The following is a chapter from the book “Murderers in Texas: The Shocking True Stories of Killing Out Deviant Impulses”
Dean Corll: The Candy Man
“I was a boy in a madman’s world,” muttered Elmer Wayne Henley, Dean Corll’s accomplice, from the prison cafeteria of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Yes, Henley was a boy of fifteen in 1971… a boy charged with the murders of six teenage boys. If it wasn’t for Corll, he wouldn’t have killed at all, or so he said.
It started with candy. In 1965, Corll was vice-president of the family company, Corll Candy. In the mid-sixties, the company was across the street from an elementary school in Houston, Texas. That was very convenient for Corll, as he was a homosexual who delighted in sex with boys. Even teenagers could be lured in by candy—a fact that totally amazed him. Of course, they loved to play pool and Corll saw to it that a snappy, green, pool table was placed in the back of the factory.
Then Corll enticed the best-looking boys of the lot, offering them a ride home. But he didn’t take them home. He invited them to his apartment with promises of alcohol, marijuana, or a high from glue-sniffing. Once they were high, he snatched their tender young bodies, cuffed them, and slapped tape across their mouths. Their eyes grew wide with terror when Corll tightened the tape across their mouths to the point of pain.
He felt powerful as he hoisted them up upright on a piece of plywood, tying up their hands. He’d whip them, or beat them with sticks or a belt, laughing when they tried to cry out, jerked away, or moaned. He would then unzip his pants and shove his erect penis deep into their innocent bodies over and over again. When he would finally explode in orgasm, he would rest, until the next victim.
He especially liked the boys with smooth, brown hair that was nearly shoulder-length, in keeping with the style of the time. He preferred clean-looking and casually dressed. The most alienated among the boys hung out with Corll at the back of his candy company. He was friendly, accepting, and sociable. Corll was unlike their parents, so he became popular, and the boys felt like they belonged. The boys had been deprived of affection for most of their lives. Corll liked it when they fondled him.
David Owen Brooks
Corll wasn’t very strong emotionally and knew he needed help to attract the boys he preferred. At Helms Elementary School, he spotted twelve-year-old David Brooks.
Brooks really liked Corll because he didn’t make fun of the fact that Brooks wore glasses. Corll accepted Brooks as he was. He did well, and he performed fellatio on Corll—one of his favorite pleasures. Brooks was one of those lost kids—the victim of the failed marriage of his mother. Like Corll, Brooks went bad—really bad.
Brooks hated school too, where he was treated like an outcast. As soon as he was sixteen, he dropped out and lived with his mother for a little while. She didn’t live that close to Corll. So, in 1970, Brooks moved back in with his father in Houston and closer to Corll.
David Brooks’ father let him hang out with Corll whenever he wanted, and that was ideal. Of course, he knew that Corll expected sexual favors, but that was okay because Corll gave him plenty of money… and candy too!
When Corll’s mother sold the candy company, Corll had to get a job. Corll was a quick study and landed one at the Houston Power and Electric Company. He was actually fairly good at it. Only now, he’d have to have his jollies at night.
One day, young Brooks came over to Corll’s apartment. In the bedroom were two fourteen-year-old boys tied up to a four-poster bed, one on each side of the plywood “torture board”, with their asses exposed. Caught by surprise, Corll swiveled around. Semen was dribbling from his penis. “I’m just having some fun!” Corll stated.
Knowing that Brooks could be easily manipulated by the police into revealing his secret, Corll made a proposal to Brooks that would essentially make him an accomplice. Now that Corll was working during the day, Brooks would come in handy as he could lure new victims to his apartment. Brooks couldn’t resist a hot car, so Corll bought him a fantastic green Chevy Corvette and promised him two hundred dollars for every boy he could bring home. Why not, he thought.
That is when the activity really picked up, but it is also when Corll admitted to David he had robbed and killed the two “poster-bed” boys that Brooks had seen at his apartment by strangling them.
In 1970, the first known victim was a good-looking eighteen-year-old college student by the name of Jeffrey Konen from the University of Texas at Austin. The university wasn’t far from Corll’s apartment on Yorktown Street in Houston. Brooks offered Jeffrey a ride home. On the way, Brooks offered him some weed to smoke at his friend’s apartment. Was he interested? Sure!
Brooks brought Jeffrey to Corll’s place, introduced him to Corll, and gave him some marijuana—in fact, so much of it that Jeffrey got giddy. He dismissed Brooks and then—without warning, grabbed and bound the hapless teen to his pleasure board. Corll cut him on his back, whipped him, and beat him senseless. Then he jammed his penis roughly into the young man and hammered away to his heart’s delight.
Corll then wrapped his hands around Jeffrey’s throat and squeezed. Jeffrey’s eyes bulged out, and Corll tightened his grip until he heard the crunch of Jeffrey’s hyoid bone. The boy was dead.
Corll and Brooks then dragged the body to Corll’s white Ford van and drove it to High Island Beach in Jefferson County. They stuffed a gag in Jeffrey’s mouth, covered the body with lime, then wrapped it in plastic to kill the smell.
Anxious to earn his keep, Brooks told Corll to expect a new visitor. He had a friend attending a religious rally nearby. In December of 1970, Corll was thrilled to be able to “entertain” two visitors—Danny Yates and James Glass.
James was Brook’s friend, and he brought another along. Corll used his two-buddy system of having one boy manacled to one side of the plywood board and the other boy on the opposite side.
That was a fun night for Corll. He whipped and beat the boys until they squirmed and twisted in screams and groans. Then he thrust his penis into each of them one at a time. It took longer that time for Corll to orgasm but was sure worth the wait. He then strangled James and Danny, called Brooks to take the bodies to Lake Sam Rayburn, where he owned a log cabin with his mother. They rented a boatshed there and stashed the bodies under a foot of sandy soil.
It was 1971, Corll moved a lot to avoid capture, so he and Brooks moved to an apartment on Mangum Road in Houston Heights. Corll found it tough hanging on for a month to celebrate one of his sex orgies. They were so much fun! Corll suggested they go “hunting for someone else!”
Like a wish come true, there they were—two fresh victims, young and nubile! Jerry and Donald Waldrop were sauntering along the road. “Wanna’ ride and maybe a couple of beers?” asked Corll from his white Econoline van. He was with Brooks, so this encounter wouldn’t arouse any suspicion. The boys climbed in. It was time for fun, but Corll’s brand of fun wasn’t what they had in mind at all.
Brooks decided that Corll shouldn’t have all the fun, and they partnered up and enjoyed a double session. Donald was tied to one side of their torture board, and Jerry was on the other.
After viciously assaulting thirteen-year-old Jerry, Corll shot the boy with his .22-caliber pistol. Then he shot Donald. Corll then sent Brooks to the truck to drag out a giant tube of plastic sheeting he stole from work. Generously covering their bodies with lime, Brooks and Corll took them to the boatshed for burial.
Soon after, Corll was on the hunt for another victim. Rendell Lee Harvey, fifteen, employed at a gas station, was on his way to work when he mysteriously vanished. Corll decided to shoot him after having his brutal fun. Brooks and Corll buried him under the boatshed.
Corll knew Gregory Malley Winkle, a former employee at the Corll Candy Company. Gregory sometimes dated Rendell Lee Harvey’s sister. In fact, they knew another future victim, David Hilligiest, thirteen.
David and Gregory were on their way to the local swimming pool, but their friends reported they had been seen getting into Corll’s white van on May 29, 1971.
It was time for Corll to move again to elude any possible police searches. The missing boys that they had enticed into the truck was a hot topic on the newsstands, so they had to be careful.
Their next apartment was on San Felipe Avenue. No one knew them there.
After the gritty and gruesome burial at the boatshed, it was time for Brooks to search for more “lovers” for Corll. Corll was becoming anxious and tired of jerking off to satisfy himself, so Brooks and Corll planned on telling their next victim that Corll was throwing a party. He then scouted out the run-down neighborhood of Houston Heights.
Brooks came across a guy he knew from high school—Elmer Henley, hanging posters on telephone poles with a picture of David Hilligiest on it. David had gone missing on his way to work at a local gas station, and Henley added that the boy was a friend of his.
Brooks recognized the picture and smirked a bit when Henley said there was probably an innocent explanation for David’s disappearance. Surely, he’d turn up in a few days. Brooks already knew that Hilligiest had been tied to the bedpost on Corll’s apartment and killed there.
As Brooks was helping Henley, he realized Henley would be perfect, as he was only fifteen, young, and good-looking enough for his mentor, Corll. So, he invited him over to Corll’s place “for a good time”. It was hot in Houston in May of 1971, and Henley was looking forward to a couple of beers and some A/C on a sweltering day.
At the end of the day, Brooks swung open the door and invited Henley in. Shortly afterward, Corll arrived. When he saw Henley, Corll was a bit “turned off” because Henley wore glasses, and Corll didn’t like that. However, after they chatted for a bit, Corll realized that Henley was smart. So, he made a proposal. Saying he was involved in a sex slave ring in Dallas, Corll asked Henley if he would like to “recruit” some boys for two hundred dollars apiece. Henley was taken aback and turned him down flat.
Brooks had to pick up the pace in order to keep Corll supplied with young victims. In August of 1971, he checked out his friends up and down the streets of Houston. Finally, he came across seventeen-year-old Ruben Watson Haney as he was leaving a movie theater. Brooks convinced him to get into Corll’s GTX—which was a pretty snappy car. As Ruben already knew Brooks, it was no problem.
Brooks took Ruben to Corll’s place, tied him up when the boy was sufficiently drunk, and Corll raped him incessantly. It had been a long time, so he dragged out that performance for four days. One day, he tortured Ruben; the next day, he beat him within an inch of his life. Then he started all over again. When Corll tired of Ruben, he strangled him. It was a thrill to watch his throat bulge and hear him gag. Once in a while, Corll would let up just to hear him frantically gasp for breath. Finally, after Ruben died, they took him to the infamous boatshed and disposed of his body there.
Elmer Henley Returns
Elmer Henley, whom Corll had tried to employ for his supposed sex slave ring, lived at home with his mother. When she went through a bitter divorce, Henley’s mother was forced to work a number of part-time jobs just to support the two of them. When she was laid off from one of her jobs, they faced some financial straits. That’s when Henley remembered Corll’s offer for two hundred dollars per boy and took him up on it.
At the beginning of 1972, Corll and Brooks moved to an apartment on Schuyler Street.
Corll was delighted when Henley showed interest in working for him, and Henley also showed Corll a neat trick he taught himself. For the trick, Henley took a pair of handcuffs, put his hands behind his back, and seemed to place the cuffs on himself. Then he appeared to undo the cuffs, and his hands would be freed.
Elmer explained to potential victims that they were “trick” cuffs. In reality, they were not.
Brooks thoroughly enjoyed watching Henley perform that ruse on Willard Karmon Branch, whom Henley had left at Corll’s apartment. After he and David got their “rocks” off on Willard, Corll shot him in the head and then buried his body in the old boatshed.
Once Willard was buried, they realized that the ground under and behind the boatshed was full. It reeked with the stench of the devil himself. Why do rotting bodies stink so much?
In March of 1972, Henley remembered his old friend, Frank Aguirre, from school. He was a nice-looking lad of eighteen. Surely, Henley and Brooks would have no trouble luring him into Corll’s GTO.
This time, Henley didn’t pull the handcuff trick, as Frank had already seen it. So, the lure of smoking some weed and having a few beers was enough. Once Henley and Brooks dropped Frank off, Henley had second thoughts. Perhaps Corll could just let him go? After all, he was a pal of Henley’s. Corll delighted in cutting off Frank’s penis. Then he strangled him to stop his howling. He, too, went to the boatshed.
That’s when Corll told Henley the whole sordid tale. There was no sex slave ring. Corll just wanted to rape and torture Frank. Then he pulled out the manacled torture board, stained with blood. Henley was horrified. Corll reminded him that he had participated in the abduction of the boy just prior to Frank Aguirre.
Even though he knew the whole sordid scenario, Henley didn’t quit. Corll knew Henley’s younger brothers and liked their looks a lot. At his trial in 1974, Henley testified, “I couldn’t leave anyway. If I did go, I knew Corll would go after one of my little brothers, who he always liked a little too much.”
Elmer Henley and David Brooks continued to “recruit” new flesh. Next came another friend of Brooks’ and Henley’s—Mark Scott. They forced Mark to write a letter home saying he was working in Austin. That would keep the authorities from looking for him. After Mark was abused, Brooks and Corll, having run out of space at the trusty old boatshed, chopped up Mark’s body, shoved it into a plastic bag, loaded it up with lime, and buried the eerie package at High Island Beach. There was a convenient area of flat land just beyond the beach, which was perfect.
In 1972, Henley and Brooks lured Steven Sickman and Roy Bunton into their truck with the promise of a party. Steven had recently had a fight with his sister, so he wanted to get away for a while. Roy had just left his job at a shoe store and was just hitchhiking. Corll had his fun with those two boys on his double torture board, and Brooks helped out too. Corll beat up Steven and strangled him with a nylon cord. He shot Bunton. They returned to the overfilled boatshed and buried both bodies there.
The next victims in late spring of 1972 were Johnny Ray Delome and Billy Baluch, abducted as they walked to the store, both were assaulted after Johnny Ray was forced to write a letter to his parents stating he and Billy were working in Madisonville. Johnny Ray was shot in the head, strangled, and then Billy was strangled. They were buried at High Island Beach.
Brooks wanted a larger piece of the action, too, so he lured Wally Jay Simoneaux and Richard Hembree into his Corvette. Richard was abducted outside a grocery store in October of 1972. There was a problem with the two victims. Simoneaux tried to call his mother from Corll’s place until the phone was disconnected. Henley was feeling like a “big man” that night and grabbed Corll’s pistol. Richard was attached to the torture board.
Seeing that, Henley waved the gun around, laughing, but it went off and hit Richard in the jaw, killing him. To add insult to the brutal way he died, Corll strangled him anyway, and strangled Simoneaux as well.
Time to move again! This time, Corll rented a comfortable apartment at the Westcott Towers, Westcott Avenue, in Houston. They continued their sinister activities.
The Fateful Day at Lamar Drive
Corll had moved twice since the prior Fall—to Wirt Avenue and then rented a house on Lamar Drive in Pasadena, Texas. At Wirt Avenue, Corll kidnapped a former friend of his, Joseph Allen Lyles. Brooks saw the abduction, although he didn’t know any of the particulars about Joseph’s murder. Corll was ill for a while between February and June of 1973, so there was a gap in the murders. Once Corll recovered, he demonstrated what Henley called a “blood lust”. It had been a long time since Corll had orgasmed, so there was an acceleration in the number of victims.
William Ray Lawrence was a friend of Henley’s and left his house, planning to go fishing with him. Corll staged a special “performance” for him to celebrate his own return to health. William was tortured for three days, urinating and defecating right there while tied to their torture board. Corll then finally strangled him with a cord, weighed him down, and threw him into Lake Sam Rayburn.
There was new construction going up on Lamar Drive in Pasadena, and that’s where Corll enticed a tired construction worker to spend a “fun” evening. The man’s name was Raymond Stanley Blackburn. He had come to the area from Louisiana to see his newborn and picked up the construction job while there. Raymond was strangled in Corll’s residence and buried at Lake Sam Rayburn.
When the number of missing person reports rose substantially, all the parents of teenage boys in Houston were on high alert. Parents of missing boys harassed the police, who tried to pacify them by insinuating they may have run away from home, and running away from home wasn’t a crime. Nevertheless, many of the frantic parents insisted their boys weren’t runaways.
For example, when they were abducted, one was on his way to get a haircut, another was at his job in a shoe store, another was visiting a friend, and another was working the counter at a pizza joint. Those activities weren’t really what one would engage in prior to running away.
In July of 1973, Corll briefly changed his pattern—perhaps for the sake of variety. Henley met Homer Garcia, whom he attended driving school with. He was shot in the head at point-blank range and bled to death in Corll’s bathtub. Once he was bled out, his body, too, was thrown into Lake Sam Rayburn.
Next came John Manning Sellars, a U.S. Marine. He was shot four times in the chest. Unlike Corll and Henley’s other victims, his body was totally clothed. Corll and Henley stole his car, however, and it was found in Louisiana a week later—totally burned out.
At the end of July and early August of 1973, Michael Baluch, the brother of the victim, was slaughtered. He was the brother of Billy Baluch, who had been killed by Corll a year earlier. Like his brother, he was also strangled.
Marty Ray Jones and his friend, Charles Cary Cobbe met Henley on 27th Street in Houston. It appears that they may have been taken by force, as Charles called his father in hysteria, claiming they had been kidnapped by “drug dealers”. Both were shot in the head, and their bodies buried at the infamous boatshed.
James (aka Stanton) Dreymala, a devout 7th Day Adventist, was lured into the Corll trap. He disappeared after telling his parents he went to a “party” in South Houston.
Yikes! A Girl!
On August 8, 1973, Henley invited a guy by the name of Timothy Kerley to one of Corll’s so-called “parties”. In the meantime, Rhonda Williams, a friend of Henley’s, called him, pleading for help. Her father was on a drunken rampage and had beaten her badly. She needed somewhere to “crash” until her father sobered up.
Henley brought her along with Timothy to Corll’s apartment on Lamar Drive.
Corll flew into a rage when he saw the girl and grabbed his gun. He told Henley he ruined everything. After Henley meekly explained the situation, Corll seemed to calm down. He then kept shoving alcohol at the group until they passed out.
When Henley became conscious, his heart jumped. He had been gagged, handcuffed, and his hands and feet were bound. Timothy and Rhonda were also bound with their mouths taped shut.
With a cruel snap, Corll ripped off Henley’s gag, held the gun to his head, and told him he planned on “having some fun” with Henley after he finished up with Timothy.
Henley tried to stay calm and spoke quietly to Corll. If Corll would release him, he would help mount Timothy on one side of the torture board and Rhonda on the other, and Corll would be able to enjoy himself.
Corll fell for the ploy and released Henley. Feigning obedience, Henley then manacled Timothy and Rhonda, watching Corll carefully.
By this time, Corll was breathing rapidly, intensely aroused, anticipating a tremendous orgasm. He put down his gun and started tearing off his clothes. Henley then snatched up the gun, pointing it at Corll.
Henley decided that Corll was not going to kill any more of his friends.
Corll taunted him to kill him. He didn’t think Henley had it in him to pull the trigger.
Corll was wrong. Henley shot him in his forehead, but it didn’t kill him. Corll ran away from Henley. Henley followed him out of the room and shot him repeatedly. His naked body dropped in the hallway. Dean Corll was finally dead.
Henley called the police, telling the operator he had just killed a man.
In a 1978 interview with Texas Monthly magazine, Henley said, “There wasn’t anything that could have made me more uptight than to have been drunk and stoned and hungover and having withdrawals, and then I just blew his life away. He’d of (sic) been proud of the way I did it, if he wasn’t proud before he died.”
August 1973, Henley turned himself in to the police after shooting Dean Corll. In addition to his own confession, Henley testified against David Brooks. He assisted investigators in locating the bodies in the boatshed.
He is incarcerated in the Michael W. Michael Unit in Anderson County, Texas, and is serving a life sentence.
In 1975, David Owens Brooks was put on trial. During the course of the trial, it was discovered that Corll had engaged in sexual relations with Brooks since he was twelve. He indicated it was consensual. In his oral confession, he admitted that he lured at least six males to Corll’s residence for sexual exploitation.
Brooks was found guilty of the murder of William Ray Lawrence, committed in 1973. The authorities had the most convincing evidence, sufficient enough to convict him on murder.
David Brooks was sentenced to ninety-nine years and is incarcerated in the State Penitentiary in Houston, Texas. He would be eligible for parole in the year 2028.
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