Dean Corll – Beware the Candy Man


Dean, Mary, and Stanley Corll

Dean Arnold Corll was born on Christmas Eve, 1939 in Indiana. He was the first child of Mary Robinson and Arnold Edwin Corll.  For his part, Arnold was a strict father, whereas Mary was always a protective (some would say too lenient) mother. In addition to the disparate child-rearing tactics, the Corll marriage seemed to be under constant strain as well, with Mary and Arnold arguing much of the time. In fact, after the birth of their second son (Stanley), the couple divorced. The drama didn’t end there, however. After Arnold was drafted into the Air Force, Mary moved the kids to Memphis, Tennessee to be near their father…and then she married Arnold for a second time. From there the dysfunctional family moved to Pasadena, Texas for three years, until the marriage dissolved again.

Eventually, Mary met a traveling clock salesman named Jake West, married him, and moved the family to the small town of Vidor, Texas. Dean’s half-sister Joyce was born there in 1955. A short time later, the family decided to begin a candy-making operation, called “The Pecan Prince.” Both Dean and his younger brother spent the majority of their off-time from school helping with the family business until the demise of Mary’s third marriage.  During this time it was reported that Dean was a well-behaved, shy student who made good grades, and didn’t socialize much.

By 1963, Mary had started her own sweets-making operation, calling it “Corll Candy Company.” She proudly appointed Dean the vice-president. But, that same year, one of the young teenage boys who worked there complained to Mary that Dean had made sexual advanced toward him. This may have upset or dismayed some people, but not Mary. She simply fired the boy.

In 1964, Dean was drafted into the US Army and it was here that he first explored his homosexual urges. Upon his honorable discharge in 1965, he reportedly returned to the candy company a changed man.

When the Corll Candy Company relocated to 22nd street in Houston (across the street from an elementary school), Dean was known to give free candy to local kids – specifically teenage boys. Due to this, he became known around town as “The Candy Man” or “The Pied Piper.” He also set up a pool table at the back of the factory where employees and local boys would hang out.

By 1967, Dean had “befriended” a 12-year-old named David Owen Brooks. Brooks often went on short trips with Corll to make candy deliveries or to the beach. He stated that he began to see Corll as a “father figure.” Sadly, Corll exploited this relationship and by the time the youngster was 14, Corll was paying him with cash and gifts to allow him to perform oral sex on Brooks.

David Owen Brooks

Unfortunately for Dean, the family business closed down in 1968, and he was forced to seek work elsewhere to make ends meet (The Houston Lighting and Power Company). It wasn’t long after that the murders began – a minimum of 28 in just a short 3-year span. He accomplished this with the explicit help of two teens: Elmer Wayne Henley and – Dean’s former child victim – David Owen Brooks.


While this photo has long been associated with the Corll case, it has come out that this is a picture of Ronnie Henley, taken by his mother working under the hood of a car.


The ruse was simple: Brooks and Henley would go out in their car (usually Brooks’ Corvette, a gift from Corll), and search for teenage victims (hitchhikers, acquaintances, etc).  They would lure the unsuspecting youths to Corll’s apartment where Corll might supply them with alcohol and marijuana, and then Corll would take them to his bedroom, strap them to a “torture board,” rape, and strangle them to death. He would then pay Henley and Brooks $200. The killings took place over several locations, and many of the bodies were dumped in “mass graves.”

Corll’s “torture board”

The carnage at last came to an end in 1973 when Henley brought a girl to Corll’s apartment. She was a friend of his who had been beaten by her father earlier that evening and had no place to go. Though Henley had also brought Corll a male victim, Corll was outraged that Henley would dare to bring back a female, and he let Henley know of his displeasure by tying up all three teens after they’d fallen into drunken sleep. Henley pleaded with Corll to let him go, saying he would help Dean slay the others.  Corll relented and they tied the would-be victims to Corll’s torture board. But Henley wasn’t able to rape and murder his female friend, and he turned on Corll instead. Taking Corll’s gun, he threatened to shoot him if he didn’t let the victims go. Corll charged him, and Henley shot him in the head (bullet failed to penetrate his skull), and his shoulder, spinning him around. Corll stumbled away and Henley fired several more bullets into his back, killing him.

Corll’s dead body after Henley’s fatal shots

Both Brooks and Henley are currently doing time in the TX department of corrections. Neither will be eligible for parole.



Dean Corll was clearly Psychopathic, as evidenced by his complete lack of empathy for his victims. He also may have qualified as a Pedophile, as some of his victims were quite young (more likely hebophilic, as most were in puberty, however). Yet the most salient quality to Corll’s personality was his Sadism.

This was the variable that Henley and Brooks referred to over and over again at trial, and in their confessions: the fact that Corll had what they considered “blood lust” and a need’to rape increasingly more often and more savagely. Corll’s torture escalated in it’s violence over a relatively short time span, to the point where it even disturbed his willing accomplices. This arousal at the pain/suffering of others is a hallmark of Sadism, and Corll was a prime example of what can happen when it is accompanied by a fair level of charisma and charm (both of which he would’ve needed to lure in his accomplices and have success in the family business).

Luckily for the youth of the Houston area, Corll decided to finally turn on Henley – a boy he’d trained to be just as cold-blooded as he was. So it wasn’t long before Henley outsmarted and stopped Corll in his tracks with bullets from Corll’s own gun.

Elmer Henley


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