The Confession Killer: Trailer and Release Date for Netflix Serial Killer Documentary Series

Serial killer Henry Lee Lucas admitted to hundreds of crimes. Netflix's The Confession Killer documentary lowers the body count.

“Either they’d found the world’s biggest serial killer or it was the world’s biggest hoax in American criminal justice history,” we hear in the trailer for Netflix’s upcoming The Confession Killer. The five-part documentary series comes from Taki Oldham, who helms the film along with Robert Kenner, the Academy and Emmy Awards-nominated director of the 2008 film Food Inc. That film found health risks in corporate-run agribusinesses. The Confession Killer tells the story of Henry Lee Lucas, once labeled the most prolific serial killer in history.

“During the early ’80s, Henry Lee Lucas confessed to hundreds of murders, bringing closure to unsolved cases and grieving families,” reads the official synopsis. “Even with no direct evidence linking Lucas to the crime scenes, he stunned authorities with his ability to sketch victims’ portraits while citing brutal details of each attack. Yet journalists and attorneys found impossibilities in Lucas’ timeline, and DNA testing started to contradict his internationally-reported claims.”

The docuseries explores how he was really a complex figure entangled with a flawed justice system. Lucas’ mother was reportedly a prostitute who forced him to watch her have sex with clients. Lucas was convicted of murdering his mother in March 1960. She was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison and sent to Jackson State Penitentiary in southern Michigan. After two attempted suicides, he was transferred to Ionia State Mental Hospital. After serving 10 years, Lucas was paroled in 1970.

The Confession Killer Trailer

“Look at Henry,” we hear in the opening of The Confession Killer trailer. “He’s pleasant, he’s non-threatening, and actually he’s a killing machine. The crimes we thought he committed were horrible. No serial killer had anywhere near his death count. But does his record hold up under scrutiny? Here’s the trailer:

The Confession Killer Release Date

The Confession Killer debuts on Netflix on Dec. 6.

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The Confession Killer Backstory

Lucas met his murdering partner Ottis Toole in 1976 at a soup kitchen. The pair traveled across 26 states, killing virtually every vulnerable person they came across. They picked up hitchhikers, prostitutes, and migrant workers, drove them to deserted locations and killed them.

Convicted of murdering 11 people and condemned to death, Lucas confessed to around 600 other murders to the Texas Rangers. Ottis Toole confessed to killing Adam Walsh, the son of future America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh. The confessions closed many unsolved cases. The Dallas Times-Herald newspaper ran an article pointing out it would have been impossible for Lucas to have committed quite a few of the murders he confessed to. Law enforcement defended their work, but an Attorney General of Texas investigation concluded Lucas falsely confessed. The conclusions led to a re-evaluation in police techniques towards recognizing false confessions.

Lucas, who ultimately confessed to thousands of murders, later confessed he did it win extra privileges in prison. He would get field trips to crime scenes. Eat fast food. In 1998, Lucas’s death sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1998.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is based on Lucas’ crimes.

The Confession Killer debuts on Netflix on Dec. 6.

Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFKRead more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.

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