct a sodium Pentothal examination and to very carefully scrutinize his confession."
But that left the question as to how Lucas had come up with the eerily specific details he revealed in his confessions, including his statement about Holly Andrews.
"Our conclusion is that most of the information was obtained by Lucas through the interview process," was the answer given in the report. "This occurred when numerous officers interviewed Lucas about the same crime, when Lucas was shown written crime reports and photographs of crime scenes, or when Lucas was helped to 'find his cases.'"
Whiteside recalls that in order to get appointments to interview Lucas and Toole, the CBI had to forward its files to authorities in Texas and Florida, who would then review the cases with the two men to see if they seemed familiar.
Whiteside says he doesn't want to make unfounded accusations that other law-enforcement agencies were feeding information to Lucas and Toole, but, he says, "the only explanation that you can come up with is that [Lucas and Toole] had the opportunity to review the facts of the case before we got there."
However, Gillespie's affidavit shows that Lucas probably gleaned the information from Whiteside himself in exactly the way that the Texas report suggested. Lucas confessed to Holly's murder only after he had already been interviewed once by Whiteside; during that first interview, the CBI agent had shown Lucas a photograph of Holly, and Lucas said she looked "familiar." During the second interview with CBI officials, Gillespie again showed Lucas photographs of Holly while she was still alive, and this time, Lucas identified one of the photographs as that of a girl he had killed. The CBI investigators also showed Lucas photographs of the crime scene, which could have given him much of the detailed information he provided in his confession.
And while some of Lucas's statements were accurate, some were purely speculative. "Lucas described victim as a wild type girl -- high spirited," Gillespie wrote, before summarizing Lucas's statements about Holly: "She kept trying to act sexy, playing up to me, laughing and joking. Kept asking me if I liked girls and what I like to do. She was kissing all over me and playing with me. She was a good teaser."
Gillespie concluded: "Fits what is known of victim's personality and general background."
Others statements simply didn't fit the evidence. Lucas couldn't remember the month or year in which he said he had killed Holly. He said that he had stabbed her twelve to fourteen times with a knife with a one-inch blade; she had been stabbed seven times with a knife with a three-quarter to half-inch blade.
Most important, there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. There were no fingerprints found on the beer cans that were taken from the scene (Lucas claimed he had been wearing gloves). And at the time of Lucas's 1983 confession, Whiteside says, "DNA wasn't even on the radar screen." The closest thing investigators had was blood typing, which showed only that Lucas couldn't be excluded as the killer.
Lucas had a clear motivation for lying: As long as he continued to confess, he received special treatment. He had his own cell, a color television, an unlimited flow of cigarettes, coffee, and cheeseburgers, and the opportunity to travel extensively with the Texas Rangers to "identify" crime scenes around the country. He also received constant attention from law enforcement, reporters and the public; he has since been profiled in numerous books and television programs (including Jerry Springer) and was the subject of a film called Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.
Lucas had grown up poor in a rural Virginia town; he says his mother, whom he stabbed to death with a penknife, was a prostitute, and his father a double amputee who sold pencils. For Lucas, the lifestyle that resulted from his confessions was a huge step up from his past existence.
In the Dallas Times Herald series, Lucas stated that it had been his intention to make the police appear foolish and corrupt -- to make them look like the "real criminals."
In that respect, some say, he succeeded. Although Mattox found no evidence that anyone in law enforcement deliberately furthered the deception, he also said, "Unfortunately, when Lucas was confessing to hundreds of murders, those with custody of Lucas did nothing to bring an end to his hoax. Even as evidence of the hoax mounted, they continued to insist that Lucas had murdered hundreds of persons."
Two years earlier, during the 1984 Orange Socks trial, a psychologist who testified on Lucas's behalf gave another possible clue to his behavior: He told the court that Lucas was a schizophrenic.
Although the Texas Attorney General's Office issued its report in 1986, it is unclear whether officials in Colorado even saw it before September 1990, when the Rocky Mountain News obtained a copy and ran a story raising doubts about the validity of Lucas's and Toole's Colorado confessions. According to the story, a Clear Creek County investigator said "officials there were unaware of the Texas investigation and agreed to look again at the case."
Whiteside says he still wonders about the Andrews murder today. "Any case that's unsolved bothers you. If you're involved in this type of work and you care about your work, it bothers you.
"It still haunts you," he adds. "It haunted us then."
Arapahoe County dropped its charges against Toole and reopened the Sylvia Mae Quayle case in 1993 after DNA testing showed that Toole couldn't have committed the murder.
Jefferson County authorities now consider the Linda Hutchings case open as well. Carmelina Hutchings says that although she and her children sometimes call police to get updates, she has given up hope of getting any final answers about who killed her daughter. She says she now believes that the police didn't thoroughly investigate Linda's murder and that they used the Lucas confession just to clear the case from the books.
"I just think the only justice will be with God," she says. "I don't see anything here."
On June 26, 1998, four days before Lucas was scheduled to die by lethal injection, then-Texas governor George W. Bush commuted the death sentence Lucas had received in the death of the woman known as Orange Socks. "The first question I ask in every case is whether there is any doubt about the individual's guilt or innocence," Bush told reporters at the time. "This is the first case I have had since I have been the governor when the answer to that question was 'yes.'"
Texas lawyer Danny Burns represented Lucas in his final round of death-penalty appeals. "I think the law is clear," he says now. "We have a right...to kill innocent people [via the death penalty] as long as they've had a fair trial. It's horrible, but it's true. Henry Lucas was going to die for lying."
To keep that from happening, Burns and representatives from the Texas Attorney General's Office went to Florida to take depositions from witnesses who said that Lucas had been in Florida at the time of the Orange Socks murder. That evidence, combined with statements from former attorney general Mattox about his office's investigation into the Lucas debacle, convinced Burns that no reasonable person could believe that Lucas had killed the woman.
Lucas, however, kept sabotaging his own case by concocting "cock-and-bull" stories to discredit the witnesses that were providing his alibi, Burns says. For example, he claimed that he had bribed supervisors at his job with a roofing company to get them to say he was working during the periods when he was traveling around the country killing.
Burns attempted to undo the damage by disproving Lucas's claims, but his client had already lost appeal after appeal. So instead of trying to take the case to the Supreme Court, Burns filed a commutation petition and met with Governor Bush's office to defend it. "We laid everything down," he says. "We just submitted ourselves. We said, 'You ask a question, and we can cover it.' They hit us with some pretty hard questions about where Henry got his information."
And while Burns says he couldn't explain where Lucas got the facts for many of his other confessions, he was able to explain how Lucas knew details about Orange Socks: As was his method, Lucas played one investigator off another. He denied involvement in the murder when a police investigator initially asked him about it. Then, using the information he'd gotten about the case during questioning, he later confessed to a different officer who didn't know about the first investigator's visit. It was the same way he'd managed to fool everyone else.
One law-enforcement agent had a different theory. "Captain Smith with the Texas Rangers made the suggestion that [Lucas has] got to be clairvoyant," says Burns. "I told Henry if he was clairvoyant, I wanted the numbers to the next big lottery. I didn't buy the ticket, and he only got four out of six. But that's not bad."
Lucas, now 64, has recanted all of his confessions except one: the murder of his mother. He is presently serving six life sentences, two 75-year terms and one sixty-year term in the geriatric ward of the Ellis Unit in Huntsville, Texas. (Toole died in a Florida prison hospital in 1996.) Lucas didn't respond to a request for an interview for this story, but in July 1998, he told the Austin American-Statesman, "The rest of my life, I plan on fighting these cases and working. I'm planning on being a Christian, I hope. I'm trying, anyway."
While he's certain Lucas won't be getting out of jail anytime soon, Burns says he's not sure how many states still have murder charges against Lucas or how many victims' families still believe Lucas killed their loved ones. "I know there's one poor guy out of New Hampshire I keep getting calls from," he says. "I tell him, 'If it makes you feel better to believe that Lucas killed your daughter, then do it.' But Lucas didn't do that one."
Burns says Lucas didn't kill Holly Andrews, either.
But that doesn't mean Lucas hasn't done serious harm, he adds. "He let people out of jail -- especially here in Texas -- who probably did it. He took their cases for them. A lot of cases were shut down, and there's not going to be another suspect because [law enforcement's] not going to look. They don't want to reopen these cases -- it looks bad. That's the real tragedy of it and one of the reasons I told Henry I would not do any more writs for him."
Tammy Andrews was sitting with her family in her living room on the evening of June 26, 1998, when she got a call from Mike Goodbee, the district attorney for Clear Creek County, telling her that Lucas would be spared a lethal injection. Tammy and her family had been counting down the moments to his execution. They wanted him to die. "He said, 'They're not going to execute him.' I said, 'Shit.' It's a big feeling there."
The next day, the Rocky Mountain News, in a story headlined "DA vows to go after Lucas," reported that Goodbee was "so disappointed" that he was looking into getting Lucas on Colorado's death row. The story quoted him as saying, "I need to do some legal research and talk to the family before I decide how hard to push on this."
Goodbee now says the story presented a "mischaracterization" of his efforts. In actuality, he says, he consulted with the Colorado Attorney General's Office in 1998 and learned that even if Lucas were convicted of first-degree murder, he couldn't be executed, since Holly was murdered during a period when the death penalty was not a legal sentence in Colorado. Goodbee decided that since Lucas couldn't pay a stiffer price in Colorado than the life sentences he was already serving in Texas, it wasn't worth the risk of escape that would come with transporting him to Colorado to stand trial.
He insists, though, that his decision didn't mean that the case was closed. Shortly after Lucas's sentence was commuted, a Clear Creek County sheriff's investigator went to Texas to collect a DNA sample from him. In fact, in his first interview after the commutation, Lucas told the Austin American-Statesman that Colorado investigators looking for DNA evidence had visited him several days earlier. (Burns also recalls the events.)
Because the Andrews case is now considered active and open, Goodbee won't discuss the results of the testing. Tammy didn't even find out that the DNA samples had been taken until December 29 -- just a few weeks after she'd found her mother's "life box" -- when she talked to a CBI agent. She says the agent told her that Lucas's DNA did not match a semen sample taken from Holly's body.
The news, says Tammy, was "very, very, very overwhelming. I almost got sick to my stomach."
The agent, Bob Armstrong, now insists that he made no such suggestion; he says he simply told Tammy that he would look into the status of the tests. But when Clear Creek County Deputy District Attorney Robert Wheeler spoke with Tammy two days after her meeting with Armstrong, he confirmed that the DNA tests had ruled Lucas out.
Although Wheeler has never actually seen the results of the DNA tests, he says he got the information from law-enforcement sources. "It seems obvious to me that Henry Lee Lucas is not the killer," he adds.
Wheeler's boss says he's not yet ready to drop the charges against Lucas, however. "When and if an alternate suspect is identified and charged, then I will reconsider the charging of Lucas," Goodbee says.
Tammy says there originally were two suspects; Dave Andrews says authorities have two possible suspects now as well. The CBI would not confirm or deny whether they have any suspects at all.
Detective Ted Schoudt of the Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office says he's now investigating, but he wouldn't comment on possible suspects either. "It's an open murder case," he says. "We're actively working that case."
For Tammy, looking for answers has only led to more questions -- and a new burst of anger toward Lucas. Even if he didn't kill her sister, he made the police and Holly's family believe that he had, and she wants him to pay for his deception. She plans to write Lucas a letter telling him what she thinks of him.
"I hope [other prisoners] do to him what he's said he did to other people," she says. "He's made these people think these godawful things he's done to their family members. I just don't get it, how someone could lie like that."
To help Tammy get a sense of closure and an idea of how the investigation was conducted, the CBI's Armstrong says he's constructing a timeline of developments in the case. "We're actively relooking at this case," he adds. "We're going to do our damnedest to help this woman."
And Goodbee says, "I could think of nothing better for me and my office than to be able to identify 100 percent positively and prosecute the individual who killed Holly. Certainly from a family-resolution standpoint, that would be the best-case scenario. Whether that's something that will happen in the near future, I can't say."
Tammy has shared her recent discoveries about the case with her siblings, most of whom are scattered around the county, as well as with her father, who now lives in Idaho. Tammy's brother Dave, a 41-year-old construction worker who lives in Littleton, says he hasn't been able to bring himself to read the affidavit and report yet.
Neither sibling understands why DNA tests weren't performed earlier, or why the results of the tests, once they were done, have never been clearly and openly shared with Holly's family members.
"They talk about the technology, but I guess it's just for people who are higher-profile than my sister," Dave says. "I wish my mom would have known [the test results]. It might have made her not so bitter toward that one person. My mom put a lot of energy into hating [Lucas]."
Most of all, Tammy and Dave are angry that they are now back at the beginning --wondering, once again, who killed Holly. "I'll be dealing with this my whole life. I feel like I'm starting all over again," Tammy says.
"I know a lot of people, the public, possibly doesn't really care or doesn't acknowledge it," she adds. "But to the family members and the friends of the people who were killed, it does matter."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.
- Search for Missing Teen Joe Keller Suspended, Foul Play a Possibility
- Aurora Theater Shooting Jury: Death Penalty Still on the Table
- Fredy Castilla and Pals Allegedly Drove From Nebraska to CO for Violent Pot Heist