Netflix's latest docu-series, "The Confession Killer," spends a lot of time with Henry Lee Lucas, the man who falsely claimed to have killed more than 600 people, closing cold cases that should have remained open and implicating police in using shady methods to get answers. But an equally interesting thread running through the series is the animosity between the Texas Rangers and McLennan County District Attorney Vic Feazell –– who said the Rangers and other officers retaliated against him for questioning Lucas' serial killing claims.
The district attorney became involved in the case after Lucas confessed to the murder of 28-year-old Joshlyn Annette Calvin –– which caught Feazell's eye because he had already convicted someone else for the murder, according to local news outlet KWTX-TV. An investigation from Feazell's office had also turned up evidence that Lucas was actually in Florida at the time of Calvin's death and could not have possibly committed the killing.
After Lucas claimed to be behind Calvin's murder, Feazell began to question everything about Lucas' confessions. He eventually uncovered evidence that police were feeding information to Lucas before he confessed to killings across the country –– getting Lucas to look at crime scene photographs and hear details about the crime scenes before formal interviews, according to KWTX.
Feazell becomes a key figure in the Netflix docu-series in the second and third episodes, with the third focusing extensively on the Rangers clashing with Feazell after he takes custody of Lucas –– recanting many of his previous murder confessions in front of a grand jury empaneled by Feazell.
But Feazell's hard work in uncovering a hoax didn't exactly go rewarded, he says.
Feazell explained in "The Confession Killer" he believed the Texas Rangers and law enforcement conspired to ruin him for investigating Lucas' claims. Although the Texas Rangers denied a connection, Feazell alleges there was a chilling intimidation campaign that began with threatening calls in the middle of the night and even included his dog being poisoned after he cast doubt on Lucas' claims.
The district attorney was even subjected to an investigative documentary of his own from local Texas news station WFAA-TV –– which claimed that Feazell took bribes from local attorneys to close cases. The inflammatory documentary about him eventually resulted in an FBI investigation and an indictment on bribery charges, which he steadfastly denied, according to a 1986 Associated Press report.
He was acquitted on all charges about a year later.
Despite beating the charges, and despite effectively proving Lucas was not the mega-killer he bragged about being, Feazell ended up resigning as district attorney in 1988 as he was disillusioned with politics, telling the filmmakers of "The Confession Killer" that the investigation had hurt his family. But he continued to search for justice in his own case, eventually suing WFAA-TV for libel.
In 1991, a jury sided with Feazell's claims that the news station defamed him and awarded him $58 million in damages, according to a separate report from the Associated Press. In "The Confession Killer," he also alleged he was able to see evidence that linked the investigative story on him accusing him of corruption to a source in the Texas Rangers.
These days, Feazell currently manages a law office with locations in Austin and Waco, Texas. He also runs his own podcast, "The Vic Feazell Show," to discuss the Lucas story among other criminal cases, KWTX reports.
As for Lucas, he eventually ended up convicted on 11 counts of murder, although there's plenty of doubt about whether he actually killed more than three people. He was sentenced to death for one of those murders, the killing of a then-unidentified victim, but soon recanted that confession, and his death sentence was commuted to life in prison.
That victim was finally identified just this year as Debra Jackson. Her murder remains unsolved.
Lucas died on March 12, 2001 in a Texas prison, according to an Associated Press obituary.
All episodes of "The Confession Killer" are available to stream on Netflix starting Dec. 6.
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