In July of 2000, I posted a Daily Ping about serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. That particular Ping has attracted some of the most interesting visitors the site has seen. Victims’ families have chimed in as did students doing reports. But the most interesting visitor contacted me via e-mail. She was Phyllis Wilcox, a friend of Henry Lee Lucas’ that made headlines when she posed as Lucas’ cousin/wife/victim Becky Powell to try and help him beat a murder rap. One person even wrote a song about her (third song). I interviewed her over e-mail for several months about her relationship with one of this nation’s most notorious serial killers.

This particular interview was pretty difficult for me. On one hand, I had been interested in Henry Lee Lucas’ case for a decade, ever since I did a report on him in high school. On the other hand, was it morbid or disrespectful of the victims to interview someone that was close with Lucas? Would putting an interview like this on my web site somehow promote the horrendous murders that Lucas committed?

After a lot of thought and after a few months of putting the interview with Ms. Wilcox on pause, I decided it would be best to go ahead and post it. I don’t condone Lucas’ horrific crimes, nor do I raise him to the level of someone to be admired. I do, however, find his case interesting from a true crime perspective and think that this interview with Ms. Wilcox will give a unique perspective on Lucas’ life and his influence on others.

Below is a transcription of the e-mail interview conducted with Ms. Wilcox in 2001. No content has been altered and the only changes made were for readability. Be forewarned: some of the descriptions of murder are graphic and disturbing.

I had many more questions for Ms. Wilcox, but unfortunately, her e-mail address stopped working not long after this section of the interview was completed. I hope to resume it at some time if I can get back in touch with her.

Ms. Wilcox’s e-mail became invalid after a few questions had been answered. Despite the fact the interview below is incomplete, I decided to post it anyway with hopes that Ms. Wilcox would get back in touch with me. Well, she has, and I am currently conducting the remainder of the interview, which will be posted when it is finished.

 

Give me a little background on yourself.

I am 48 years old, married, moved to Perry, Florida in February, 1996 after living all my life in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. I have two grown daughers and three grandkids. I work in Tallahassee, Florida at a convenience store.

How did you come to know Henry Lee Lucas?

I came to know Henry in September 1991 after reading a book about him. I wrote a letter to him and he responded. He had me put on his visiting list and I went to Huntsville, Texas in January 1992 and met with Henry for the first time. We had a wonderful visit and I went several more times that year and the next year. We came to know each other quite well and became very close through our many letters to each other and our many visits.

Henry Lee Lucas

Henry Lee Lucas

What was your first visit like? What did you talk about?

I was extremely nervous because I had never been to a prison before and especially talking face to face with such a dangerous man. He was brought out in handcuffs surrounded by guards. I couldn’t help but to stare. It wasn’t a contact visit. There was thick screen in between us. Well, Henry sat down and smiled at me and then told me that I can ask him anything that I want to. I asked him about Becky Powell and he told me that she left him at a truck stop in Denton, Texas. That he had gone to look for a trucker to take them back to Jacksonville, Florida and when he returned to where he had left Becky waiting for him, he saw her getting into a truck with a man and leaving with him. That was the last time Henry saw Becky. He said that he told the authorities that he killed her so they wouldn’t go looking for her to tie her in on the murders that he is accused of. Then I asked him about Kate Rich. He told me that woman was nuts and that he had no idea what happened to her. He said they claim that he killed her and cut her body up into little bitty pieces and burned her up in an old stove behind the House of Prayer. Henry said that Kate Rich was a big fat woman and it would take more than just him to cut her body up and that the bones they claim they found in that stove were just chicken bones. He said that old stove didn’t get hot enough to burn up a human body. Then I asked him about Orange Socks and he told me that the hand prints around her neck where she had been strangled were much bigger than his hands and the tire tracks that were found by her body was from a dairy truck traced back to a dairy out of Houston, Texas. Well, we visited for four hours straight and it only seemed like ten minutes to me. I enjoyed it so much and Henry was the most wonderful man that I ever met.

I thought that it would be interesting to get letters from him just to see what he had to say. Well, his letters were so friendly and the only murder that he said that he committed was the one where he killed his mother. I got to the point to where Henry was all that was on my mind 24 hours. I even dreamed about him when I slept. He was all I talked about at work. It got so bad that my boss at work told me to find another job on the count of it. I wrote and told Henry that I think that I am falling in love with him and told him about him being on my mind 24 hours. He wrote back telling me that he was having the same feelings towards me. I knew that I had to meet this man and see if my feelings were real. Well, after our first meeting, my feelings for Henry were stronger than ever before. I had really fallen in love with him and I had to fight to keep Texas from taking him away from me.

Were you married/did you have kids when you started writing to Henry?

Yes I was married and had my daughters when I started writing to Henry. Actually it was my husband’s idea that I write to him. My husband went with me on one of my visits with Henry and my youngest daughter went with me on another one of my visits. My oldest daughter would not go. She disapproved of mine and Henry’s relationship and tried to stay out of it even though she was in on the hoax when I tried to get Henry off of death row. My husband knew that I had fallen in love with Henry but he said that he knew Henry would never get out of prison so he didn’t feel threatened.

Henry Lee Lucas

Henry Lee Lucas

At the time of his death Lucas was convicted of nine murders. Do you believe what Henry said about his mother being his only victim?

In all honesty, I now believe that Henry has killed before but there is no way that he killed all the people that he confessed to. There was a time when I did believe that Henry was totally innocent. I know for a fact that Henry did not kill Orange Socks, but I do think that he killed Kate Rich. Henry knew that it was Ottis Toole who killed Adam Walsh because Henry told me that Ottis bragged about killing a little boy and Ottis took Henry and showed Henry the body but Henry said that the head and the genitals were cut off and gone. Even though Henry said that he killed his mother, I dont believe that he did. Henry and his mother was staying with his siser. Henry came in drunk one night and he passed out on the bed. Henry told me that his mother started beating him in the head with a broom handle and Henry jumped up off the bed and punched her in the face and she fell backwards on the floor and Henry got scared and ran. He was later arrested because when they found his mother on the floor she was dead. I later learned that Viola, his mother, had been stabbed several times and that is what caused her death. Henry said he never had a knife. What I think is that the sister had come home and she is the one who killed her.

Did Henry talk much about his childhood?

Henry talked much about his childhood. Henry said no matter what, he still loved his mother and has forgiven her for all the things that she has done. He told me that she used to dress him like a girl and send him to school that way and the other kids would laugh and make fun. He told me that she shot and killed his pet mule that he loved dearly. She was a prostitute and would bring in men and have sex with them in front of Henry and his dad. Henry told me that he never has gotten over the death of his dad. Him and his dad were real close. It is so sad to think that any child should have to go through what Henry went through.

 

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