Inmate’s story shows ‘courage that came from Christ’
Kevin Watson, a member of the Southtown Church of Christ…
GATESVILLE, Texas — Lucinda Wilson might have gotten away with murder.
Except that she became a Christian and confessed to her crime.
Now 48, Wilson has served 20-plus years of a life sentence for the capital murder of her ex-fiancé’s girlfriend, Margaret Morales.
Behind bars, the former U.S. Navy servicewoman has worked hard to remain faithful and share the Gospel with other inmates, she said in an interview at the Dr. Lane Murray Unit, a maximum-security women’s prison 40 miles west of Waco.
Wilson won’t be eligible for parole until July 25, 2036 — when she would be 67.
“When I compare it to eternity, it’s really not that long at all,” she said, speaking into a telephone on the other side of a glass partition.
As Wilson visited with The Christian Chronicle, one Texas Department of Criminal Justice guard stood watch. Another guard held a phone to her own ear as she monitored the conversation.
“I don’t deserve to have a second chance really,” said Wilson, an ordinary-looking woman — except for her white prison jumpsuit — with long, brown hair pulled behind her head.
“I just want to try and do as much as I can to bring the Lord the glory he deserves because it’s not about me,” she added. “It’s about what we can do for him and how many souls we can lead to him as well.”
Wilson was an early suspect in the Oct. 27, 1995, robbery, kidnapping and slaying of Morales, a 25-year-old mother of two. Morales had a romantic relationship with Wilson’s former boyfriend, Sean Cullen.
In late 1995, Wilson was arrested on capital murder charges along with her brother Rudolfo Longoria, then 19, and her cousin Ralph Rodriguez, 22.
But while indictments came shortly for Longoria and Rodriguez, Wilson walked out of the Bexar County Jail after 90 days because of insufficient evidence against her, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
Lucinda Wilson said she served in the U.S. Navy before she got cervical cancer and received an honorable medical discharge. (PHOTO PROVIDED BY LUCINDA WILSON)While in jail, Wilson had access to a Bible and read the Old and New Testaments, she told the Chronicle.
“I read it three times in 90 days and learned quite a bit I didn’t know,” said Wilson, who was raised Roman Catholic. “I really was calling out to God and praying.”
She did not understand the reason for her release, she said.
But back on the streets, she began her personal search for the Lord.
A flier advertising a “Getting to Know Jesus” Bible study led her to the Alamo City Church of Christ, where she came in contact with ministers John Massie and Mark Forster.
Massie remembers that Wilson, then 27, was a dashing woman who caught the attention of the men in the class, which met each Thursday night for 10 weeks. During each week’s two-hour class, the students would take a break for coffee and snacks.
“She’d always bring some really nice dessert,” Massie said of Wilson, describing her as an excellent student.
“During the class, she learned a lot of about Jesus Christ and his death, burial and resurrection,” the minister added, “and it just convinced her.”
Alamo City Church of Christ members meet for worship in San Antonio. (FILE PHOTO BY LYNN McMILLON)
On Sept. 13, 1996, Forster baptized Wilson for the forgiveness of sins.
Shortly thereafter, Wilson confessed her role in Morales’ murder to Forster.
“I felt like I had to do the right thing if I was serious about my new life and following the Lord like I wanted to,” Wilson said.
John Massie, with his wife, EarlineMassie was traveling, so Forster and Wilson telephoned to seek his counsel. During the call, Wilson revealed the gory, specific details.
“I said, ‘Lucinda, if you want to be right with the Lord … you’re going to have to give yourself up,’” Massie recalled. “So she decided that was what she was going to do.”
Forster accompanied Wilson to the police station. She admitted to Detective David W. Evans that the day Morales was killed, she “was there for the entire ordeal,” according to court records obtained by the Chronicle.
Mark ForsterIn her written statement dated Sept. 21, 1996, Wilson confessed that she hit Morales in the head with a crowbar, trying to knock her unconscious. Wilson also supplied her cousin with the gun and ammunition used to shoot Morales. And she gave her brother a can of lighter fluid with instructions to burn the body and other evidence.
While driving the handcuffed victim from an apartment to the wooded area where she was shot, Wilson noticed a ring on Morales’ finger, according to the statement.
“He gave you my ring?!” Wilson recounted asking the victim. “At that time, she said, ‘Yes, he told me I could have it.’ At this time she took off the ring and gave it back to me. … After all of this was finished I put the ring in a ceramic jar in the kitchen.”
The signed paperwork stressed that Wilson gave the statement voluntarily.
“I am giving this statement to Detective Evans because not only will it make it right with my God, but it will also bring justice to Margaret,” Wilson said. “It is because that I am a Christian that I stand on this conviction.”
Lucinda Wilson gave a six-page statement to police confessing her role in the murder. (BEXAR COUNTY COURT RECORDS)
On March 5, 1997, Wilson pleaded guilty to capital murder in Bexar County District Court.
In exchange for her plea, the prosecution agreed not to seek the death penalty.
The victim’s mother and sisters, who were present for the sentencing, told the Express-News that Wilson’s remorse came too late.
“Where was God in her life before she did this?” Morales’ sister Isabel Cantu asked in a front-page story published the day after the sentencing.
Lucinda WilsonMore than two decades later, Wilson pays for her crime in an environment that she characterizes as never comfortable.
She resides in a “big metal barn” with hundreds of beds in open-air barracks, she said.
“In the wintertime, it’s extremely cold. The heaters don’t always work,” she said. “And in the summertime, it’s extremely hot. We don’t have air-conditioning or proper air circulation. It can be 120 degrees inside of our buildings.”
At the same time, safety is always a concern, she said.
“There are fights that go on. There are assaults that go on. There are racial issues that never seem to end,” Wilson said. “I feel like I have to have eyes in front of my head, back of my head and side of my head.”
Through it all, Wilson strives to keep her eyes focused on Jesus.
She previously was incarcerated at the Mountain View Unit, also in Gatesville. At that prison, she converted a fellow convicted murderer, Aruna Kavali, who was raised Hindu.
At the Dr. Lane Murray Unit, she teaches a Bible class that she said draws between seven and 15 inmates each Thursday afternoon.
“We are reading the Book of Esther right now,” she said.
During Wilson’s time in prison, Christians such as Helen Horne have visited her and studied with her.
“She loves the church. She loves the Lord,” said Horne, 87, a member of the nearby Gatesville Church of Christ. “That’s very evident.”
But Horne and Massie said Wilson has experienced growing pains in her Christian walk.
Helen Horne, a member of the Gatesville Church of Christ, visits with Lucinda Wilson during her time at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville. (PHOTO PROVIDED BY HELEN HORNE)Both said Wilson “disfellowshipped” them and others when certain church members persuaded her they were teaching false doctrine.
“I love Lucinda. She’s like a daughter to me,” Massie said. “It broke our hearts when she disfellowshipped us the way she did.”
Horne said she was elated when Wilson wrote her about five years ago and sought forgiveness for her harsh judgment.
In her interview with the Chronicle, Wilson identified both Horne and Massie as spiritual mentors who could discuss her faith.
“My greatest challenge was the fact that when I came here, I was a recently baptized Christian,” Wilson said. “And I had to raise myself and grow up in a very ungodly environment without the privilege or the luxury … to gather with other Christians and worship the Lord on Sundays.”
“As far as a place like this, you never really outlive your past. Basically, you’re a TDCJ number.”
Despite her circumstances, inmate No. 00786238 said she considers herself blessed.
“As far as a place like this, you never really outlive your past. Basically, you’re a TDCJ number,” Wilson said, using the acronym for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, “and that’s it until we leave this facility. And then we can be seen as an individual.
“I just pray the Lord will give me that opportunity one day, and if not, that’s OK, too,” she added. “I just hope to do the best that I can and do as much as I can in the time that he’s given me.”
Subscribe today to receive more inspiring articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox twice a month.
Your donation helps us not only keep our quality of journalism high, but helps us continue to reach more people in the Churches of Christ community.