Hey, y’all, and welcome to Southern Macabre! Thank y’all so much for tuning in today for True Crime Friday. Today I’m going to tell y’all about a solved case from Texas. I’m going to try to spare y’all the graphic details, but y’all may not want your young’uns listening in.
* While I was recording, I got a notification on my tablet that I have set to say, “I’m your Huckleberry” an infamous line from the movie Tombstone. Due to when it occurred, I left it as it seemed fitting to me. There is a note in the transcript when it happens on the recording. *
Dean Arnold Corll was born December 24, 1939 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but moved to Memphis, Tennessee after his parents, Arnold and Mary Corll, divorced. His father was stationed there with the U.S. Air Force and his mother wanted him to still have contact with both of his sons, Corll, and his younger brother, Stanley Wayne Corll.
His parents reconciled, remarried, and moved to Pasadena, Texas. It didn’t last long and they divorced on good terms and Arnold maintained contact with his boys.
After this divorce, Mary married a traveling clock salesman named Jake West. They moved to Vidor, Texas where his half-sister, Joyce, was born. Mary and Jake started a family-owned candy company in their garage and Jake would sell it to his clients. Corll worked in the candy kitchen all of the time, even though he was still in school. He and his brother were responsible for the candy-making machines and packaging.
The family moved just outside Houston in 1958, when Corll graduated, to help the popular candy company, Pecan Prince, grow. In 1960, Mary asked Corll to move in with his elderly grandmother, which he did.
During this time, he became friends with a local girl. She proposed marriage to him in 1962, but he turned her down. He returned to Houston in 1962 to help with the candy shop that had moved to Houston Heights by then. He moved into an apartment above the store.
Mary divorced Jack in 1963 and opened Corll Candy Shop. Corll was appointed vice-president and Stanley was secretary-treasurer. That year, one of the teenaged male employees told Mary that Corll had made sexual advances towards him, so she fired the employee.
On August 10, 1964, Corll went to Fort Polk, Louisiana after being drafted by the U.S. Army. He was then assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia where he was trained to fix radios. His permanent assignment was Fort Hood, Texas. He was honorably discharged after ten months of service so he could go back to Houston to help with Corll Candy Company.
Corll reportedly told close friends that it was during his time in the Army that he realized he was a homosexual and had had his first homosexual experiences during that time. Others noticed how he acted around teenaged boys after he came home and wondered if he was a homosexual.
He returned to a fierce competition between Pecan Prince, his former stepfather’s company, and Corll Candy Company, his mother’s business. He increased the number of hours he worked in order to meet the demand for his family’s candy.
In 1965, Corll Candy Company relocated across the street from an elementary school. Corll earned the nickname “ The Candy Man ” and “Pied Piper ” because he would give free candy to children, especially teenage boys.
The “Pied Piper” title was a bit prophetic as the legend says that the Pied Piper lured children to their deaths and their families never saw them again.
Only a few people worked in the candy store and he was seen to behave inappropriately with several teenage male employees. He bought a pool table which he set up at the back of the store where employees and young people would hang out.
In 1967, he befriended a sixth grader named David Owen Brooks, one of the many who received free candy from him. Brooks would spend a lot of time with Corll and the other teenagers he associated with. He joined Corll and many other teenagers on excursions to South Texas beaches. Whenever Brooks said that he needed cash, Corll would give it to him. Brooks began to view him as a father figure.
Corll pressured him into a sexual relationship and began giving him money and gifts in exchange for Brooks allowing him to perform oral sex on the boy.
Mary got divorced for the third time and the candy shop closed in 1968. She and Joyce moved to Colorado that year. Corll took a job at the Houston Lighting and Power Company as an electrician.
In 1970, Brooks dropped out of high school and went to live with his mother in Beaumont, about 85 miles away. He visited his father, and Corll, every chance he got and Corll allowed him to stay at his apartment whenever he wanted. He moved back to Houston later that year.
Before we get into his murder spree, I want to let y’all know that I’m not going to tell you the graphic details I read while researching this case. I found them deeply disturbing, beyond anything I have ever read or heard. If you want to know exactly what he did to his victims, you can read about it in the Wikipedia link in the credits. I hope y’all understand why I am choosing not to share these details. If not, read what he did and I think you’ll see why I made this decision early on. I will say, as a Christian, an eternity in hell is too good for this monster.
Corll killed his first known victim, 18-year-old college freshman Jeffrey Konen, in September of 1970. Jeffrey vanished while hitchhiking from the University of Texas to his parent’s home in Houston. He was dropped off alone near Corll’s home and was offered a ride, which he evidently accepted.
Brooks led police to his body at High Island Beach in August 1973. Forensic scientists said that he died of asphyxiation caused by manual strangulation and a cloth gag being placed in his mouth. Jeffrey’s body was buried under a large boulder, covered with a layer of lime, wrapped in plastic, naked and bound. The position suggested that he had been sexually assaulted.
Around this time, Brooks walked in on Corll sexually assaulting two teenaged boys he had strapped to his four-poster bed. He offered Brooks a car in exchange for his silence, the boy agreed, and Corll bought him a green Chevy Corvette. He later admitted to killing the boys to Brooks and offered him $200 ($1,437 today) for each teenaged boy he brought to him.
On December 13, 1970, Brooks lured two Spring Branch 14-year-olds named James Glass and Danny Yates from a religious rally being held near Corll’s apartment. James was an acquaintance of Brooks who had been to Corll’s apartment before. Both boys were strapped to Corll’s torture board and raped, strangled, then buried in a boat shed Corll had rented in November.
Six weeks later, Corll and Brooks met Donald and Jerry Waldrop as the brothers walked home. The boys were lured into Corll’s van and driven to his new apartment where they met the same fate as the previous two boys. They, too, were buried in the boat shed.
Between March and May of 1971, Corll abducted, tortured, raped, and murdered 15-year-old Randell Harvey, 13-year-old David Hilligiest, and 16-year-old Gregory Malley Winkle. All three were buried in the boat shed. Brooks was involved in all three of their disappearances and deaths.
Of course the family members were searching for their missing sons along with the boy’s friends. A lifelong friend of David named Ruben Watson Haney was one who was putting up missing posters in hopes that David would be found alive, not knowing it was already too late.
Brooks invited Haney to a party at Corll’s new apartment on San Felipe Street in August. Sadly, he met the same fate as his friend.
Corll moved to another apartment in the Heights in September of that year. Brooks admitted to killing two victims there just before a second boy was recruited to assist them. These two victims have never been identified.
In the winter of 1971, Brooks introduced Elmer Wayne Henley to Corll. He probably intended Henley to be the next victim, but Corll liked the boy and told him that he was the head of a “white slave ring”. He offered Henley the same deal he had made with Brooks, but Henley turned him down. At first.
In early 1972 he accepted, saying that his family was in a severe financial bind. Henley said the first abduction he participated in occurred after Corll moved in February of that year. He and Brooks lured the boy to the apartment with the promise of smoking some weed with them. Once there, Henley cuffed his own wrists behind his back and freed himself with a key hidden in his back pocket. Then he tricked the boy into handcuffing himself. Henley then left the apartment thinking the boy would be sold in Dallas. This victim has never been identified.
A month after that, the trio came across 18-year-old Frank Aguirre as he was leaving a restaurant. Frank was an acquaintance of Henley who called the young man over to Corll’s van. He invited him to come back to the apartment to smoke weed and drink beer, which Frank accepted. He followed them to Corll’s apartment in his Nash Rambler. Once inside, after smoking some pot with the others, Frank picked up some handcuffs on the coffee table. Corll pounced on him, handcuffed, and gagged him.
Henley said that he had not known Corll’s intentions when he had called Frank over to the van – he had just thought the man would be sold into sexual slavery. As if that wasn’t bad! In a 2010 interview, he claimed to have begged Corll not to do anything to Frank and that’s when Corll told him what he had done with his other friends who had been brought to the apartment. Henley helped bury his friend’s body in the boat shed and continued assisting Corll.
Corll continued to move every so often throughout 1972 and his number of victims continued to grow.
In 1973, he stopped killing for a little over four months because Henley had temporarily moved to Mount Pleasant and he had a hydrocele, a pocket of fluid building up in a body cavity.
When he started killing again in June, his murders became more violent and more frequent. On June 7th, William Ray Lawrence was murdered followed by Raymond Stanley Blackburn two weeks later. Homer Luis Garcia was killed on July 6th and John Sellars on the 12th. This continued until August 3, 1973 when Corll killed James Stanton Dreymala.
Henley invited 19-year-old Timothy Cordell Kerley to Corll’s Pasadena residence on August 8, 1973. Kerley, who knew Corll, accepted. Brooks was not there that night. They sniffed paint fumes until about midnight, when they asked to leave and promised to come back quickly.
They parked near Henley’s home when they heard a bunch of noise across the street, which was where his friend, 15-year-old Rhonda Williams, lived. She had been beaten by her drunk father and accepted the pair’s invitation to go back to Corll’s apartment with them.
They got back to Corll’s apartment at 3am and he was furious that they had brought a girl with them. Corll told Henley that he had, “ruined everything” which is when Henley told him what had happened to her. He seemed to calm down and offered the three beer and marijuana until they passed out.
When Henley awoke, Corll was handcuffing him and he was gagged and bound. He had been stripped naked. Corll shouted that Henley had blown it bringing Rhonda and that he was going to kill them “after he had his fun”. (In the audio you will hear Doc Holliday say, “I’m your huckleberry”. This is how I get notifications on my tablet so I did not add this in, it was completely random and unplanned. I left it because this is how he responded whenever someone threatened to kill him in the movie Tombstone. You’ll see why it’s fitting in a moment.) Henley promised to assist with raping and killing Timonthy and Rhonda if Corll would release him from his bonds. After thirty minutes of discussion, Corll agreed and gave him a hunting knife to cut off Rhonda’s clothes.
There was a fight and Henley ended the murder spree by shooting Corll six times with a .22 caliber pistol. He then called the police and told them what he had done.
Corll had killed at least twenty-eight boys and young men in three years with the help of Brooks and Henley. At the time, he had the highest kill rate of any American serial killer. To prevent being caught, at some point he started having his victims write letters to their families saying that they had run away and not to look for them, which worked. I only read about one parent who questioned the letter because her son had left in a bathing suit and she knew if someone was going to run away they would have more clothes on.
Brooks and Henley are serving their life sentences in separate Texas prisons, as they should. I know I didn’t go into great detail due to the nature of this case, but they didn’t just lure the victims to the apartment, they participated in the rapes, tortures, and murders. They were just as guilty as Corll.
This case was extremely hard to research and write due to the nature of it. As always, the links are below if you want to read what these three did to their victims or if you want to read all of the names of their victims.
If you enjoyed today’s episode, please leave a review on Apple Podcasts or Goodpods. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter, I’m Aeryn Gray, or on our Facebook page, just search Southern Macabre.
Thank y’all so much again. I hope y’all have a wonderful safe weekend and I will talk to y’all again soon. God bless, y’all!