I thought I knew about most serial killers and multiple murderers but this week I discovered mass murders from the 1970s, which haunt a city and countless families to this day.
In 1973, Dean Corll was found shot to death in Houston – information from the young men who shot the former candy salesman to death led police to the mutilated bodies of 27 boys. This was, at the time, the largest multiple murder in United States history. These young teens simply vanished. They were from loving homes and going about normal daily life when they disappeared.
Corll (also known as The Candy Man) had young accomplices – David Brooks and Wayne Henley – who killed Corll, led police to the horrific discovery of the victims and are both serving life sentences for their part in the crimes. (Henley and Brooks helped lure victims to Corll and were both abused by him too.)
Author Skip Hollandsworth wrote an amazing longform article in April 2011 on the crimes for Texas Monthly called The Lost Boys. (To acess the full article sign up for the Texas Monthly site) It is truly one of the best pieces of journalism I have read. the anchor of Hollandsworth’s article is the elderly mother of one of the boys murdered by Corll. I say much more except that the heartbreak and halted lives of the families of the victims is sensitively conveyed.
Sharon Derrick, a forensic anthropologist at the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences was working to identify bodies from the murders. (Here’s a good article that explains her work and dedication.)
There’s also the dedicated work by author Barbara Gibson, managing editor of Texascrimenews.com, who has researched and reported on the Houston mass murders for a number of years and discovered two misidentified victims of Corll.
Corll was a serial killer but back when he was killing, the term “serial killer” was not well known, nor was criminal profiling. Police wrote the boys off as runaways, despite the information from their families.