Evidence Inadmissible in a Court of Law
Some of The Dead Files episodes carry a disclosure stating that the evidence discovered and discussed are inadmissible in a court of law. Essentially, the disclosure means there may not be proof of a crime or proof to obtain an arrest and conviction. It’s an important disclosure. It also prevents Amy Allen from claiming a specific person committed a crime on TV. She may theorize; however, she shouldn’t conclusively make these assertions. In most of their cases, stories are collected and presented to Amy for possible confirmation that a crime may have been committed. In “Feeding the Fire,” the stories lead the viewers to believe that the man who confessed to the crime really didn’t commit the crime. This is a serious non-paranormal problem. Too many murders remain unresolved by people making false confessions.
This episode attempts to link the murder of Linda Jane Phillips to Henry Lee Lucas, a one-eyed drifter who claimed to killing hundreds, if not thousands, of women. Instead of setting the matter to rest, it creates many more unanswered questions.
Linda Jane Phillips was born on October 27, 1943. The 26-year-old school teacher disappeared on August 8, 1970. Her mutilated body was found on August 10. She sustained 26 stab wounds. Further, she was sexually abused. Her death was established as August 9th. The case sat cold for 14 years.
Enter Henry Lee Lucas. Lucas had already killed his mother. He served time and was released in 1970. By 1975, he was back in jail. In 1984, he confessed to a slew of murders. Linda’s was one he listed.
Lucas’ confession may have been false. The historian interviewed on the episode stated that police were unsure Lucas actually committed the murder. This was not always the case. Police in 1984 were all but certain. As proof, Lucas was able to discuss elements of the case; however, none of it was withheld from the media or it was things killers may know. Further, Lucas self-confessed to these crimes. Back in 1984, Kaufman County D.A. William Conradt seemed overly confident they caught their man. Conradt went on the record professing his firm belief Lucas did in fact murder Linda. He based his opinion on Lucas’ now famous quote: “There are just some things so terrible that you can’t forget them.”
Conradt was overzealous to close this case. He should have been more skeptical of the unsolicited confession. It is clear that Lucas sought “serial killer” status. Lucas’ number of victims shifted from 360 to 600 to 3,000. He recanted many of his “confessions.” In Texas, he was convicted of killing 11 people and received the death sentence for one. Then Governor George W. Bush commuted the sentence to serve 6 life sentences plus 210 years. Lucas died in jail of a heart attack in 2001 at the age of 64.
This episode highlights the ultimate tragedy in murder cases. Many self-professed killers didn’t commit the crimes. They were seeking fame, glory, audience appeal. Too many police departments are satisfied with confessions and refuse to re-open cases. The tragedy becomes two-fold. 1) Police departments lack interest in solving cases where the confessed killer turns out not to be the actual killer. And 2) Momentary closure pales in comparison when the victims’ families realize the killer is still at large. That just may be the case for Linda Jane Phillips.