HOUSTON — A search in a Pasadena neighborhood began Wednesday for more possible victims of Houston serial killer Dean Corll and two teenage accomplices.
Corll, Elmer Wayne Henley and David Brooks raped, tortured and killed at least 28 boys from 1970 to 1973. Their bodies were buried at several locations in the Houston area. The last known victim of the Houston Mass Murders wasn't identified until 2018.
On Wednesday, police and Texas EquuSearch began excavating a backyard behind a small house in Pasadena.
"There's still families out there. There sons and daughters are still missing," Equusearch founder Tim Miller said. "If there's something here let's hope we find it. If not, the neighborhood can rest in peace there's nothing here."
Curious neighbors were surprised to see the searchers. "I'm mind-blown man. I'm almost 30 years old and I've been hearing about this stuff since I was 8 or 9 man. I'm just kind of mind-blown still," said a man named Omar.
Mrs. Martinez lives down the street and had never heard the story before.
"Scared. Knowing that it was boys and teenagers, you know, I always tell my kids to be safe."
They didn't find anything Wednesday but plan to continue Thursday, weather permitting.
"Wayne says there's more out there," Miller said.
Ground penetration technique
Back in August, Miller said they believed there may be as many as 20 more victims still missing. He said they would use a new technique known as ground penetration radar to search areas identified as anomalies.
Miller said it's a long shot that they'll find anything but it's worth if they can bring even one family closure after all these years.
“We really started looking at this thing more than a year ago," Miller said. "Just really, really looking at it and scratching our heads and seeing if it was something that was a hopeless cause or if something we might need to investigate a little bit more.”
Miller turned to Pasadena police to help. He said they have a lot of good information and timelines that can help.
They're asking families who may have missing male children from the 1970s to reach out to Texas EquuSearch.
"If we can find one of these boys, it will all be worth it," Miller said at an August 8 news conference.
History of the 'Candy Man'
Corll was nicknamed the "Candy Man" because of his family’s candy shop in the Heights. It was across from a school and he would promise parties and rides to unsuspecting victims. Most of the victims lived in -- or had connections to -- the Heights.
Henley and Brooks would lure them to Corll's various homes where the horror would begin. They were reportedly paid $10 to $200 per boy and eventually became killers themselves.
"This is one of the most coldblooded, diabolical, sadistic killings in this country's history," victims' advocate Andy Kahan told us in August.
Many of the victims had been written off as runaways so police weren't searching for them.
Donna and Lenore Lovrek’s brother, Randall Harvey, was one of them.
“It’s a terrible thing and it should have never taken place,” Donna told KHOU 11 in 2018.
The last known victim was a 13-year-old boy named James Stanton Dreymala who was riding his bicycle when he was abducted by Corll and Brooks on August 3, 1973.
Victim never identified
One of the victims found buried in Corll's boat shed was never identified.
The boy is believed to be about 15 years old. He was found wearing a Catalina-branded striped swimsuit and a shirt with a mysterious combination of letters and numbers handwritten below a design that Derrick believes might be a military symbol.
Investigators received a tip that a boy named Bobby French could be the last unidentified victim of Corll, but they are still looking into that tip and so far haven't been able to confirm the identity with any family members.
A clay re-creation and a computer-generated sketch show what the boy might have looked like. He has brown hair cut above his ears, with brown eyes, a large nose and a pointed chin.
'Mama, I killed Dean'
The murder spree continued until August 8, 1973 when Henley shot and killed Dean at his Pasadena home. Henley and Brooks both got life sentences. Brooks died in a Galveston hospital in 2020.
Miller said he wrote a letter to Henley asking him to help lead them to more remains.
"We have everything to gain and nothing to lose," Kahan said. "There's always been rumors and talk of other victims. With the advent of technology we have now, it's become pretty clear if there are bodies out there perhaps we can find them."
Finding more bodies won't be easy and could come down to one person.
"Elmer Henley holds the key to a lot of questions and a lot of answers," Kahan said. "I'm hoping for a bolt of lightning and he'll get a conscience and will open up one way or another."
Editor's note: The Houston area had two killers with the 'Candy Man' nickname. Dean Corll was one. The other -- an unrelated case -- was Ronald Clark O’Bryan, who poisoned his son's Halloween candy.