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Our poor Mark.” By the next day, police officers were exhuming bodies from a wooded area near Sam Rayburn Reservoir, outside Lufkin, and on a beach at High Island, east of Houston.
All of the Heights victims had gone missing between December 13, 1970, and July 25, 1973. How, Capote and everyone else wanted to know, was it possible that so many boys could have been snatched away from one working-class area of Houston, a mere two miles wide and three miles deep, without anyone—police, parents, neighbors, teachers, or friends—snapping to what was happening?Others were nothing more than lumps of putrefied flesh.A few still had tape strapped across their mouths; others had nylon rope wrapped around their necks or bullet holes in their heads. Within a week, the remains of 27 young males had been found, a couple of them as young as thirteen, one as old as twenty.Detectives were at the shed now, the reporters continued, their voices rising, and they were digging up the bodies of teenage boys—all of whom had apparently been murdered by Corll.Checking their notes, the reporters said Corll had once been a resident of the Heights, where he had helped his mother run a small candy factory on West Twenty-second Street. Scott grabbed her husband’s hand and said, “Oh, Mark.On April 20, 1972, her seventeen-year-old son, Mark, a blue-eyed kid whose cheeks dimpled when he smiled, walked out the front door of that house and was never seen again. They got in their car and roamed the streets, peering down alleys and stopping at the local drive-in restaurants. Their son, who was only a junior in high school, had left for Austin without saying a word?
They called hospitals to see if Mark had been admitted, and Walter, a self-employed carpenter and handyman, drove to the Houston Police Department to report that Mark was missing. They were convinced that something terrible had happened.
A police officer who had gone to high school with Corll and married his cousin insisted that he was “a quiet, well-mannered, well-groomed, considerate person.” He had a nice girlfriend, Betty, a single mother who let her children call him Daddy.
No one in the Heights could fathom that Corll, who had no criminal record of any kind, could be the worst predator in American history.
As one man put it, “He didn’t have no temper.” What made the story simply chilling, though, was the revelation that Corll hadn’t acted alone.
Two teenagers from the Heights admitted to the police that Corll had recruited them to be his assistants: seventeen-year-old Wayne Henley, a wiry kid with acne on his cheeks and thick brown hair, and eighteen-year-old David Brooks, an ascetic-looking blond-haired youth who wore wire-rimmed glasses.
The quickly labeled the killings “the largest multiple murder case in United States history”—the phrase “serial killer” had not yet been coined—surpassing the 13 women choked to death by the Boston Strangler in the early sixties, the 16 people shot by Charles Whitman in 1966 from the Tower at the University of Texas, and the 25 itinerant workers killed by Juan Corona in California just two years earlier.