WARNING: Upsetting and disturbing content
Dean Corll was not only one of the worst serial killers from Texas, he was hands down one of the worst American killers ever. He would eventually become known as the Candyman. Corll committed all his crimes in Houston, Texas, and murdered at least 28 boys between the ages of 13 and 20 in a three year span beginning in sometime in 1969 or 1970.
But who was the man behind the sinister nickname, which would later become the title of a rather dark Siouxsie & the Banshees song, as well as a horror film inspired by a Clive Barker short story? How did he earn this whimsical-sounding moniker, for instance, and what life events shaped the man into the killer he would eventually become?
This list presents some of the more telling and shocking facts about Dean Corll, his twisted actions, and his explosive demise. If you're unfamiliar with this rather sadistic killer, here is your chance to get an overview of the Candyman.
His Parents Divorced Twice
Having to see your parents divorce is difficult as a child. Seeing them divorce twice is worse still.
While Corll was a seemingly normal, albeit quiet and serious, child, his home life was a mess. His mother and father, Mary and Arnold, fought constantly, with his father showing little love or care for Mary, Dean, or his brother Stanley. The couple divorced in 1946, but later reconciled and remarried, only to divorce for a second time in 1953.
Following their second split, Mary married a traveling clock salesman and started a small business candy business with him. This marraige also dissolved, and Mary fromed her own company, the Corll Candy Company.
He Was Normal as a Teenager
There is a certain pattern evident with most serial killers, and a look at their childhood and teenaged years usually gives clues to what they would later become. Corll, however, wasn't a teenager who tortured animals or set fires. He was described as being a quiet, normal boy who occasionally dated and loved to play the trombone in the marching band. He also worked more hours than he needed to at the Corll Candy Company.
The worst anyone had to say about him was that he was a bit of a loner, while a high school friend said "he liked girls just as much as the rest of us."
He Served His Country in the Army
Before Dean Corll started began his killings, he served in the Army. Corll was drafted into the Army in 1964 to work as a radio repairman before being posted to Fort Hood, Texas. While his military record was unblemished, Corll hated life in the Army and applied for a hardship discharge to get back and help the family candy business. This discharge was granted in June, 1965, after 10 months of service.
According to David Hanna in his book Harvest of Horror (referenced at Wikipedia), it was in the Army that Corll had his first known homosexual relationships, a fact which he kept mostly secret, telling only a few close friends of the encounters. This repression of sexuality may have led Corll to ultimately commit his heinous crimes.
Corll Found a Family of His Own
In 1968, a few years after his mother left Houston for Colorado, Corll took control of the candy company. Shortly thereafter, he met and began spending time with David Brooks, engaging in a secret affair with him. In turn, Corll was keeping a secret from Brooks: the actualization of his darker desires.
And yet, at the time Corll was seeing Brooks and committing his murders, he was also a pseudo-father figure in a heterosexual relationship. He had a girlfriend named Betty a single mother whose children called Corll "daddy." He had no record, no problems, and he was seemingly a model citizen. No one could have fathomed he was a murderer, and his exposure as such in 1973 came as a shock to the community, lending credence to the old saying, "It's always the ones you least expect."