Henry was first incarcerated after confessing to stabbing his mother to death and then raping her corpse. Sentenced to 40 years of imprisonment, he was released after serving only 10. A sexual sadist and necrophiliac, he enjoyed sex with live and dead animals. Partnered with the transvestite, cannibal and paranoid schizophrenic Ottis Toole in 1976, the pair killed hitchhikers at random. They parted ways when Henry began living with Ottis's 7 year old niece Becky Powell. Eight years later, her 15 year old body was found stuffed in pillowcases, dismembered and scattered around a field. The exact number of his victims is not known but he is linked to killings in 18 states, has confessed to 300, and is still on death row in Texas.
Henry's alcoholic father lost his legs in a freight train accident and eventually committed suicide following severe abuse by his wife. Henry's mother, Viola Lucas, was a bootlegger and prostitute, who neglected to take him to the doctor when he accidentally cut his eye until it eventually had to be removed. She reportedly beat him and left him comatose for days until her boyfriend took him to a hospital. She once sent Henry to school in a dress, with his hair curled. He dropped out of school in the fifth grade.