Dean Corll

Serial Killer

'''Dean Corll''' (1939-1973), American serial killer of young boys and young men, operating out of Houston, Texas, official death count stands at 27


This page written and copyright 2008 by Will Johnson, Professional Genealogist.  If you'd like to comment on this page, you may email me at


1 Dean Corll

Dean Allen Corll was born 24 Dec 1939 either in Fort Wayne or in Waynesdale both of which are in Allen County, Indiana.  Dean was born the eldest child of Arnold Edwin Corll (b. 1916) and his wife Mary Emma Robinson.  Dean's middle name is erroneously given in some sources as "Arnold".  At the time, his father was a mechanic at a factory.  His parents "fought and fussed right up to the end", remaining in Fort Wayne, Indiana until the end of World War II.

His parents divorced in 1946 when he was six, and that year his father either "joined the army" or "was drafted into the Air Force".  Arnold was stationed in Memphis, Tennessee and Mary feeling lonely decided to sell her home and relocate so she could be closer to him.

Arnold was discharged, they remarried again in 1950 and moved to Pasadena, a suburb of Houston, Texas, but divorced again in 1953.  In addition to Dean, they had a younger son  Stanley (b. 1942), in at least one source given the pseudonym "Stephen".  Dean's mother then met and married "traveling clock salesman Jake West" (''River of Blood'', p 91) and they had a daughter Joyce in 1955.  One source also reports that Jake had a daughter by a previous marriage. Dean's father Arnold, married twice more, lastly in 1969 to a widow Mary Bearss (1913-2007).  Arnold worked as an electrician at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Dean Corll in 1973
Source: Wikipedia
Dean Corll attended Vidor High School (East of Beaumont from 1954 to 1958). (''Abilene Reporter-News'', 16 Aug 1973, pg 62)  Dean's mother began making extra money manufacturing candy and running a candy store, where Dean helped out. "Dean helped his mother in the candy business from the time he graduated high school in 1958 until 1960, when he went to Indianapolis to take care of his widowed grandmother.  When Dean came back to Texas in 1962, the family had moved to Houston where Mary had set up a candy production facility in her home and turned her garage into a candy store, the "Corll Candy Company". Dean became second in command in his mother's candy business and lived in an apartment over the garage. He made candy at night, while during the day he brought in a regular salary with Houston Lighting and Power." ("Dean Corll", Bardsley)  About the "grandmother" Howard and Martin state that she was his stepfather Jake's elderly mother.

In 1964 Dean was inducted into the army, but released on a hardship discharge, as his mother needed his help at home.  At this time, his mother divorced and then remarried "a merchant seaman" but divorced again in 1968.  She dissolved her business in Houston, and moved with her daughter Joyce to Manitou Springs, Colorado where she set-up another candy factory. Dean stayed in Houston and trained to become an electrician, like his father, eventually working for Houston Lighting and Power Company.  He also visited his father a few times a week.

Dean Corll died by being shot six times on 8 Aug 1973 at his home in Houston, Harris County, Texas, by 17-year-old Elmer Wayne Henley, a young accomplice.

After his death, it was revealed with help from his two accomplices, that Dean had began torturing and killing young boys beginning about 1970, the official death toll stands at 27.  The victims were all between the ages of 13 and 18, some were runaways and some had been lured to his home to get high or drink.  Most of the bodies, 17, were found buried in his rented boat shed.  Dean Corll is buried at Grand View Memorial Park in Pasadena, Harris County, Texas.


Primary Sources for 1


Secondary Sources for 1


Further reading

    • The Directory of Infamy. The best of the worst: an illustrated compendium of over 600 of the all-time great crooks. By Jonathon Green. London: Mills & Boon, 1980. "Corll, Dean", d1973 Use the Index to locate biographies. (DrInf) Biography contains portrait.
    • World of Criminal Justice. Two volumes. Detroit: Gale Group, 2002. (WorCrJu), "Corll, Dean" 1940-1973
    • Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 10: September, 1973-August, 1976. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1977. (BioIn 10). "Corll, Dean Allen", 1930-1973  
    • Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 15: September, 1986-August, 1988. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1988. (BioIn 15). "Corll, Dean Allen" 1939- 
    • Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 23: September, 1997-August 1998. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1998. (BioIn 23). "Corll, Dean Allen"  1939-1973
    • Murder Cases of the Twentieth Century. Biographies and bibliographies of 280 convicted or accused killers. By David K. Frasier. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1996. (MurCaTw) "Corll, Dean Arnold" 1939-1973


2 Arnold Edwin Corll

Arnold Edwin Corll was born 7 Feb 1916 in Indiana, possibly in Zanesville.  His parents were Homer Frances Corll (1889-1972) and his wife Gertrude B Meyers (1888-1979).  Arnold had a younger brother Myron Corll (1923-2004).

Arnold was married four times.  Firstly he married on 4 Apr 1939 to Mary Robinson.  They divorced in 1946, and he went into the Army Air Force based in Tennessee.  Mary moved to Tennessee to be near him and they tried to make another go of it, getting remarried in 1950, moving to Texas, but getting divorced again in 1953.  Arnold married thirdly to Dorothy Lee Dixon (1920-1959) sometime between 1953 and 1957, while Mary remarried Jake West.  Arnold and Dorothy had a son Michael Wayland Corll in 1957 in Harris County, Texas.  Dorothy, the daughter of William Jasper Dixon by his wife Rosa Lee Stringer, died on 5 Apr 1959 in Houston, Texas.  Arnold married fourthly to a widow Mary Bearss on 18 Apr 1969 in Harris County, Texas.  They divorced in 1975 in Harris County.

When Dean was shot in 1973, it was Arnold who arranged the funeral and attended along with other family members including Dean's mother Mary West and Arnold's mother Gertrude.

Arnold died on 5 Apr 2001, having last resided in Trinity, Trinity County, Texas.  He is buried at Cedar Grove Cemetery, Trinity, Texas.  His tombstone states that he served in the US Navy during World War II.


Primary sources for 2

  • Social Security Death Index Arnold E Corll, 7 Feb 1916 - 5 Apr 2001, SSN issued by Indiana before 1951; last residence Trinity, Trinity County, Texas