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
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....
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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'
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
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
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,
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mary took the children and began running her own lolly
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
Then Henley admitted to doing some of the murdering
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
"Most of the killings that occurred after Wayne
came into the picture involved all three of us … Wayne seemed to enjoy
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.
(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 the Houston 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
May 21, 1972: Johnny DeLome, 16. Disappeared on his
way to the local store. He was shot in the head, then strangled by
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Man With The
Candy, Jack Olsen,
1975, Simon & Schuster ISBN: 0743212835
Encyclopedia Of Serial Killers,
Brian Lane and Wilfred Gregg, (Revised Edition 1996) Headline Book
Publishing ISBN 0747253617
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
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
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,
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
“ I’m gonna kill you
all!” Corll shrieked, according to Henley. “But first I’m gonna have my
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Sources for this feature
article are as follows:
Geberth, Vernon J.
“Homosexual Serial Murder Investigation,” Practical Homicide
Investigation Volume 43, No. 6, June 1995.
Gurwell, John K.
Mass Murder in Houston. Cordovan Press, Houston. 1974
Olsen, Jack, The
Man with the Candy. Simon and Schuster. 1974.
- Archives of the
Houston Chronicle and Houston Post.
- The Serial Killers: Colin Wilson and Donald Seaman,
True Crime Books
- John Gurwell: Mass Murder in
- Murder Casebook núm. 102: The
Candy Man, Dean Corll (1991).
- Jack Olsen: The man with the
- D. Reid y John Gurwell: Eyewitness