A cold murder case from 1978 in Provo has been reopened and apparent evidence may show that Henry Lee Lucas, notorious serial murderer, did not commit the crime.
Marla Scharp, 26, was raped and murdered in her downtown Provo apartment at 45 W. 200 South near the location of the old Roberts Hotel and the current south parking lot of the Provo City Center Temple.
Now her family members have presented enough researched evidence through the Utah Cold Case Coalition that the Provo Police Department has reopened the case.
The Scharp case is not the only one in question. The coalition, according to co-founder Karra Porter, is asking for others to be reopen as well.
“We are calling on law enforcement to reopen any Henry Lee Lucas confessions,” Porter said
Porter said that combined information from Texas and Florida show that he could not have murdered Scharp, and that there are another 80 people with closed cases that could be in the same situation.
“We thought for 30 years he was the killer of Marla,” said Leah Scharp, a sister to Marla. “It has been a tireless effort of research that has led to this conclusion. We are grateful for Provo police looking into this after 41 years.”
Leah Scharp added, “Somebody killed my sister. She was 13 months older than me and we were like twins. Her loss, we’ve never gotten over. We are glad this is being reopened.”
The family is seeking information or help from area residents that may have information large or small they could add to finding the real killer.
“They found evidence (at the scene) that Henry Lee Lucas could not have provided, certain forensic evidence,” Leah Scharp said, including two Budweiser beer tap tops left at the scene.
Craig Scharp, a brother, said he never thought Lucas was the murderer.
“What he did by claiming he murdered them stopped the investigations,” Craig Scharp said. “We’re confident they will find Henry Lee Lucas did not do it and someone else did.”
Lucas died in 2001 in a Texas prison. He was originally given the death penalty but then-Gov. George W. Bush commuted the sentence at the request of individuals still investigating murders Lucas claimed he committed.
Lucas claimed to have killed 200 people in 27 states from California to Florida and New York to Texas, including Scharp in Utah.
However, in a letter dated Oct. 10, 1985, then-Texas prisoner Lucas wrote a letter to the Provo Police claiming he did not commit the murder.
In the letter Lucas said he was in Maryland from June 1978 until January 1979.
“I can prove that with the Texas Attorney General’s Office and I do feel that they should look at the facts that were sent to the Texas Rangers and look at the truth that I never killed the Sharp girl,” Lucas wrote, omitting the “c” in Scharp. “And as I said I can prove my case against the police detectives who took the confession because they know they had to change the date.”
Residents who may have any information about the Marla Scharp rape and murder case may contact Capt. Devon Jensen with the Provo Police Department.