Dean ‘Candy Man’ Corll: One known victim of Houston serial killer remains unidentified; this is what experts say he looked like

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children hopes someone will recognize him

The reconstruction featured above is an artist's rendering of what the unidentified youth may have looked like. Anyone with information should contact the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, reference case number ML73-3356. (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)

HOUSTON – Dean Corll is perhaps the most notorious killer in Houston’s history.

It may all seem like history, but the tendrils of his thee-year killing spree extend to present day with one set of unidentified child-size remains, still lacking a name since they were found nearly 50 years ago.

Who was he?

Between 1970 and 1973, Dean Corll, murdered at least 28 young boys in the Houston area. The killings were dubbed the “Houston Mass Murders,” and at the time, they were considered the worst serial murders in U.S. history.

“John Doe 1973” was one of those victims. He was never identified.

He was found on Aug. 9, 1973.

The reconstruction is an artist's rendering of what he may have looked like. Anyone with information should contact the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, reference case number ML73-3356. (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)
The reconstruction is an artist's rendering of what he may have looked like. Anyone with information should contact the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, reference case number ML73-3356. (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)
He was found with belted Catalina swim trunks with vertical red, turquoise, gold, and dark blue stripes, with the letter C on the silver buckle (shown above) and a khaki-colored long sleeved t-shirt that tied in the front. The shirt had a large blue and white peace symbol and the letters USMC, and L84MF written underneath the peace symbol. He was also found with dark blue corduroys with a 32 inch waist and a 30 inch inseam, a knotted leather ankle bracelet, and brown leather cowboy boots that were 12 inches in length and had the word NEOLITE on the heel. (National Center for Missing & Exploited Children)

Based on the condition of the remains, he was likely deceased for 12 months or more prior to recovery.

He was white, possibly with Hispanic background. He had brown hair approximately seven inches in length (from the crown). He was found with belted Catalina swim trunks with vertical red, turquoise, gold, and dark blue stripes, with the letter C on the silver buckle and a khaki-colored long sleeved t-shirt that tied in the front. The shirt had a large blue and white peace symbol and the letters USMC, and L84MF written underneath the peace symbol. He was also found with dark blue corduroys with a 32-inch waist and a 30-inch inseam, a knotted leather ankle bracelet, and brown leather cowboy boots that were 12 inches in length and had the word NEOLITE on the heel.

Examination revealed that the boy had a mild form of spina bifida which may have caused him lower back pain or possibly affected his stride; however, it may not have produced any noticeable symptoms.

Who killed him?

Corll, an electrician and former candy store owner (hence his moniker), conscripted the help of teens David Owen Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley to lure other boys to his apartment, where they were handcuffed and shackled to a plywood torture board before being sexually assaulted and killed, according to the Associated Press.

How he was found

Corll’s killing spree ended Aug. 8, 1973 when, during a violent fight at Corll’s home accomplice Henley fatally shot Corll multiple times with a .22 caliber pistol.

It was then that Henley confessed to police all that he knew and led police to the graves of the dead. Jack Cato, a reporter for KPRC 2, accompanied Henley and police as Henley led them to a shed where he and Corll had buried some of the murder victims. Cato allowed Henley to call his mother on his telephone and captured the conversation on film. Henley is heard saying the words, “Mama, I killed Dean” into the receiver.

Corll’s killing spree ended Aug. 8, 1973 when, during a violent fight at Corll’s home accomplice Elmer Wayne Henley fatally shot Corll multiple times with a .22 caliber pistol. It was then that Henley confessed to police all that he knew and led police to the graves of the dead. Jack Cato, a reporter for KPRC 2, accompanied Henley and police as Henley led them to a shed where he and Corll had buried some of the murder victims. Cato allowed Henley to call his mother on his telephone and captured the conversation on film. Henley is heard saying the words, “Mama, I killed Dean” into the receiver.

Corll’s known victims were found in mass graves located across the Greater Houston Area. Four bodies were buried in San Augustine near Lake Sam Rayburn in East Texas; seven were buried on the beach at High Island in Southeast Texas; and 17 were buried in a Houston boathouse of Corll’s, according to the Associated Press.

Some had cords wrapped around their necks, and tape strapped around their feet and mouths and a few had been sexually mutilated, according to the Associated Press. Most of the bodies were badly decomposed and difficult to identify.

Where we are today

“John Doe 1973″ is the last known unidentified victim of “The Candy Man.”

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children released photo renderings of what he may have looked like in 2013 and shared images of his clothing.

Anyone with information should contact the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, reference case number ML73-3356.

Why we wrote this story

You are never forgotten by those who are trying to bring resolution in cases like these. Texas EquuSearch reminded us of this story during a recent call about missing people in Houston and children in our area.

Unprompted, one of the volunteers at Texas EquuSearch -- Tammy Phillips -- mentioned this case.

These cases are unresolved and may remain so, but with these devoted people in our community, the stories of these people’s lives remain human, close and very present in their lives and consciousness. We’d like to celebrate their efforts and honor their devotion to the people at the heart of tragedy.

MORE:

RELATED: HOUSTON’S OTHER “CANDY MAN” - The year after Corll’s death, another Houston man also was dubbed the Candy Man for poisoning his son with a cyanide-laced pixy stix.

RELATED: 8 notorious Houston-area locations plagued by suicides, murders and death

RELATED: ‘Candy Man’ Dean Corll was shot dead 48 years ago. Texas EquuSearch will soon begin searching for the remains of any additional victims

RELATED: 3 prolific Houston serial killers whose crimes shocked the city

RELATED: Former henchman of one of Houston’s most notorious serial killers dies of COVID-19

Associated Press information contributed to this story.


About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.