La rubrica dell’orrore: Dean Corll, Candy Man

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Da qualche tempo abbiamo inaugurato la nuova rubrica con i nostri lettori, eccovi un nuovo appuntamento. Si tratta della rubrica degli orrori, in cui ogni giorno vi parleremo di un assassino tra i più cruenti mai esistiti, alcune volte con foto forti altre con semplici foto e con una breve descrizione di ciò che hanno fatto in vita (molti di loro sono fortunatamente passati a miglior vita).

Oggi vi parleremo di Dean Corll, un assassino reo confesso di circa 29 delitti soprannominato Candy Man.

Dean Arnold Corll, meglio noto come “CandyMan” (Fort Wayne, 24 dicembre 1939 – Pasadena, 8 agosto 1973), è stato un assassino seriale statunitense. Ha commesso almeno 28 o 29 omicidi in Texas con dei complici. La catena di omicidi è nota anche come “Houston Mass Murders” (Omicidi di Massa di Houston).

Indiana born, on Christmas Eve of 1939, Dean Corll grew up in a combative home, his parents quarreling constantly. They were divorced while Corll was still an infant, then remarried after World War II, but Dean’s father provided no stabilizing influence, regarding his children with thinly-veiled distaste, resorting to harsh punishment for the smallest infractions.

When the couple separated a second time, Corll and his younger brother were left with a series of sitters, their mother working to support the family on her own. Rheumatic fever left Dean with a heart condition, resulting in frequent absence from school, and he seemed to welcome the change when his mother remarried, moving the family to Texas. A part-time business making candy soon expanded to become their livelihood, and Corll was generous with samples as he sought to win new friends.

In 1964, despite his heart condition, Corll was drafted into military service, where he displayed the first signs of flagrant homosexuality. On turning thirty, in December 1969, he seemed to undergo a sudden shift in personality, becoming hypersensitive and glum.

He had begun to spend his time with teenage boys, like David Owen Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley, passing out free candy all around, hosting glue and paint sniffing parties at his apartment in Pasadena, a suburb of Houston. At the same time, he displayed a sadistic streak, leaning toward bondage in his sexual relationships with young men and boys.

On one occasion, during 1970, Brooks entered the apartment to find Corll nude, with two naked boys strapped to a homemade torture rack. Embarrassed, Corll released his playmates and offered Brooks a car in return for his promise of silence. Later, as his passion turned to bloodlust, Corll would use Brooks and Henley as procurers, offering $200 per head for fresh victims.

The date of Corll’s first murder is uncertain. Brooks would place it sometime in mid-1970, the victim identified as college student Jeffrey Konen, picked up while hitchhiking. Most of Corll’s victims were drawn from a seedy Houston neighborhood known as the Heights, their disappearances blithely ignored by police accustomed to dealing with runaways. Two were friends and neighbors of Henley, delivered on order to Corll, and sometimes the candy man killed two victims at once.

In December 1970, he murdered 14-year-old James Glass and 15-year-old David Yates in one sitting. The following month, brothers Donald and Jerry Waldrop joined the missing list, with Wally Simineaux and Richard Embry slaughtered in October 1972.

Another pair of brothers — Billy and Mike Baulch — were killed at separate times, in May 1972 and July 1973, respectively. Corll’s youngest known victim was a nine-year-old neighbor, residing across the street from Dean’s apartment.

On August 8, 1973, a tearful phone call from Elmer Henley summoned Pasadena police officers to Corll’s apartment. They found the candy man dead, six bullet holes in his shoulder and back, with Henley claiming he had killed his “friend” in self-defense.

The violence had erupted after Henley brought a girl to one of Corll’s paint-sniffing orgies, driving the homosexual killer into a rage. Corll had threatened Elmer with a gun, then taunted his young friend when Henley managed to disarm him. Frightened for his life, Henley insisted that he shot Corll only to save himself. But, there was more….

That afternoon, he led detectives to a rented boat shed in southwest Houston, leaving authorities to unearth seventeen victims from the earthen floor. A drive to Lake Sam Rayburn turned up four more graves, while six others were found on the beach at High Island, for a total of 27 dead.

Henley insisted there were at least two more corpses in the boat shed, plus two more at High Island, but police called off the search, content to know that they had broken California’s record in the Juan Corona case. (In The Man with the Candy, author Jack Olsen suggests that other victims might be buried around Corll’s candy shop, but authorities show no interest in pursuing the case further.)

In custody, Brooks and Henley confessed their role in procuring victims for Corll through the years, with Brooks fingering Henley as the trigger man in at least one slaying. “Most of the killings that occurred after Wayne came into the picture involved all three of us,” he told police. “Wayne seemed to enjoy causing pain.”

Convicted of multiple murder in August 1974, Henley was sentenced to life imprisonment, with Brooks drawing an identical term in March 1975. A year later, Houston authorities announced that recent investigations of child pornography had linked other local pedophiles with Corll’s murder ring, but no prosecutions were forthcoming.

Elmer Henley’s conviction was overturned on appeal in December 1978, based on the issue of pre-trial publicity, but he was convicted and sentenced a second time, in June 1979.