Orange Socks Case; Unidentified Strangulation Victim from 1979

Her neighbors forever are a woman who died eight days after her 99th birthday and an infant who died on the day of his birth.

In the archives of Texas crime, she is known as “Orange Socks” — so named because the pair of socks was the only clothing she was wearing when a motorist driving along the frontage road bordering busy Interstate 35 spotted her body in a concrete culvert in Williamson County on Halloween afternoon 1979.

Almost five years later, a jury in San Angelo believed infamous self-described serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, who said he strangled her, and sentenced him to death. It is for her murder that Lucas, who now denies any role in her killing, faces execution June 30.

Her notoriety, like her identity, is unknown to visitors to Georgetown’s IOOF Cemetery, where people born when Texas became a republic in 1836 are buried side-by-side with Confederate soldiers from the Civil War and Spanish-American War veterans.

The gray granite tombstone simply says: “Unidentified Woman. 1979.” A single stemmed rose is carved along the left side of the marker.

The cemetery, still in use today, borders a golf course and a horse corral within sight of Southwestern University. Depending on the time of day, her gravesite at the bottom of a slope is screened by a large shade tree.

What is known is she was white, 5-feet-9, 158 pounds. She had hazel eyes, 10-inch-long brown hair with a reddish tint and probably was between 20 and 25 years of age.

An autopsy determined she had a hairline scar under her chin, she was wearing a silver abalone ring on the middle finger of her right hand and she had pierced ears.

According to Dr. Roberto Bayardo, the Travis County medical examiner in 1979, she was unshaven and, in his judgment, appeared to have been an unkempt person.

She had no cavities in her teeth and no indication of any dental work. X-rays showed she never suffered any broken bones.

Her fingernails were covered with red polish. Her toenails were long.

Detectives initially believed a piece of wood chip was in an eye. The pathologist concluded it was a larvae egg.

Bayardo determined she died of manual strangulation. Her neck was extensively bruised. There were scratches and bruises on her left lower back, indicating she had been dragged over a freeway guardrail and through the Johnson grass before she was dumped in the culvert 9.4 miles south of the Williamson-Bell county line.

She landed face down in the ditch where a slight trickle of water pooled, sprawled on her right side. Her legs, bearing evidence of insect bites, were crossed. One arm was folded beneath her, the other was extended.

The pathologist’s examination showed she suffered from an infection known as chronic salpingitis, the result of gonorrhea.

Two matchbooks were found at the scene: one with a Motel 6 logo, the other indicating it came from a Holiday Inn in Henryetta, Okla. The only other evidence was determined to be a makeshift sanitary napkin, which was labelled among the evidence as a bloody towel.

In his confession, given beginning at 9:07 a.m. on June 22, 1983, Lucas said he had picked her up as she hitchhiked in Oklahoma City, “the second exit off a turnpike.”

"I think her name was Joanie or Judy — I don’t remember exactly," he wrote.

He told of eating at a truck stop with her, of having sex with her at a roadside park or picnic area and of failing to be satisfied.

"I was drinking beer," Lucas scrawled. "I don’t know if something was wrong with her or something was wrong with me. I killed her not long after that by strangling her with my hands."

He said he later undressed her and had unsatisfying sex with her after she was dead.

"I drug her out of my car somewhere on IH35 southbound toward San Antonio, and dropped her into a culvert," Lucas wrote. "I remember an iron guard rail with carved iron, because I skinned my knee on it."

At 10:47 a.m. he signed the statement.

"Henry Lee Lucas."

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