365 Days of Texas True Crime: Lucas
Tawny the Rock Chick here, your resident true crime aficionado. As interesting as I find true crime from all over to be, it’s the local stuff that I can really dig into. You could say I’m a bit obsessed with researching stories of murder and missing persons from this area. I’ve spent countless hours reading old newspapers articles, requesting files on cases and sifting through data cases online regarding homicide cases that you probably didn’t even know existed. This area holds more sordid secrets than you may know and I’m going to tell you about all of them, one day at a time. It’s 365 Days of Texas True Crime and todays story goes like this…..
The saga of The Confession Killer has to be one of the most mysterious and interesting true crime cases in the U.S. of all time, and in case you can’t tell, one of my tops. I don’t like saying favorite anymore because a true crime case isn’t like a flavor of ice cream and it I realize it must sound odd to non-true crime fans to hear someone say that this or that particular murder case or serial killer is their favorite. Of all the true crime related stories there are to read about, I’m always interested and willing to read more about Henry Lee Lucas, and subsequently his partner in crime, Otis Toole.
Now, as much as I would love to tell you that today is the start of a 10 part series on The Confession Killer, unfortunately I am still researching and writing that but I promise when it comes out it will have been worth the wait.
Although today’s story is a small piece of the bigger pie to be served at a later date, so keep that in the back of your mind.
Henry took credit for so many murders it’s hard to even put an accurate number on the total but this was one of the many out of Texas that he willingly took credit for. However, unlike most of the murders that he confessed to and then were later proven to have been impossible for him to have committed, this one isn’t so easily wiped from the list.
On May 27th, 1983 a 72 year old widow was found dead in her Pueblo style adobe home at 144 Irma Road in El Paso, Tx, by one of her sons.
Librada Apodaca had received several blows to the head with an axe apparently while she was sleeping in bed. She managed to make it to the den of her home before dying. The investigators believed that Apodaca was the victim of a burglary gone very wrong. They formed the theory early on that she was awakened by the burglar and attacked. There was little in the way of information released to the public regarding the circumstances of the murder other than she had received several blows to the head with an axe and that her home appeared to have been ransacked and some jewelry and small appliances were taken. It wasn’t until after he was named in a four part indictment that the public found out that Mrs. Apodaca was also raped…post-mortem. Lucas claimed to be responsible for other murders in the area as well but this was the only one officials in El Paso decided to run with.
If you’re familiar in any way with the case of Henry Lee Lucas you might remember the “Lucas Report” that was created by then Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox in April 1986.
(Here is a link to a searchable database based on the report if you're interested.)
It chronicles in as much detail as possible the approximate locations and dates where Henry Lee Lucas and Ottis Toole were from March 1951 through June 3rd, 1983. Because of the information in this report many of the murders Lucas confessed to were proven to have likely not be the work of The Confession Killer. It also made somewhat of an embarrassment of Texas law enforcement and especially Lucas’s side kick, Sheriff Jim Boutwell. Although, to their credit, I truly believe that the majority of law enforcement involved with Lucas and the acceptance of his many false confessions were just fooled by an attention seeking, one eyed drifter. I don’t believe there were planned out intentions of hidden evidence or many of the other conspiracies that all the lawmen involved were accused of, but….some…yeah for sure, there were some who knew Lucas was lying about a case and even fed him the information needed for his confessions to be believable, but not all.
The “Lucas Report” can be used to cross off plenty of the murders he confessed to but honestly, this is not one of them. Based on what is in the report Henry Lee Lucas took a driver’s license test 5/20/1983 in Bowie Tx, nine hours away from El Paso.
He was reported to be living at the House of Prayer and working in Stoneburg, Tx at the time.
In the “Lucas Report” it says he was “gone from House of Prayer overnight” on 6/2/1983.
Otis Toole was arrested on arson charges in Jacksonville, Fl on 5/31/1983.
It was ten days after Apodaca’s murder that Henry Lee Lucas was arrested in Stoneburg, Texas and charged with Kate Rich’s murder.
On September 22nd, 1984, an article appears in the El Paso Times that says Lucas had been charged with capital murder in the 1983 axe murder of Librada Apodaca. According to the article Lucas led officers to the home of Apodaca at 144 Irma in El Paso, Tx. At the time of the article Lucas was claiming to have killed at least 135 people.
In the article neighbors living across the way from Apodaca talked about how behind the house at 144 Irma, there was a big tree and a little canal that people in the neighborhood would go to and drink beer. The thought in the community was that someone on Friday night had gotten too drunk and broken into her home (which is far more likely to have been what happened). In the article several people who lived in the neighborhood talked of how relieved they were that they didn’t have to worry about a killer among them and how they had been overly careful not to leave doors or windows open or unlocked. They talked about how after the murder they began to look at each other differently, like anyone in the neighborhood could be the killer, and likely was. I’m sure the person truly responsible for Mrs. Apodaca’s murder was reading all this and feeling pretty damn lucky that the finger was pointing at someone else.
It might be easier now for this person to continue committing crimes as he did before now that the community wasn’t so hyper vigilant with the announcement of the confession from Lucas.
Like I said before, this is one on the long list of murders that Lucas took credit for that can’t just immediately be crossed out. Lucas’s whereabouts were as accurately documented as was possible but there was still no was to go back as many years as they did and account for his every single day.
In the report it says he was taking a driver’s license test in Bowie, Texas on the 20th of May and that he was not at the House of Prayer, where he was staying, overnight on May 30th. Librada Apodaca was murdered on the night of May 26th in El Paso, Texas, which is nine hours away from where he was staying and working but still not far enough away that it wasn’t possible for him to have made his way there and back in the ten days between the 20th and the 30th. Plus, if it’s recorded that he wasn’t at the House of Prayer overnight on the 30th does that mean that’s just when they noticed or made note of the fact that he wasn’t there? Was he there in the days before and then someone noticed he wasn’t there that night?
I personally think that the neighbors had it right when they said they figured someone had drank too much while at a known gathering place near the Apodaca’s that Friday night and wandered over to her house and then into an open window (there was information released that there was an open window found in the house during the investigation but it wasn’t known if it was left open by Mrs. Apodaca or opened by an intruder).
What do you think?