Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dean Corll

The Candy Man

Corll spoke to him of getting away from Houston and going some place where nobody knew him like Mexico or South America. Never in all the time they knew each, did Guy see any signs of violence.

Dean Corll was born December 24, 1939, in Fort Wayne, Indiana to Arnold & Mary Corll. The marriage of Arnold and Mary was not a happy one and when Dean was six, the parents divorced, leaving Mary to raise Dean and a second son, Stanley.

Arnold & Mary made a second go at their marriage and moved to Houston in 1950. A clash of personalities caused the two to separate again. In 1953, Mary found a new mate, a salesman named West, who lived with his daughter from a previous marriage.

At this time in his young life, Dean was diagnosed with a heart murmur, which put a damper on any athletic endeavors. Dean studied music instead and became a trombone player in his high school band. His grades were middle-of-the-road in school, but he was always neat and well behaved.

In the late 1950s, Mary started making pecan candies. Dean helped gather pecans and delivered the candy for his mother. Author John K. Gurwell in his book Mass Murder in Houston, says of Dean:

This was the central, recurring theme in all descriptions of Dean Corll through the years he did what he was told to do, everything he was asked to do and he was always polite. He was very understanding and very affectionate, especially with children. He never questioned his mother.

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 Houston in 1962, Mary had set up a candy production facility in her home and turned her garage into a candy store. 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 in military uniform
Dean Corll in military uniform

In 1964, Dean was drafted, but was released from the Army a year later on a hardship discharge. He went back to help his mother keep the candy business alive. Mary, in the meantime, had decided to divorce her husband and needed her son's help all the more. Dean stayed on good terms with his father, who had remarried and lived in the house on Lamar Drive.

The candy company moved to West 22nd street near Helms Elementary School in the Heights area of Houston. Dean invited all the local kids in for free candy and became known as the Candy Man.

Mary found yet another new husband, a merchant seaman, but this union split asunder in 1968 after a few short years. The candy factory was closed and Mary moved to Colorado where she began another candy business.

With the candy store out of his life, Dean turned to the other family business, the electrician's trade. He was training in that discipline when he was killed.

The secret life that Dean carried on without the knowledge of either parents or stepparents nonetheless had taken a toll on Dean. His family saw the signs of emotional distress without realizing the causes. Mary said that Dean had been very depressed a few days before his death and talked of being in trouble. He also spoke of suicide, but then he seemed to snap out of his black mood and planned to visit her in Colorado. There was even talk of marriage to Betty Hawkins. Dean's father and stepmother were also aware of his moodiness and concerned that there were people at Dean's home that were behaving suspiciously. They were frankly concerned that Dean had fallen under the control of someone dangerous.

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