“I just killed a man…”
Born in Fort Wayne, Indiana on Christmas Eve 1939, Dean Corll was America’s worse serial killer until John Wayne Gacy (see opposite). He suffered from a heart condition but that did not stop him joining the army in 1964, when he first realized that he was homosexual. He was discharged after ten months.
His mother owned a sweet shop and Corll often gave sweets to his favourite young boys, earning him the nickname “The Candy Man”. When the shop went bust Corll became an electrician at the Houston Lighting and Power Company. He befriended two young men, David Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley, who became his partners in crime, sodomizing and murdering young boys.
On 25 September 1970 Corll claimed his first known victim, hitchhiking, 18-year-old University of Texas student Jeffrey Konen. Most of Corll’s victims were working-class boys from a section of Houston known as The Heights where running away was common and the police did not tend to investigate disappearances.
Ten days before Christmas two teenage boys, Danny Yates, 15, and James Glass, 14, were lured to Corll’s flat where he strangled them both. Another double murder occurred on 30 January 1971 when Corll killed brothers Donald, 17, and Jerry Waldrop, 13. Four more victims were despatched in 1971, including a former employee of the Corll sweet shop.
The bloodlust continued into 1972. On 21 May he murdered Billy Baulch, 17, who had also worked for Corll. Billy’s friend Johnny DeLome, 16, was killed the same day, shot in the head and then strangled by Henley. On 19 July 1973 Corll murdered Billy Baulch’s younger brother Tony, 15. Corll’s modus operandi was to give Brooks and Henley $200 to lure boys to his home where he gave them drink and drugs until they passed out. They were then stripped, strapped to a board and sodomized and tortured until they were murdered —sometimes days later. One investigator revealed that a victim had his “pubic hairs pulled out one by one, a glass rod shoved up his penis and a large bullet-like instrument pushed up his rectum”.
Pasadena, Houston, Texas, USA
Friday 25 September 1970—Friday 3 August 1973
The murders ended on 8 August 1973 when 17-year-old Henley telephoned the police to confess, “I just killed a man…” His victim was Corll whom he had shot six times in the head, back and shoulder. Police at first refused to believe Henley’s story of serial killing but were convinced when he told them the names of boys who had disappeared and took them to Corll’s boatyard where he had buried some victims.
In August 1974 Henley was sentenced to life imprisonment but in December 1978 his conviction was overturned. He was retried in June 1979 and again sent down for life. Brooks received a life term in March 1975.