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Serial Killer

20060523: 6 News talks with convicted killer Elmer Wayne Henley TX Houston Serial Killer News
Although it's been more than 30 years, many people still remember the serial murders of 26 boys in the Houston area.  Elmer Wayne Henley was convicted of six of the murders.  Now he is known as one of the state's most notorious killers.

It was an older man, Dean Corll, who convinced a young Elmer Wayne Henley to seek out victims for sexual torture. Before it was over, 26 young boys were murdered in the Houston area in the 1970's.  The crimes are now even hideous to one of the convicted killers.

"You don't dwell on pain. You push that to the back of your mind like a toothache. It's there. It's real. And you understand how horrendous it was," said Henley.

Henley for 18 months found victims for a sadistic killer, Dean Corll - a man twice his age, receiving $200 for each boy he lured. 

"I was caught up, and I was unable to deal with him in a mature manner.  When I wasn't there, the person was killed."

"Later on, I was told, you're already involved in this. You're involved in this murder."

Elmer Wayne Henley insists he is not a serial killer, but rather the victim of a serial killer. He talks a lot about Dean Corll and how he led him to wicked ways.

"I dithered. I finally just gave in and gave myself to Corll and allowed him to make the decisions." 

On August 8, 1973, a 17-year-old Henley would make a decision that would expose the world to Houston's mass murders.  Corll had what's described as a sex and glue-sniffing party at his Pasadena home.

He tied up Henley and two others to the infamous torture board, the device on which most of the victims were bound and abused before being killed.  Henley "sweet-talked" his way down and then shot Corll six times killing him instantly.

"There were two people tied up that morning, and I released them."  Henley immediately called police.  He and another teenage accomplice, David Brooks, led authorities to the bodies.  The nation watched as 17 young boys, each packed in plastic were found at a Houston boat shed.

Other searches at High Island, near Galveston and Lake Sam Rayburn, near Jasper turned up more innocent victims.  The final number 26 lives lost was at the time the worst mass murders in U.S. history.

"Dean Corll ruined my life," said Henley.  The defense argued Henley could not get a fair trial in Houston.  Ultimately, a Nueces County jury under the late Judge Noah Kennedy, convicted Henley in 1979 for his role in six murders.  Killings he will not discuss now.

"I have six life sentences as an accomplice to murders."  To this day, there are still remains in the morgue of victims who have yet to be identified.  Henley has been eligible for release since 1983.  So should the parole board set him free? 

"I'm not an ugly person. I'm not a violent person. I'm not a hateful person, and I wasn't raised to be. Somehow or another, I got involved in that."

"Once I had killed Corll, and I could act on the way I was raised by my parents, then when you break the crime and you're honest about that, it's not hard being honest about everything for the rest of your life."  Henley honestly believes he's rehabilitated and should be set free.

"It was a boy influenced by an older man, and I'm not that boy anymore...I'm not a problem here, and I wouldn't be a problem out there, that I could contribute to society."

Elmer Wayne Henley has been at the Telford Unit in New Boston, Texas, near Texarkana, for six years now. He has never been allowed to leave these gates, but one day, he hopes to.

"Without Dean Corll, there's no crime."  He said he's not the monster some people said he is.  He added if set free, the thought of hurting another person would not cross his mind.

Family members of victims of the mass sex slayings hope and pray Henley will never see the light of day.  Henley said he still has hope.

"When he decides it's time for me to go home, I'm going to go home. All I need to do until that happens, or until I die is live the kind of life that will allow me to make it out there, and to allow my family and friends not to be disappointed in me again."

Henley now spends most of his time behind bars working on his painting.  Henley's other teen accomplice; David Brooks remains in jail for his role in the crimes.   He was convicted of murdering a 15-year-old boy and was sentenced to life.


Copyright 1995-2006 by Elisabeth Wetsch
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