Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dean Corll

The Boat Shed

Wayne Henley claimed that Corll had murdered several boys and buried three of them in a boat shed several miles south of Houston. In late afternoon, he guided police and some prison "trusties" to a street named "Silver Bell" and a marina with a business called "Southwest Boat Storage." Dean Corll's stall was Number 11. Author John K. Gurwell describes the scene:

The stall had no windows, and the officers moved slowly as they accustomed their eyes to the gloom of the deep interior. Two faded carpets covered the earthen floor, stretching from the entrance back 12 feet. One was green, the other blue. Inside the doors on the left stood a huge, empty appliance carton. A half-stripped car body, covered by a sheet of canvas, sat in the right-rear area of the stall...behind the barrel in the corner was a plastic bag and inside this was an empty lime bag.

"Trusties" excavate the area

In the blazing August heat, the "trusties" that police had brought along for the digging, reached a layer of lime. The sweat poured off the prisoners as they dug through the white layer of lime. A few inches later, detectives saw some plastic sheet, which held the naked body of a boy about 13.

Police dig near the boat shed
Police dig near the boat shed

"It's my fault," Wayne whined to the detectives. "I can't help but feel guilty, like I done killed those boys myself. I caused them to be dead. I led them straight to Dean."

Wayne Henley hides his face
Wayne Henley hides his face

Below the first body was a skeleton. Then when they dug to the right of the first grave, the bodies of two additional teenagers were found. One had been shot and the other strangled.

The owner of the boat storage facility, Mrs. Meynier told the police what a nice person Dean Corll seemed to be. He had rented the shed for almost three years and visited it several times a week. While she did not know what was in the shed, Corll told her it was almost filled and wanted to rent additional space.

While the bodies were being uncovered, the news media had gotten wind of the discovery and had descended in force. By midnight, the bodies of eight victims had been recovered. Jack Olsen captured the horror of the police in a phrase: "They had all seen death, but none had encountered the wholesale transfiguration of rollicking boys into reeking sacks of carrion.

By the end of the first day, the Hilligiests and Mrs. Winkle and several other parents understood why they had never seen their boys alive again.

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