A serial liar sets the stage for the modern age

by Tom Long
Special to The Detroit News

Lies, alternative facts and more lies. A swirl of fake news, conspiracies and officials ignoring inconvenient truths. Innocent victims cruelly abandoned, cover-ups galore.

No, the new Netflix documentary series “The Confession Killer” is not about the current state of politics in America. But then again, it actually is.

“The Confession Killer” is about a fellow named Henry Lee Lucas. With about four teeth, a serious cigarette habit and a penchant for strawberry milkshakes, Henry was arrested in the early '80s for the murder of his young girlfriend and an elderly woman. Since Henry had also been convicted of killing his own mother in Tecumseh, Michigan, years earlier, the Texas Rangers surmised they had a serial killer on their hands.

Henry Lee Lucasm center, is being escorted by Ranger Bob Prince, left, and a task force "The Confession Killer."

As serial killers go, Henry was an obliging type. And he soon realized he could get all the cigarettes and strawberry shakes he wanted by confessing to more murders. So he started confessing, with police from across America helpfully jogging his memory by laying out crime scene photos in front of him. Henry got his milk shakes and the cops got to be heroes by closing cases.

The number of people Henry had killed kept going up – 150, 300, 600. And if it was physically impossible for Henry to be at the murders, well, don't sweat the details. Henry once said he drove to Japan – drove! – to kill some folks.

All these false confessions led to prematurely closed investigations, murderers walking free and survivors having a false sense of closure. This five-part series doesn’t add much new to Henry’s story, although it’s still fascinating. It does, however, show he was a man ahead of his time. Lies, lie and more lies.

'The Confession Killer'