HUNTSVILLE, Texas Henry Lee Lucas, the convicted killer who made bogus confessions that prompted law officers nationwide to clear hundreds of unsolved killings, has died in prison.
Lucas was found dead in his bed Monday night at the Ellis I prison unit where he was serving sentences for nine murders, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said. He was 64.
The one-eyed ex-drifter was narrowly saved from execution three years ago when then-Gov. George W. Bush commuted a death sentence to life in prison because of flimsy evidence in his capital case. After the commutation, Lucas predicted an "80 percent chance" he would walk free someday.
Larry Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the state prison system, said Lucas' death appeared to be from natural causes. Lucas had a history of heart problems and had been hospitalized in the past two months.
Fitzgerald said Lucas' body was taken to the Huntsville Funeral Home, where it will be determined whether there are relatives who want to claim the remains.
Lucas' confession spree prompted authorities to clear their books of more than 600 unsolved killings but he later recanted. Many murder cases were never reopened.
Fitzgerald said that Lucas had been in state custody since 1985 and spent most of his time working as a sewing machine operator in a factory that produces trousers for correctional officers' uniforms.
"He spent all of his time running the sewing machine," he said. "He was our best."