As a person who has read (I keep records) at least 848 crime books and counting, I’m glad to say my serial killer game is on point.
I was looking on NamUs yesterday when I saw the case of this boy, seventeen-year-old Mark Steven Scott, missing from Houston since 1972.
I thought: “Hmm… early seventies… teenage boy… Houston. That sounds like one of Dean Corll’s victims.” I knew Dean had been preying on adolescent boys in Houston during that very time period.
I would not normally have been very hopeful in trying a newspaper archive search for a name as common as “Mark Scott” as any articles about this Mark would be likely to drown in a sea of unrelated results. But I put in “Mark Scott Dean Corll” and discovered he was actually not just suspected but actually a confirmed victim. I hadn’t known that Corll even had confirmed victims who were still missing, but he did. (There’s also Norman Prater, whom I did know about, but he’s only a good guess rather than a confirmed victim.)
Poor Mark was actually misidentified, and by the time they corrected this error, in was too late to find him.
One of Corll’s accomplices, Elmer Wayne Henley, said Mark was buried at High Island Beach with a bunch of other bodies of Corll’s victims. There were two other burial sites, one of which was a boat shed. One of the boat shed bodies is unidentified to this day. The other was misidentified as Mark in 1993.
A DNA comparison was done between this boy and Mark’s mother, and the results indicated there was a 98% chance they were “related.” Whatever that means. We’re all related to a degree.
This identification was accepted by everyone except, apparently, Henley, who insisted Mark had been buried at the beach and not the boat shed. There was also the minor fact that the body was missing two teeth (and they could tell they’d been extracted during life and not just fallen out during decomposition) and had dark brown hair while Mark had light brown/blond hair and no missing teeth.
In 2011, another DNA test was done with more advanced technology. Thus, the dead boy with dark brown hair was identified as another 17-year-old, Steven Kent Sickman.
Dean Corll got away with his crimes for three years with impunity because the Houston police were terrible. Imagine having to go to Mark’s parents and tell them he was missing again and would never be found.
Because there was no more High Island Beach, you see, by 2011. High Island Beach, and whatever secrets it carried, had been lost to Hurricane Ike in 2008, and Mark Scott was taken with it. He’s under the ocean and it’s not really possible to recover his remains.
Putting up Mark’s case has made me interested in Corll and now I’m reading a book about his crimes. I’m only a few chapters in.
My current impressions from what I know of him and his crimes are that his juvenile accomplices are a lot more interesting than Corll himself is. I have a degree of sympathy for both of them, because they had been so young when they were recruited by Corll. David Brooks was only about twelve. I believe I read they had suffered sexual abuse at his hands.
But I am sympathetic only to a degree. As in, “life in prison rather than the death penalty” degree. After awhile you have to start taking responsibility for yourself—which I suppose Henley ultimately did, in a way, by killing Corll.
Henley is the only one of them who is left alive. He’ll die in prison and he deserves it.