The Serial Killer's Apprentice

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Pub Date Apr 16 2024 | Archive Date Mar 31 2024

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Description

A psychological examination of the blurred line between victim and accomplice—and how a killer can be created.

Elmer Wayne Henley, Jr. was only fourteen when he first became entangled with serial rapist and murderer Dean Corll in 1971. Fellow Houston, Texas, teenager David Brooks had already been ensnared by the charming older man, bribed with cash to help lure boys to Corll’s home. When Henley unwittingly entered the trap, Corll evidently sensed he’d be of more use as a second accomplice than another victim. He baited Henley with the same deal he’d given Brooks: $200 for each boy they could bring him.

Henley didn’t understand the full extent of what he had signed up for at first. But once he started, Corll convinced him that he had crossed the line of no return and had to not only procure boys but help kill them and dispose of the bodies, as well. When Henley first took a life, he lost his moral base. He felt doomed. By the time he was seventeen, he’d helped with multiple murders and believed he’d be killed, too. But on August 8, 1973, he picked up a gun and shot Corll. When he turned himself in, Henley showed police where he and Brooks had buried Corll’s victims in mass graves. Twenty-eight bodies were recovered—most of them boys from Henley’s neighborhood—making this the worst case of serial murder in America at the time. The case reveals gross failures in the way cops handled parents’ pleas to look for their missing sons and how law enforcement possibly protected a larger conspiracy.

The Serial Killer’s Apprentice tells the story of Corll and his accomplices in its fullest form to date. It also explores the concept of “mur-dar” (the predator’s instinct for exploitable kids), current neuroscience about adolescent brain vulnerabilities, the role of compartmentalization, the dynamic of a murder apprenticeship, and how tales like Henley’s can aid with early intervention. Despite his youth and cooperation, Henley went to trial and received six life sentences. He’s now sixty-five and has a sense of perspective about how adult predators can turn formerly good kids into criminals. Unexpectedly, he’s willing to talk. This book is his warning and the story of the unspeakable evil and sorrow that befell Houston in the early 1970s.

A psychological examination of the blurred line between victim and accomplice—and how a killer can be created.

Elmer Wayne Henley, Jr. was only fourteen when he first became entangled with serial...


Advance Praise

"Drawing on exclusive interviews with the surviving member of one of the most horrific serial killer teams in U.S. history, Katherine Ramsland and Tracy Ullman’s consistently gripping book is not only the definitive account of the infamous 'Candy Man' case—offering eye-opening information never before revealed—but a brilliant study of the minds and motivations of pedophiliac predators: both a page-turning true crime narrative and a major contribution to the field of forensic psychology." - Harold Schechter, author of Murderabilia: A History of Crime in 100 Objects

"Drawing on exclusive interviews with the surviving member of one of the most horrific serial killer teams in U.S. history, Katherine Ramsland and Tracy Ullman’s consistently gripping book is not...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781613164952
PRICE $26.95 (USD)
PAGES 336

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Featured Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read an ARC of this book. This is a great read if your into trying to get into the mind of a killer. I find it fascinating how he got sucked into doing what he did. Well written and very thorough!

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Delve into the chilling tale of Elmer Wayne Henley, Jr., the young apprentice to notorious serial killer Dean Corll, in Katherine Ramsland's riveting true crime narrative, "The Serial Killer's Apprentice." Ramsland masterfully examines the blurred boundaries between victim and accomplice, offering a harrowing exploration of how a killer can be created.

In 1971, Henley, just fourteen years old, found himself ensnared in Corll's web of violence and manipulation. Drawn into a world of depravity, Henley became complicit in Corll's heinous crimes, luring young boys to their deaths in exchange for cash. As the body count rose, Henley grappled with the moral consequences of his actions, ultimately taking matters into his own hands and ending Corll's reign of terror.

Ramsland's narrative goes beyond the shocking details of the murders, delving into the psychology of Henley's transformation from unwitting accomplice to cold-blooded killer. Through meticulous research and compelling storytelling, Ramsland exposes the failures of law enforcement and the devastating impact of Corll's crimes on the Houston community.

"The Serial Killer's Apprentice" is a gripping and thought-provoking exploration of evil, redemption, and the complexities of human nature. Ramsland's compelling narrative sheds light on the darkest corners of the human psyche while offering insight into the mechanisms of manipulation and control. A must-read for true crime enthusiasts, this book is a chilling reminder of the dangers lurking within society's shadows.

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