Between 1970 and 1973, Dean Corll is known to have killed a minimum of 28 victims. All of his victims were males aged 13 to 20, 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 either or both of Corll’s accomplices; others were individuals with whom Corll had himself become acquainted prior to their abduction and murder and two other victims, Billy Baulch and Gregory Malley Winkle, were former employees of the Corll Candy Company. Dean Corll’s victims were usually lured into one of two vehicles he owned, a Ford Econoline van or a Plymouth GTX, with an offer of a party or a lift, and then driven to his house. There, they were plied with alcohol or other drugs until they passed out, tricked into putting on handcuffs, or simply grabbed by force. They were then stripped naked and tied to either Corll’s bed or, usually, a plywood torture board, which was regularly hung on a wall. Once manacled, the victims would be sexually assaulted, beaten, tortured and—sometimes after several days—killed by strangulation or shooting with a .22-caliber pistol. Their bodies were then 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 Corll’s family owned a lakeside log cabin); or a beach in Jefferson County.
In several instances, Dean Corll forced his victims to either phone or write to their parents with explanations for their absences in an effort to allay the parents’ fears for their sons’ safety. Corll is also known to have retained keepsakes—usually keys—from his victims. During the years in which he abducted and murdered young men, Corll often changed addresses. However, until he moved to Pasadena in the spring of 1973, he always lived in or close to Houston Heights. In the winter of 1971, Brooks introduced Elmer Wayne Henley to Dean Corll. Henley was likely lured to Corll’s address as an intended victim. However, Corll evidently decided the youth 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 “white slavery ring” operating from Dallas. Henley later stated that, for several months, he completely ignored Corll’s offer; however, in early 1972, he decided to accept the offer as he and his family were in dire financial circumstances. According to Henley, the first abduction he participated in occurred during the time Corll resided at 925 Schuler Street; an address Corll moved to in February 1972. (David Brooks later claimed that Henley became involved in the abductions of the victims while Corll resided at the address he had occupied immediately prior to Schuler Street.) If Henley’s statement is to be believed, the victim was abducted from the Heights in February or early March 1972. In the statement Henley gave to police following his arrest, the youth stated that he and Corll picked up “a boy” at the corner of 11th and Studewood, and lured him to Corll’s home on the promise of smoking some marijuana with the pair. At Corll’s residence—using a ruse he and Corll had prepared—Henley cuffed his own hands behind his back, freed himself with a key hidden in his back pocket, then duped the youth into donning the handcuffs before leaving him alone with Corll, believing he was to be sold into the sexual slavery ring.
The identity of this victim is not conclusively known, although it is possible the youth was Willard Branch, a 17-year-old Oak Forest youth known to both Dean Corll and Henley who disappeared on February 9, 1972, and whose emasculated body was found buried in the boat shed. A month later, on March 24, 1972, Henley, Brooks and Corll encountered an 18-year-old acquaintance of Henley’s named Frank Aguirre leaving a restaurant on Yale Street, where the youth worked. Henley called Aguirre over to Corll’s van and invited the youth to drink beer and smoke marijuana with the trio at Corll’s apartment. Aguirre agreed and followed the trio to Corll’s home in his Rambler. Inside Corll’s house, Aguirre smoked marijuana with the trio before picking up a pair of handcuffs Corll had left on his table, whereupon Corll pounced upon the youth, pushed him onto the table and cuffed his hands behind his back. Henley later claimed that he had not known of Corll’s true intentions towards Aguirre when he had persuaded the youth to accompany him to Corll’s home. In a 2010 interview, he claimed to have attempted to persuade Corll not to assault and kill Aguirre once Corll and Brooks had bound and gagged the youth. However, Corll refused; informing Henley 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 Dean 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 and Brooks 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 with a knife. However, Scott saw Henley pointing a pistol toward 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 in the murders committed at Schuler Street. Before Corll vacated the address on June 26, Henley assisted Corll and Brooks in the abduction and murder of a further two youths named Billy Baulch and Johnny Delome. 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 Delome in the forehead, with the bullet exiting through the youth’s ear. Delome then pleaded with Henley, “Wayne, please don’t!” before he too was strangled. Both youths were buried at High Island Beach.
During the time Dean Corll resided at Schuler Street, the trio lured a 19-year-old 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 occasion during the time Corll resided at Schuler Street, 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, in the summer of 1972, he is known to have killed a further two victims. The first of these victims, 17-year-old Steven Sickman, was last seen leaving a party held in the Heights shortly before midnight on July 19. The youth was savagely bludgeoned about the chest with a blunt instrument before he was strangled and buried in the boat shed. Approximately one month later, on or about August 21, a 19-year-old youth named Roy Bunton was abducted while walking to his job as an assistant in a Houston shoe store. Bunton was shot twice in the head and was also buried in the boat shed. Neither youth was named by either Brooks or Henley as being a victim of Corll, and both youths were only identified as victims in 2011.
Less than two months after the murder of Roy Bunton, on October 2, 1972, Henley and Brooks encountered two Heights youths named Wally Jay Simoneaux and Richard Hembree. Henley later informed police he and Brooks had spotted the two youths as they walked towards Hembree’s home. Simoneaux and Hembree were enticed into Brooks’ Corvette and driven to Corll’s Westcott Towers apartment. That evening, Simoneaux is known to have phoned his mother’s home and to have shouted the word “Mama” into the receiver before the connection was terminated. The following morning, Hembree was accidentally shot in the mouth by Henley. Several hours later, both youths were strangled to death and subsequently buried in a common grave inside Corll’s boat shed directly above the bodies of James Glass and Danny Yates. The following month, a 19-year-old Heights youth named Richard Kepner disappeared on his way to a phone booth. Kepner was strangled and buried at High Island Beach. Altogether, a minimum of 10 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 were murdered between February and November 1972; five of whom were buried at High Island Beach, and five 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 this address, he had killed a 17-year-old named Joseph Lyles. Lyles was known to both Corll and Brooks. He had lived on Antoine Drive – the same street upon which Brooks resided in 1973. On March 7, Corll vacated his Wirt Road apartment and moved into an address his father had vacated in Pasadena: 2020 Lamar Drive.
Henley awoke to find himself lying upon his stomach and Dean Corll snapping handcuffs onto his wrists. His mouth had been taped shut and his ankles had been bound together. Kerley and Williams lay beside Henley, securely bound with nylon rope, gagged with adhesive tape and lying face down on the floor. Kerley had also been stripped naked. Noting Henley had awoken, Corll removed the gag from his mouth. Henley protested in vain against Corll’s actions, whereupon Corll reiterated that he was angry with Henley for bringing a girl to his house and 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.
Dean Corll then handed Henley a hunting knife and ordered him to cut away Williams’ clothes, insisting that, while he would rape and kill Kerley, Henley would do likewise to Williams. Henley began cutting away Williams’ 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!” As Corll clambered off Kerley, Henley elaborated: “I can’t go on any longer! I can’t have you kill all my friends!” 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 (the bullet failed to fully penetrate Corll’s skull). Corll continued to lurch towards Henley, whereupon the youth fired a further two rounds, hitting Corll in the left shoulder. Dean 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. Henley would later recall that, having shot Corll, the sole thought dominant in his mind in the moments immediately thereafter was that Corll would have been proud of the way he had reacted to the confrontation, adding that Corll had been training him to react fast and react greatly, and that was what he had done.
After he shot 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. 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 told the officer that he was the individual who had made the call and indicated that the body of Dean Corll was 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 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 told detectives that before the police officer had arrived at Lamar Drive, Henley had told him, “I could have gotten $200 for you.”
- December, 24, 1939
- Fort Wayne, Indiana
- August, 08, 1973
- Pasadena, Texas
Cause of Death
- gunshot wounds of left chest and back
- Grand View Memorial Park
- Pasadena, Texas