David Owen Brooks

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David Brooks
BrooksHenleyHighIslandBeachAugust13 1973a.jpg
Brooks (right) in August 1973
David Owen Brooks

(1955-02-12)February 12, 1955
DiedMay 28, 2020(2020-05-28) (aged 65)
Cause of deathComplications arising from COVID-19
Height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Spouse(s)Bridget Clark Brooks
Criminal penalty99 years[1] (1975)
Victims1 (convicted)
Span of crimes
December 13, 1970–August 3, 1973
CountryUnited States
Date apprehended
August 9, 1973

David Owen Brooks (February 12, 1955 – May 28, 2020)[2] was an American convicted murderer and accomplice of serial killer Dean Corll, who, along with Elmer Wayne Henley Jr., abducted, raped, tortured, and murdered at least 28 boys and young men between 1970 and 1973 in Houston, Texas. The crimes, which became known as the Houston Mass Murders, came to light after Henley fatally shot Corll.

Many of the victims had been friends of Brooks and Henley. At the time of their discovery, the Houston Mass Murders were considered the worst example of serial murder in American history.[3]

In the years between his 1975 conviction and his death in 2020, Brooks was repeatedly denied parole (finally in 2018).[4][5][6]


Brooks first met Corll while in the sixth grade. He was one of many children and youths who socialized at the Corll Candy Company, and later admitted Corll was one of few people who did not mock his glasses. In Brooks' oral confession, he admitted to allowing Corll to perform sexual acts upon him from the age of 12,[7] for which Corll paid him with gifts or cash.

Houston Mass Murders[edit]

Corll's victims were typically lured to a succession of addresses in which he resided between 1970 and 1973 with an offer of a party or a lift. They would then be restrained by either force or deception, and all were killed by either strangulation or shooting with a .22-caliber pistol. Seventeen of these murder victims were buried in a rented boat shed; four other victims were buried in woodland near Lake Sam Rayburn; one further victim was buried on a beach in Jefferson County; and at least six victims were buried on a beach on the Bolivar Peninsula.

Corll is known to have committed one murder, and likely two, prior to Brooks participation as accomplice. Brooks unintentionally discovered Corll sexually assaulting two teenage boys at the apartment where he (Corll) resided at 3300 Yorktown Street.[8]

Participation of David Brooks[edit]

In December 1970, David Brooks entered an apartment unannounced which was rented by Corll, and discovered Corll in the act of sexually assaulting two teenage boys, whom he had strapped to a four-poster bed. According to Brooks, Corll "jumped up and said, 'I'm just having some fun!'"[9] He promised Brooks a car in return for his silence; Brooks accepted this offer and Corll subsequently bought him a green Chevrolet Corvette. Brooks was later told by Corll that the two youths had been murdered, and he was offered $200 for any boy he could lure to Corll's apartment—an enticement he accepted.[10][11]

In the winter of 1971, Brooks, having by this stage assisted in luring a minimum of six teenage boys to Corll's various addresses, introduced an acquaintance of his named Elmer Wayne Henley to Corll. Henley was likely an intended victim,[12] although Corll evidently saw Henley as an invaluable potential accomplice. Both Brooks and Henley would remain active participants in the abduction and abuse of Corll's victims until Corll was shot to death by Henley on August 8, 1973.[11]

In addition to their participating in the abductions and murders of the victims, both Brooks and Henley also burglarized several addresses, for which they were paid small sums of money.[13]

Brooks was found guilty in David Owen Brooks v. The State of Texas in 1975. He was found guilty of the June 4, 1973 abduction and murder of 15-year-old William Ray Lawrence. An appeal against Brooks' conviction was lodged; but, in 1979 this appeal was dismissed.[14]


Brooks died on May 28, 2020, in a Galveston, Texas hospital while serving out his life sentence. He was 65 and had several illnesses, including COVID-19.[15]



  • A film loosely inspired by the Houston Mass Murders, Freak Out, was released in 2003. The film was directed by Brad Jones, who also starred as Dean Corll. This film largely focuses upon the last night of Dean Corll's life, prior to Henley shooting him and contacting authorities. The film procured mostly mixed to positive reviews, though Jones' performance was acclaimed.[16]
  • Production of a film directly based upon the Houston Mass Murders, In a Madman's World, finished in 2014.[17] Directed by Josh Vargas, In a Madman's World is directly based upon Elmer Wayne Henley's life before, during, and immediately after his involvement with Dean Corll and David Brooks.[18] Limited edition copies of the film were released in 2017.


  • Christian, Kimberly (2015). Horror in the Heights: The True Story of The Houston Mass Murders. CreateSpace. ISBN 978-1-515-19072-1.
  • Gurwell, John K. (1974). Mass Murder in Houston. Cordovan Press.
  • Hanna, David (1975). Harvest of Horror: Mass Murder in Houston. Belmont Tower.
  • Olsen, Jack (1974). The Man with the Candy: The Story of the Houston Mass Murders. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-1283-0.
  • Rosewood, Jack (2015). Dean Corll: The True Story of The Houston Mass Murders. CreateSpace ISBN 978-1-517-48500-9.


  • A 1982 documentary, The Killing of America, features a section devoted to the Houston Mass Murders.
  • FactualTV hosted a documentary focusing upon the murders committed by Corll and his accomplices. Dr. Sharon Derrick is among those interviewed for the documentary.
  • The Investigation Discovery channel has broadcast a documentary focusing upon the Houston Mass Murders within their documentary series, Most Evil. This documentary, entitled "Manipulators", was first broadcast in December 2014.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The horror remains/20 years later, memories of Dean Corll haunt survivor 08/08/1993 | Archives | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle". Archived from the original on July 23, 2012. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  2. ^ "David Owen Brooks". The Texas Tribune. Archived from the original on October 25, 2018. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  3. ^ "Residents of Houston Curbing Murder Talk". The Beaver County Times. UPI. August 16, 1973. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  4. ^ "Houston serial killer Dean Corll's accomplice David Brooks could be paroled". Houston Chronicle. December 5, 2014. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  5. ^ Rhor, Monica (February 15, 2015). ""Houston Mass Murders" killer denied parole". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  6. ^ White, Grace (January 3, 2018). "Family of victim fights against serial killer up for parole". KHOU. Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  7. ^ "Accused man in Texas slaying ring is on trial". The Bryan Times. UPI. February 27, 1975. Retrieved February 10, 2018.
  8. ^ The Man with the Candy ISBN 978-0-7432-1283-0 p. 193
  9. ^ The Man with the Candy ISBN 978-0-7432-1283-0 p. 125
  10. ^ The Man with the Candy ISBN 978-0-7432-1283-0 pp. 135-138
  11. ^ a b Serial Killers ISBN 0-7835-0000-9 p.111
  12. ^ Overton, James L. (March 17, 1975). "Horror still haunts families". Montreal Gazette. UPI. Retrieved October 17, 2015.
  13. ^ Conaway, James (April 1976). "The Last Kid on the Block". Texas Monthly. 4 (4): 83.
  14. ^ Keppel, Robert D.; Birnes, William J. (2003). The Psychology of Serial Killer Investigations: The Grisly Business Unit. Academic Press. pp. 8–. ISBN 978-0-12-404260-5.
  15. ^ "David Brooks, accomplice in Houston Mass Murders, dies at 65 of COVID-19". khou.com.
  16. ^ "Freak Out (2003) - IMDb" – via www.imdb.com.
  17. ^ Rouner, Jeff (December 4, 2013). "Real Horror: Local Filmmaker Brings the Horrific Crimes of Dean Corll to the Silver Screen". Houston Press. Retrieved October 16, 2015.
  18. ^ "In a Madman's World". Uk.imdb.com. Retrieved December 4, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Investigation Discovery Reveals Who Is Most Evil with Leading Forensic Psychologist Dr. Kris Mohandie – On Sunday, December 7". Discovery Communications. November 24, 2014. Retrieved October 17, 2015.

Cited works and further reading[edit]

External links[edit]