TX TX - Unidentified victims of Dean Corll, Houston Serial Killer, 1970-1973

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I’d say it could be argued that Ramsland’s book is more about how grooming, trauma, etc can affect the developing adolescent brain, using Henley (and to a lesser extent, Brooks) and the Corll cases as a framework for understanding her points. But I didn’t get the sense that she thinks that makes Henley less accountable for his actions (nor does Henley come across that way, IMO).



This is the part of Ramsland’s book I found most dissatisfying. She brings up Norman in relation to Corll telling Brooks/Henley that he had ‘associates’ in Dallas doing similar things. She talks about the ‘Network’ for a few pages, possibly to establish that maybe Corll did in fact have these connections to a wider ring, but then drops it.

I’d like to see a book discussing Norman and his associates in relation to Corll, OCCK, and Gacy with thoughtful discussion (I understand actual evidence may be hard to come by).
Gah, I’m listening to Ramsland’s book right now and am almost ready to give it up after 10 chapters. The poor widdle baby Henley crap (with the ridiculously babyish inauthentic Texan accent) is making me boak. Sometimes psychologists can be so gullible IMO. Henley is desperate for parole, of course he suddenly knows all the buzzwords about how he is such a victim. Has she read The Lost Boys by Skip Hollandsworth? The torture those parents and their children went through (the parents are all now deceased except for Stanton Draymala’s, the last known victim) was horrific. Stanton’s torture and death was described by Henley as the most bloody and awful of them all. Henley relished in the torture and murder of those boys. His friends! Friends! I sure wouldn’t allow my children to be alone with him.

 
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Gah, I’m listening to Ramsland’s book right now and am almost ready to give it up after 10 chapters. The poor widdle baby Henley crap (with the ridiculously babyish inauthentic Texan accent) is making me boak. Sometimes psychologists can be so gullible IMO. Henley is desperate for parole, of course he suddenly knows all the buzzwords about how he is such a victim. Has she read The Lost Boys by Skip Hollandsworth? The torture those parents and their children went through (the parents are all now deceased except for Stanton Draymala’s, the last known victim) was horrific. Stanton’s torture and death was described by Henley as the most bloody and awful of them all. Henley relished in the torture and murder of those boys. His friends! Friends! I sure wouldn’t allow my children to be alone with him.

I completely agree with you about the tone of the book and the fact that Henley tries to pretend to be an innocent victim when he is not. It's amazing how a person who studies the psychology of criminals can begin to trust them. Especially those who have lured people in by exploiting their gullibility. Of course, Henley can be trusted in personal communication, as he has the charm that many such personalities have. But forensic psychologists should be aware that they will obviously be subject of manipulation.
 
I completely agree with you about the tone of the book and the fact that Henley tries to pretend to be an innocent victim when he is not. It's amazing how a person who studies the psychology of criminals can begin to trust them. Especially those who have lured people in by exploiting their gullibility. Of course, Henley can be trusted in personal communication, as he has the charm that many such personalities have. But forensic psychologists should be aware that they will obviously be subject of manipulation.
Think she is far more qualified to determine whether she is being manipulated than you are. Both she and the other author have stated Henley began experiencing panic attacks as they probed him about his relationship with Corll. Sure, Henley may be selective in areas as to how he recollects his (and Brooks's) relationship with Corll and how he used them to achieve his own ends after fifty years, but neither of those two were the instigators of the crimes. They were more like facilitators.
 
Think she is far more qualified to determine whether she is being manipulated than you are. Both she and the other author have stated Henley began experiencing panic attacks as they probed him about his relationship with Corll. Sure, Henley may be selective in areas as to how he recollects his (and Brooks's) relationship with Corll and how he used them to achieve his own ends after fifty years, but neither of those two were the instigators of the crimes. They were more like facilitators.
Obviously Ramsland is more competent in matters of psychology. I'm just speculating as to why she chose a similar tone in writing the piece. I'm not very accepting of these cases where people choose to somehow defend a person who is a criminal instead of analysing them objectively. You can find excuses for anyone's actions and behaviour, but that doesn't remove the guilt aspect. Ramsland's work in this case reminds me, if I may say so, more of a speech by a defence lawyer in court than a book on criminal psychology. Certainly, the instigators of the crime are more guilty than their henchmen. But this is a story of degrees of guilt, not a polar situation of "guilty-not guilty". When we look at similar scenarios, they are always situations in which someone initiates evil acts while others listen and obey. The defendants in many of these trials have always tried to absolve themselves of guilt, despite their active complicity. They have excuses, of course, but they have crossed a moral line. Henley's situation seems similar to me. He was in a predicament where, because of his age and social status, he did not have full will and conscience. But the choice to kill - or not to kill - was left to him. And we know the consequences.
 
I completely agree with you about the tone of the book and the fact that Henley tries to pretend to be an innocent victim when he is not. It's amazing how a person who studies the psychology of criminals can begin to trust them. Especially those who have lured people in by exploiting their gullibility. Of course, Henley can be trusted in personal communication, as he has the charm that many such personalities have. But forensic psychologists should be aware that they will obviously be subject of manipulation.

What you are talking about are a bunch of questionable phrasings throughout the book, but that's missing the forest for the trees.

One of the big question marks of this case since 1973 was how something like this was possible and up until this book, virtually no one made an effort to understand the (psychological) dynamics between Corll and the teenagers (Henley, Brooks, take your pick who else) or authors would cover it in a few throwaway sentences. Instead the short and plain factual police statements were cited again and again - the mind reels how the Henley/Brooks legal teams could miss to consider such a psychological evaluation for their defense strategy.

This was done for the first time in some academic depth here, and to dismiss the insight you gain from Ramsland's professional interviews because Henley now calls himself 'a Corll victim' (one of several questionable phrasings i remember) is like throwing away a good book because you don't like the cover.

Bottom line: to sugarcoat or omit some particularly ghastly things you did is not an exclusive trait of a psychopath, we all do it (remember how after 1945 most of the german people suddenly became resistance fighters). But apart from that, it's the first telling of the case that at least makes some sense (Corll's 'cover' story about the human trafficking ring and how he used it is much more plausible now). It could be more objective at times, but i rarely saw Henley describing himself 'only' as an innocent victim. He says a lot of pretty incriminating thing about himself.
 
What you are talking about are a bunch of questionable phrasings throughout the book, but that's missing the forest for the trees.

One of the big question marks of this case since 1973 was how something like this was possible and up until this book, virtually no one made an effort to understand the (psychological) dynamics between Corll and the teenagers (Henley, Brooks, take your pick who else) or authors would cover it in a few throwaway sentences. Instead the short and plain factual police statements were cited again and again - the mind reels how the Henley/Brooks legal teams could miss to consider such a psychological evaluation for their defense strategy.

This was done for the first time in some academic depth here, and to dismiss the insight you gain from Ramsland's professional interviews because Henley now calls himself 'a Corll victim' (one of several questionable phrasings i remember) is like throwing away a good book because you don't like the cover.

Bottom line: to sugarcoat or omit some particularly ghastly things you did is not an exclusive trait of a psychopath, we all do it (remember how after 1945 most of the german people suddenly became resistance fighters). But apart from that, it's the first telling of the case that at least makes some sense (Corll's 'cover' story about the human trafficking ring and how he used it is much more plausible now). It could be more objective at times, but i rarely saw Henley describing himself 'only' as an innocent victim. He says a lot of pretty incriminating thing about himself.
I agree with you that I may have placed the wrong emphasis in the discussion because of my own perception of the concept of guilt and responsibility. What you say about the novelty and informative nature of the book is true. Since 1976, it has been one of the most detailed sources of Henley's words.
However, no one is forbidden to criticise a book that pretends to be somewhat scientific in the field of criminal psychology. It may well be that I am simply more critical of this type of publication in the context of my deformation professionnelle.
P.S.You have raised a good point about the concealment of responsibility for crimes within the framework of history. However, it does not seem to me that the actions of the Germans after 1945 can be used to characterise all people. I mean on this scale. People don't like to talk about their mistakes and bad sides, but that's not the best human trait.
 
However, no one is forbidden to criticise a book that pretends to be somewhat scientific in the field of criminal psychology. It may well be that I am simply more critical of this type of publication in the context of my deformation professionnelle.

'Forbidden'? It's just called 'discussing' ;). My laissez-faire about the more 'soapy' (for the lack of a better word) aspects of the book is partly fueled by the fact that i have seen/read much worse and also that i know the despair humans feel when having to endure a real 1000 page academic hard-hitter (say Luhmann's System Theory). At least this one is a page-turner.

That two women worked on the 'Serial Killer's Apprentice' may help to explain the excess of maternal interest in the book's subject and his POV - but again, it's the polar opposite of 1973, when a male-dominated law enforcement and media showed, at times, a shocking lack of compassion. Near-rape/kill victims were just sent home without any help or counsel, and the police chief's press conference on the case not only blamed the parents but crudely added that he wasn't speaking specifically about the victim's parents, because he simply didn't know them. He was presiding over one of the worst crimes up to this point and it just didn't occur to the guy to offer any sympathy or commiseration to the families. It was clearly a different time.

P.S.You have raised a good point about the concealment of responsibility for crimes within the framework of history. However, it does not seem to me that the actions of the Germans after 1945 can be used to characterise all people. I mean on this scale.

It's reductive, but unfortunately there's a lot of truth in it. Not every single german, but a lot more than you would like to think.
 
'Forbidden'? It's just called 'discussing' ;). My laissez-faire about the more 'soapy' (for the lack of a better word) aspects of the book is partly fueled by the fact that i have seen/read much worse and also that i know the despair humans feel when having to endure a real 1000 page academic hard-hitter (say Luhmann's System Theory). At least this one is a page-turner.

That two women worked on the 'Serial Killer's Apprentice' may help to explain the excess of maternal interest in the book's subject and his POV - but again, it's the polar opposite of 1973, when a male-dominated law enforcement and media showed, at times, a shocking lack of compassion. Near-rape/kill victims were just sent home without any help or counsel, and the police chief's press conference on the case not only blamed the parents but crudely added that he wasn't speaking specifically about the victim's parents, because he simply didn't know them. He was presiding over one of the worst crimes up to this point and it just didn't occur to the guy to offer any sympathy or commiseration to the families. It was clearly a different time.



It's reductive, but unfortunately there's a lot of truth in it. Not every single german, but a lot more than you would like to think.
P.S. English is not my first language, so I don't always choose the right words for my thoughts. This leads to some misunderstandings.
Claiming to be academically sound in popular publications and classical academic monographs are not the same thing. Ramsland has a degree and has taught forensic psychology at university. Of course, it is not the same as German social philosophy, but a critical attitude to everything one reads is necessary.

Getting back to the Germans, you should not be so arrogant about your interlocutor and his knowledge :)
 
Getting back to the Germans, you should not be so arrogant about your interlocutor and his knowledge :)

I'm german, so arrogance should be assumed..;)

As for Ramsland, the book was co-written with a Houston local and doesn't really pose as scholarly stuff. I think she saw this as an interesting jump-off point to get into the mysteries of an ancient serial killer case and it's clearly written by both woman for a non-academic audience.

Not directed at you, but while i find it understandable that Henley remains a divisive figure, i just don't see him denying his guilt, completely twisting the facts or playing malevolent mind games that need to be exposed. He comes off a bit whiny and self-centered, but then the guy's in jail since 50 years.

He is responsible for a string of awful, inhuman crimes back when he was a teenager and was sentenced. The only accusation towards the authors is that they baby him more than necessary, but one could say that was to be expected with a book titled 'The Serial Killer's Apprentice'. It's focused on him, for better or worse.
 
Obviously Ramsland is more competent in matters of psychology. I'm just speculating as to why she chose a similar tone in writing the piece. I'm not very accepting of these cases where people choose to somehow defend a person who is a criminal instead of analysing them objectively. You can find excuses for anyone's actions and behaviour, but that doesn't remove the guilt aspect. Ramsland's work in this case reminds me, if I may say so, more of a speech by a defence lawyer in court than a book on criminal psychology. Certainly, the instigators of the crime are more guilty than their henchmen. But this is a story of degrees of guilt, not a polar situation of "guilty-not guilty". When we look at similar scenarios, they are always situations in which someone initiates evil acts while others listen and obey. The defendants in many of these trials have always tried to absolve themselves of guilt, despite their active complicity. They have excuses, of course, but they have crossed a moral line. Henley's situation seems similar to me. He was in a predicament where, because of his age and social status, he did not have full will and conscience. But the choice to kill - or not to kill - was left to him. And we know the consequences.
Sorry - I didn't mean to sound blunt. What I am saying is he has always admitted his guilt (unlike Brooks) and has continued to assist in answering LE questions etc. He has largely blamed himself for keeping quiet and participating as opposed to going to the police after the first murder he knew about.

As for "You can find excuses for anyone's actions and behavior, but that doesn't remove the guilt aspect," when I mentioned Ramsland mentioning his experiencing panic attacks, that was when, after fifty years, she and Ullman started peeling at his outlook and "deserving-of-my-punishment" mindset and getting him to question and appreciate how much he was manipulated.
 
What I am saying is he has always admitted his guilt (unlike Brooks) and has continued to assist in answering LE questions etc. He has largely blamed himself for keeping quiet and participating as opposed to going to the police after the first murder he knew about.

Interestingly, Ramsland offered a spot-on interpretation in a short article on the case in a publication called 'Serial Killer Quarterly' long before interviewing Henley:
Henley likes to believe that Corll had cast a Svengali-type spell over him, but it’s more likely that, like Brooks, Henley was a weak individual who thought only of himself. He claimed that he was afraid of Corll, but it seems more likely that he just took the path of least resistance.(...) Henley had tried getting some distance by joining the Navy, but he did this only after a year and a half of killing. When he failed, he returned to Corll and helped him kill throughout the summer of 1973.'

While i can accept her new makeshift classification of the 'temporary psychopath' and the book rights a lot of wrongs about the victim timeline that were accepted gospel since the 70's, it's the last sentence that warrants attention: Henley first reached out in desperation to family members about the crimes (they didn't believe him), fled Houston for a while, tried to join the Navy...and after that presided with Corll over the arguably worst and brutal phase of the murders. I'm not sure if there is really a convincing psychological explanation for that, and this for me is his very own hangman's noose.
 
I'm german, so arrogance should be assumed..;)
As a Jew whose ancestors lived in the German territories, I take the question of German guilt or lack of it very personally. (this whole debate about personal or collective responsibility that has been going on for decades). But this is certainly not a question for the forum section on Corll and Co. victims.
I agree with you about Henley's characterisation of the personality. Perhaps I see the Ramsland book as a supplement to all known information, and Henley has often let things slip in interviews that he considers himself not guilty or less guilty of. It's entirely possible that I'm overreacting. Although many criminals try to put the blame on circumstances/past events/family/failed relationships etc.
Henley really is a very controversial person. I remember the words of Kim Henkel, one of the creators of the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" film, about Henley: "A kind of moral schizophrenia". All in all, it's good that at least Henley is being more seriously examined than before. After his death, this case will become a matter of history and the main source of information will disappear. And there is still a lot of uncertainty about the case.
 
Does anyone know if Othram have plans to try and identify Swimsuit Boy (ML73-3356)? Othram announced two weeks ago they had committed to "identifying 525 murdered children from NamUs" Hopefully this individual is one of them.
 
I've submitted the following cases to NamUs.

Credit below on Darren Bruce Hillis' websleuths post. What they didn't see was the new 2023 facial reconstruction of the unidentified victim. Looks like him too.

VA - VA - Darren Hillis, 14, Norfolk, 12 March 1973


There's little doubt that Darren Bruce Hillis was probably a tall child, pictured taller than his parents. However, could there have been an error in estimating the unidentified's height, a typo when it was written down, or a "6" (feet) mistaken for a "5?" For both cases, DNA is available.

The dark blue corduroy pants found with the unidentified were size 32x30. I'd expect them to have a greater length to fit Darren, but maybe he was wearing pants that didn't fit him..

View attachment 500070


Darren Bruce Hillis (NamUs #MP6187)
The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)
VA - VA - Darren Hillis, 14, Norfolk, 12 March 1973

Houston, TX Unidentified (NamUs #UP4547)
The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)
looks alot like him, but Darren is listed as 6 foot 4
 
Did anyone notice the boys red bike mentioned in the police files that was in the boat stall/shed?
I couldn't find any relationship to a missing boy with a red bike. But I do believe it probably belongs to a victim. Either found or not yet found
 
Did anyone notice the boys red bike mentioned in the police files that was in the boat stall/shed?
I couldn't find any relationship to a missing boy with a red bike. But I do believe it probably belongs to a victim. Either found or not yet found
<modsnip> identified the bike owner as James Dreymala.
Edit: This repot mentions him and his bicycle:
 
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Did anyone notice the boys red bike mentioned in the police files that was in the boat stall/shed?
I couldn't find any relationship to a missing boy with a red bike. But I do believe it probably belongs to a victim. Either found or not yet found
The bike belonged to Dreymala. That boy had just begun dating and was saving money to take his girlfriend to see the new James Bond movie. He was lured by Corll on the promise of collecting a lot of empty glass soda bottles from his home to return to the store for the deposits.
 
I just started reading the Ramsland book this evening. It's pretty interesting, so far.
 
Candidate for Bobby French
"Investigators received a tip in the mail about the decedent possibly being a boy named "Bobby French". The tip also included several photos of Bobby that bore a “striking” resemblance to facial reconstructions made of the decedent. The tip has been looked into, but none of Bobby's family members have been located. The person who sent the tip has also never been located." The package was labeled “Photographs of Bobby French, Dean Corll's eleventh Victim, Taken by David Brooks Approximately Fifteen Minutes Before His Murder”

I have yet to find these pictures published anywhere, nor do I know their contents - it's possible they include the infamous suspected victim strapped to the torture board, as it is effectively public record by now and would make sense with the 'fifteen minutes before' portion, (I suspect they were sent by somebody else investigating the case who was putting forth their theory, though somebody please let me know if these pictures are anywhere) but I digress.

In an effort to find suitable candidates for this Bobby French, I utilized Ancestry. My parameters thus far hinge on the boy being from Texas, which is not certain, and I will be expanding the area of investigation in future. As I am uncertain whether it portends to Bobby French, the torture board photograph was not a disceditor, but likeness was taken into consideration on the chance that it should be. Taking into account that “Bobby” could be short for Robert, Bob, his given name, or a middle name, and with the knowldge that limitations include French being an adopted name, I searched those who fit into the parameters. I narrowed them down by making a list and excluding all those who had a record beyond 1973. This is what I have so far:
(The boy on the right, don't mind Ancestry being weird) Bobby French, born about 1957. His picture was in the Sophmore section of the 1973 Rayburn High School Yearbook, located in Pasadena, TX. The earliest this photograph could have been taken being 1972, this would make it chronologically improbable that he was Corll eleventh victim, and he does not resemble the boy in the infamous photograph, that said it is hard to make out and again, may not even be relevent to this search. He first appears as a Freshmen in 1971:

then does not seem to be included in the 1972 yearbooks, nor the 1974, all of which are on Ancestry. As he was a Freshmen in 1971 and a Sophemore in 1973, he may have dropped out for a year, or gotten held back. Searching his name in lists of alumni, I cannot find him in any graduating year. That said, those are online lists that depend on former students adding their own names, and it’s possible that he has simply not bothered or has died of unrelated causes in the 50+ years that have elapsed.

When I investigated the other possible Bobby French's, I began with their birth record. This was different, as I had only the yearbook photo to go on, which implies that French is not his birth name, or that he was born out of state. A preliminary search turns up no Bobby French born in that year from other states, so it’s possible he was born in a state which has not had their birth indexes uploaded to Ancestry. As of now, I cannot find any reference to this particular Bobby French in the U.S, Index to Public Records, nor the Social Security Death Index. He truly does seem to drop out of public record after 1973. There was a moment when I believed I had located records of him, but this turned out to be a diffrent Bobby French born in 1957. This is by no means conclusive, I can find no birth record nor family backround which would help a lot, but it's an intruging start. I do think he does look somewhat like the recreations of Swimsuit Boy, but perhaps I want to. Either way, he could be an entirely seperate victim, or the facial reconstruction could be flawed, as it's an imperfect art. There are many potential problems with this theory; maybe Ancestary simply doesn't have the record proving he is alive past '73, perhaps I have overlooked some key detail, but he has overcome the most glaring exclusions. I do believe it's suspicious that for all of the Bobby French's I found with records after Corll's death, the person for whom I did not attended school in the area Dean would have moved to in March, 1973. A school that, upon checking with maps, is a 7 minute carride from 2020 Lamar Drive.

If this is the Bobby French supposedly murdered by Dean, he would have been killed sometime during the lull between March and June of 1973. Though Corll was suffering from Hydrocele during part of 1973, I cannot find clear refrence to how long he dealt with it, and have no doubts he procured some boys by himself during the time that Henley relocated to Mount Pleasent in early 1973.
If anyone has information excluding, or adding to the possibility that this boy was one of Dean's victims, please let me know.
 
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