Dean Corll: Wikis


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Dean Corll

Photo taken of Dean Corll in 1964, while Corll served in the U.S. Military
Background information
Also known as: The Candy Man
Born: December 24, 1939(1939-12-24)
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Died: August 8, 1973 (aged 33)
Cause of death: Shot to death by accomplice Elmer Wayne Henley
Number of victims: 27-28
Span of killings: September 25, 1970 – August 3, 1973
Country: United States
State(s): Houston, Texas

Dean Arnold Corll[1] (December 24, 1939 – August 8, 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 are believed to be responsible for the murders of at least 27 boys, the crimes coming to light only when Corll was shot and killed by one of his accomplices: Elmer Wayne Henley. At the time of the murders being discovered, the 'Houston Mass Murders' were the worst case of serial killing in American history.[2]


Early life

Dean Corll was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana to Mary Robinson and Arnold Edwin Corll.[3] Corll's father, Arnold, was strict with Dean and his younger brother, Stanley, whereas Corll's mother was extremely protective of her sons. Corll was a shy, serious child who seldom socialized with other children.[4] At the age of seven, Corll 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 physical education at school, where Corll was regarded as a well behaved student who achieved satisfactory grades. Corll also played trombone in his high school band.[5][6]

Corll's parents divorced in 1946, [7] but remarried and moved to Pasadena, Texas in 1950. In 1953, following the second divorce of Corll's parents, his mother married a travelling salesman with whom she had a daughter, Joyce, in 1955.[8] Corll's mother started a small candy company along with her second husband, operating from the garage of their home, and almost immediately, Corll was working day and night while still attending school.[9]

At age 19, the family moved to the Houston Heights and opened a new shop, named 'Pecan Prince'. [10] In 1959, Corll moved to Indiana to live with his grandparents.[11] He stayed in Indiana for almost two years, even forming a close relationship with a local girl, but returned to Houston in 1960 to help with his family's candy business.[12]

Following the breakdown of his mother's second marriage in 1963, Corll's mother appointed him vice president of the company and he moved into an apartment above the shop.[13]

Army life

Corll was drafted into the military on August 10, 1964,[14][15] and assigned to Fort Polk, Louisiana, and later to Fort Benning, Georgia, before his permanent assignment at Fort Hood, Texas as a radio repairman. Corll reportedly hated military service and was given an honorable military discharge after serving ten months.

Speculation remains as to whether Corll first realized he was homosexual while he served in the Army.[16]

Corll Candy Company

Corll returned to his family's candy firm, named 'Corll Candy Company' , and resumed his position within the family's business. The candy company had moved across the street from an elementary school, and Corll was known to give free candy to local children, in particular teenaged boys. Corll Candy Company employed a small workforce, and Dean was seen to behave flirtatiously towards several teenage male employees.[17] He even installed a pool table at the rear of the factory where employees and local youths would congregate. In 1967, Corll befriended David Brooks, who was then 12-years-old.[18]

Following the failure of her third marriage, Corll's mother and half-sister moved to Colorado. Although they often talked on the telephone, she was never to see her son again. In June, 1968, the Corll Candy Company closed[19] and like his father, Dean took a job as an electrician at the Houston Lighting and Power Company.[20] He worked there until the day he was killed by Wayne Henley.


Between 1970 and 1973, Dean Corll is known to have killed at least 27 times. All of the victims of Dean Corll were young males between the ages of thirteen and twenty, the majority of whom were in their mid-teens. Most victims had been abducted from Houston Heights, which was then a low-income neighborhood north west of downtown Houston. Corll was assisted in most of the abductions and murders by either or both of his accomplices: Elmer Wayne Henley and David Owen Brooks. Several victims were friends of either Henley or Brooks and two other victims — Billy Baulch and Malley Winkle — were former employees of Corll's candy company. During the years Corll is known to have been abducting and murdering youths, he frequently changed addresses,[21] although until he moved to Pasadena in early 1973, he always lived in or close to Houston Heights.[22]

Corll's victims would typically be lured into his van and driven to his house with a promise of either a party or drink. The victims would be tied to a torture board, sexually assaulted, tortured and — sometimes after several days — killed by either strangulation or shooting. Corll's victims were then tied in plastic sheeting[23] and buried in one of four separate locations: a boatshed Corll rented in 1970, on a beach on the Bolivar Peninsula, in woodland near Lake Sam Rayburn[24] or on a beach in Jefferson County. Many victims were listed by police as runaways despite their parents' protests to the contrary.

In several instances, Corll forced his victims to either phone or write to their parents with explanations for their absences in an effort to convince the parents that their sons were okay.[25] Corll is also known to have retained souvenirs — usually keys — from his victims.[26]

Corll killed his first known victim, an 18-year-old college freshman named Jeffrey Konen, on September 25, 1970. Konen vanished while hitchhiking with another student from the University of Texas to his parents' home in Houston;[27] he was dropped off alone at the corner of Westheimer Road and South Voss Road near the Uptown District of West Houston. At the time of Konen's disappearance, 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 parents' home in the Braeswood Place-West University Place area. Konen was buried at High Island beach.

Around the time of Konen's murder, David Brooks interrupted Corll in the act of assaulting two teenage boys whom Corll had strapped to a plywood torture board.[28] Corll promised Brooks a car in return for his silence. Brooks accepted the offer, and Corll bought him a green Corvette. Corll later admitted to Brooks he had killed the two boys, and offered him $200 for any boys he could lure to his apartment.[29]

On December 15, 1970, Brooks lured two 14-year-old boys named James Glass and Danny Yates away from a religious rally to an apartment Corll had rented on Columbia Street.[30] Both boys were raped, strangled and buried in a boatshed Corll had rented on November 17.[31] Between January and August, 1971, Corll killed six boys, all of whom lived in Houston Heights. Many were lured to Corll's apartment by Brooks, usually with the promise of "a party."[32]

In late 1971, following the August murder of 17-year-old Ruben Watson, Brooks introduced Elmer Wayne Henley, then aged fifteen, to Dean Corll, apparently as an intended victim. Corll decided Henley would make a good accomplice and offered him the same fee — $200 — for any boy he could lure to his apartment. Henley accepted the offer, and initially participated in the abductions of the boys, some of whom were friends of he or Brooks, then later actively participated in many of the killings. Henley gradually became Corll's major procurer of victims, although Brooks still played a lesser role in the abductions.[33] In 1972, a minimum of eight teenagers were murdered, all but three of whom were buried at High Island beach.

In 1973, Corll moved to Pasadena. In February, 17-year-old Joseph Lyles was killed and buried on a beach in Jefferson County. Between May[34] and July 7, a further four victims were killed and buried at Lake Sam Rayburn, where Corll's family owned a lakeside log cabin[35][36] On July 12, a 17-year-old youth named John Sellars was murdered and buried at High Island beach.[37] By August 3, Corll had killed a further four youths between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, all of whom he buried inside his boatshed.


At approximately 3 a.m. on August 8, 1973, Henley, then aged 17, went to Corll's house accompanied by 19-year-old Tim Kerley, who was supposed to be the next victim. Also with them was Rhonda Williams, 15, a friend of Henley.[38] David 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 began drinking. Henley, Kerley and Williams all passed out and awoke to find themselves tied up and Corll waving a .22-caliber pistol around, angrily threatening to kill them all. Corll dragged Henley into his kitchen and threatened to shoot him.[39] Henley calmed Corll, and the older man eventually put down the gun and released him.[40] Corll then insisted that while he would rape and kill Kerley, Henley would do likewise to Rhonda Williams.[41] Henley refused and grabbed Corll's pistol, ordering him to stop. Corll approached Henley, saying: "Kill me, Wayne!"[42] Henley shot Corll six times in the head, back and shoulder, killing him almost instantly. After releasing the other two youngsters, Henley called the police. While the three teenagers waited on the porch outside the house for the police to arrive, Henley told Kerley: "I could have gotten $200 for you."[43]


In custody, Henley explained that for almost three years, he and David Brooks had helped procure 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.[44] Henley gave a statement admitting he had assisted Corll in several abductions and murders of teenage boys, informing police Corll had buried most of his victims in a boatshed in Southwest Houston, and others at Lake Sam Rayburn and High Island Beach.[45]

Police were skeptical at first, as they assumed they were dealing with just the Corll homicide, ascribed to a result of drug-fuelled fisticuffs that had turned deadly. Henley was quite insistent, however, and upon Henley recalling the names of three boys - Cobble, Hilligeist and Jones - that had been procured by himself and Brooks for Corll, police accepted that there was something to his claims: 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[46] 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,[47] a number of dildos and lengths of rope. The rear windows of Corll's Ford Econoline van were sealed by opaque blue curtains,[48] and two wooden crates with airholes drilled in the sides were found in the van, one of which had human hair inside.

"He (Henley) started to take a step inside (the boatshed), but then his face just turned ashen, pale, grim... he staggered around outside the door. Right then's when I knew there were going to be bodies in that shed."
Houston Police officer describing Henley's actions upon leading police to Corll's boatshed on August 8.[49]

Search for victims

Henley agreed to accompany police to the boatshed in Southwest Houston, where Henley claimed the bodies of most of the victims could be found. Inside Corll's shed, police found a half-stripped car, which turned out to have been stolen, a child's bike, empty bags of lime[50] and a box full of teenage boys' clothing.[51]

Police began digging through the soft earth of the boatshed and soon uncovered the body of a teenaged boy, face up, encased in clear plastic and buried beneath a layer of lime.[52]. Police continued excavating, unearthing the remains of more dead boys in varying stages of decomposition.[53] Most of the bodies were wrapped in thick, clear plastic sheeting. Some victims had been shot, others strangled,[54] the ligature still wrapped tightly around their necks. All the victims found had been sodomized and most victims found bore evidence of sexual torture:[55] pubic hairs had been plucked out, objects had been inserted into their rectums, and glass rods had been shoved into their urethrae and smashed. In some instances, Corll had also castrated his live victims;[56] severed genitals were found inside sealed plastic bags. On August 8, a total of eight corpses were uncovered at the boatshed.

David Brooks presented himself at Houston Police Station on the evening of August 8, and gave a statement denying any participation in the murders, but admitting to having known Corll had raped and killed two youths in 1970.[57]

Timetable of discoveries[58]
August 8, 1973.
 — Eight bodies discovered in boatshed
August 9, 1973.
 — Nine bodies discovered in boatshed, and two bodies discovered at Lake Sam Rayburn
August 10, 1973.
 — Two bodies discovered at Lake Sam Rayburn. Two bodies discovered at High Island beach.
August 13, 1973.
 — Four bodies discovered at High Island beach.

On August 9, police accompanied Henley to Lake Sam Rayburn[59], where two further bodies were found in shallow graves. Police found a further nine bodies in the boatshed on August 9. On August 10, two more bodies were found at Lake Sam Rayburn, and two more at High Island beach. Brooks gave a full confession on August 10,[60][61] admitting being present at several killings and assisting in several burials, although he continued to deny any direct participation in the murders.[62]

On August 13, both Henley and Brooks accompanied police to High Island beach, where four more bodies were found, making a total of twenty-seven victims - the worst killing spree in American history at the time.[63]

Henley initially insisted that there were two more bodies to be found inside the boatshed, and also that the bodies of a further two boys had been buried at High Island beach in 1972.[64] At the time, however, it 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, and 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 enquiries regarding missing boys from parents across the United States.[65]

By December, 1973, twenty-one of Corll's victims had been identified, and all but four of the youths had lived in Houston Heights.[66] Families of Corll's victims — which included two who had lost two sons each to Corll — were highly critical of the Houston Police Department, who had been so quick to list the missing boys as runaways who were not considered worthy of investigation.


The known victims of Dean Corll, all of whom had been either shot, strangled, or both, that have been identified by police:[67][68]

  • September 25, 1970: Jeffrey Konen, 18. Picked up by Corll while hitchhiking to Houston. He was buried at High Island beach.[69]
  • December 15, 1970: Danny Yates, 14. 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, 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 Donald was murdered.[70]
  • 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 October, 2008.
  • May 29, 1971: David Hilligeist, 13. One of Henley's earliest childhood friends. Was last seen alongside his friend Malley Winkle climbing into a white van.
  • May 29, 1971: Malley Winkle, 16. Winkle was a former employee of Corll Candy Company who disappeared on his way to a local swimming pool. He was the boyfriend of Randell Harvey's sister.[71]
  • August 17, 1971: Ruben Watson, 17. Vanished on his way to the local cinema. Watson last called his mother to tell her he was spending the evening with Brooks.[72] He was strangled and buried in Corll's boatshed.
  • February 9, 1972: Willard Branch, 17. The son of a Houston Police officer who died of a heart attack in the search for his son. Remains identified July, 1985.[73][74][75][76]
  • March 24, 1972: Frank Aguirre, 18. Was the boyfriend of Rhonda Williams, whose presence in Corll's house sparked the fatal confrontation between Henley and Corll. He was buried at High Island beach.[77].
  • May 21, 1972: Johnny Delome, 16. Disappeared on his way to the local store. He was shot in the head, then strangled by Henley.[78]
  • May 21, 1972: Billy Baulch, 17. A former employee of Corll Candy Company. Baulch was strangled by Henley and buried at High Island beach.[79]
  • October 2, 1972: Wally Jay Simoneaux, 14. Vanished on his way to spend the night with his friend.[80]
  • 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.
  • November 12, 1972: Richard Alan Kepner, 19. Vanished on his way to call his fiancee from a pay phone, he was buried at High Island beach. Remains identified September, 1983.[81]
  • December 22, 1972: Mark Scott, 17. A friend of both Henley and Brooks. He was killed at Corll's Schuler Street address and buried at High Island Beach. Remains identified January, 1994.[82][83]
  • February, 1973: Joseph Lyles, 17. An acquaintance of Corll who lived on the same street as Brooks. He was buried at Jefferson County beach.[84]
  • 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. A married man from Louisiana who had a child. He was strangled and buried at Lake Sam Rayburn.
  • July 7, 1973: Homer Garcia, 15. Garcia met Henley at driving school. He was shot and buried at Lake Sam Rayburn.[85]
  • July 12, 1973: John Sellars, 17. From Orange, Texas. Sellars was shot and buried at High Island beach. He was the only victim to be buried fully clothed.[86]
  • July 19, 1973: Tony Baulch, 15. Corll had killed his older brother Billy the previous year. He was buried in Corll's boatshed.
  • July 25, 1973: Marty Jones, 18. Was last seen along with his friend, Charles Cobble, in the company of Henley.
  • July 25, 1973: Charles Cary Cobble, 17. A school friend of Wayne Henley. His body, shot twice in the head, was found in the boatshed.[87]
  • August 3, 1973: James Dreymala, 13. Disappeared while riding his bike in South Houston. He last called his parents to tell them he was at a "party" across town.[88]


  • 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.[89] Sellars, who was reported missing July 12, 1973,[90] had been killed by shots from a rifle whereas all Corll's other known victims had either been shot by a pistol or strangled. However, Henley and Brooks had led police to Sellars' grave on High Island beach.
  • In June 2008,[91] 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 boatshed and were estimated to have been killed in 1971 or 1972.[92] ML73-3378 was buried at Lake Sam Rayburn and is estimated to have been killed around May, 1973.[93][94] On October 17, 2008, ML73-3349 was identified as Randell Lee Harvey, a Heights teenager who had gone missing on March 9, 1971. Harvey, who had been shot in the head, 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.[95] Efforts to identify the two still-unidentified victims are ongoing.[96]
  • A body found on a beach in Jefferson County in 1983 is strongly believed to be a 28th victim of Dean Corll. The body - buried in a manner similar to other Corll victims - was identified November 11, 2009 through DNA analysis as 17-year-old Joseph Allen Lyles. Lyles - a Heights teenager who is known to have both visited Corll's apartment and to have lived on the same street as Brooks - disappeared in February, 1973. He is believed to have been abducted from a skating rink.[97] Lyles was listed as a possible victim of Corll in August, 1973.[98] At the time of his disappearance, Henley had temporarily moved to Mount Pleasant[99] and Brooks had recently married, which leaves a strong possibility Corll had killed Lyles without the asistance of either Henley or Brooks.

More victims?

Forty-two boys had vanished within the Houston area since 1970.[100] 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 Henley's insistence there were a further two bodies buried on the beach in 1972.

Fellow workers at the Corll Candy Company[101] 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.

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 August 17: the first victim of 1972 was Willard Karmon Branch, who disappeared on February 9, meaning no known victims were killed for almost 6 months. Moreover, Corll is not known to have killed between May 21 and October 2, 1972. One of Corll's two still-unidentified victims was killed in approximately May, 1973. The other, the 16th body found in Corll's boatshed,[102] was found wearing swimming clothing[103] leading investigators to conclude he was likely killed in summer months. The body was found near the entrance to the boatshed,[104] whereas the victims known to have been killed in 1970 and 1971 buried in the boatshed were found at the rear of the shed.[105] It is likely, though not conclusive, that this victim was killed in the summer of 1972, meaning a gap of almost six months between the dates Corll is known to have killed.

Police in Galveston County had also received reports of three men observed digging on Galveston beach in March, 1973. However, police were again unwilling to extend the search.[106]


Henley and Brooks were tried separately for their roles in the murders. Henley was brought to trial in San Antonio on July 1, 1974,[107] charged with 6 murders committed between March, 1972 and July, 1973. On July 16,[108] 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 was not charged with the death of Dean Corll, which was ruled self-defense.[109]

Henley appealed against his sentence and conviction and was awarded a retrial in December, 1978. [110] He was tried again in June, 1979[111] and was again convicted of six murders on June 27 and again sentenced to six consecutive 99-year terms.

David Brooks - who had married in 1973 and was expecting his first child at the time of Corll's death[112] - was tried in February, 1975, charged with four murders committed between December, 1970 and June, 1973.[113] Brooks was convicted on March 4, 1975 of the June, 1973 murder of Billy Ray Lawrence[114] and sentenced to life imprisonment.

As of 2010, both Henley and Brooks are still in jail.


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  • John K. Gurwell. Mass Murder in Houston. Cordovan Press, 1974.
  • David Hanna. Harvest of Horror: Mass Murder in Houston. Belmont Tower, 1975.
  • Brian Lane and Wilfred Gregg. The New Encyclopedia Of Serial Killers. Headline Book Publishing, (Revised Edition 1996). ISBN 0-7472-5361-7
  • Jack Olsen. The Man With The Candy: The Story of the Houston Mass Murders. Simon & Schuster, 1974. ISBN 0-7432-1283-5

FOX News Network, LLC. 11/12/2009. New Victim of 1970s Serial Killer Identified,2933,574288,00.html

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