Henry Lee Lucas’ background was tailor-made to produce a serial killer. He was born in 1935 in the town of Blackburg, Virginia, in the desperately poor Appalachian Mountains. He was the youngest of Viola and Anderson Lucas’ nine children. Both parents were alcoholics. Viola dominated the home and provided most of the family’s income by prostitution; Anderson was known as ‘No Legs’ having lost his lower limbs in a drunken accident. Viola Lucas seems to have loathed her youngest child from birth. She sent him to school shoeless, and initially, wearing a dress. When the school gave him some shoes she beat him for accepting them. Later in his childhood he cut his eye with a knife while playing around; Viola let the wound fester until he had to have the eye removed and replaced by a glass one. She would also force her children to watch her having sex with her clients and her lover ‘Uncle Bernie’.
Lucas’ father finally died of pneumonia after spending a night outside the house lying in the snow. His main contribution to his son’s upbringing was introducing him to moonshine whiskey. By the time he was ten, Henry was virtually an alcoholic. Not long after that, Uncle Bernie and Henry’s older half-brother introduced him to beastiality, which involved sexually assaulting animals and then killing them. This was an activity Henry later claimed to have taken to with relish. By his own unreliable account, his first sexual experience with a woman resulted in his first murder; aged fourteen, he raped and strangled an unknown girl.