Dean Corll, the Candy Man of Houston, was America's most prolific serial killer before the term was officially coined. This sadistic man kidnapped and murdered teenage boys on the outskirts of Houston from 1970 to 1973. When one of his own accomplices shot him to death, Corll’s heinous crimes were brought to light. Due to the grisly rituals Corll was prone to, the specifics of his violent acts weren't reported on by the media at the time.
It’s not a surprise Corll’s acts of sexual torture went unreported, but it means there are many still unfamiliar with just how far this brutal killer went. Dean Corll's ritualistic and meticulous methods of cruelty are among the most gruesome every committed. While he managed to kill 28 teenage boys in his three year killing spree, he was likely killing even before that - with a recent finding suggesting at least one more victim. Corll's heinous acts came to a close when one of his own accomplices shot and killed him, meaning authorities would never get the chance to interrogate him for further information.
If you’re curious about the darkest place a human soul can go to, this collection of horrific torture methods implemented by Dean Corll will give you a glimpse of the very worst humanity has to offer.
Warning: This list contains graphic descriptions of sexual violence against children.
The most publicized of Corll's gruesome behavior was his use of the "torture board," a slab of unpainted plywood 8 feet long and 2 feet wide with holes drilled into each corner. Corll would use the board by handcuffing a victim's hands to each top hole and binding their feet with nylon rope through the bottom holes.
The board was a feature in almost every one of Corll's murders. He moved it from home to home, storing it in plastic in back rooms filled with other favorite torture implements. Once a victim was bound to the torture board, Corll could spend days torturing and molesting them. According to Wayne Henley, one of Corll's teenage accomplices, the more Corll liked someone, the longer they stayed alive and were subjected to his cruelty.
Another item found by the Houston police in Corll’s torture room was an 18-inch double sided dildo. The dildo was left casually upon a work bench. Henley, the chattier of Corll’s two teenage accomplices, spoke at length about the torture that Corll exacted on his teenage victims, but he never mentioned use of the massive dildo. Whether Corll used the sex toy on himself or his victims, the imagery is jarring.
According to a four-part series recorded by Last Podcast On The Left, one rumored method of torture used by the Candy Man was in his roving "torture van." This large white van was outfitted with multiple pegboards, drilled with holes that played host to nylon cords and handcuffs in a similar fashion to his torture board.
Not much is known about the van, other than the fact that Corll used it to pick up the boys he kidnapped and also to dispose of their bodies once done with them. Before his murder spree, Corll was known to invite neighbor kids near the candy factory to the beach for picnics in the van which was outfitted in carpet and had a television in it.
There are many parallels between Dean Corll and John Wayne Gacy, the Killer Clown of Illinois who was arrested only a few years after Corll met his end in 1973. One of the darkest coincidences is their shared use of the handcuff trick.
To perform this “trick” both Corll and his teenage helper Wayne Henley would lock themselves in a pair of handcuffs, keep a key in their pockets, and then pretend they got out of the cuffs without any help. Then they would convince their victim to try locking themselves in the handcuffs to attempt the trick as well. When they couldn’t escape, the victim had handily cuffed themselves, ready to be taken to Dean’s torture room.