|A.K.A.: "The Candyman"|
|Classification: Serial killer|
|Characteristics: Homosexual rapist - Mutilation|
|Number of victims: 27 +|
|Date of murders: 1970 - 1973|
|Date of birth: December 24, 1939|
|Victims profile: Jeffrey Konen, 18 / Danny Yates, 14, and James Glass, 14 / Jerry Waldrop, 13, and his brother Donald Waldrop, 15 / Randell Harvey, 15 / David Hilligiest, 13, and Gregory Malley Winkle, 16 / Ruben Watson, 17 / Willard 'Rusty' Branch, Jr. 17 / Frank Aguirre, 18 / Mark Scott, 17 / Johnny Delone, 16, and Billy Baulch, 17 / Steven Sickman, 17 / Wally Jay Simoneaux, 14, and Richard Hembree, 13 / Richard Kepner, 19 / Joseph Lyles, 17 / Billy Ray Lawrence, 15 / Ray Blackburn, 20 / Homer Garcia, 15 / John Sellars, 17 / Michael 'Tony' Baulch, 15 / Marty Jones, 18, and Charles Cary Cobble, 17 / James Dreymala, 13|
|Method of murder: Strangulation / Shooting|
|Location: Houston, Harris County, Texas, USA|
|Status: Shot dead by his accomplice Elmer Henley on August 8, 1973|
Indiana born, on Christmas Eve of 1939, Dean Corll grew up in a combative home, his parents quarreling constantly. They were divorced while Corll was still an infant, then remarried after World War II, but Dean's father provided no stabilizing influence, regarding his children with thinly-veiled distaste, resorting to harsh punishment for the smallest infractions.
When the couple separated a second time, Corll and his younger brother were left with a series of sitters, their mother working to support the family on her own. Rheumatic fever left Dean with a heart condition, resulting in frequent absence from school, and he seemed to welcome the change when his mother remarried, moving the family to Texas. A part-time business making candy soon expanded to become their livelihood, and Corll was generous with samples as he sought to win new friends.
In 1964, despite his heart condition, Corll was drafted into military service, where he displayed the first signs of flagrant homosexuality. On turning thirty, in December 1969, he seemed to undergo a sudden shift in personality, becoming hypersensitive and glum.
He had begun to spend his time with teenage boys, like David Owen Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley, passing out free candy all around, hosting glue and paint sniffing parties at his apartment in Pasadena, a suburb of Houston. At the same time, he displayed a sadistic streak, leaning toward bondage in his sexual relationships with young men and boys.
On one occasion, during 1970, Brooks entered the apartment to find Corll nude, with two naked boys strapped to a homemade torture rack. Embarrassed, Corll released his playmates and offered Brooks a car in return for his promise of silence. Later, as his passion turned to bloodlust, Corll would use Brooks and Henley as procurers, offering $200 per head for fresh victims.
The date of Corll's first murder is uncertain. Brooks would place it sometime in mid-1970, the victim identified as college student Jeffrey Konen, picked up while hitchhiking. Most of Corll's victims were drawn from a seedy Houston neighborhood known as the Heights, their disappearances blithely ignored by police accustomed to dealing with runaways. Two were friends and neighbors of Henley, delivered on order to Corll, and sometimes the candy man killed two victims at once.
In December 1970, he murdered 14-year-old James Glass and 15-year-old David Yates in one sitting. The following month, brothers Donald and Jerry Waldrop joined the missing list, with Wally Simineaux and Richard Embry slaughtered in October 1972.
Another pair of brothers -- Billy and Mike Baulch -- were killed at separate times, in May 1972 and July 1973, respectively. Corll's youngest known victim was a nine-year-old neighbor, residing across the street from Dean's apartment.
On August 8, 1973, a tearful phone call from Elmer Henley summoned Pasadena police officers to Corll's apartment. They found the candy man dead, six bullet holes in his shoulder and back, with Henley claiming he had killed his "friend" in self-defense.
The violence had erupted after Henley brought a girl to one of Corll's paint-sniffing orgies, driving the homosexual killer into a rage. Corll had threatened Elmer with a gun, then taunted his young friend when Henley managed to disarm him. Frightened for his life, Henley insisted that he shot Corll only to save himself. But, there was more....
That afternoon, he led detectives to a rented boat shed in southwest Houston, leaving authorities to unearth seventeen victims from the earthen floor. A drive to Lake Sam Rayburn turned up four more graves, while six others were found on the beach at High Island, for a total of 27 dead.
Henley insisted there were at least two more corpses in the boat shed, plus two more at High Island, but police called off the search, content to know that they had broken California's record in the Juan Corona case. (In The Man with the Candy, author Jack Olsen suggests that other victims might be buried around Corll's candy shop, but authorities show no interest in pursuing the case further.)
In custody, Brooks and Henley confessed their role in procuring victims for Corll through the years, with Brooks fingering Henley as the trigger man in at least one slaying. "Most of the killings that occurred after Wayne came into the picture involved all three of us," he told police. "Wayne seemed to enjoy causing pain."
Convicted of multiple murder in August 1974, Henley was sentenced to life imprisonment, with Brooks drawing an identical term in March 1975. A year later, Houston authorities announced that recent investigations of child pornography had linked other local pedophiles with Corll's murder ring, but no prosecutions were forthcoming.
Elmer Henley's conviction was overturned on appeal in December 1978, based on the issue of pre-trial publicity, but he was convicted and sentenced a second time, in June 1979.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans
DEAN CORLL + Elmer Wayne Henley & David Owen Brooks
It goes without saying that this case is one of the biggest in the history of serial murder. I think that there would be no more than 20 or so that would rank as highly as the case of Dean Corll and co. But that is all in my own opinion I guess.
I think that we'll focus on Dean Corll since he's the main guy in this trio.
BORN: December 24, 1939
DIED: August 8, 1973
He was a child that was bought up in a broken home and was treated very harshly as a child when it came to discipline. (not that I think that is any excuse for his future actions). Following his parents divorce he and his brother Stanley spent more time with babysitters and school teachers than with their parents. Also in childhood he suffered from Rheumatic fever which left him with a heart condition that meant he missed a of school.
In 1964 Dean did as all proud young americans are told to do, he joined the army.
Life in the army caused a bit of a change in Dean, well it was probably already there, but being around all those men all the time awaken the urge to fuck men in the ass. I reckon he fit in really well with the other troops.
In 1969 he left that life to live in Houston where he got an okay job with the Lighting and Power company.
During this time he also started hanging out with teenage boys. I guess that it didn't seem to strange to these kids that a thirty year old guy wanted to hang out with them. Eventually he found two guys that he liked a lot, Elmer Henley and David Brooks. He spent quite a bit of time sniffing glue with these two, and I guess that they formed a bit of a bond. (If you think really hard about this last sentence you may find one of the worst jokes I've ever come up with) So much so that Brooks actually moved in with Corll for a while.
Somewhere around early 1970 it seems that these three crossed that line between talking shit and acting it out. The unfortunate victim was University of Texas student Jeffrey Konen. Dean Corll lured the guy back to his house with (and I'm only guessing here) a promise of drugs and alcohol. Poor Jeffrey didn't know what hit him. But we all do - it was Dean Corll.
So now Dean had crossed the line. No doubt he got off on the murder a little, but it wasn't quite right, he needed something else to spice it up a little. That was where Henley and Brooks came in. Corll promised the boys $200 for each victim they supplied, but since they hardly saw any of the money it could be argued that this is just a fictional story made up by the two accomplices to lessen the charges that were bought against them.
One thing that can be proved is that Brooks was given a car by Corll around this time. he claims that it was to keep him quiet about a certain sexual predicament that Corll had gotten himself into involving bondage and two young men.
I guess that these two young guys soon grew tired of just supplying victims for Dean. They wanted more - they wanted to join in.
Over the next two years the trio's kill count would rise to 27. The M.O. was always similar. The boys would lure other boys to Dean's house with the promise of an 'alcohol party'. The victims would then be allowed to drink themselves unconscious. Dean would then tie them up, molest them, then kill them. The bodies were disposed of in two different spots, a remote spot near the Sam Rayburn Reservoir or a rented boat shed in southwest Houston.
In December 1970, he killed James Glass, 14, and David Yates, 15, on the same day.
In January 1971, Donald and Jerry Waldrop, brothers, died at Deans hands.
In October 1972, Wally Simineaux and Richard Embry were slaughtered.
In May 1972, Billy Baulch went down to Dean.
Then in July 1973 Billy's bother Mike Baulch joined the list of victims.
He even killed a nine year old neighbor.
There were more victims, too many to mention and I guess everything was going along fine for Dean at this stage. He had no real problems from police, he had a steady supply of kids coming to his house for slaughter and he had two good mates that seemed ready for anything. But as with everything in this life it was bound to go sour.
On August 8, 1973, Henley broke the cycle. He bought Rhonda Williams, 15, to the house. She had run away from home and needed somewhere to stay so Henley thought it would be okay, but it wasn't.
Following a heavy varnish sniffing session Rhonda, Henley and another friend, Timothy Kerley, all passed out. Corll decided it was time to teach Henley a lesson. He tied all of the kids up.
When Henley came back around he really started to freak out, pleading Corll to spare him, even promising to rape and kill Rhonda while Dean did the same to Timothy. So Corll untied Henley and ordered him to begin raping young Rhonda. Well I guess all the excitement must have got to poor Elmer Wayne Henley because he couldn't perform (if you know what I mean).
Dean obviously found his young friends 'problem' very amusing and started to tease him about it, and it must have been very embarrassing for poor Elmer because he picked up a .22 caliber pistol and aimed it at Dean, ordering him to stop teasing him. Well, Dean didn't take to kindly to being ordered, so his taunts just got worse. Then they ended.
Elmer Wayne Henley put 6 bullets into Dean Corll, killing him rather quickly. He then did something very strange - he called the cops and turned himself in, claiming the shooting was in self defense.
Later on that day Henley led police to the two dumping grounds where they found a combined 27 bodies. It was a new record for number of victims in the USA, eclipsing the previous best killer (Juan Corona) by 2.
Since Henley put Brooks into the shit he decided to get some of his own back. He said, "Most of the killings that occurred after Wayne came into the picture involved all three of us." "Wayne seemed to enjoy causing pain."
Following these confessions where the boys (17 and 18 at the time of Corll's death) tried to paint themselves as being almost innocent parties, while the others forced them to do it, both were found guilty of six murders each and both were sentenced to life in prison.
In December 1978 Henley's conviction was overturned on the grounds that the trial had suffered from pre-trial publicity. It didn't matter though as he was convicted a second time in June 1979.
Corll's mother is certain there are many more victims. He worked with her in her candy factory in Texas which is why Corll is sometime referred to as "The Man with the Candy." In Jack Olsen's book of that same name he claims that it is possible that there could be more victims buried around the candy factory, but police don't seem to be too interested in this claim as nothing has ever been done by them to prove this.
Following the findings police were flooded with requests from over one hundred parents as to the whereabouts of there missing children. I guess it's not too impossible an idea to link at least some of these disappearances to Dean Corll, but police didn't seem to interested in any of them as none where found to be linked to Corll and co., but almost none where ever tracked down either.
The Wacky World of Murder
Dean Arnold Corll (December 24, 1939 – August 8, 1973) was an American serial killer, also known as the "Candy Man", who, together with two youthful accomplices named David Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley, abducted, tortured and murdered a minimum of 28 boys in a series of killings spanning from 1970 to 1973 in Houston, Texas. The crimes, which became known as the Houston Mass Murders, came to light only after Henley shot and killed Corll.
At the time, the Houston Mass Murders were considered the worst example of serial murder in American history.
Dean Arnold Corll was born on December 24, 1939 in Fort Wayne, Indiana; the first child of Mary Robinson and Arnold Edwin Corll. Corll's father was strict with his son, whereas his mother was extremely protective of Dean. The marriage of Corll's parents was marred by frequent quarrelling and the couple divorced four years after the birth of their younger son, Stanley, in 1942. Mary Corll subsequently sold the family home and relocated to a trailer home in Memphis, Tennessee, where Arnold Corll had been drafted into the Air Force after the couple had divorced, in order that her sons could retain contact with their father. Corll's parents subsequently attempted reconciliation.
Corll was a shy, serious child who seldom socialized with other children and had a tendency to display concern for the wellbeing of others. At the age of seven, he suffered an undiagnosed case of rheumatic fever, which was only noted in 1950, when doctors found Corll had a heart condition, and he was ordered to avoid P.E. at school.
In 1950, Corll's parents remarried and moved to Pasadena, but the reconciliation was short lived and, in 1953, the couple once again divorced, with the mother again retaining custody of her sons. The divorce was on amicable grounds and both boys maintained contact with their father.
Following the second divorce of Corll's parents, his mother married a travelling salesman named Jake West and the family moved to the small town of Vidor, where Corll's half-sister, Joyce, was born in 1955. In Vidor, Corll's mother and stepfather started a small candy company, operating from the garage of their home, and almost immediately, Corll was working day and night while still attending school.
As had been the case in his childhood, Corll remained somewhat of a loner in his teenage years. During his years at Vidor High School, his only major interest was the high school brass band, in which he played trombone. At Vidor High School, Corll was regarded as a well-behaved student who achieved satisfactory grades prior to his graduation.
Following his graduation from Vidor High School in 1958, the family moved to the Heights district of Houston and opened a new shop, which they named "Pecan Prince." In 1960, Corll moved to Indiana to live with his grandparents. He stayed in Indiana for almost two years, even forming a close relationship with a local girl, but returned to Houston in 1962 to help with his family's candy business. He later moved into an apartment of his own above the shop.
Corll's mother divorced Jake West in 1963 and appointed Dean as vice-president of the candy company. The same year, one of the teenage male employees of the candy company complained to Corll's mother that Corll had made sexual advances towards him. In response, Mary West simply fired the youth.
Corll was drafted into the United States Army on August 10, 1964, and assigned to Fort Polk, Louisiana for basic training. He was later assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia, before his permanent assignment at Fort Hood, Texas as a radio repairman. Corll reportedly hated military service; he applied for a hardship discharge on the grounds that he was needed within his family's business. The Army granted his request and he was given an honorable military discharge on June 11, 1965, after ten months of service.
Corll Candy Company
Following his honorable discharge from the army, Corll returned to Houston and resumed the position he had held as vice-president of his family's candy business.
In 1965, shortly after Corll completed his military service, the Corll Candy Company moved across the street from a Heights elementary school. He was known to give free candy to local children, in particular teenaged boys. The family company also employed a small workforce, and he was seen to behave flirtatiously towards several teenage male employees; he even installed a pool table at the rear of the factory where employees and local youths would congregate. In 1967, he befriended 12-year-old David Brooks, then a sixth grade student and one of the many children to whom he gave free candy.
Friendship with David Brooks
Brooks initially became one of Corll's many youthful close companions; the youth regularly socialized with Corll and the youths who congregated at the rear of the candy company. He also joined Corll on the regular trips he took to south Texas' beaches in the company of various youths and was also given motorcycle rides by Corll and allowed to ride the bike himself. Whenever Brooks told Corll he was in need of cash, he was given money.
Brooks' parents were divorced: his father lived in Houston and his mother had relocated to Beaumont, a city 85 miles east of Houston. In 1970, when he was 15, Brooks dropped out of high school and moved to Beaumont to live with his mother. Whenever he visited his father in Houston, he also visited Corll, who allowed him to stay at his apartment if he wished to do so. Upon Corll's urging, a sexual relationship gradually developed between the two: Corll paid Brooks to allow him to perform fellatio on the youth and the same year, he moved back to Houston and, by his own later admission, began regarding Corll's apartment as his second home.
By the time Brooks dropped out of high school, Corll's mother and half-sister, Joyce, had moved to Colorado after the failure of her third marriage and the closure of the family candy company in June 1968. Although she often talked to her eldest son on the telephone, she never saw him again.
Following the closure of the candy company, Corll took a job as an electrician at the Houston Lighting and Power Company, where he tested electrical relay systems. He worked in this employment until the day he was killed by Elmer Wayne Henley.
From 1970 to 1973, Corll killed at least 28 persons. All of his victims were males aged thirteen to twenty, the majority of whom were in their mid teens. Most victims were abducted from Houston Heights, which was then a low-income neighborhood northwest of downtown Houston. With most abductions, he was assisted by one or both of his teenaged accomplices, Elmer Wayne Henley and David Owen Brooks. Several victims were friends of one or the other of his accomplices; and two other victims, Billy Baulch and Malley Winkle, were former employees of the Corll Candy Company.
Corll's victims were typically lured into his van with an offer of a party or a lift and driven to his house. There, they were either plied with alcohol or drugs until they passed out, tricked into putting on handcuffs, or simply grabbed by force. They then were stripped naked and tied to either Corll's bed or, usually, a plywood torture board, where they were sexually assaulted, tortured, and—sometimes after several days—killed by strangulation or shooting with a .22-caliber pistol. Their bodies then were tied in plastic sheeting and buried in any one of four places: a rented boat shed; a beach on the Bolivar Peninsula; a woodland near Lake Sam Rayburn (where his family owned a lakeside log cabin); and a beach in Jefferson County.
In several instances, Corll forced his victims to phone or write to their parents with explanations for their absences in an effort to allay the parents' fears for their sons' safety. Corll is also known to have retained keepsakes—usually keys—from his victims.
During the years in which he abducted and murdered young men, Corll often changed addresses. However, until he moved to Pasadena in the spring of 1973, he always lived in or close to Houston Heights.
Corll killed his first known victim, an 18-year-old college freshman, Jeffrey Konen, on September 25, 1970. Konen vanished while hitchhiking with another student from the University of Texas to his parents' home in Houston; he was dropped off alone at the corner of Westheimer Road and South Voss Road near the Uptown area of Houston. At the time of Konen's disappearance, Corll lived in an apartment on Yorktown Street, near the intersection with Westheimer Road. He likely offered to drive Konen to his parents' home. Konen evidently accepted a lift from him.
David Brooks led police to the body of Jeffrey Konen on August 10, 1973. The body was buried at High Island Beach. Forensic scientists subsequently deduced that the youth had died of asphyxiation caused by manual strangulation and a cloth gag which had been placed in his mouth. The body was found buried beneath a layer of lime, wrapped in plastic, naked, and bound hand and foot, suggesting he had also been violated.
Around the time of Konen's murder, David Brooks interrupted Corll in the act of assaulting two teenage boys whom he'd strapped to a plywood torture board. Corll promised Brooks a car in return for his silence; Brooks accepted the offer and Corll bought him a green Chevrolet Corvette. Brooks was later told by Corll that the two youths had been murdered, and he was offered $200 for any boy he could lure to Corll's apartment.
On December 15, 1970, David Brooks lured two 14-year-old boys named James Glass and Danny Yates away from a religious rally held near Houston Heights to Corll's Yorktown apartment. Glass was an acquaintance of Brooks who, at Brooks' behest, had previously visited Corll's apartment. Both youths were tied to opposite sides of Corll's torture board and subsequently raped, strangled and buried in a boat shed Corll had rented on November 17.
Six weeks after the double murder of Glass and Yates, on January 30, 1971, Brooks and Corll encountered two teenage brothers named Donald and Jerry Waldrop walking to a bowling alley. Both boys were enticed into Corll's van and were driven to an apartment that Corll had moved into at 3200 Mangum Road, where they were raped, tortured and strangled before Brooks and Corll buried them in the boat shed. Between March and May of 1971, Corll killed three more boys between the ages of 13 and 16; as with the Waldrop brothers, all lived in Houston Heights. Two of these victims, David Hilligiest and Malley Winkle, were abducted and killed together on the afternoon of May 29, 1971. As had been the case with parents of other victims of Corll, both sets of parents launched a frantic search for their sons. One of the youths who voluntarily offered to distribute posters the parents had printed offering a reward for information leading to the boys' whereabouts was 15-year-old Elmer Wayne Henley, a lifelong friend of Hilligiest. The youth pinned the posters around the Heights and attempted to reassure Hilligiest's mother that there may be an innocent explanation for the boys' absence.
On August 17, 1971, Corll and Brooks encountered a 17-year-old acquaintance of Brooks named Ruben Watson walking home from a movie theater in Houston. Brooks persuaded Watson to attend a party at Corll's address. The youth agreed and was taken to Corll's home where he was subsequently strangled and buried in the boat shed.
In the winter of 1971, Brooks introduced Elmer Wayne Henley to Dean Corll; Henley may have been lured to Corll's address as an intended victim. However, Corll evidently decided Henley would make a good accomplice and offered him the same fee — $200 — for any boy he could lure to his apartment, informing Henley that he was involved in a "sexual slavery ring" operating from Dallas.
Henley accepted Corll's offer, and initially participated in the abductions of the victims, then later actively participated in many of the killings. According to Henley, the first abduction he participated in occurred at 925 Schuler Street, an address Corll had moved to in February of 1972 (although Brooks later claimed that Henley became involved in the abductions of the victims while Corll resided at an address he had occupied prior to Schuler). If Henley's statement is to be believed, the victim was abducted from the Heights in February or early March of 1972. In the statement Henley gave to police following his arrest, the youth stated that he and Corll picked up a youth at the corner of 11th and Studewood, and lured him to Corll's home on the promise of smoking some marijuana. Henley duped the youth into donning a pair of handcuffs before leaving him alone with Corll. The identity of this victim is not conclusively known, although it is possible the youth was Willard Branch, a 17-year-old casual acquaintance of Henley and Brooks who disappeared on February 9, 1972, and was found buried in the boat shed.
One month later, on March 24, 1972, Henley, Brooks and Corll encountered an 18-year-old acquaintance of Henley's named Frank Anthony Aguirre leaving a restaurant on Yale Street, where the youth worked. Henley called Aguirre over to Corll's van and invited the youth to Corll's apartment on the promise that he could drink beer and smoke marijuana with the trio. Aguirre agreed and followed the pair to Corll's home in his Rambler. Inside Corll's house, Aguirre was given marijuana and then tricked into donning a pair of handcuffs before Corll pounced on the youth. Henley left Aguirre alone with Corll.
Henley later claimed to having discovered Corll torturing the youth, upon which Corll informed him that he had raped, tortured and killed the previous victim he had assisted in abducting, and that he intended to do the same with Aguirre. Henley was again paid for luring the victim to Corll's home and subsequently assisted Corll and Brooks in Aguirre's burial at High Island Beach.
Despite the revelations that Corll was, in reality, killing the boys whom he and Brooks had assisted in abducting, Henley nonetheless became an active participant in the abductions and murders. Within one month, on April 20, 1972, he assisted Corll in the abduction of another youth, a 17-year-old friend of his named Mark Scott. Scott was grabbed by force and fought furiously against attempts by Corll to secure him to the torture board, even attempting to stab his attackers. However, Scott saw Henley pointing a gun towards him and, according to Brooks, Mark "just gave up." Scott was tied to the torture board and suffered the same fate as Aguirre: rape, torture, strangulation and burial at High Island Beach.
According to Brooks, Henley was 'especially sadistic' in his participation of the murders committed at 925 Schuler: before Corll vacated the address on June 26, Henley assisted Corll and Brooks in the abduction and murder of two youths named Billy Baulch and Johnny Delone. In Brooks' confession, he stated that both youths were tied to Corll's bed and, after their torture and rape, Henley manually strangled Baulch, then shouted "Hey, Johnny!" and shot Delone in the forehead, with the bullet exiting through the youth's ear. Delone then pleaded with Henley: "Wayne, please don't!", before he too was strangled.
During the time Corll lived at Schuler, the trio lured a 19-year-old youth named Billy Ridinger to the house. Ridinger was tied to the plywood board, tortured and abused by Corll. Brooks later claimed he persuaded Corll to allow Ridinger to be released, and the youth was allowed to leave the residence. On another ocasion at Schuler, Henley knocked Brooks unconscious as he entered the house. Corll then tied Brooks to his bed and assaulted the youth repeatedly before releasing him. Despite the assault, Brooks continued to assist Corll in the abductions of the victims.
After vacating the Schuler residence, Corll moved to an apartment at Westcott Towers, where he is known to have killed a further four victims. The first victim killed at Westcott Towers, Steven Sickman, was killed on July 20; two further Heights boys were abducted and murdered on October 3 and a 19-year-old youth named Richard Kepner was murdered on November 12. Altogether, a minimum of nine teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 were murdered between February and November of 1972; five of whom were buried at High Island Beach, and four inside Corll's boat shed.
On January 20, 1973, Corll moved to an address on Wirt Road in the Spring Branch district of Houston. Within two weeks of moving into the address, he had killed a 17-year-old youth named Joseph Lyles before vacating the apartment and moving to 2020 Lamar Drive in Pasadena on March 7. No known victims were killed from February to June 3 of 1973, although Corll is known to have suffered from a hydrocele in early 1973, which may account for this sudden lull in killings.
Nonetheless, from June, Corll's rate of killings increased dramatically: Henley later compared the acceleration in the frequency of killings to being "like a blood lust," adding that Corll would make reflex movements and state that he "needed to 'do' a new boy." Between June 4 and July 7, 1973, a further three victims were murdered and buried at Lake Sam Rayburn and on July 12, a 17-year-old youth named John Sellars was murdered and buried at High Island Beach.
In July of 1973, David Brooks married his pregnant fiancee, and Henley temporarily became Corll's sole procurer of victims: assisting in the abduction and murder of a further three Heights youths between the ages of 15 and 18 between July 19 and July 25. According to Henley, these three abductions were the only three that occurred after his becoming an accomplice to Corll in which David Brooks was not a participant. One of these three victims was buried at Lake Sam Rayburn and the other two, abducted together on July 25, were buried in the boat shed.
On August 3, 1973, Corll killed his last victim, a 13-year-old boy from South Houston named James Dreymala. Dreymala was abducted while riding his bike in Pasadena and driven to Corll's home where he was tied to Corll's torture board, raped and strangled with a cord before being buried in the boat shed. David Brooks later described Dreymala as a "small, blond boy" whom he had bought a pizza before the youth was attacked.
The party at Corll's
On the evening of August 7, 1973, Henley, aged 17, invited a 19-year-old youth named Timothy Cordell Kerley to attend a party at Corll's Pasadena house. Kerley — who was intended to be Corll's next victim — accepted the offer. David Brooks was not present at the time. The two youths arrived at Corll's house and sniffed paint fumes and drank alcohol until midnight before leaving the house to purchase sandwiches. Henley and Kerley then drove back to Houston Heights and Kerley parked his vehicle close to Henley's home: Henley exited the vehicle and walked towards the home of 15-year-old Rhonda Williams, who had been beaten by her drunken father that evening and had decided to temporarily leave home until her father became sober. Henley invited Rhonda to spend the evening at Corll's home: Rhonda agreed and climbed into the back seat of Kerley's Volkswagen. The trio drove towards Corll's Pasadena residence.
At approximately 3 a.m. on the morning of August 8, 1973, Henley and Kerley arrived back at Corll's home accompanied by Rhonda Williams. Corll was furious that Henley had brought a girl along, telling him in private that he had "ruined everything." Henley explained that Williams had argued with her father that evening, and did not wish to return home. Corll appeared to calm down, and offered the three teenagers beer and marijuana. The three teenagers began drinking and smoking the marijuana as Corll, drinking beer, watched them intently. After approximately two hours of drinking and smoking, Henley, Kerley, and Williams each passed out.
Henley awoke to find Corll snapping handcuffs onto his wrists. His ankles had also been bound together. Kerley and Williams lay beside Henley, securely bound with nylon rope, gagged with adhesive tape and lying face down on the floor. Kerley had also been stripped naked.
Corll told Henley that he was furious he had brought a girl to his house, and explained that he was going to kill all three teenagers after he had assaulted and tortured Kerley. He repeatedly kicked Williams in the chest, then dragged Henley into his kitchen and placed a .22-caliber pistol against his stomach, threatening to shoot him. Henley calmed Corll, promising to participate in the torture and murder of both Williams and Kerley if Corll released him. Corll agreed and untied Henley, then carried Kerley and Williams into his bedroom and tied them to opposite sides of his torture board, Kerley on his stomach, Williams on her back.
Corll then handed Henley a hunting knife and ordered him to cut away Williams's clothes, insisting that, while he would rape and kill Kerley, Henley would do likewise to Williams. Henley began cutting away Williams's clothes as Corll undressed and began to assault and torture Kerley. Both Kerley and Williams had awakened by this point. Kerley began writhing and shouting as Williams, whose gag Henley had removed, lifted her head and asked Henley "Is this for real?", to which Henley answered "Yes." Williams then asked Henley "Are you going to do anything about it?"
Henley then asked Corll whether he might take Rhonda into another room. Corll ignored him and Henley then grabbed Corll's pistol, shouting "You've gone far enough, Dean!" Corll approached Henley, saying: "Kill me, Wayne!" Henley stepped back a few paces as Corll continued to advance upon him, shouting "You won't do it!" Henley fired at Corll, hitting him in the forehead; Corll continued to lurch towards him; and Henley fired a further two rounds at him, hitting him in the left shoulder. Corll spun round and staggered out of the room, hitting the wall of the hallway. Henley fired three additional bullets into his lower back and shoulder as Corll slid down the wall in the hallway outside the room where the two other teenagers were bound. Corll died where he fell, his naked body lying face towards the wall.
After shooting Corll, Henley released Kerley and Williams from the torture board, and all three teenagers dressed and discussed what actions they should take. Henley suggested to Kerley and Williams that they should simply leave, to which Kerley replied "No; we should call the police." Henley agreed and looked up the number for the Pasadena Police in Corll's telephone directory.
"I killed a man!"
At 8:24 a.m. on August 8, 1973, Henley placed a call to the Pasadena Police. His call was answered by an operator named Velma Lines. In his call, Henley blurted to the operator: "Y'all better come here right now! I just killed a man!" Henley gave the address to the operator as 2020 Lamar Drive, Pasadena. As Kerley, Williams and Henley waited upon Corll's porch for the police to arrive, Henley mentioned to Kerley that he had "done that (killed by shooting) four or five times."
Minutes later, a Pasadena Police car arrived at 2020 Lamar Drive. The three teenagers were sitting on the porch outside the house, and the officer noted the .22 caliber pistol on the driveway near the trio. Henley informed the officer that he was the individual who had made the call and indicated that Corll was lying dead inside the house.
After confiscating the pistol and placing Henley, Williams and Kerley inside the patrol car, the officer entered the bungalow and discovered Corll's dead body inside the hallway. The officer returned to the car and read Henley his Miranda rights. In response, Henley shouted: " I don't care who knows about it. I have to get it off my chest!" Kerley later informed detectives that before the police officer had arrived at Lamar Drive, Henley had informed him: "I could have gotten $200 for you."
In custody, Henley explained that, for almost three years, he and David Brooks had helped procure teenage boys (some of whom were their own friends) for Corll, who had raped and murdered them. Corll had paid $200 for each victim he or Brooks were able to lure to his apartment. Henley gave a statement admitting he had assisted Corll in several abductions and murders of teenage boys, informing police that Corll had buried most of his victims in a boat shed in Southwest Houston, and others at Lake Sam Rayburn and High Island Beach.
Police were initially skeptical of Henley's claims, assuming the sole homicide of the case was that of Corll, which they had ascribed to being the result of drug-fueled fisticuffs that had turned deadly. Henley was quite insistent, however, and upon his recalling the names of three boys — Cobble, Hilligiest and Jones —whom he and David Brooks had procured for Corll, the police accepted that there was something to his claims, as all three teenagers were listed as missing at Houston Police headquarters. David Hilligiest had been reported missing in the summer of 1971; the other two boys had been missing for just two weeks. Moreover, the floor of the room where the three teenagers had been tied was covered in thick plastic sheeting. Police also found a plywood torture board measuring seven-by-three feet with handcuffs in each corner. Also found at Corll's address were a large hunting knife, rolls of clear plastic of the same type used to cover the floor, a portable radio rigged to a pair of dry cells to give increased volume, a number of dildos, thin glass tubes and lengths of rope.
The Ford Econoline van belonging to Corll parked in the driveway conveyed a similar impression. The rear windows of the van were sealed by opaque blue curtains. In the rear of the vehicle, police found a coil of rope, a swatch of beige rug covered in soil stains, and a wooden crate with air holes drilled in the sides. The pegboard walls inside the rear of the van were rigged with several rings and hooks. Another wooden crate with air holes drilled in the sides was also found in Corll's back yard. Inside this crate were several strands of human hair.
Search for victims
Henley agreed to accompany police to Corll's boat shed in Southwest Houston, where he claimed the bodies of most of the victims could be found. Inside Corll's boat shed, police found a half-stripped car, which turned out to have been stolen from a used car lot in March, a child's bike, empty bags of lime, and a box full of teenage boys' clothing.
Police began digging through the soft, shell-crushed earth of the boat shed and soon uncovered the body of a young blond-haired teenaged boy, lying face up and encased in clear plastic, buried beneath a layer of lime. Police continued excavating through the earth of the shed, unearthing the remains of more victims in varying stages of decomposition. Most of the bodies found were wrapped in thick, clear plastic sheeting. Some victims had been shot, others strangled, the ligature still wrapped tightly around their necks.
All of the victims found had been sodomized and most victims found bore evidence of sexual torture: pubic hairs had been plucked out, genitals had been chewed, objects had been inserted into their rectums, and glass rods had been shoved into their urethrae and smashed. Cloth rags had also been inserted into the victims' mouths and adhesive tape wound around their faces to muffle their screams. In some instances, Corll had also castrated his live victims; severed genitals were found inside sealed plastic bags. On August 8, 1973, a total of eight corpses were uncovered at the boat shed.
Accompanied by his father, David Brooks presented himself at the Houston Police Station on the evening of August 8, 1973, and gave a statement denying any participation in the murders, but admitting to having known that Corll had raped and killed two youths in 1970.
On August 9, 1973, police accompanied Henley to Lake Sam Rayburn in San Augustine County, where Henley had told police that Corll had buried four victims he had killed that year. Two additional bodies were found in shallow graves.
Police found nine additional bodies in the boat shed on August 9, 1973. David Brooks gave a full confession that evening, admitting to being present at several killings and assisting in several burials, although he continued to deny any direct participation in the murders. He agreed to accompany police to High Island Beach to assist in the search for the bodies of the victims.
On August 10, 1973, Henley again accompanied police to Lake Sam Rayburn, where two more bodies were found buried just ten feet apart. As with the two bodies found the previous day, both victims had been tortured and severely beaten, particularly around the head. That afternoon, both Henley and Brooks accompanied police to High Island Beach, leading police to the shallow graves of two more victims.
On August 13, 1973, both Henley and Brooks again accompanied the police to High Island Beach, where four more bodies were found, making a total of twenty-seven known victims - the worst killing spree in American history at the time.
Henley initially insisted that there were two more bodies to be found inside the boat shed, and also that the bodies of two more boys had been buried at High Island Beach in 1972. At the time, the killing spree was the worst case of serial murder (in terms of number of victims) in the United States, exceeding the 25 murders attributed to Juan Corona from California, who was arrested in 1971 for killing twenty-five men. The 'Houston Mass Murders' , as they became known, hit the headlines all over the world: even Pope Paul VI commented on the atrocious nature of the crimes and offered sympathy to relatives of those who had died. Police were inundated with inquiries regarding missing boys from parents across the United States.
Families of Corll's victims were highly critical of the Houston Police Department, which had been quick to list the missing boys as runaways who had not been considered worthy of any major investigation: The families of the murdered youths asserted that the police should have noted an insidious trend in the pattern of disappearances of teenage boys from the Heights neighborhood; other family members complained the police had been dismissive to their adamant insistence that their sons had no reasons to run away from home. The father of the Waldrop brothers complained that the Houston police chief had simply told him "You know your boys are runaways." The mother of Malley Winkle stated: "You don't run away (from home) with nothing but a bathing suit and 80 cents."
By April of 1974, twenty-one of Corll's victims had been identified, with all but four of the youths having either lived in or had close connections to Houston Heights. Two more teenagers were identified in 1983 and 1985: one of whom, Richard Kepner, also lived in Houston Heights. The other youth, Willard Branch, lived in the Oak Forest district of Houston
Dean Corll and his accomplices are known to have killed a minimum of 28 teenagers and young men between September 1970 and August 1973, although it is suspected that the true number of victims may be 29 or more. To date, a total of 26 of his victims have been identified, and the identity of a 27th victim whose body has never been found is conclusively known. All of the victims had been killed by either shooting, strangulation or a combination of both.
- September 25: Jeffrey Konen, 18. A student at the University of Texas abducted while hitchhiking from Austin to the Braeswood Place district of Houston. He was buried at High Island Beach.
- December 15: Danny Yates, 14. Lured with his friend James Glass from an evangelical rally by David Brooks to Corll's Yorktown apartment.
- December 15: James Glass, 14. An acquaintance of Corll who also knew David Brooks. He and his friend were strangled before being buried in Corll's boat shed.
- January 30: Donald Waldrop, 15. Vanished on his way to visit a bowling alley. According to Brooks, Donald's father, who was a builder, was working on the apartment next to Corll's at the time that Donald and his brother were murdered.
- January 30: Jerry Waldrop, 13. The youngest of Corll's victims. He and his brother were strangled and buried in Corll's boat shed.
- March 9: Randell Harvey, 15. Disappeared on his way home from his job as a gas station attendant; he was shot in the head and buried in Corll's boat shed. Remains identified October, 2008.
- May 29: David Hilligiest, 13. One of Henley's earliest childhood friends; he was last seen alongside his friend Malley Winkle climbing into a white van.
- May 29: Gregory Malley Winkle, 16. A former employee of Corll Candy Company and boyfriend of Randell Harvey's sister. He disappeared on his way to visit a local swimming pool.
- August 17: Ruben Watson, 17. Left his home to visit the cinema on the afternoon of August 17. Watson later called his mother to tell her he was spending the evening with Brooks. He was gagged, strangled and buried in Corll's boat shed.
- February 9: Willard 'Rusty' Branch, Jr. 17. The son of a Houston Police officer whose father died of a heart attack in the search for him; Branch was castrated before he was shot and buried in Corll's boat shed. Remains identified July, 1985.
- March 24: Frank Aguirre, 18. Aguirre had been engaged to marry Rhonda Williams, whose presence in Corll's house sparked the fatal confrontation between Henley and Corll. He was strangled and buried at High Island Beach.
- April 20: Mark Scott, 17. A friend of both Henley and Brooks who was killed at Corll's Schuler Street address. According to Henley, Scott was strangled and buried at High Island; although his remains have yet to be found.
- May 21: Johnny Delone, 16. A Heights youth who was last seen with his friend walking to a local store. He was shot in the head, then strangled by Henley.
- May 21: Billy Baulch, 17. A former employee of Corll Candy Company. Baulch was strangled by Henley and buried at High Island Beach.
- July 20: Steven Sickman, 17. Sickman was last seen leaving a party held in the Heights. He suffered several fractured ribs before he was strangled with a nylon cord and buried in the boat shed. Remains identified April, 2011.
- October 3: Wally Jay Simoneaux, 14. Abducted while walking to Hamilton Junior High School: Simoneaux attempted to call his mother at Corll's residence before the phone was disconnected. He was strangled and buried in Corll's boat shed.
- October 3: Richard Hembree, 13. Last seen alongside his friend in a white van parked outside a Heights grocery store. He was shot in the mouth and strangled at Corll's Westcott Towers address.
- November 12: Richard Kepner, 19. Vanished on his way to call his fiancee from a pay phone, he was strangled and buried at High Island Beach. Remains identified September, 1983.
- February 1: Joseph Lyles, 17. An acquaintance of Corll who lived on the same street as Brooks. He was seen by Brooks to be "grabbed" by Corll at Wirt Road and was subsequently buried at Jefferson County Beach.
- June 4: Billy Ray Lawrence, 15. A friend of Henley who phoned his father to ask if he could go fishing with "some friends." He was kept alive by Corll for four days before he was killed and buried at Lake Sam Rayburn.
- June 15: Ray Blackburn, 20. A married man from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who vanished while hitch-hiking from the Heights to see his newborn child. He was strangled at Corll's Lamar Drive residence and buried at Lake Sam Rayburn.
- July 7: Homer Garcia, 15. Met Henley while both youths were enrolled at a Bellaire driving school. He was shot in the head and chest and buried at Lake Sam Rayburn.
- July 12: John Sellars, 17. An Orange youth killed two days before his 18th birthday. Sellars was shot in the chest and buried at High Island Beach. He was the only victim to be buried fully clothed.
- July 19: Michael 'Tony' Baulch, 15. Corll had killed his older brother, Billy, the previous year. He was strangled and buried at Lake Sam Rayburn.
- July 25: Marty Jones, 18. Jones was last seen along with his friend and flatmate, Charles Cobble, walking towards Corll's apartment in the company of Henley.
- July 25: Charles Cary Cobble, 17. A school friend of Henley whose wife was pregnant at the time of his murder. His body, shot twice in the head, was found in the boat shed.
- August 3: James Dreymala, 13. The son of Seven-day Adventists, Dreymala was last seen riding his bike in South Houston. He last called his parents to tell them he was at a "party" across town.
- At Henley's trial in 1974, the Harris County medical examiner raised questions as to whether John Sellars was actually a victim of Dean Corll. Sellars, a U.S. Marine who had been reported missing on July 12, 1973, had been killed by four gunshot wounds to the chest fired from a rifle, whereas all of Corll's other known victims had either been shot with the same pistol that Henley had used to kill Corll or strangled. Moreover, Sellars' car had been found burned-out one week after the youth had disappeared. However, Henley and Brooks had led police to Sellars' grave on High Island Beach, and the youth's body was bound with rope as other victims had been.
- In June 2008, Dr. Sharon Derrick, a forensic anthropologist with the medical examiner's office in Houston, released digital images of Corll's three still-unidentified victims. The unidentified victims were listed as ML73-3349, ML73-3356 and ML73-3378. Two of the unidentified victims were found buried in the boat shed and were estimated to have been killed in 1971 or 1972. ML73-3378 was buried at Lake Sam Rayburn just 10 feet from the body of Homer Garcia, who had disappeared on July 7, 1973. The victim was estimated to be in a slightly more advanced state of decomposition to Garcia, leading investigators to estimate that he had been killed in mid- to late-June 1973.
- On October 17, 2008, ML73-3349 was identified as Randell Lee Harvey, a Heights teenager who had been reported missing on March 11, 1971 - two days after he had disappeared. Harvey, who had been shot through the eye, was wearing a navy blue jacket with red lining, jeans and lace-up boots. A plastic orange pocket comb was also found alongside his body.
- On September 13, 2010, DNA analysis was able to confirm that the unidentified victim known as ML73-3378 was actually Michael Baulch, who had incorrectly been identified as case file ML73-3333: the second victim unearthed from the boat shed. Michael Baulch had disappeared en route to a barbers on July 19, 1973 - a year after his brother Billy had been murdered by Corll. Henley had stated in his confession to police that he and Corll had "choked" Michael Baulch and buried him at Lake Sam Rayburn. The unidentified victim mistakenly identified as Michael Baulch had been killed by two gunshots to the head and buried inside the boat shed. Three factors had helped lead to the mis-identification of the unidentified victim as being that of Michael Baulch: Michael's parents had previously filed a missing person's report on their son (who had previously left home to search for his older brother) in August 1972 - precisely the same time as the unidentified victim buried in the boat shed is estimated to have been killed. This was the only missing person's report on file for Michael Baulch. In addition, the unidentified victim was of a similar height and age to Baulch and circumstantial dental fractures had also helped incorrectly facilitate the mis-identification of the second body unearthed as that of Michael Baulch. The unidentified body buried in the boat shed and initially mistakenly identified as Michael Baulch is estimated to have been killed on or about August 21, 1972.
- A body found on a beach in Jefferson County in August of 1983 is strongly believed to be a 28th victim of Dean Corll. The body was identified November 11, 2009, through DNA analysis as 17-year-old Joseph Allen Lyles, a Heights teenager who had disappeared on February 1, 1973. Lyles is known to have both visited Corll's apartment and to have lived on the same street as David Brooks. He was listed as a possible victim of Corll after the other murders were discovered in 1973. At the time of his disappearance, Corll resided in an apartment at 1855 Wirt Road, where he lived between January 20 and March 7 of 1973, when he moved to his father's Pasadena bungalow. Brooks had specifically stated Corll had "got one boy by himself" during the time he lived at this address. In addition, at the time that Lyles disappeared, Henley had temporarily moved to Mount Pleasant, which leaves a strong possibility that Corll had killed Lyles without the assistance of Henley.
- In the confession given by Elmer Wayne Henley on August 9, 1973, the youth had stated that victim Mark Scott had been strangled and buried at High Island. David Brooks had also stated in his confession that Scott (who was well known to both of Corll's accomplices) was likely buried at High Island. The body of the fifteenth victim disinterred from the boat shed was mistakenly identified by Dr. Joseph Jachimczyk as being that of Mark Scott in January, 1994. In 2010, Henley disputed the identification of a victim buried in the boat shed as being Mark Scott and reiterated his claim to the interviewer that Scott had been buried at High Island "in the sand: fetal position; head up." As a result of Henley's claims, DNA tests on the body identified as Scott were tested against samples of DNA taken from Scott's family. In March, 2011, DNA analysis confirmed that the victim known as ML73-3355, had also been misidentified and in April, the victim was identified as Steven Sickman, a 17-year-old youth who was last seen walking down West 34th street shortly after midnight on July 20, 1972, and who was murdered at Corll's Westcott Towers address. Sickman's mother had reported her son missing shortly after his disappearance, but police had been unwilling to conduct a search for the youth, telling the mother that the youth was 17-years-old and that unless they found a body, there was nothing they could do to assist her. Had Henley not been adamant in his assertion that the body of Mark Scott had been misidentified, Sickman would have never been conclusively confirmed as a victim of Corll.
Possible additional victims
Forty-two boys had vanished within the Houston area since 1970. The police were heavily criticized for curtailing the search for further victims once mass killer Juan Corona's macabre record for having the most victims had been surpassed. After finding the 26th and 27th bodies, tied together, at High Island Beach, the search was called off. A curious feature about this final discovery was the presence of two extra bones (an arm bone and a pelvis) in the grave, indicating at least one additional victim awaiting discovery. The search for more bodies at the beach was abandoned on August 13, 1973, despite Henley's insistence that there were two more bodies buried on the beach in 1972.
The two bodies that Henley had insisted were still buried on the beach may have been those of Mark Scott and Joseph Lyles. In light of developments relating to the identifications of victims, the body of Mark Scott still lies undiscovered at High Island and the victim Joseph Lyles was only found by chance in 1983. Had the search for bodies continued, the two victims would have likely been discovered.
Fellow workers at the Corll Candy Company recalled Corll doing a lot of digging in the years leading up to 1968, when his mother's third marriage was deteriorating and the firm was failing. Corll stated he was burying spoiled candy to avoid contamination by insects. He subsequently cemented over the floor. He was also observed digging in waste ground that was later converted into a car park. Former employees also recalled that Corll had rolls of clear plastic of precisely the same type used to bury his victims. The suspicion is that Corll may have begun killing much earlier than 1970, and may also have been abusing youths prior to this date.
During a routine investigation in March, 1975, the Houston police discovered a cache of pornographic pictures and films depicting young boys. Of the sixteen individuals depicted within the films and photos, eleven of the youths appeared to be among the twenty-one victims of Corll who had been identified by this date. The discovery raised a disturbing possibility that the statements Corll had given to both Henley and Brooks prior to his murder that he was associated with an organization based in Dallas that "bought and sold boys" may indeed have held a degree of truth. The discovery of the material in Houston in 1975 subsequently led to the arrest of five individuals in Santa Clara, California. No direct link in these arrests to the Houston Mass Murders was proven, as the Houston authorities declined to pursue any possible link to the serial killings, stating they felt Corll's victims' families had'suffered enough'.
It should be noted there is still no conclusive evidence to suggest that Corll had ever solicited any of his victims in this manner; not only because the Houston authorities chose not pursue this potential possibility, but also because neither David Brooks nor Wayne Henley have ever mentioned either meeting any individuals from the "organisation" Corll had claimed he was involved with. In addition to these facts, they have never mentioned ever having seen the victims either filmed, photographed or released from Corll's torture board until after their torture and murder. The arrests in Santa Clara do, however, indicate a possible validity into Brooks' statements to police that Corll had informed him that his earliest murder victims had been buried in California.
Moreover, Brooks names Corll's first murder victim as a youth killed at an apartment complex on Judiway Street, where Corll had lived prior to September 1970. The earliest victims Brooks had initially confessed to having known Corll had killed were two teenage boys killed at 3300 Yorktown, an address Corll had moved to after he had moved out of his Judiway Street apartment. The earliest double murder Corll is known to have committed is the double murder of James Glass and Danny Yates in December of 1970. Glass and Yates were actually killed at Corll's Yorktown address, as was Corll's earliest known murder victim, Jeffrey Alan Konen, killed in September of 1970. A possibility exists that the earliest double murder victims were Glass and Yates; however, Brooks specifically named James Glass, a youth he knew, in his confession to police and described the youth as being killed in an altogether separate double murder to the first double murder Corll is known to have committed. In addition, Brooks only knew the location of Konen's body at High Island Beach due to the fact that Corll had shown him the location. It is possible that the initial double murder Brooks had discovered Corll in the process of committing occurred after the murder of Konen and before those of Glass and Yates. These details, alongside the fact two additional bones were found with the 26th and 27th victims discovered, indicate a minimum of two and possibly four more unknown victims.
There are two suspiciously long gaps between known victims in the chronology of Corll's known murders. Corll's last known victim of 1971 was Ruben Watson, who disappeared on August 17. The first victim of 1972 was Willard Karmon Branch, Jr., who disappeared on February 9, meaning no known victims were killed for almost six months. Moreover, Corll is also not known to have killed between February 1 and June 4 of 1973. Of Corll's two confirmed still-unidentified victims; both were in an advanced stage of decomposition at the time of their discovery, leading investigators to deduce each of the victims had likely been killed in 1971 or 1972. One of these victims (the second victim unearthed from the boat shed) is estimated to have been killed on or about August 21, 1972.
The other known unidentified victim, the 16th body found in Corll's boat shed, was found wearing swimming clothing, leading investigators to conclude that he was likely killed in the summer months. The body was found near the entrance to the boat shed between the body of Ruben Watson and the body of Steven Sickman, whereas the bodies of the victims killed between December of 1970 and May of 1971 were found buried at the rear of the shed. It is likely, though not conclusive, that the unidentified 16th victim may have been killed in the late summer or early fall of 1971.
Regardless of the dates when the unidentified victims buried in the boat shed had been killed, there still remains a gap of four months between February and June of 1973 when no known victims had been claimed by Corll. In March of 1973, a Mr. and Mrs. Abernathy had reported to Galveston County authorities that they had observed three men carrying and burying a 'long, wrapped bundle' at Galveston Beach. The couple identified two of the men as Corll and Henley. The third individual had long, blond hair - like Brooks. As the couple watched the trio, one of the men (whom they later identified as Henley) advanced upon the car with such a menacing expression that the couple felt compelled to drive away.
Two women had also observed three men digging at the beach in May of 1973 - one of whom they positively identified as David Brooks. However, police were again unwilling to extend the search.
On August 13, a Grand Jury convened in Harris County to hear evidence against Henley and Brooks: the first witnesses to testify were Rhonda Williams and Tim Kerley, who testified to the events of August 7 and 8 leading to the death of Dean Corll, another witness who testified to his experience at the hands of Dean Corll was Billy Ridinger. After listening over 6 hours of testimony from various people, the jury initially indicted Henley on three murder charges and Brooks on one count. Bail was set at $100,000.
The District Attorney did request that Henley undergo a psychiatric examination to deduce whether he was mentally competent to stand trial, but his attorney, Charles Melder, opposed the decision, stating the move would violate Henley's Constitutional rights.
By the time the Grand Jury had completed its investigation, Henley had been indicted for a total of six murders, and Brooks for four murders. Henley was not charged with the death of Dean Corll, which was ruled self-defense.
Trial, conviction and incarceration
Elmer Wayne Henley and David Owen Brooks were tried separately for their roles in the murders. Henley was brought to trial in San Antonio on July 1, 1974, charged with six murders committed between March of 1972 and July of 1973. The prosecution called dozens of witnesses, including Tim Kerley and a youth named Billy Ridinger, who had been lured to Corll's Schuler Street address by Henley, Brooks and Corll in 1972. Ridinger testified that at Corll's home he was tied to Corll's torture board and assaulted repeatedly by Corll before he was released.
Other incriminating testimony came from police officers who read from Henley's written statements. In one part of his confession, Henley had described his luring of two of the victims for whose murder he had been brought to trial, Charles Cobble and Marty Jones, to Corll's Pasadena house. Henley had confessed that Jones was tied to a board and forced to watch Charles Cobble be assaulted, tortured and shot to death before he himself was raped, tortured and strangled with a venetian blind cord. The two youths were killed on July 27, 1973, two days after they had been reported missing. Several victims' parents had to leave the courtroom to regain their composure as police and medical examiners described how their relatives were tortured and murdered
Throughout the trial, the State introduced a total of eighty-two pieces of evidence, including Corll's torture board and one of the boxes used to transport the victims. Inside the box, police had found hair which examiners had concluded came from Charles Cobble. Upon advice from his defense counsel, Henley did not take the stand to testify. His defense attorney, Will Gray, did cross examine several witnesses but did not call any witnesses or experts for the defense. On July 16, 1974, Henley was sentenced to six consecutive 99-year terms — a total of 594 years — for each of the murders for which he was charged.
Henley appealed against his sentence and conviction, contending the jury in his initial trial had not been sequestered; his attorneys' objections to news media being present in the courtroom had been overruled and citing that his defense team's attempts to present evidence contending that the initial trial should not have been held in San Antonio had also been overruled by the judge. Henley's appeal was upheld and he was awarded a retrial in December of 1978. He was tried again in June of 1979 and was again convicted of six murders on June 27, 1979, and again sentenced to six consecutive 99-year terms.
David Brooks was brought to trial on February 27, 1975. Brooks had been indicted for four murders committed between December of 1970 and June of 1973, but was brought to trial charged only with the June 1973 murder of 15-year-old Billy Ray Lawrence. Brooks' defense attorney, Jim Skelton, argued that his client had not committed any murders and attempted to portray Corll and, to a lesser degree, Henley as being the active participants in the actual killings. Assistant District Attorney Tommy Dunn dismissed the defenses contention outright, at one point telling the jury: "this defendent was in on this murderous rampage from the very beginning. He attempts to inform you he was a cheerleader if nothing else. That's what he is telling you about his presence. You know he was in on it."
David Brooks' trial lasted less than one week. The jury deliberated for just 90 minutes before they reached a verdict. He was found guilty of Lawrence's murder on March 4, 1975, and sentenced to life imprisonment. He showed no emotion as the sentence was passed, although his wife burst into tears.
Brooks also appealed against his sentence, contending that the signed confessions used against him were taken without his being informed of his legal rights, but his appeal was dismissed in May of 1979.
Both Henley and Brooks are serving life sentences.
Dean Corll - The Candyman
Dean Corll, who was a 33-year-old electrician and a homosexual serial killer, murdered up to 27 boys along with other accomplices in Houston.
On 8 August 1973, 18-year-old Wayne Henley called police to tell them that he had killed Corll in his house at Pasadena. Corll, a homosexual with sadistic tastes, had been shot 6 times with a .22 pistol. His house had a torture room in which the furniture consisted of a wooden board with handcuffs fitted at each top corner and rope knots at each bottom corner.
Henley told of Corll’s dope parties, and how he sodomized boys on his torture board before killing them. Reference to the names of three boys known to be missing led the police to a boat-shed rented by Corll in Houston. The police found the bodies of seventeen boys under the floor of the boat shed, and ten more were found at other burial sites.
Henley said that Corll, whom he had known for about three years, paid him $200 a head to get potential victims for him. Corll loved to play with children; he took them for rides in his car and gave them candy. He was known as ‘a real good neighbour and a real good guy’.
Corll arranged children’s parties to help Henley and his accomplices set up prospective victims for his torture room. He strangled and shot the boys, whom he sexually abused and mutilated. But the murders stopped in Pasadena, when Corll lost his domination and was shot dead by Henley. Henley told how after a dope session with Corll, he woke up on the torture board, he talked his way out and when released, he shot Corll dead.
Wayne Henley, who admitted killing some of the victims, was tried for murder in July 1974. He was Found guilty and sentenced to six 99-year terms of imprisonment. His killing of Dean Corll was judged to be a justifiable homicide.
Dean Arnold Corll was born in Waynesdale, Indiana on Christmas Day December 25, 1939 to over-affectionate mother Mary and Arnold, a father who did not like children. Family life at the beginning was not a happy one for Dean and his brother Stanley with their parents constantly arguing.
Arnold Corll was a strict disciplinarian and the boys were always being punished. Arnold and Mary eventually divorced in 1946 and soon after Arnold joined the army. Mary found life without Arnold sad and so she bought a horse-trailer and moved to Tennessee to be closer to the base where Arnold was posted. Dean and Stanley were left with an elderly couple most of the time while Mary went looking for work.
The arguments between the Corlls continued and again they separated.
The two boys were at different poles on the personality scale. Stanley was friendly and outgoing, always playing with other children from the neighbourhood or school. Whereas Dean was always a loner, preferring to stay inside and way from the other children.
By 1950 Mary and Arnold tried again to reconcile, but it did not work and so they eventually gave up on the relationship and in 1950 Mary, with the two boys left Tennessee for Houston.
Around the same time Dean was diagnosed with a congenital heart aliment after a bout of Rheumatic fever and was told that he should avoid sports where possible. But Dean not being a sporting type found this good news.
In 1953 Mary remarried. Her new husband was travelling clock salesman Jake West. Soon after the marriage the couple had a daughter. With both his parents working Dean was extremely protective of his younger siblings always watching out for them and trying to keep them out of trouble.
Dean found himself a hobby in scuba-diving but had to give it up after fainting one day while diving, a symptom of his heart defect. At school he enjoyed music and was a keen trombone player. Teachers remembered him as a quiet and polite student.
After a suggestion from a candy salesman Mary set herself up with a little candy shop to help support the family. Dean was a runner for the candy shop which had it’s humble beginnings in the garage of the family home. Dean often found himself exhausted for running orders to people in town, but never complained.
After high school graduation Dean moved back to Indiana to help look after his stepfather Jake’s elderly mother while the rest of the family moved to Houston.
When Dean moved back to the family home he decided to get a job with the Houston Lighting and Power Company during the day and still help make candies with the family at night. His drive to succeed impressed many of the town’s young women but Dean failed to notice.
In 1964 Dean was drafted into the US Army. Life in the army caused a change in the young man. Dean found himself desiring after fellow officers he shared his quarters with. Dean finally realised he was gay. Until then Dean had known something about life was wrong but until his realisation about his homosexuality he had been unsure about what had been missing.
Returning home after an eleven month assignment in the Army, Dean found his parents arguing and fighting. The Wests had begun to argue over the business. Jake saw Mary as a rival and soon threw her out.
Mary took the children and began running her own lolly shop.
Dean found himself an apartment near his mother and soon started hanging out with teenage boys from the neighbourhood. It was easy to get them to come to his apartment, Dean always had piles of candy around and most of the kids couldn’t resist.
Dean still worked as much as he could for his mother in the candy shop. One day one of the other male workers made a pass at Dean, he had his mother sack the boy. Dean’s reaction to the solicitation was one of mortal horror. Yet at the same time other boys would not want to be in the same room alone with Dean. This confused others about his sexual nature.
Again Dean’s mother decided to marry. This time her husband was a seaman, and soon Mary found flaws in his character. She found him dull company and quite stupid. Yet the marriage survived two divorces until finally on the advice of a psychic Mary left the marriage and Houston and went to Dallas.
Corll decided to stay in Houston, he liked it there and finally found the freedom away from his protective mother to do as he pleased.
Dean’s first attraction to the younger boys was one of an older protective brother. At first he would never say anything or do anything overtly sexual. He just preferred the company of the teen boys who hung around Corll’s apartment. But lurking beneath the kind exterior was a sex maniac waiting to surface, it was just a matter of time.
One day in 1969 Dean had learned that some of the boys would allow oral sex in exchange for money. This is how Corll first mean fourteen-year-old David Brooks.
Brooks enjoyed the older man’s company and looked up to him as a big brother, someone to ask for guidance and for help through the tough and tumultuous teenage years. Soon David became completely emotionally dependant on Dean and spent most of his time with him rather than at home. Brooks actually moved in with Corll for a while.
Dean still worked at the Lighting company and soon hired a storage shed to keep his few possessions in that were not needed in his tiny apartment.
On Christmas Day 1969, Dean Corll turned 30. It was a turning point in his life. He became morose and depressed. He lost his thrill for life and became further introverted. But David Brooks was often around and tried to cheer Corll up. Often it would end with Corll paying Brooks $5 for oral sex.
By Christmas 1970 Corll was a murderer.
University of Texas student Jeffrey Konen left the campus and began to hitchhike home to Houston. Twenty-one year old Jeffrey was last seen on September 25, 1970 trying to get another lift. Instead he was picked up by Corll who took him to his apartment at 3300 Yorktown and there the young man was bound by his hands and feet and gagged. Corll sodomised the student before murdering him and dumping his body.
Being such a wayward area for down and out teens, Corll had his pick of victims. He found that a lot of them were willing to come over for a party. The parties usually included glue and paint-sniffing, pot-smoking and pill-popping.
Some of the boys would allow Corll to perform oral sex on them for $5. Many of the boys Corll chose were usually in trouble or runaways. When they went missing no one really noticed at first.
However Corll was not happy with only oral sex, he wanted penetration, he wanted to perform sodomy on his victims, and when they refused it was then that they found themselves dead.
"He killed them because he wanted sex and they (the boys) didn’t want to", Brooks told police later.
Brooks would later tell a fantastical story to police about the various victims who would live or die at Corll’s whim. One case was when Brooks arrived at Corll’s place one day unannounced in 1970. Corll was wondering around the house naked and when he saw Brooks he was furious, demanding to know why he had arrived without telling him. Brooks thought this was unusual until he saw in Corll’s bedroom to younger boys strapped to home-made torture rack.
Brooks left the apartment confused and dejected. Corll later tried to make it up to his friend by giving him a new Corvette. No doubt it was to buy Brook’s silence about what he had seen. Corll told Brooks that he had killed both of the teens and dumped their bodies.
But the Corvette was another part of Corll’s plans. He saw it as an opportunity to have Brooks with him while they went driving around looking for victims.
One potential victim who went on to become a police officer said
"I was one of the boys that Corll and Brooks tried to abduct. I felt something was wrong and told them to get lost"
Yet others were not so intuitive.
One unnamed victims accepted the offer of pot-smoking back at Corll’s apartment. When the trio arrived at the unit, Corll tied the boy to his torture rack in his bedroom and sodomised the boy. Corll then strangled the boy, all while Brooks watched. No doubt Brooks would have then helped Corll to get rid of the body near Lake Sam Rayburn.
Just before Corll’s 31st birthday he decided to have another party on December 15, 1970 at his new apartment on Columbia Street Houston. The guests were Brooks, 15 year old Danny Yates and 14 year old James Glass. The two boys were friends from a church social group. Glass had also been to Corll’s apartment previously and found Dean to be a happy and pleasant man to be around.
However this time he would not find Corll so obliging. Both boys were quickly tied to Corll’s bed torture rack and sodomised. Danny and James were then strangled. This time Corll decided not to dumped the bodies but hide them at the boat shed he hired on Silver Bell Street.
On January 27, 1971 Dean Corll decided he needed another double murder to satiate his appetite. He had another new apartment at 3200 Magnum Road, sand wanted to christen it with murder. So out for a drive, Brooks and Corll entice two brothers back to the apartment.
Thirteen year old Jerry and 14 year old Donald Waldrop were to never be seen alive again. Once they were inside Corll’s apartment they were raped and strangled before joining Danny Yates and James Glass’ bodies in the Silver Bell Street Boat Shed. Brooks blandly admits to being there when the bodies were buried.
"I believe I was present when they were buried".
There was another short gap between killings. This time Corll waited four months before murdering two more boys. On May 29, 1971 the victims chosen were 13 year old David Hilligiest and 16 year old George Winkle. The boys had been on his way to the local swimming pool when they accepted a lift from Corll. They were last seen climbing into Corll’s white van.
Later that evening George called his mother to say he had gone to Freeport with some friends and they would be back home soon. But he was never seen alive again.
At Corll's apartment the two boys were once again tied to the bed before being sodomised, tortured and strangled. They were then buried with the others at the boat shed.
George and David’s parents were worried when the boys did not return, they had posters made up and handed them out or stuck them to poles hoping someone may have seen the two teens. A psychic was even brought in to see if he could help in the search. But he only had bad news for the parents. The psychic told them that their sons were dead.
One of David’s best friends tried to comfort the family. Elmer Wayne Henley told the Hilligiests that he was sure that David had just run away and would return soon.
It was not long before another boy disappeared. Seventeen year old Ruben Watson was last seen on his way to the cinema on August 17, 1971.
He was picked up along his route by Brooks and Corll before being taken back to Corll’s apartment where he was brutalised for hours until Corll grew bored of his victim and killed him.
The next victim that Brooks bought to the house for Corll was Henley. Even though Brooks was so emotionally dependent on Corll, he also refused Corll’s offers of anal sex. But on one occasion he found himself a victim of Corll’s though he lived to tell the story.
The first time Corll had met Elmer Wayne Henley through Brooks he arranged a test for the new young man. Henley was made to knock Brooks unconscious which he did without hesitating.
When Brooks woke, he found himself tied to Corll’s bed and was bleeding from his anus. He had been sodomised by Corll while he was unconscious. Yet Brooks did not tell anyone about the incident until after Corll’s death. He also remained true and loyal to his friend.
However now there was another person in the equation, Brooks felt a little in dispose by Henley, it appears that Corll was beginning to fall in love with the younger man and Corll liked Henley’s independence, he was tiring of Brook’s complete emotional reliance.
Also Henley could be bought. He was willing to do almost anything for money, including selling his friends to Corll as sex slaves. Though Henley would later deny it, it is rumoured he was paid $200 per male he brought to Corll. Corll would try and rationalise his behaviour to Brooks and Henley, telling them that the boys were no loss to society, most of them were delinquents and a burden- they were no great loss.
Another victim was found on February 24, 1972. Frank Aguirre was a little older than most of Corll’s victims being nineteen when he disappeared. He had a girlfriend at the time, fourteen year old Rhonda Williams. She would later be a witness to Corll’s eventual murder.
On May 21, 1972 Dean and his cohorts grab another two victims. This time sixteen year old Johnny Delome and seventeen year old Billy Baulch were taken to the apartment where they were tortured and raped for hours. Johnny was shot dead by Henley. Henley later claimed he had fired the gun up the teen’s nostrils. The two boys were then taken to Corll’s original dumping ground of High Island and buried.
On October 3, 1972 Corll again choses a double murder. The victims are thirteen year old Richard Hembree and fourteen year old Wally Simoneux. Again the teens are taken back to Corll’s apartment on the premise of a party, once there the boys are giving paint to sniff and other substances which renders them unconscious. Once they have passed out, Corll takes the boys to his room where they are strapped to his torture rack. The victims are then repeatedly anally raped. According to Brooks some are kept alive for days of torture.
Once Corll is done with his victims they are strangled and dumped. Wally and Richard were buried at the Boat Shed with many of the other victims.
During November, 1972 Corll victim Billy Baulch’s younger brother, fifteen year old Michael becomes another victim.
The helpless boys were subjected to such torture as having their pubic hairs pulled out one-by-one, having objects inserted into their anus, and having glass rods shoved into their penis.
On June 11, 1973 fifteen year old Billy Lawrence is brought to Corll’s apartment for a party. The boy does not leave alive. He was brutally raped and murdered by Corll.
Fifteen year old Homer Garcia joins the list of sexually tortured and murdered victims of Corll on July 7, 1973.
On July 27, less than three weeks after the last murder 17 year old Charles Cobble and 18 year old Marty Jones are murdered after being tortured by Corll.
The boys were always procured in the same way. Brooks or Henley would lure other boys to Dean's house with the promise of an 'alcohol party'. The victims would then be allowed to drink themselves unconscious. Dean would then tie them up, molest them, then kill them.
There were many more victims, 13 year old James Dreymala had disappeared during the first week of August 1973. Another nine year old boy had disappeared only weeks before. The killings were getting more frequent and more brutal.
But the end was near.
On the afternoon of August 8, 1973 Henley had arrived at Corll’s apartment at 2020 Lamar Street with two victims. He had brought sixteen year old Timothy Kerley for Corll and Rhonda Williams – the girlfriend of one of Corll’s previous victims. Rhonda had decided to run away and confided in Henley. Henley asked her to come with him to a party at Corll’s. Henley had thought it would be okay, but it wasn't. When Corll saw that Henley had brought a girl with him he went into a rage.
After sniffing glue for quite sometime, Henley, Timothy and Rhonda all passed out. Corll saw his opportunity to teach Henley a lesson for bringing a girl.
Corll tied all three of them up. When Henley woke and saw his predictament he begged Corll to let him live. He pleaded to Corll, saying he would rape and kill Rhonda while Corll did the same to Timothy.
Corll took Timothy to the bedroom and stripped him of his clothes, gagged him and tied him to the torture board. Corll then demanded that Henley do the same to Rhonda. So after being untied Henley grabbed Rhonda as Corll looked on, but Henley was unable to get an erection. Corll found this funny and began calling Henley names. Henley was at breaking point he picked up a .22 caliber pistol and aimed it at Corll. Corll egged on the young man, daring him to shoot him. He mocked him with the statement
"Go on Wayne, kill me. Why don’t you?"
As Corll came towards Henley he fired 6 bullets into Corll’s chest killing him instantly.
Then 18-year-old Henley called police to tell them that he had murdered Corll. Henley told police it was in self-defence.
However when police arrived to find the three teenagers on the front steps and the dead body inside they were not to know the amazing story Henley had to tell them.
Henley went on to tell police that Corll's house contained a torture room in which the furniture consisted of a wooden board with handcuffs fitted at each top corner and rope knots at each bottom corner. Henley continued his monotone story of Corll's parties where he would give the teens drugs or glue to sniff usually rendering them unconscious before tying them up and sodomizing them on his torture board before murdering them.
To prove his tale was true the police asked for the names of the victims. The first three that Henley was able to recall were three that police had on their missing persons list. The Henley told the officers where they would probably find the victims. He took them to the Silver Bell street boat-shed rented by Corll in Houston.
Once they located the boat shed, police began to dig. In no time they uncovered lime and the tell-tale smell of decay.
The first body was found. The naked body of the thirteen year old boy was in a plastic bag.
It was time to bring in the crime scene investigators.
As each body was brought out Henley cried more, he said at one point.
"It was all my fault" When asked why he replied
"Because I introduced him to them boys".
Henley then went on to tell police how Dean would ask him to bring boys around for parties.
When police finished searching they found the bodies of seventeen boys under the floor of the boat shed, and ten others found in various other sites.
David Brooks watched news reports as the body count grew and decided it was time to talk to police.
When he arrived at the police station, the officers interviewing Henley told him that Brooks had just turned up. Henley looked relieved and said:
"That’s good, now I can tell you the whole story".
Then Henley admitted to doing some of the murdering himself.
Brooks told police his involvement was far less, but that Henley had taken over when he was introduced to Corll and Corll realised that he had more friends than Brooks and would be a better ally than victim.
"Most of the killings that occurred after Wayne came into the picture involved all three of us … Wayne seemed to enjoy causing pain."
Brooks was tried and sentenced for life for his involvement in at least six murders.
Henley was tried for murder in July 1974. He was found guilty of the murders and sentenced to six 99-year terms of imprisonment. His killing of Dean Corll was judged to be a justifiable homicide.
In December 1978 Henley's conviction was overturned on the grounds that the trial had suffered from pre-trial publicity. He was convicted a second time in June 1979.
Dean Corll (24 December 1939 – 8 August 1973) was an American serial killer who, together with two younger accomplices named David Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley, committed theHouston Mass Murders in Houston, Texas. The trio is believed to be responsible for the murders of at least 27 boys, the crimes only coming to light when Corll was shot dead by his accomplice Henley.
Dean Corll was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana to Mary Robinson and Arnold Edwin Corll.
Corll moved to Pasadena, Texas with his mother and younger brother when he was 11, following the breakdown of his parents' marriage. He was regarded as a good student in school and well behaved, although a heart condition kept him out of physical education. In the 1950s, Corll's mother started a small candy company along with her second husband, operating from the garage of their home, and almost immediately, Corll was working day and night while still attending school.
At age 19, the family moved to the Houston Heights and opened a new shop. Following the breakdown of his mother's second marriage in 1963, she appointed him vice president of the company and he moved into an apartment above the shop. The candy company by now had a small number of staff and Corll often spent a lot of his free time in the company of young boys. He often gave free candy to local children and for this reason, he was given the nickname "The Candy Man" by the media when his crimes were eventually uncovered.
Corll was drafted into the military in 1964, where it is believed he first realized he was homosexual. He was given a military discharge after serving ten months so that he could help his mother run her candy business. He eventually took over the business and invited local children to the store for free candy. A number of local people commented that it was not normal that Corll always seemed to hang around with youngsters, in particular teenaged boys. However, no one made the connection with the rash of missing youths.
Following the failure of her third marriage in 1968, Corll's mother moved to Colorado. Although they often talked on the telephone, she was never to see her son again. The candy company began to fail and, like his father, Dean took a job as an electrician at the Houston Lighting and Power Company. He worked there until the day he was killed by Wayne Henley.
In early 1970, when he was 30 and training to be an electrician, Corll began to abduct and murder young men and boys, whom he raped, killed and then buried, either in Corll's boatshed or in rural areas around the city.
At some point in 1970, Corll had met a 15-year-old boy named David Brooks, who was once a promising A student but whose grades had recently begun to slip. Corll paid Brooks for sexual favors, and Brooks later claimed that he once found Corll raping two boys he had tied to a bed. Corll offered him a Corvette in return for his silence. Brooks accepted and never saw the two boys again.
Shortly afterwards, Corll made the acquaintance of Elmer Wayne Henley, a local 14-year-old who came from a broken home. He had a drinking problem and soon dropped out of school to work to support his divorced mother and three younger brothers. It was thought that Corll originally planned on adding Henley to his growing list of victims, but decided against it when he realized Henley knew most of the other youths in the area. Henley soon began to help Corll lure victims and even began to take an active part in the murders.
All of the victims were young males between 13 and 20 years old. Corll's first known victim was 18-year-old college freshman, Jeffrey Konen, who vanished on September 25, 1970, while hitchiking with another student from the University of Texas to his parents' home in Houston.
Konen was dropped off alone at the corner of Westheimer Road and South Voss Road near Uptown District of west Houston. At the time, Corll was living in an apartment on Yorktown Street near the intersection with Westheimer Road. Konen likely accepted an offer by Corll to take him to his parent's home in the Braeswood Place-West University Place area.
Unlike Konen, the majority of victims were in their mid-teens and most had been abducted from Houston Heights, which was then a low-income neighborhood north west of downtown Houston. One of the victims, 15-year-old Homer Garcia, met Henley at his driving school education class and was invited to Corll's for "a party". Many were listed by police as runaways despite the anxious protests of parents who insisted that their boys would not run away from home. Quite often the victims, alone or in pairs, were invited to Corll's parties. Several were friends of either Henley or Brooks and two, Malley Winkle and Billy Baulch, had actually worked for Corll's candy business in the late 1960s.
The known victims, all of whom had been either shot, strangled, or both, that have been identified by police:
September 25, 1970: Jeffrey Konen, 18. Picked up by Corll while hitchhiking to Houston. He was buried at High Island beach.
December 15, 1970: Danny Yates, 15. Was lured with his friend James Glass by David Brooks to Corll's Columbia Street apartment while attending a religious rally.
December 15, 1970: James Glass, 14. Was an acquaintance of Corll. He and his friend were strangled before being buried in Corll's boatshed.
January 30, 1971: Donald Waldrop, 17. Vanished on his way to visit a bowling alley. According to Brooks, Donald's father, who was a builder, was working on the apartment next to Corll's at the time Donald was murdered.
January 30, 1971: Jerry Waldrop, 13. Was strangled along with his brother and buried in Corll's boatshed. Corll placed his I.D. card alongside his body.
March 9, 1971: Randell Lee Harvey, 15. Disappeared on his way home from his job at a Fina gas station, he was shot in the head and buried in Corll's boatshed. Remains identified on October 17, 2008.
May 29, 1971: David Hilligeist, 13. Vanished on his way to a local swimming pool. He was one of Henley's earliest childhood friends.
May 29, 1971: Malley Winkle, 16. Former employee of Corll's candy store and boyfriend of Randell Lee Harvey's sister. Was last seen alongside his friend David Hilligeist climbing into a white van.
August 17, 1971: Ruben Watson, 17. Vanished on his way to the local cinema. Ruben was the final identified victim to vanish before Henley began to participate in the abductions and murders.
March 24, 1972: Frank Aguirre, 18. Was the boyfriend of Rhonda Williams, whose presence in Corll's house sparked the fatal confrontation between Henley and Corll. He was buried at High Island beach.
May 21, 1972: Johnny DeLome, 16. Disappeared on his way to the local store. He was shot in the head, then strangled by Henley.
May 21, 1972: Billy Baulch, 17. Vanished with his friend Johnny DeLome. Had also worked as a candy seller for Corll in the late 60's. He was buried at High Island beach.
October 2, 1972: Wally Jay Simoneaux, 14. Vanished on his way to spend the night with his friend.
October 2, 1972: Richard Hembree, 13. Was last seen with his friend in a white van parked outside a grocery store, he was buried in Corll's boatshed.
December 22, 1972: Mark Scott, 18. Was killed at Corll's Schuler Street address. He was a friend of both Henley and Brooks.
June 4, 1973: Billy Ray Lawrence, 15. Was kept alive by Corll for four days before he was killed and buried at Lake Sam Rayburn. He was a friend of Henley.
June 15, 1973: Ray Blackburn, 20. From Louisiana. He was married and had a child.
July 7, 1973: Homer Garcia, 15. Met Henley at driving school. He was shot and buried at Lake Sam Rayburn.
July 19, 1973: Tony Baulch, 15. Corll had killed his older brother Billy the previous year. He was buried in Corll's boatshed.
July 25, 1973: Marty Jones, 18. Was last seen along with his friend, Charles Cobble, in the company of Henley.
July 25, 1973: Charles Cary Cobble, 17. A school friend of Wayne Henley. His body, shot twice in the head, was found in the boatshed.
August 3, 1973: James Dreymala, 13. Was Corll's last victim and was lured to Corll's Pasadena apartment on the pretext of collecting empty coke bottles to re-sell.
Forty-two boys had vanished within the Houston area since 1970. The police were heavily criticized for curtailing the search for further victims once mass killer Juan Corona's macabre record for most victims had been surpassed. After finding the 26th and 27th bodies, tied together, at High Island beach, the search was called off. A curious feature about this final discovery was the presence of two extra bones (an arm bone and a pelvis) in the grave, indicating at least one further victim awaiting discovery. The search for further bodies at the beach was abandoned on August 13, 1973, despite Wayne Henley's insistence there were a further two bodies buried on the beach in 1972.
Fellow workers at the Corll candy company recalled Dean doing a lot of digging in the years leading up to 1968, when Dean's mother's third marriage was deteriorating and the firm was failing. Corll stated he was burying spoiled candy to avoid contamination by insects. Dean subsequently cemented over the floor. He was also observed to dig in waste ground later converted into a car park.
Former employees also recalled that Corll had rolls of clear plastic of precisely the same type used to bury his victims. The suspicion is that Corll may have begun killing much earlier than 1970. A five and a half month gap between the killings of Mark Scott and Billy Ray Lawrence is extremely unusual for a serial killer. Police in nearby Galveston County had received reports of three men observed digging on the beach in March 1973. However, police were again unwilling to extend the search.
At approximately 3 a.m. on 8 August 1973, Henley, then aged 17, went to Corll's house accompanied by a boy named Tim Kerley, who was supposed to be the next victim. Also with them was Rhonda Williams, 15, who was Henley's girlfriend. Brooks was not present at the time.
Corll was furious that Henley had brought a girl along, but eventually he calmed down and the four of them started sniffing glue and drinking. Soon Henley, Kerley and Williams all passed out and awoke to find themselves tied up and Corll waving a .22-caliber pistol around, angrily threatening to kill them all.
Henley calmed Corll, and the older man eventually put down the gun and released Henley. Corll then insisted that, while he would rape and kill Kerley, Henley would do likewise to Rhonda Williams. Henley refused and soon a row broke out between him and Corll. It ended when Henley grabbed the pistol and shot Corll six times, killing him instantly.
After releasing the other two youngsters, Henley called the police. While they all waited outside the house, Henley told Kerley that “I could have gotten $200 for you”, this apparently being the fee he was paid by Corll to recruit victims. In custody, Henley explained that he and Brooks had helped procure boys for Corll, who had raped and murdered them. Police were a little skeptical at first, as they assumed they were just dealing with the one homicide — of Corll — as a result of a drug-fuelled row that had turned deadly.
Henley was quite insistent, however, and police soon accepted that there was something to his claims, especially when they found a torture board at Corll's house, consisting of a large wooden board with handcuffs in each corner. There were also a number of dildos and lengths of rope, as well as an ominous looking wooden crate with what appeared to be airholes. (Human hair was found inside the crate.)
Later that day, accompanied by his father, Brooks presented himself at the police station, and he was promptly questioned concerning the allegations Henley was busy making.
The police went to the boatshed located in Northwest Houston where Corll had rented for several years where Henley said that bodies of most of the victims could be found. They began digging through the soft earth and soon uncovered the body of a teenaged boy. They continued excavating, and the remains of more dead boys were uncovered, several wrapped in plastic.
Some had been shot, others strangled, the ligature still wrapped tightly around their necks. Some had been castrated. Their pubic hairs were plucked out one at a time. Objects were inserted into their rectums, and glass rods were shoved into their urethrae and smashed. Genitals were removed, and all were anally penetrated. Eventually, 17 corpses were uncovered at the shed.
Following Henley's directions, police excavated a number of other locations, including Crystal Beach, Texas. The remains of 10 more bodies were uncovered, making a total of 27 victims. Henley insisted that there were three more bodies yet to be found, but these were never located.
At the time it was the worst case of serial murder (in terms of number of victims) in the U.S., exceeding the 25 murders attributed to Juan Corona from California. The Houston Mass Murders, as they became known, hit the headlines all over the world, and even the Pope commented on the atrocious nature of the crimes and offered sympathy to relatives of those who had died.
Families of the victims — including two who had lost two sons each to Corll — were highly critical of the Houston Police Department, which had been so quick to list the missing boys as runaways and not worthy of investigation.
Brooks was quite insistent that he had no knowledge of the crimes, while Henley was the opposite, cooperative to the point of not only detailing the murders but soon admitting that on one occasion he had personally shot and killed one of the victims.
Henley was charged with the murders of six of the boys, and in 1974, he was convicted and sentenced to six 99-year terms of imprisonment. He was not charged with killing Corll as this was judged to have been self-defense.
Brooks was convicted of one murder and sentenced to life in prison.
As of 2006, both are in their late 40s and still behind bars. Their parole applications, which take place every three years, have all been rejected so far.
Like a number of other convicted killers, Henley has taken up painting since his incarceration. There was an outcry when he recently auctioned some of his pictures on eBay.
The Man With The Candy, Jack Olsen, 1975, Simon & Schuster ISBN: 0743212835
The New Encyclopedia Of Serial Killers, Brian Lane and Wilfred Gregg, (Revised Edition 1996) Headline Book Publishing ISBN 0747253617
Dean Corll: The Sex, Sadism and Slaughter of Houston's Candy Man
by Marilyn Bardsley
It’s hard to say why Henley would want to bring his girlfriend, Rhonda Williams, to the party, considering that so many of the friends that he had brought to those parties never returned. Perhaps it was the heavy drinking and drugging that clouded whatever passed for good judgment in Henley’s mental landscape.
But bring her he did -- without the approval of the party’s host, Dean Corll.
Elmer Wayne Henley and his friend Tim Kerley left the Corll’s house in the Pasadena suburb of Houston in the early morning hours of August 8, 1973 and arranged to meet 15-year-old Rhonda, who had sneaked out of her home, at an all-night laundry.
With the face of a child and the body of a woman, tiny Rhonda was suffering from some severe emotional and physical traumas. Her mother had died when she was very young. Then when she was 14, her first love, a boy named Frank Aguirre, disappeared suddenly.
Recently, she had broken some of the bones in her feet in an accident with a car. While she painfully convalesced, her relationship with her father became increasingly strained after he banned her friends from visiting the house. Desperate for some companionship and sympathy, she packed a bag and decided to run away.
The three teenagers reached Corll’s house around 3 a.m. to find their host infuriated that the two boys had brought Rhonda to the house. Henley was able to take the edge off Corll’s anger and the party started back up again. While Corll smoked pot and drank beer, the youngsters entertained themselves with “bagging” -- hallucinating on acrylic paint fumes from a paper bag until they became unconscious.
Hours later Henley claimed that he had awakened to Corll handcuffing his wrists and had already bound his ankles together. From much previous experience, Henley said he understood that torture and painful death were imminent. Looking around him, he claimed that he saw Tim had been stripped and both of his friends had been bound with rope. Masking tape sealed their lips.
“ I’m gonna kill you all!” Corll shrieked, according to Henley. “But first I’m gonna have my fun.”
Dean Corll was an electrician for Houston Power and Light, but most of the friends of Henley knew him as the Candyman, who for years had labored in the candy manufacturing plant that he and his mother had once owned. Corll was famous for giving away candy to the kids.
Henley said that he pleaded with Corll: he would help Corll torture and kill Rhonda and Tim. Corll could assault Tim and he would rape Rhonda. Then they would kill the two of them together.
After threatening Henley with a .22 caliber pistol and a knife, Henley said that Corll relented and took off the handcuffs and ropes.
“Cut off her clothes!” Corll told him and gave him the knife. He then took Rhonda and Tim into one of the bedrooms where he had a long “torture” board. Tim was shackled stomach down and spread-eagled on the board, while Rhonda was strapped down on her back.
Corll tried to rape Tim, but the young man fought him as best he could. Henley did his best to have sex with the unconscious Rhonda, but couldn’t do it. Henley got up to go to the bathroom and when he returned, he picked up the gun that Corll had left on the nightstand.
Corll’s face was flushed with rage when he saw the gun pointed at him. “Kill me, Wayne,” he challenged. “Kill me!” Henley backed away as Corll charged at him. “You won’t do it!” Corll sneered at the terrified teenager.
Around 8:30 a.m. that Wednesday morning, the Pasadena, TX, Police Department got a telephone call from a hysterical young man who said that he killed a man. Patrolman A.B. Jamison raced over to the address, 2020 Lamar Drive, a green and white frame house. Three teenagers, two boys and a girl stood in front of the house.
One of the boys, a timid, slender young man with light brown hair and a skimpy goatee came forward and identified himself as Wayne Henley, the person who had called the police station. He motioned the cop inside where Corll’s body lay on the floor.
Corll had been a large muscular man over six feet tall and weighing approximately 200 pounds. His dark brown hair, graying at the temples, was styled in little waves. His identification showed his name as Dean Arnold Corll, a 33-year-old electrician for Houston Power and Light. Corll had been shot six times with bullets lodging in the chest, shoulder and head. His body was taken to the morgue, while the three teenagers were taken to the police station for questioning.
At this point, detectives had arrived to examine the sparsely furnished crime scene – one of the more interesting ones they had witnessed in some time. Of particular scrutiny was the bedroom, which appeared to have been rigged up for a special purpose.
Plastic sheeting covered the carpet to protect it from dripping blood. The bedding on the one single bed was all tangled and disarrayed. Most sinister was the large thick plywood board with several sets of handcuffs, ropes and cords attached to it. On the floor was a bayonet-like knife, a huge dildo, binding tape, glass tubes and petroleum jelly.
In a shed in the backyard was a plywood box with air holes cut into it and some strands of human hair inside.
Neighbors said that the house had belonged to Dean Corll’s father Arnold, also an electrician, who had let his son take over the house when he had moved away. Son Dean had taken care of the house and had done nothing to arouse the suspicions of his neighbors in the quiet middle-class neighborhood.
At police headquarters, detectives got quite an earful from the two teenage boys. Earlier Tim Kerley said that Henley told him, “If you weren’t a friend of mine, I could have gotten fifteen hundred dollars for you.”
Henley told police that Corll was a homosexual and pedophile that paid him to procure victims, which Corll later murdered and buried in a boat shed.
Detectives took this “revelation” cautiously, as they would from any drugged youth who claimed that the man he killed was really a criminal. When Dean Corll’s father and stepmother talked to the police, a different story emerged. They said that the story the teenagers had told police was a lie and that Dean had never been a homosexual or a violent person.
In fact, Dean loved kids and had always been generous to young people. These teenagers, had taken advantage of their son’s hospitality and then, crazed by drugs, had murdered him in his own home.
Had the police not found the implements of sexual torture in Corll’s home, they would have been more likely to assume that the parents’ version of events was the correct one. As it was, the police were more interested in hearing the confession of Elmer Wayne Hensley and just who this Dean Corll really was – sexual psychopath or the victim of vicious, drugged up youths.
The Candy Man
As police dug into Dean Corll’s reputation and past, early returns suggested that the 33-year-old man was the victim not the monster that Henley made him out to be. This sentiment was summed up in comments like this:
All my friends knew him,
and my friends’ folks knew
him, and they never thought anything [bad] about him…
They always thought Dean
was a good dude. He’d
help me; he’d help them, anything.
and my friends’ folks knew
him, and they never thought anything [bad] about him…
They always thought Dean
was a good dude. He’d
help me; he’d help them, anything.
Then an old girlfriend, Betty Hawkins, a divorcee with two small boys, came forward, who had known and dated Dean for five years or so. She said only good things about him:
Dean was one of the kindest men I ever knew. If he had something and someone needed it, he’d give it to them. So far as I know, he didn’t have any special hobby, unless it was helping other people. That guy must have gone through 15 TV’s in the last five years. Every time I turned around, his TV would be gone. Somebody would come up and say they needed one and he’d give it to them.
He made me feel like I was somebody, and the biggest majority of men seemed to want to make me feel so much lower than them, and all they wanted was to take me to bed. In five years, Dean and I never really had sex. Sometimes we would hug and kiss. There were times that we came close, but we never did it. He believed that you should be married. There aren’t very many like that.
He’d say things like, ‘You know I been thinking lately I ought to settle down and get married.’ But all of sudden, he would change his mind. And later he’d say he couldn’t afford to get married. And I’d say, ‘Well I can work, you know.’ But he’d say, ‘No way. If we got married, you wouldn’t work. Definitely not."
Then some information started to leak out that suggested a different picture. A teenaged homosexual who called himself “Guy” claimed that Corll made a sexual pass at him in a public men’s room. “I just wasn’t interested at all,” Guy said. “We became extremely close friends.” He said that Corll was extremely gentle and kind to him, but he had in his house a bedroom that was off limits to Guy. “I’ll never take you in there,” Corll told him.
Guy claimed that Corll was very critical of openly gay bars and bathhouses. There was a barrier that Dean had set up between himself and an overtly gay lifestyle
He was sort of like a cloud of mystique; he was just there. Seemed like he had another life he would go to and I was not a part of it, and I never wanted to infiltrate his other domain. He seemed to set up a barrier and wanted me to stay on one side. The other aspects of his life were taboo. I knew he had a friend named Wayne, but every time I’d bring up his friends, he’d more or less just cut them off… he never wanted me to meet them.
Corll was afflicted by the anxieties that gave rise to the adage, “nobody loves you when you’re old and gay.” In sub-culture that, perhaps, intensifies the angst of Western culture in general, puts a premium on youth and looks, Guy saw Corll as less than self-confident:
He felt like an outcast, especially age-wise. He was hypersensitive about his age, how he looked, if he was young looking, if he had maybe something a little bit wrong with his hair. He’d always want compliments, or he’d want constructive criticism.
At times he would be totally childlike and rambunctious and crazy. He wanted to be in with the youthful crowd; he’d show it by his actions. Someone who is around 35, you don’t want to see him wading in a pond. You don’t want him taking off his shoes, rolling up his pant legs and go skipping down the street.
Corll spoke to him of getting away from Houston and going some place where nobody knew him – like Mexico or South America. Never in all the time they knew each, did Guy see any signs of violence.
Dean Corll was born December 24, 1939, in Fort Wayne, Indiana to Arnold & Mary Corll. The marriage of Arnold and Mary was not a happy one and when Dean was six, the parents divorced, leaving Mary to raise Dean and a second son, Stanley.
Arnold & Mary made a second go at their marriage and moved to Houston in 1950. A clash of personalities caused the two to separate again. In 1953, Mary found a new mate, a salesman named West, who lived with his daughter from a previous marriage.
At this time in his young life, Dean was diagnosed with a heart murmur, which put a damper on any athletic endeavors. Dean studied music instead and became a trombone player in his high school band. His grades were middle-of-the-road in school, but he was always neat and well behaved.
In the late 1950s, Mary started making pecan candies. Dean helped gather pecans and delivered the candy for his mother. Author John K. Gurwell in his book Mass Murder in Houston, says of Dean:
This was the central, recurring theme in all descriptions of Dean Corll through the years – he did what he was told to do, everything he was asked to do and he was always polite. He was very understanding and very affectionate, especially with children. He never questioned his mother.
Dean helped his mother in the candy business from the time he graduated high school in 1958 until 1960, when he went to Indianapolis to take care of his widowed grandmother.
When Dean came back to Houston in 1962, Mary had set up a candy production facility in her home and turned her garage into a candy store. Dean became second in command in his mother’s candy business and lived in an apartment over the garage. He made candy at night, while during the day he brought in a regular salary with Houston Lighting and Power.
In 1964, Dean was drafted, but was released from the Army a year later on a hardship discharge. He went back to help his mother keep the candy business alive. Mary, in the meantime, had decided to divorce her husband and needed her son’s help all the more. Dean stayed on good terms with his father, who had remarried and lived in the house on Lamar Drive.
The candy company moved to West 22nd street near Helms Elementary School in the Heights area of Houston. Dean invited all the local kids in for free candy and became known as the Candy Man.
Mary found yet another new husband, a merchant seaman, but this union split asunder in 1968 after a few short years. The candy factory was closed and Mary moved to Colorado where she began another candy business.
With the candy store out of his life, Dean turned to the other family business, the electrician’s trade. He was training in that discipline when he was killed.
The secret life that Dean carried on without the knowledge of either parents or stepparents nonetheless had taken a toll on Dean. His family saw the signs of emotional distress without realizing the causes. Mary said that Dean had been very depressed a few days before his death and talked of being in trouble. He also spoke of suicide, but then he seemed to snap out of his black mood and planned to visit her in Colorado. There was even talk of marriage to Betty Hawkins. Dean’s father and stepmother were also aware of his moodiness and concerned that there were people at Dean’s home that were behaving suspiciously. They were frankly concerned that Dean had fallen under the control of someone dangerous.
Wayne & David
The possiblility that closet homosexual Dean Corll had become a victim of unscrupulous young druggies or others who might have taken advantage of Corll’s generosity was investigated. However, investigation showed that the only really close friends that Dean had were Elmer Wayne Henley and David Brooks, neither of whom, at least on the surface, seemed likely candidates for victimizing the older man.
Wayne Henley was a pimply-faced, young school dropout with a drinking problem. He was the product of a very broken home and undertook the financial support of his mother and three brothers. Working during the day and the evening, there was little or no time for education. He had tried to enlist in the army, but was prevented because he had dropped out of junior high school and lacked sufficient education to be inducted.
His friend David Brooks introduced Wayne to Dean Corll in 1970. It was, at least at the start and probably at the end of the relationship, a monetary relationship primarily. Corll offered Wayne money – allegedly several hundred dollars – to procure young men for him.
David Brooks was born in Beaumont, Texas in 1955. Like Wayne Henley and Dean Corll, he was the product of a broken home. His parents were divorced in the early 1960s when David was only five years old. He spent part of his time in Houston with his father and the rest of the time with his mother in Beaumont.
Despite the divorce of his parents, David had a promising beginning as a student, making excellent grades in elementary school. Then in junior high, his grades plummeted. Around this time, he became associated with Dean Corll, who paid him for his sexual favors. Corll had such a grip on the young man that he dropped out of high school shortly after he started so that he could spend all of his free time with Corll.
David, Wayne and Dean were frequently together, staying at Dean’s house, riding around in his van and meeting other teenage boys at the various places that they congregated.
Author Jack Olsen in his book The Man with the Candy, described the situation:
Corll and the two boys made an unlikely trio; by the early 1970’s, he was in his thirties, the boys in their mid-teens. They seemed to have nothing in common…
To most of the people in The Heights, the odd trio was seen only as a hawk is sometimes seen in the woods: in quick silhouette, or as a subliminal shadow, swiftly past. Individually, Corll, Henley and Brooks maintained low profiles; they were regarded as losers, ciphers in the teen-age society. As a threesome, the old mathematical precept applied: multiples of zero are zero.
Certainly not all parents know for sure that their children did not run away, but could instead be the victims of foul play. Often parents are oblivious to the tensions, unhappiness or external pressures that lead a youngster to leave home. However, there are many situations in which parents are close enough to what is going on in their children’s lives and have a good enough relationship with their children to know for sure that they did not run away.
Often this firm belief on the part of the parents is buttressed by other factors: when the youngster disappeared, there was no evidence of planning. The youngster had not taken any clothes or treasured belongings or money. There were no major arguments, punishments, or troubles at school that could cause desperation.
The youngster disappeared under circumstances that do not correspond with behaviors of a runaway. For example, the young person may have vanished on the way to the swimming pool or a movie or after getting into a strange car. The list of circumstances that argue against a kid being a runaway is lengthy.
Why is it then that police departments all over the globe persist in assuming that missing teenagers are runaways, unless evidence of foul play is documented? Yes, kids do run away. In fact, many kids run away, not just to avoid responsibility for something they have done, or because real or perceived environmental conditions at home or school are intolerable, or they think their parents don’t care or don’t love them, but sometimes they are running to something or someplace they believe is more exciting, more tolerant, more fun….
Yet, the history of serial murder is haunted by hundreds of cases of missing youngsters and adults, who the authorities have decided have chosen to runaway. Why? Some of the reasons are likely that the missing persons sections of police departments are frankly not staffed with the upwardly mobile officers and they are frequently understaffed and under-budgeted. Very few police departments are interested in expending limited resources when it is not crystal clear that a crime has been committed. Not unless, it is a high-profile case like the recent Chandra Levy case where there is a scandal involving a congressman and parents who were not about to let the police bury the case in a file cabinet.
In so many, many cases of serial murder – the Atlanta child murders, the Moors murders in Britain, and the crimes of Ted Bundy, Jeff Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy to name a few well-known cases – the list of victims is far longer than it would have been if the police had simply spent more effort separating out suspicious disappearances of young people from probable runaways.
Such was the case in Houston in the early 1970’s. Houston was growing rapidly and there were simply not enough police per capita to keep the crime rate under control. Missing persons was a real afterthought, especially if the person missing was a kid from a rundown neighborhood. Such a neighborhood was The Heights, an old area of the city that boomed in the late 1800’s, but was tired and decrepit after World War II.
A huge tragedy began quietly in The Heights on May 29, 1971. 13-year-old David Hilligiest and his 16-year-old friend Gregory Malley Winkle did not come home from a trip to the neighborhood swimming pool. According to author Jack Olsen, the Hilligiests were told by police that:
Times had changed. Boys were running away from the best of homes nowadays, and said he would have to list David in the runaway classification. No, there would be no official search for the child, but if he were spotted during school hours, he would be stopped and questioned. That was all the law allowed. A runaway was not a criminal.
The boys’ parents put forth a Herculean effort to track down what happened to the kids. That night, Mrs. Winkel got a very strange phone call from Malley just before midnight. When she asked where he was, there was a long pause.
“We’re in Freeport, Mother,” her son told her. “I called to let you know where I was.”
She was very angry that he had gone some 60 miles away from Houston and asked him what he was doing and who was with him. He told her he was just with a bunch of boys swimming, but that they would bring him home later. The next day, she heard that Malley and David had been seen in a white van, but none of his friends knew what had happened to the boys.
The Hilligiests drove to Freeport to search for the boys, distributed flyers, offered a reward, and even hired a private detective with their very meager funds, but to no avail.
One of David’s friends, Wayne Henley, dropped by the Hilligiest home with an offer to help pass out the posters that the parents had printed up. The younger Henley boys played with David’s younger brothers.
A few months later, on August 17, 17-year-old Ruben Watson was given some money by his grandmother to go to a movie and told his mother he would see her when she got home from work at 7:30 p.m., but he never made it.
Ten months later on March 24, 1972, Rhonda Williams’ boyfriend, Frank Aguirre finished his shift at the restaurant where he worked and told his mother he would be home by 10 p.m. Instead, he disappeared.
Four friends from the same neighborhood had vanished without a trace. Their families and friends knew that they weren’t runaways, but the police? That was another matter. They were considered runaways and that was the end of police involvement.
But that was not the end of it for families in The Heights. On May 21, 1972, 16-year-old Johnny Delome vanished along with his friend 17-year-old Billy Baulch. Three days after they disappeared, Mr. Baulch got a letter from Madisonville, Texas, 70 miles out of Houston:
Dear Mom and Dad, I am sorry to do this, But Johnny and I found a better Job working for a trucker loading and unloading from Houston to Washington and we’ll be back in three to four Weeks. After a week I will send money to help You and Mom out. Love, Billy.
The Baulches were not relieved when they read the letter. While the address on the envelope was in Billy’s handwriting, the note itself was either made to look like Billy’s handwriting or Billy had written it under duress. But, more sinister than that was that Mr. Baulch, who drove a truck for a living, realized that there was no job like what was described in the note.
Johnny’s family also received a similar letter which they believed was in Johnny’s handwriting, but the spelling was so perfect that they knew he had not composed it unassisted.
The police were no help, so the Baulches tried to run down clues on their own. As they trawled through suspicious incidents in their son’s past, they remembered David Brooks had given Billy some dope, which they reported to the police. They also recalled Dean Corll, Brooks’ companion, who used to have Billy and other neighborhood kids in his home on a continuous basis.
When Mrs. Baulch asked Billy what he and the other boys do for hours at the home of Dean Corll, Billy told her:
We play the stereo and watch TV, and Dean shows us things. Once he showed us his handcuffs. We were there with a couple of other boys, David Brooks and somebody else, and they got to playing around with the handcuffs and put them on one of the boys, and then Dean couldn’t find the key. He like never found the key to take them off.
When Billy’s father heard about that, he was very displeased. “It’s not normal for a man that old to be playing games with little boys.”
The Baulches went looking for the candy man. When they found him, Dean Corll was polite and respectful, but he said he had no idea where Billy or Johnny had gone.
Almost unbelievably, variations of this story played out for over one more year until August of 1973. But still, no one understood the magnitude of the tragedy that had unfolded. That is, until Wayne Henley took the police to the boat shed.
The Boat Shed
Wayne Henley claimed that Corll had murdered several boys and buried three of them in a boat shed several miles south of Houston. In late afternoon, he guided police and some prison “trusties” to a street named “Silver Bell” and a marina with a business called “Southwest Boat Storage.” Dean Corll’s stall was Number 11. Author John K. Gurwell describes the scene:
The stall had no windows, and the officers moved slowly as they accustomed their eyes to the gloom of the deep interior. Two faded carpets covered the earthen floor, stretching from the entrance back 12 feet. One was green, the other blue. Inside the doors on the left stood a huge, empty appliance carton. A half-stripped car body, covered by a sheet of canvas, sat in the right-rear area of the stall…behind the barrel in the corner was a plastic bag and inside this was an empty lime bag.
In the blazing August heat, the “trusties” that police had brought along for the digging, reached a layer of lime. The sweat poured off the prisoners as they dug through the white layer of lime. A few inches later, detectives saw some plastic sheet, which held the naked body of a boy about 13.
"It’s my fault,” Wayne whined to the detectives. “I can’t help but feel guilty, like I done killed those boys myself. I caused them to be dead. I led them straight to Dean.”
Below the first body was a skeleton. Then when they dug to the right of the first grave, the bodies of two additional teenagers were found. One had been shot and the other strangled.
The owner of the boat storage facility, Mrs. Meynier told the police what a nice person Dean Corll seemed to be. He had rented the shed for almost three years and visited it several times a week. While she did not know what was in the shed, Corll told her it was almost filled and wanted to rent additional space.
While the bodies were being uncovered, the news media had gotten wind of the discovery and had descended in force. By midnight, the bodies of eight victims had been recovered. Jack Olsen captured the horror of the police in a phrase: “They had all seen death, but none had encountered the wholesale transfiguration of rollicking boys into reeking sacks of carrion.
By the end of the first day, the Hilligiests and Mrs. Winkle and several other parents understood why they had never seen their boys alive again.
The next day, with eight bodies on their hands, police wanted to talk to Wayne Henley again. Wayne said that he had not participated in the torture or the murders, but he was a witness to the atrocities that Corll committed. When he heard that David Brooks had made a statement, it encouraged Wayne to confess his complete involvement.
Between the confessions of David Brooks and Wayne Henley, a terrible tale unfolded of treachery, torture, mutilation and murder. Wayne finally admitted that he had taken part in the sadism and murder, as well as the procurement of new victims.
Prospective victims had to be young and good looking. Corll, Henley and Brooks would recruit them individually or as a trio. They planned regular parties with alcohol and marijuana. What was so astonishing was that Henley and Brooks recruited their friends, childhood friends of many years, knowing full well that these friends would be tortured and murdered. Some of the boys had been castrated; another’s penis had been chewed; some had been beaten or kicked to death.
By the end of the second day of the investigation, the body count had risen to 17. Both Henley and Brooks were told to make a list of every boy that they remembered as a victim. Henley, who never stopped talking, told police that several boys were buried near Lake Sam Rayburn and on the High Island beach. A trip was planned immediately to those sites. Several bodies were discovered fairly soon, but since it was late in the day, further digging had to wait until the following day.
Over the coming days, 17 bodies were found in the boat shed and before the investigation was completed, the bodies of 27 boys had been unearthed – making the serial murder case the largest in U.S. history, beating the existing record of Juan Corona’s 25 victims.
As the digging and discovery of bodies wound down, the evidence against Henley and Brooks increased. The future of the two young men did not appear bright.
Wayne Henley delivered justice to Dean Corll on August 8, 1973, when he shot him in self-defense. Wayne and David Brooks had been planning to kill Corll because they were afraid of him and afraid that he had gone crazy. They had always considered themselves potential victims and worried that they might not see it coming fast enough to escape. Also, Dean had been acting very strangely and they feared that his increased need for new victims and intensified savagery with the latest victims posed a threat to their collective security.
Despite their confessions of murdering and torturing a number of victims, neither Henley nor Brooks were likely candidates for the newly defined Texas guidelines on capital punishment. The Legislature did not provide that murder committed during just any felony could be punishable by death – only kidnapping, robbery, burglary, forcible rape and arson.
In 1974, Wayne Henley was convicted of murder in the deaths of six boys and was sentenced to six consecutive 99-year terms. In 1975, David Brooks was convicted of murder in the death of one 15-year-old boy and was sentenced to life.
Every three years by law, they come up for a parole hearing, but each time it is rejected. Mr. & Mrs. Walter Scott, whose son was murdered in the serial murder case, attends each parole review to ensure that the parole board does not forget their crimes, which topped the list of the worst crimes in the past 100 years in Houston history.
Wayne Henley has taken up art in prison and paints flowers and other nonviolent subjects. The offering of his paintings and other personal items on e-Bay has caused a stir of protest in the city of Houston and elsewhere. Unlike some states, Texas does not have a “Son of Sam” law that prevents criminals from profiting from books, paintings, etc. that become popular because of criminal notoriety.