CRIME: The Houston Horrors

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In all, I guess there were between 25 and 30 boys killed, and they were buried in three different places. I was present and helped bury many of them but not all of them . . . On the first one at Sam Rayburn [Reservoir] I helped bury him, and then the next one we took to Sam Rayburn. When we got there, Dean and Wayne found that the first one had come to the surface and either a foot or a hand was above the ground. When they buried this one the second time, they put some type of rock sheet on top of him to keep him down.

—David Owen Brooks, in his statement to Texas police.

To the people of Pasadena, Texas, a modest industrial suburb of Houston, Dean Allen Corll was a clean-cut, quiet neighbor who kept pretty much to himself. He seemed to be a "nice, polite man who loved to be around kids," one acquaintance recalled. Last week stunned residents of Pasadena had a different view of the 33-year-old bachelor electrician who had been their neighbor since June. After an all-night party in Corll's two-bedroom frame cottage, he was shot to death with his own gun by 17-year-old Elmer Wayne Henley.

Henley told police that Corll had turned on him and two other youths, threatening to sexually molest and kill them. Instead, Henley said, he had managed to kill Corll in self-defense. He then recounted to Houston police an incredible tale of horror, homosexual sadism and mass murder in which he, Corll and a third accomplice, David Owen Brooks, 18, had taken part during the past three years.

Henley charged that Corll had led the trio in the sexual abuse and systematic killing of teen-age boys throughout the Houston area. From the two boys' stories, police constructed this account:

Brooks may have known Corll as far back as 1960, when Brooks was only five years old; he had lived with Corll intermittently during the past three years. Henley, a junior high school dropout from a broken home, had met Corll several years ago when Corll was managing a Houston candy store. Corll would give candy to young boys and offer them rides on his motorcycle. Henley's mother recalls that on occasion Corll would drive over in a white van with a black couch in the back and gather in ten or twelve youths for a ride.

Corll enlisted Brooks' help in luring youngsters to a series of apartments that Corll rented in the Houston area. Both Brooks and Henley told police that Corll had promised them $200 for every boy they brought. Henley claims that he "sat on the offer for about a year" before finally agreeing 18 months ago; Henley said he was paid only the first time for his procuring efforts.

Many of their finds were hitchhikers whom they picked up. They would invite the youths to Corll's home for "parties" of paint and glue sniffing. There the victims would be handcuffed to a specially constructed plywood board, sexually abused, and finally strangled or shot with Corll's .22-cal. pistol.

Henley confessed to having been an active participant in at least some of the murders. The day after Henley's confession, Brooks turned himself in. He denied killing anyone, but admitted to enticing boys to Corll's home, witnessing murders, and later disposing of bodies.

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