Few crimes are as shocking and horrific as those of Dean Corll, the Candy Man Killer. While typically I would start this off with a creative intro, this post I would like to start off with a warning to all readers. The details in this story are extremely graphic, more so than usual for any true crime story. This story contains graphic details of sodomy, sexual torture, and mutilation involving young teenage boys. This story will not be for all readers. Feel free to skip over to another of my posts if this just isn't for you.
Dean Arnold Corll was born on December 24, 1939, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was born to parents, Mary Emma Robinson and Arnold Edwin Corll. He would be the first of their two boys. Arnold was a strict father and disciplinarian and Mary was a fiercely protective mother. The couple's youngest son, Stanley Wayne Corll, was born in 1941, and just four years later, in 1945, Arnold and Mary divorced. Their relationship had not been a happy one. Though there was no abuse at all in the home, Dean's parents argued frequently. Arnold was drafted into the US Air Force after the divorce, so Mary moved her children to a trailer in Memphis, Tennessee to be closer to their father.
Throughout his childhood Dean had been a shy kid that didn't socialize much with other children. He did, however, seem to show concern for others. When he was only 7-years-old, Dean suffered from an undiagnosed case of rheumatic fever. This is an inflammatory heart disease that can involve the heart, joints, skin, and brain. It typically develops two to four weeks after a streptococcal throat infection, or strep throat. His condition went completely unnoticed until doctors discovered a heart murmur in 1950. Due to his heart murmur, he was ordered to avoid physical education at school.
Arnold and Mary attempted to reconcile and they remarried in 1950. The four of them moved to Pasadena, Texas before the short-lived reconciliation ended in another divorce. The couple split again in 1953 on amicable grounds. Mary once again gained full custody of the boys, but they remained in contact with their father throughout their childhoods.
After Arnold and Mary's second divorce, Mary decided to travel the South for a while with her sons in tow. She eventually married again, this time to a traveling clock salesman named Jake West. The boys moved with their mother and new stepfather to the small town of Vidor, Texas. It was there that Dean and Stanley's younger half-sister, Joyce Jeanine, was born on August 10, 1955.
Mary and Jake started a small family candy company that initially operated out of their garage. Jake would take the candy with him on his route, usually involved West traveling to Houston. He would sell the candy right alongside his clocks and he quickly found that his candy was a hit. Even from the small beginnings of this modest family-run business, Dean worked day and night with his younger brother, running machines and packaging candy. The boys did all of this while also attending school.
From 1954-1958 Dean attended Vidor High School. He was seen as a well-behaved student and always achieved satisfactory grades in all of his classes. As a teenager Dean was a bit of a loner. He had a real interest in the brass band while he was in high school. He even joined the band and played the trombone. Despite his tendency to stick to himself, Dean did date some girls while he was a teenager.
He graduated high school and shortly after moved with his family to the northern outskirts of Houston. By this time the family candy company, Pecan Prince, was thriving. Jake and Mary were looking to open up their first real shop. They chose the location of Houston because sales had been the highest in that area. The shop opened and Jake West quit selling clocks on the road to sell his own brand of candy in his very own shop.
In 1960, Dean moved to Indiana for a short while. At the request of his mother, he moved in with his widowed grandmother. While he was there he had a very close relationship with a girl. That came to an end when she proposed marriage to Dean and he swiftly declined. He only stayed in Indiana for two years before moving back to Houston in 1962. He came back with bells on to help out with the family business as he had in high school. By that time the shop had relocated to Houston Heights.
Mary divorced Jake in 1963, and opened her own candy shop to compete with her ex. Dean was made vice-president of the new family business and Stanley was appointed secretary-treasurer. That very same year a male employee working for the new candy company came to Mary with a complaint. He said that her oldest son had made sexual advances towards him that made him uncomfortable. We'll see later that it likely wasn't the fact that he was making such advances that made people uncomfortable. It was very likely the way that he was doing it. Mary wanted to hear none of this and simply fired the male employee on the spot.
On August 10, 1964, Dean was drafted into the US Army and sent to Fort Polk, Louisiana for basic training. He was later assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia to train as a radio repairman before finally being sent to Fort Hood, Texas. Though his military career was very short, it was entirely unblemished, according to military records. He may have been well behaved, but he was no soldier. Dean absolutely hated military service and quickly realized that. It didn't take him long to apply for a hardship discharge on the grounds that he was needed for his family's business. His requested was granted and he was given honorable discharge on June 11, 1965. He spent a total of ten months in service.
Once he returned home, Dean opened up to some close friends about his time in the service. He disclosed to them that during this time he had realized that he was gay. He also told them that he'd had his first sexual encounter with another man while he was away. Those that knew him noted a significant change in his mannerisms when teenage boys were around. This was something they had never noticed before.
Dean resumed his position at the Corll Candy Company after his discharge from the Army. Just like he had in high school, he worked tirelessly to meet the public's demand for sweet treats. He also had to stay ahead of the competition. Jake West had retained Pecan Prince in the divorce and by that point was embroiled in a bitter battle with his ex-wife to also retain the city's devoted patronage. The Corll Candy Company relocated to 22nd Street in 1965. Their new store sat right across the street from Helms Elementary School, a prime spot for selling sugary snacks to the youth of Houston. Dean earned himself the nicknames "Candy Man" and "Pied Piper" for handing free candy out to local children, especially the teenage boys.
Corll Candy Company employed a small work force. Mostly kids just trying to make a little extra money. Dean was known to act very flirtatiously towards the teenage male employees. It wouldn't be an issue at all if he were flirting with men his own age, but teenage boys that aren't legally able to consent is not okay. He set a pool table up in the back of the candy shop, attempting to create a hangout for the kids of the area. It worked. Store employees and local teenagers would hang out in the back of the store regularly, with Dean in the center of it all.
In 1967, he made friends with a 12-year-old boy named David Owen Brooks. At the time, David was just a sixth grade student, and one of the many kids that accepted candy from Dean Corll. In the beginning, David was just hanging out in the back room at the candy store with the other teenage boys. He played pool and ate free candy right out of the devil's hand. He would also go on trips with Dean and other teen boys from the store to the beaches in South Texas. David would later comment that Dean had been the first adult in his life to not mock his appearance. The older man always seemed to have cash on hand as well. Whenever David needed it, Dean just handed him some money.
A close relationship quickly developed between the two. At first it seemed innocent enough. Dean helping the young boy out when he needed it and giving him a place to hang out besides the streets. He pretty much became a father figure to young David Brooks for a time. It only took a couple of years for Dean to start abusing that relationship and David. A sexual relationship developed at Dean's urging. No doubt, he'd been grooming the boy for this all along. In 1969, Dean began paying him to preform oral sex on him.
David's parents were divorced and he had been living with his father in Houston. When he was 15-years-old, he decided to drop out of Waltrip High School and move 85 miles east to Beaumont to live with his mother. He still visited his father regularly and also made a point to frequently visit Dean. He was allowed to stay at Dean's apartment right above the candy shop any time he wanted. David later admitted that he considered Dean's home his second home. It didn't take long for David to decide to move back to Houston and back in with his father. Later in that same year he came back and fell right back into his routine of regularly hanging out and staying with Dean.
By the time David had left high school, Dean's mother had moved from Texas to Colorado with his half-sister, Joyce. The move came after the collapse of Mary's third marriage and her candy company. While Dean stayed in regular contact with his mother over the telephone, they never actually saw each other again. Once Corll Candy Company closed its doors, Dean was forced to find a job and an apartment of his own. He started working at Houston Lighting and Power (HL&P), where he tested electrical relay systems. He also found an apartment at the corner of Yorktown Street, near the intersection with Westheimer Road. He wouldn't stay at this apartment, or any other residence, for very long. From this time until his death, Dean bounced from one residence to another, sometimes only staying in one place for just a matter of weeks.
It was in his first apartment that Dean committed his first recorded murder on September 25, 1970. Jeffery Konen was an 18-year-old student at the University of Texas. He'd been hitchhiking from Austin to his parent's home in Houston with another student. Jeffery had been dropped off at the corner of Westheimer Road and South Voss Road, near the uptown area of Houston. From there, he was likely offered a ride by Dean Corll, which he probably would've accepted. Jeffery's body wouldn't be found for three years.
He'd been buried at High Island Beach with many others just like him. He was found beneath a large boulder, naked, covered with lime, and wrapped in plastic. He was bound hand to foot, suggesting to investigators that he'd been sexually assaulted. A cloth gag was also found inside of his mouth. He was found to have died from asphyxiation caused by manual strangulation.
Around the time of Jeffery's murder, David actually walked in on Dean assaulting two teenage boys. The boys were strapped to a four-poster bed when David unexpectedly caught his father figure in the act. David later said that when he entered the room, Dean just jumped up in surprise and said, "I'm just having some fun!" It wasn't hard for Dean to buy his young companion's silence. He simply offered to buy the boy a car. David accepted the offer and shortly after was the proud new owner of a green Chevrolet Corvette. Initially, the naive young boy was told that Dean was part of a gay pornographic ring and he had sent the two boys he'd seen to California.
Later, he divulged that he'd actually killed the two young boys that David had witnessed that day. After this revelation Dean made his young friend an offer. He offered David $200 for each and every boy that he could lure back to his apartment. He made his deal with the devil and accepted the offer made to him. While $200 may not sound like much today, in 1970 it was equivalent to $1,437 purchasing power today.
On November 17, 1970, Dean began preparing to send his underage friend out for victims. That day he rented out a boat shed. This would end up being the burial ground for many of his victims. With his accomplice at the ready and his burial plot rented, Dean was ready to embark on the worst killing spree in US history until John Wayne Gacy's reign of terror. Gacy was even inspired by what would go down as the Houston Mass Murders, stealing some of Dean's tricks for himself. One in particular was his handcuff trick.
David lured two young boys to Dean on December 13, 1970. As he did with so many others, he lured the boys there with promises of alcohol to drink and weed to smoke. James Glass and Danny Yates, both 14-years-old, were from Spring Branch. The boys were attending a religious rally in Houston Heights that day when David happened upon them like a wolf in sheep's clothing. It wasn't hard to lure them away for a little partying. James was an acquaintance of David's that had already been to Dean Corll's house before.
Once they were there, the boys were strapped to opposite ends of Dean's torture board. Made with plywood, the torture board was of Dean's own creation. Both boys were raped and strangled to death on the board. Afterward, they were buried in the boat shed that would become the final resting place of so many. Poor Danny Yates had an electrical cord with alligator clamps on either end buried with him. Just like with all the rest of Dean's victims, their bodies would not be found until the summer of 1973.
It was only six weeks after the deaths of James Glass and Danny Yates that Dean encountered his next victims while out driving with David. On January 30, 1971, they saw teenage brothers, Donald and Jerry Waldrop, making their way towards their home. Just a short while earlier their father had driven them to a friend's house to discuss forming a bowling league. When they realized that their friend wasn't home, they turned around and left, walking back to their own house. The brothers were lured into Dean's van just before they could make it back to the safety of their parents. By this point, Dean had moved to another apartment on Magnum Road. The boys were taken there and raped on the torture board before being strangled and buried in the boat shed.
Between March and May of 1971, three more boys would go missing from the Houston Heights area. All three of these helpless victims were buried in the back space of the Candy Man's boat shed. David was a confirmed participant in the abductions of all three as well. The first of these three boys was lured to Dean's Magnum Road apartment on March 9, 1971. Randell Harvey was just 15-years-old when he ran into his fate on his way to work in Oak Forest. He had a job working part-time as a gas station attendant. Randell was last seen by his family as he left for work. He suffered the same rape and torture as those that came before him before being shot once in the head.
The next two of those three boys were abducted and killed together on the afternoon of May 29, 1971. David Hilligiest was only 13-years-old and Gregory Malley Winkle was 16. As boys were suddenly disappearing from the area two by two, concerned parents were pushing for legal action. These worried mothers and fathers were sleeplessly searching for their children and handing out flyers because the police weren't doing anything at all. Donald and Jerry Waldrop's father, Everett, complained to reporters about camping out in front of the police station for eight months. When his sons had first vanished he tried to file a missing persons report like any normal parent would in that situation. He was told, "Why are you down here? You know your boys are runaways."
David Hilligiest's parents were among the frantic family members searching for their loved ones. One of the boy's life-long friends offered to help his mother and father in their difficult time by distributing flyers. His name was Elmer Wayne Henley, known by friends and family as Wayne. He was just 15-years-old at the time and used every bit of his youthful energy to hang posters offering a reward for information about his friend all over the city. He also did his best to reassure David Hilligiest's parents that there had to be an innocent and reasonable explanation for his disappearance. Little did Wayne know at the time, he would soon find out what was happening to all of the teenage boys of Houston.
Unfortunately, at the time it wasn't illegal for teenagers to run away from home. It also wasn't exactly uncommon, either. Kids dropped out of school, left home, and went to work at much younger ages in the early '70s. Due to the law and the commonality of teens running away from home, the police chief claimed that there was nothing he could do about it. Needless to say, the first election after Dean Corll's crimes were brought to light, that police chief was voted out of his office.
On August 17, 1971, Dean and David were out driving around together when they encountered another of David's young acquaintances, Ruben Watson Haney. Ruben was walking home from a movie theater in Houston when he was asked if he wanted to go back to Dean's to hang out and party. He accepted and went along with no hesitation, as he had already been to Dean's new apartment on San Felipe Street for a party just a month prior. Having already been a guest of the Candy Man, he likely felt perfectly safe going back. He was also raped and tortured before being strangled and buried in the boat shed.
Dean moved again in September of 1971, to another apartment in the Heights area. While he lived at this residence, David assisted in the abductions and murders of two more teenage boys. To this day both of these boys identities remain unknown. The most that is known about their cases is that they were abducted at different times and they suffered the same torture and fate as all the others. One was kept actually kept alive for four days before being killed. David also disclosed later that one of the boys had been taken "just before Wayne Henley came into the picture."
It was the winter of 1971 when David introduced his friend, Elmer Wayne Henley, to his older companion. It's highly likely that Wayne had initially been an intended victim. For whatever reason, Dean seemed to see something in the young boy that made him think he'd make a good accomplice. It was possibly the fact that Wayne's family was in such dire financial straits at the time. He made the same $200 per boy offer to Wayne, which he claims to have initially declined. Dean fed Wayne a similar story to the one he'd told David when he was caught assaulting those two young boys just over a year prior. He said that he was involved in a "white slavery ring" that operated out of Dallas. For several months, Wayne claims to have ignored the offer, until he could no longer ignore his family's situation.
Wayne said that he was driven to accept his own deal with the devil in early 1972. According to his account, the first abduction he participated in Dean was living at 925 Schuler Street. David recalls his involvement beginning just before Dean moved into this residence on February 19, 1972. Regardless of when it happened, Wayne Henley did become involved and would stay involved up until the end.
On Wayne's first trip out with David and Dean, they picked up an unnamed boy from the corner of 11th and Studewood. They lured this boy back to Dean's by offering to smoke some weed with him. Once they got him back to the Candy Man's less than sweet lair, they preformed a trick that Dean had practiced with Wayne beforehand. Wayne handcuffed himself and then freed himself, using a key he had hidden behind his back. The boy then tried this trick, thinking they were trick handcuffs, but they weren't. Once the cuffs were on, Dean pounced. The poor, young victim was being bound and gagged as Wayne left the residence to forget all about this boy for two years. Wayne thought that the kid was being sold into sex slavery, which isn't any better.
Just a month after the poor unidentified victim was taken, Dean went out cruising with David and Wayne along for the ride. It was March 24, 1972, when the three of them encountered yet another acquaintance of David and Wayne's, 18-year-old Frank Aguirre. He was leaving work at a restaurant on Yale Street when he was approached. His friends asked if he would like to blow off some steam with some beer and weed at Dean's house. He accepted the offer to party and followed Dean's van there in his Rambler. The four of them all smoked together and hung out for a short while. When Frank noticed a pair of handcuffs on the table and picked them up, Dean pounced like a lion on a gazelle. He cuffed the boy's hands behind his back and sealed his fate right there.
Wayne later claimed that he had no idea Dean had intended to kill his friend that night. In a 2010 interview, he claimed that he'd tried to persuade Dean and David not to assault or kill the boy after they jumped him. The cold killer simply responded by being totally honest about what he wanted the boys for and what he'd done with the last boy Wayne had brought him. In the end, Wayne ended up participating in Frank Aguirre's burial. This time instead of burying him in the boat shed, they took him to High Island Beach for unknown reasons.
Though Wayne had learned the cold, hard truth of what Dean Corll really was, he still continued to participate in the abductions, and even the murders, of teenage boys. Many of these boys were friends and acquaintances of David and Wayne, led to slaughter just the same as any other random boy they found on the street. They didn't just leave their friends for Dean, either. Both of them would actively participate in the rape, torture, and murder of the victims. Clearly, Dean had a hold over these boys that they just couldn't seem to break.
Wayne helped David and Dean in another abduction on April 20, 1972. David and Wayne had both known the victim quite well before helping Dean kidnap him. And that's exactly what this turned into, a kidnapping. Mark Scott was 17-years-old and not nearly stupid enough to just get into a van and leave with this man, whether his friends were with him or not. When it was made clear that Mark wasn't going with them willingly, the three of them just took him by force as he ferociously tried to escape their grasp. He even tried to stab his abductors, but to no avail. He gave up his fight when he saw his friend, Wayne pointing a gun at him. He was taken back to Dean's to be strapped to the torture board and subjected to pure horror before being strangled to death.
Mark's body was buried at High Island Beach, like Dean's first victim and his previous. His parents quickly reported him missing after making frantic calls to friends, family, and neighbors. A few days after he vanished, his parents received a postcard in the mail, supposedly from their son. It said that he'd found a job in Austin making $3 an hour and he was doing well. Though this was a common occurrence for many young boys in that era, it's not something that Mark would've done. His parents insisted that Mark would've never left without saying goodbye. They just knew that something terrible had happened for their son to not come home, but they received the same level of urgency from police as all the other victim's parents.
According to David's own statement, Wayne not only participated in the next abduction and murder, he was especially sadistic. On June 26, 1972, The deadly trio abducted Billy Baluch and Johnny Delome. After the boys were strapped to Dean's bed, raped, and tortured, Wayne manually strangled Billy to death himself. Afterward he shouted, "Hey Johnny!" before shooting Johnny Delome in the forehead. The bullet exited through his ear and he somehow survived this terrifying encounter, pleading with Wayne, "Wayne, please don't!" Wayne ignored the poor boy's pleas for his own life and strangled him as he had his friend. They were also taken to High Island Beach and buried there.
While still living on Schuler Street, Dean actually let one victim get away. This lucky soul was William Ridinger, and he likely never felt lucky after what happened to him when he was just 19-years-old. Despite how lucky he may have felt, he would be one of only three to survive the Candy Man. Somehow, David managed to convince his older companion to let his friend go this one time. As far as we know, David never tried to convince Dean to let anyone else go. William suffered the same rape and torture as all of the Candy Man's other victims, but he lived to tell the story, though it would be a while before he finally did.
One other shocking and notable occurrence on Schuler Street was the assault of David Owen Brooks, himself. One day he entered the home, as he had on many other occasions. This time, Wayne was waiting to knock him over the head as he walked inside. David was knocked unconscious and tied to Dean's bed. The boy was repeatedly sexually assaulted before being released. Surprisingly, David continued to come back and aid in the abduction, rape, torture, and murder and teenage boys, many of them his own friends. The amount of brainwashing that had occurred between the time David first met this devil in disguise at the tender age of twelve and the time he was assaulted must have been epic. He likely had to have felt lucky to make it out of Dean's bedroom alive that day, as he was only the second to do so.
Dean moved once again in the summer of 1972, to an apartment at Westcott Towers. He would kill two more victims while he lived at this residence that wouldn't be identified for decades. The first was 17-year-old Steven Sickman. He was last seen leaving a party in the Houston Heights area just before midnight on July 19. He suffered a particularly brutal death, having been bludgeoned with a blunt object about the chest before being strangled to death. For whatever reason, Dean resumed taking victims back to the boat shed when he brought Steven there to be buried.
The next victim to be taken to Dean's apartment at Westcott Towers was 19-year-old Roy Bunton. He'd been walking to work at a shoe store in Houston, where he was employed as an assistant when he was last seen. Roy had been gagged with a section on Turkish towel before having tape placed over his mouth. Many of Dean's victims were gagged the same way. After suffering abuse and torture, he was shot twice in the head and buried in the boat shed. Steven and Roy were never named in either Wayne's or David's confessions. They were actually even identified as victims of Dean Corll's until 2011.
On October 2, 1972, Wayne and David were driving around in David's green Corvette when they saw two boys named Wally Jay Simoneaux and Richard Hembree. The boys were walking into Richard's house, so close to safety, when they were lured over to the Corvette and back to Dean's apartment at the Westcott Towers. At some point during the attack Wally actually managed to get a hold of a phone and call home. His mother answered the phone to hear her son scream, "Mama!" into the receiver before the call was disconnected. By the next morning the boys were still alive, though tormented, tortured, and abused. Wayne accidentally shot Richard in the mouth that morning, but he survived the gunshot that exited through his neck. He struggled with his wound for several hours before being strangled to death along with his friend, Wally. Their bodies were stacked on top of those of James Glass and Danny Yates at the back of the boat shed.
It was only another month before 18-year-old Willard Branch disappeared while hitchhiking from Mount Pleasant to Houston. Willard was originally from Oak Forest and had known both Wayne and David before his murder. Willard suffered the worst, having been gagged, tortured, and emasculated before being strangled.
After Willard, 19-year-old Richard Kepner vanished while walking to a telephone booth. After his struggle at the hands of the Candy Man, he was strangled and buried at High Island Beach. Nothing more of note is really known about his case.
Dean seemed to keep at about his same horrifying pace between the months of February and November of 1972. In that span of seven months, 10 boys went missing, ranging in age from 13-19. Five of these boy would be buried in the boat shed, while the other five were taken to High Island Beach.
He moved, yet again, on January 20, 1973, to the Spring Branch district of Houston. His newest residence was located on Wirt Road. He was only living there for two short weeks before he committed his first murder in that residence. Joseph Lyles was just on the cusp of life at 17-years-old. Unfortunately, he crossed paths with Dean Corll. Joseph had known David and Dean both previously. He even lived on the same street as David in 1973, Antoine Drive.
Like every other residence he'd lived at, Dean moved out shortly after moving in. On March 7, 1973, he left his home on Wirt Road to move into a residence in Pasadena previously occupied by his father. This home was located at 2020 Lamar Drive.
It was around this time, in early 1973, that Dean suffered from a hydrocele. This is an accumulation of serous fluid in a body cavity. A hydrocele testis, what Dean suffered from, is an accumulation of fluid around a testicle, often cause by peritoneum wrapped around the testicle. It really couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. As long as there is no hernia present, the condition should clear up on its own without treatment in the first year. It's likely due to this reason that no victims were taken between February 1-June 4 that year.
Around the time of Joseph Lyles' murder, Wayne decided to try distancing himself from Dean. He moved away to Mount Pleasant for a short while, but ended up coming back. Wayne's absence probably also contributed to the short break in killings. Dean would've been in a lot of pain, not only unable to lure victims, but unable to terrorize them as well. Wayne did seem to be a big help in the entire process, at least some of the time.
The inactivity in the beginning months of 1973 must have made the ruthless killer restless. When he resumed his killing spree in June he not only increased the rate at which he abducted and killed victims, he increased the level of brutality in his crimes. David and Wayne later testified to the increase in killings and savagery, saying that it was "like a blood lust." They stated that they came to know when Dean "needed to do a new boy," saying that he would become restless, chain smoking cigarettes and making reflex movements. On June 4, the Houston Mass Murders would ramp up in horrifying fashion.
Wayne and Dean worked together to abduct 15-year-old William Ray Lawrence. William was last seen by his father on 31st Street before his disappearance. He was kept alive for three long days of torture and pure hell. After suffering longer than any of Dean's other victims, he was strangled and buried at a new location. This time Dean took his poor, helpless victim to Lake Sam Rayburn. This would become an additional burial ground for him, along with High Island Beach and his rented out boat shed.
Less than two weeks after killing William Ray Lawrence, he abducted 20-year-old Raymond Stanley Blackburn. Not much is known about his abduction, but he was strangled and later buried at Lake Sam Rayburn along with Dean's previous victim.
Wayne began taking classes at the Coaches Driving School on July 6, 1973. It was there that he met 15-year-old Homer Luis Garcia. The very next day, Homer called home to tell his mother that he would be spending the night at a friend's house. He ended up being taken to Dean's, likely under the guise of having a good time, not realizing it would be Dean having the terrifyingly good time. Homer was shot and left to bleed to death in Dean's bathtub, one of his cruelest murders. They took him to Lake Sam Rayburn to bury him.
The Candy Man was only able to wait another five days before his next kill. On July 12, John Sellars, of Orange County, went missing. After being bound, raped, and tortured, he was shot. This time the victim was buried at High Island Beach.
For a short time in the summer of 1973, David stopped helping Dean procure victims for his torturous pleasure. He married his pregnant fiance in July of that year and ceased his contact with Dean afterward. Wayne become the sole procurer of boys, claiming that he only assisted in the abductions of three during David's short hiatus. These three boys were taken between July 19-25 of that summer.
One of these boys was the brother of one of Dean's previous victims, Billy Baluch. Billy's brother, 15-year-old Michael, was last seen on July 31 that fateful summer. He was on his way to get his hair cut when tragedy befell this family for the second time. He suffered the same fate at his brother, but was buried at a completely different location. Michael was strangled and taken to Lake Sam Rayburn.
The next two victims were taken together on July 25, Charles Cobble and Marty Ray Jones. The boys were killed and buried together in the boat shed. Wayne took care of the job of burying them all his own this time. Luckily for the entire city of Houston, the Candy Man's reign of terror was close to an end.
David had rejoined the group by this point and helped Dean abduct 13-year-old James Stanton Dreymala. James was from South Houston and was taken by the dreadful duo while riding his bicycle in Pasadena. He was driven back to Dean's Lamar Drive home under the pretense of gathering glass bottles for resale. The helpless young boy ended up strapped to the torture board to be abused and tortured like so many before him. James was strangled with a cord before being buried in the boat shed. David later described him as a "small, blond boy" that he'd bought pizza for and spent about 45 minutes with before he was attacked.
Later, when Wayne gave his statement to police, he said that even though he and David had been promised $200 for every boy they brought to Dean, in actuality they were only getting $5-$10 each time. The hold that Dean must have had over them is hard for any of us to imagine. How could a person accept such an offer and not immediately run to the police? As hard as it may be to understand what kept them coming back, what Wayne Henley ended up doing is quite easy to understand.
Wayne invited his friend, 19-year-old Timothy Cordell Kerley, back to Dean's bungalow for a party on the evening of August 7. Timothy had also been a casual acquaintance of Dean's, making the night seem all the more innocent to everyone. Wayne later insisted that he had no idea that Timothy was a target that night. He thought that they were just there to party. David wasn't present at his old friend's house, likely at home with his pregnant new wife that night. That left Wayne, Timothy, and Dean alone while Wayne and Timothy sniffed paint fumes and drank throughout the night.
Around midnight, Wayne and his friend left from the house, promising to come back shortly. They would wish for the rest of their lives afterward that they had just went home instead. They drove back to Houston Heights in Timothy's Volkswagen, which he parked near Wayne's house. When they exited the car, they could noise coming from one of their friend's houses. They walked over to investigate to find their friend, 15-year-old Rhonda Louise Williams, nursing a sprained ankle outside her home. She'd been beaten up by her drunken father and quite easily accepted Wayne's invitation to join them in Pasadena at Dean Corll's bungalow. As Dean was known by his two young accomplices to only target boys, he likely thought that no harm would come to Rhonda if she stayed there that night. He couldn't have been more wrong in his assumption.
Rhonda climbed from the back seat of Timothy's car and into Dean's driveway at around 3AM on the morning of August 8. When the trio walked in the door, Dean was initially furious with Wayne for bringing a girl back to his house. He even pulled his accomplice aside to inform him in private that she'd "ruined everything." Wayne quickly explained that Rhonda had fought with her father and didn't want to go back home. Dean seemed to understand and calm down, then offering the three teenagers some weed and beer. They graciously accepted his offer and all began drinking and smoking while Timothy and Wayne continued to sniff paint fumes. Approximately two hours later, all three passed out cold in Dean's living room.
Wayne awoke to a living nightmare playing out in front of him, and was at the center of it all. He was lying on his stomach, with his ankles bound, and his mouth taped shut as Dean snapped handcuffs tightly around his wrists. When he groggily looked to his side, he saw his friends face down, tightly bound with nylon rope, and gagged with adhesive tape. Poor Timothy had already been stripped completely naked. When Dean noticed his young friend coming to, he removed his gag. Wayne tried his best to protest what was happening, to which Dean coldly responded that he was angry with him for bringing a girl back to his house. He stated to the teenage boy, laying bound on the floor, "Man, you blew it bringing that girl," before shouting, "I'm gonna kill you all! But first I'm gonna have my fun!"
He repeatedly kicked Rhonda in her chest before dragging Wayne to his feet and into the kitchen. He stuck a .22-caliber pistol in the boy's stomach and threatened to shoot him. Somehow in the middle of all this chaos, Wayne actually manged to calm him down, assuring Dean that he just released him he would participate in the torture and murders. After thirty minutes of discussion between the two, Wayne was untied and his friends taken to Dean's bedroom to be tied to opposite sides of his bed. Timothy was positioned on his stomach while Rhonda was strapped down on her back. Wayne was handed a hunting knife and ordered to cut Rhonda's clothes off of her. By this point, the terrified teenagers had woken up to the same nightmare Wayne had, but with seemingly no hope of escape. Dean declared that while he was raping Timothy, Wayne would rape his friend, Rhonda.
Wayne removed Rhonda's gag and began to cut her clothes while Dean began assaulting his other friend. Timothy was writhing and screaming in pain as Rhonda lifted her head to a boy she thought she knew. She asked him in a quiet voice, "Is this for real?" Wayne simply answered, "Yes," to which Rhonda responded, "Are you going to do anything about it?" This seemed to be all it took to snap Wayne back out of Dean's twisted reality.
Wayne asked his demented mentor if he could take Rhonda to another room. Dean just ignored the request, likely not even hearing it as he was assaulting Timothy and listening to his cries of anguish. Wayne snapped in that moment and grabbed Dean's gun, pointing it dead at the man that had taught him how to kill. Wayne stared down the barrel of the gun and shouted, "You've gone far enough, Dean!" The naked man scrambled off of his victim as Wayne continued to shout, "I can't go on any longer! I can't have you kill all my friends!"
Dean began to advance on the boy holding him at gunpoint, saying, "Kill me, Wayne." Wayne backed up a few paces, likely not expecting this reaction, but Dean kept approaching, shouting, "You won't do it!" Famous last words spoken as Wayne fired directly into the Candy Man's forehead. The shot didn't penetrate his skull, so Dean just kept lunging at his assailant. Wayne responded by firing two more shots into the man's left shoulder. Dean ran from the room, hitting the wall in the hallway as Wayne fired three more shots into his shoulder and lower back. Dean Corll just slid down the wall outside of his bedroom, where he died, naked with his face towards the wall.
Wayne would later admit that in the immediate moments following the shooting, his first thoughts were that Dean would've been proud of the way he'd handled himself in the confrontation. Dean had trained him to act quickly and forcefully, and that was exactly what he had done. This just further goes to show the kind of hold that Dean Corll had over these impressionable, young minds.
Wayne freed his friends from their bindings and they discussed what they should do next. Wayne initially wanted to leave the house and never say a word about what had transpired there that morning. Timothy convinced him otherwise, saying, "No, we should call the police." Wayne agreed with him and looked the number for the Pasadena Police Department in Dean's own telephone directory. The call was placed at 8:24AM on the morning of August 8.
When operator, Velma Lines answered the phone that fateful morning, Wayne blurted out on the other end, "Y'all better come here right now! I just killed a man!" He gave them Dean's address of 2020 Lamar Drive in Pasadena. The three traumatized teenagers sat on the front porch, awaiting the arrival of police. As they waited in silence, Wayne spoke up about having killed before. He mentioned that he had "done that four or five times," just before authorities got to the scene.
Within minutes police arrived to find he kids sitting on the porch, looking worse for wear. The gun that had killed Dean Corll and so many others was lying in the driveway, not far from the teenagers. Wayne informed the officers that he had been the one to place the call and that Dean's body was inside the house. They confiscated the pistol and placed all three of them in the patrol car. Upon finding the corpse of the Candy Man killer, the officer emerged from the house and read Wayne his Miranda rights. Wayne shouted in response for the world to hear, "I don't care who knows about it! I have to get it off my chest!"
In Timothy's statement to police, he said that Wayne had told him as they waited for the police to get there, "If you wasn't my friend, I could've gotten $200 for you." In 2013, Rhonda gave an interview where she stated that Dean's actions that morning visibly shook something in Wayne's mind. She also said that Dean seemed to be quite surprised by this.
When Wayne Henley was taken into custody, he was initially only questioned about the murder of Dean Corll. He recounted the previous night's events and explained that the shooting had been an act of self-defense. Rhonda and Timothy's stories corroborated his own, so the police had no problem believing this story. He was then questioned about the comments he'd made as Dean threatened him that morning. These comments implicated himself in several murders of young boys.
When Wayne initially explained the situation in its entirety, police didn't know what to believe. He said that in the beginning, he believed Dean to be involved in a Dallas-based ring for "homosexual acts, sodomy, maybe later killing." It wasn't long after that he learned the truth about what Dean was requesting these boys for. He admitted that he'd actively participated in the torture and mutilation of "six or eight" victims before their murders. He told authorities that the bodies could be found mostly buried at Dean's rented boat shed, while others were located between High Island Beach and Lake Sam Rayburn. The boy even freely admitted to accepting payment of up to $200 for each boy he brought to this man.
Investigators were rightfully skeptical. This sounded like a truly unbelievable story he was pitching. At first, they thought that his story was just that, a story meant to cover up what really happened. They figured that this was nothing more than a drug-fueled fight that had gone too far. Wayne didn't give up, though. He insisted that he was telling the truth. Detectives finally started to listen when he gave them three names already listed as missing persons with the Houston Police Department, Charles Cobble, David Hilligeist, and Marty Ray Jones. When Wayne gave them these names they became much more interested in his story. What they would uncover as they continued to peel this fucked up onion would change even the most seasoned detectives in the city.
Dean's house was further searched after detectives spoke at length with Wayne that day. When they entered his bedroom they found the floor covered with a thick plastic sheet. They also recovered his 8 by 3 ft (2.44 by 0.91 m) plywood torture board as well. The board had handcuffs attached to nylon rope fixed to one end of it while the other was fixed with just nylon ropes on either corner. A staggering amount of evidence was recovered aside from what was found in the bedroom. A hunting knife, rolls of clear plastic sheeting, 8 pairs of handcuffs, several dildos, thin glass tubes, lengths of rope, an electric motor with loose wires attached, and a portable radio rigged to a pair of dry cells for increased volume were taken as evidence.
Dean's Ford Econoline van, sitting right in his driveway, was also searched. It was the definition of the creepy stalker van, customized with the intention of abducting and killing young boys. The rear windows were sealed with opaque blue curtains to prevent anyone from seeing inside. The back was outfitted with pegboard walls that held several hooks and rings. Investigators also found a coil of rope, a swatch of beige rug, stained from victims soiling themselves, and a wooden crate with air holes drilled into the sides. Another wooden crate just like it was found in Dean's backyard. This one contained strands of human hair.
As if this case wasn't quickly becoming the stuff of nightmares, Wayne offered to take police to Dean's boat shed in Southwest Houston. He told them it was there that they would find most of the victim's bodies. Inside the boat shed they found a half-stripped stolen car, a child's bicycle, a large iron drum, water containers, two sacks of lime, and a large plastic bag stuffed full with teenage boys' clothes. Two prison trustees were brought in to dig up the soft, shell-crushed earth inside the shed. It didn't take them long to uncover the largest, most brutal mass murder to date so far in 1973. It all started with one blond-haired boy, lying on side, wrapped in plastic, and buried beneath a layer of lime. As they continued to excavate, they uncovered many more victims in varying stages of decomposition.
Most were wrapped in thick, plastic sheeting. Some had been shot, while others had been strangled and buried with the ligatures still around their necks. All of them were found to have been sodomized. Most of these poor young men bore signs of depraved sexual torture that most couldn't imagine in their worst nightmares. Pubic hairs plucked out, genitals chewed on, objects inserted into victim's rectums, and glass rods inserted into their urethra just to be smashed. These boys were found with cloth rags shoved into their mouths and adhesive tape wrapped around their heads to gag them. The first victim to be unearthed was found with his tongue protruding more than an inch beyond the tooth margin. The third was found with his mouth so widely agape that his upper and lower teeth were plainly visible, leading investigators to theorize that he'd died while screaming.
At 11:55, the night of August 8, the eighth victim was unearthed. It was at that point that investigators decided to halt for the night so everyone could try to get some rest. Likely, no one was resting after what they'd seen that day.
After being implicated by Wayne, David Owen Brooks showed up to the Houston Police Department with his father on the evening of August 8. He denied any participation in the murders, but admitted that he knew two of Dean's victims, killed in 1970. Wayne gave a written statement on August 9, saying that he had killed approximately nine of the victims himself. He also stated that throughout the spree, they had only abducted three boys without David's involvement, this occurring in 1973.
Wayne accompanied police to Lake Sam Rayburn, where he, David, and Dean had buried four victims that year. Two additional bodies were found in a shallow grave near a dirt road, covered with lime. The lakeside cabin that Dean's family owned was also searched, finding the same macabre set-up as they'd discovered in his house and van. Another plywood torture board was recovered, along with rolls of plastic sheeting, shovels, and sacks of lime. As the bodies and the burial grounds began to pile up, so did the mountain of evidence proving Dean Corll's guilt.
Nine more bodies were unearthed in the boat shed on August 9, between 12:05PM-8:30PM. They were all in an advanced state of decomposition. The 12th victim was discovered with his genitals sealed in a plastic bag beside his body. Another boy was found to have several fractured ribs. The 13th and 14th to be found had their IDs still on them, identifying them as Donald and Jerry Waldrop.
David finally gave his full confession on the evening of August 9. He admitted to being present for several murders, and to participating in several burials, but he never admitted any involvement in the killings. He would say of his murderous companion's torture board, "Once they were on the board, they were as good as dead; it was all over but the shouting and the crying." After confessing his crimes, to an extent anyway, he agreed to help authorities locate bodies at High Island Beach.
Wayne went back to Lake Sam Rayburn with police to find two more victims just 10 ft, (3 m) apart. Much like the two that had been found there the previous day, these boys had been tortured and severely beaten, especially about the head. That same afternoon, Wayne and David both were taken to High Island Beach, where they directed authorities to the shallow grave of two victims. That wouldn't be their last trip to the beach, though.
The two accomplices were taken back to High Island Beach on August 13, where another four victims were unearthed. This brought the body count to 27 at that time. Wayne initially insisted that there were two more bodies buried in the boat shed and an additional two that had been taken to High Island Beach. Ultimately, Dean totaled 28 recorded victims before being killed, himself. The Houston Mass Murders went down as the worst killing spree in American history until John Wayne Gacy's crimes were brought to light just five years later. Gacy, who killed 33 teenage boys and young men, said he'd actually been influenced by the coverage on Dean Corll's case to manacle his own victims.
The families of the Candy Man's victims were very critical of the Houston Police Department, and rightfully so. All 28 of these missing boys and young men had been written off as runaways that weren't worth the time and dedication of a proper investigation. As hard as the parents tried to make authorities understand that their boys had no reasons to run away, they were still dismissed. Once Wayne Henley and David Owen Brooks brought the ugly massacre to light, families all over the city were incensed. They said that police should've noted the pattern of missing boys in the area.
Everett Waldrop, father of Donald and Jerry Waldrop, was appalled at the lack of attention his sons' cases were receiving. He'd even been dismissed just attempting to report his boys missing in 1971. An acquaintance had informed him that Dean had been seen burying what appeared to be bodies at hos boat shed. When he tipped police off, they only preformed a half-assed cursory search outside of the boat shed. They never looked inside. If they had, the Houston Mass Murders could've been stopped so much sooner and Dean would've actually seen prison time. After the lack of concern she received from police, Gregory Winkle's mother stated, "You don't run away with nothing but a bathing suit and 80 cents."
By May of 1974, 21 of Dean Corll's victims had been identified. All but four of them either lived in or had close connections to the Houston Heights area. Two more were finally identified in 1983 and 1985. One of those boys was Richard Kepner, from Houston Heights. The other was Willard Branch, from the Oak Forset district of Houston.
A grand jury convened in Harris County to hear evidence presented against Wayne and David to figure out how to charge them. The first witnesses to take the stand were Rhonda Williams and Timothy Kerley. They spoke about the events of the night of August 8, and the morning of August 9, that led to Dean's death. William Ridinger, the only other victim to escape his grasp, also testified. He spoke in detail about the depraved abuse he was subjected to before being released. After six hours of witness testimony heard from several people, the grand jury had a ruling. Initially, Wayne had only been indicted on three counts of murder, while David was being charged with just one. Bail for each boy was set at $100,000.
The District Attorney requested that Wayne undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether or not he was mentally competent to stand trial. Wayne's attorney, Charles Melder, flat out opposed on the grounds that it would violate Wayne's constitutional rights. By the time the grand jury concluded their investigation, Wayne was charged with six murders, while David was charged with four. Wayne was never charge with Dean's death. On September 18, 1973, prosecutors ruled that he'd acted in self-defense.
The Candy Man's surviving accomplices were tried separately, with Wayne's trial beginning in San Antonio on July 1, 1974. He was charged with the six murders committed between March of 1972 and July of 1973. The prosecution had dozens of witnesses at their disposal, including Timothy Kerley and William Ridinger. Wayne's own written statements, read by police, also helped to damn his case.
In one part of his confession, he spoke about two of the murders that he ended up being charged with, those of Charles Cobble and Marty Ray Jones. He stated that after the boys had been assaulted and tortured, each of them had one wrist and one ankle bound to the same side of the torture board. They were forced to fight to the death with the promise that the surviving boy would be allowed to leave. They fought for several hours before Marty was tied to the board and forced to watch his friend be assaulted, tortured, and shot to death. Marty was also further assaulted and tortured before being strangled with a Venetian blind cord. Both boys were killed on July 27, 1973, just two days after they had been reported missing by family.
Parents of several of Dean Corll's victims had to leave the courtroom as police and medical examiners described the extensive torture their loved had suffered before their gruesome murders. They needed to escape the traumatizing trial just to gain their composure in private. These families had already been through hell and back just trying to prove their sons, brothers, grandsons, and nephews hadn't run away from home looking for better opportunities. The trials of the accomplices that had been paid to abduct and bring these boys to the devil himself was more than anyone could've handled.
The 82 pieces of evidence presented at trial were absolutely staggering and damning. Dean's torture board was among those items, along with one of the wooden crates he used to transport victims. This crate contained strands of human hair that were found to have belonged to Charles Cobble and Wayne Henley. Throughout the trial, Wayne took his defense team's advice and refrained from testifying in his own defense. The team did not call any witnesses or experts to testify, either. Closing arguments were presented on July 15, 1974. While the prosecution was seeking life imprisonment, the defense was actually hoping for a not guilty verdict. In the District Attorney's closing argument, Carol Vance apologized for not being able to seek the death penalty in this case, calling it the "most extreme example of man's inhumanity to man I have ever seen."
It only took the jury a total of 92 minutes to find Wayne Henley guilty on all six counts of murder. Formal procedures for sentencing him began the following day, on July 16. On August 8, a year to the day after the fateful party, Judge Preston Dial ordered that Wayne serve each of his 99-year sentences consecutively, totaling 594 years. He was transferred to the Huntsville Unit to begin serving his very long sentence.
He later appealed his sentence and conviction, though. The appeal was filed on the grounds that his initial trial had not been sequestered. This means that the jury had not been isolated to avoid accidental or deliberate tainting of the jury by exposure to outside influences or information not admissible in court. He also contended that his attorney's objections to news media being present had been overruled. They had also overruled the defense team's attempts to present evidence that the initial trial should never have been held in San Antonio. His appeal was upheld in December of 1978, and he awarded a new trial set to begin on June 18, 1979 in Corpus Christi, Texas.
He was represented by the same defense team that had defended him in his previous trial. Attorneys, Will Gray and Ed Pegelow, tried once again to have Wayne's written statements ruled as inadmissible, but they failed again. Judge Noah Kennedy ruled that the statements made by Wayne Henley on August 9, 1973, would be admissible as evidence. Throughout the nine-day retrial, the defense called no witnesses or experts. They simply tried to attack the credibility of their client's own statement, while also arguing that the evidence presented at trial had "belonged to Dean Corll, not Elmer Wayne Henley." This time, the jury deliberated for more than two hours before finding Wayne guilty, once again, on all six counts. He received the same six consecutive 99-year terms again.
David's trial began on February 27, 1975. Though he had initially been indicted on four counts of murder committed between December 1970-June 1973, he was only charged with one. This was the June 1973 murder of 15-year-old William Ray Lawrence. David's attorney, Jim Skelton, argued that David hadn't committed any murders. He said that it had been Dean Corll, and to a lesser extent, Wayne Henley that had committed the crimes. Assistant District Attorney, Tommy Dunn dismissed the defense's contention. At one point he said, "This defendant was in on this killing, this murderous rampage, from the very beginning. He tells you he was a cheerleader if nothing else. That's what he was telling you about his presence. You know he was in on it."
David's week-long trial ended in a guilty verdict. The jury only deliberated for 90 minutes before they reached their verdict. He was sentenced to life in prison on March 4, 1975. He showed no emotion whatsoever as if poor wife burst into tears hearing her husband's fate.
David would appeal his sentence, too. He contended that the signed confession used against him in court had been taken without him being informed of his rights. His appeal was dismissed in May of 1979.
Wayne is currently serving his sentence at the Mark W. Michael Unit in Anderson County, Texas. Successive parole applications dating back to July 1980 have all been denied. Wayne Henley is next eligible for parole in October 2025. David served his life sentence out at the Terrell Unit near Rosharon, Texas. He died of COVID-19 related complications at a Galveston hospital on May 28, 2020. He was 65-years-old.
There are few murder sprees as brutal and nightmare-inducing as that of the Houston Mass Murders. What the victims experienced at the hands of this monster was worse than any horror movie Hollywood could dream up. Even the officers and detectives working this case couldn't believe what they were uncovering. None of them would sleep as well after bring the Candy Man Killer's crimes to light. Don't you remember your other telling you to never take candy from strangers? This is why.