“Old Sins Cast Long Shadows”

Episode 7 of The Clown and the Candyman is very disturbing.

Some big take aways for me:

1. Here is another serial killer described as “the nicest guy in the room.” It reminded me of Det. Williams’ interview of Larry Burgess, husband of the late Jane Burgess who was the attorney representing Chris Busch as his child rape charges piled up all over Michigan. Burgess, who could have just said “look, it’s all attorney-client privilege stuff,” wanted to have it both ways. Wanted to tell Williams what a nice guy his wife’s client was–he made us a gingerbread house at Christmas time!–and then backfill with some lies and some amnesia episodes.

2. The “friendship” between Gacy and his prison penpal/investigator Randy–I’m sorry, it’s sickening and inexplicable to me–but is it so much different than John Hastings reeling in Helen Dagner with his tales from the OCCK? Helen was offensive and, god forbid, a woman, but cops couldn’t keep an open mind about all of this? Maybe they could have if they were not in “shut this shit down” total overdrive in 1992. And it continued after Hastings’ polygraph in Georgia in October 2009 because these fuckers were not going to go down that road again.

Remember, initially it was pathetic policing–suspects dismissed if they had an alibi for any of the four murders (there could never be more than one person involved, right??), dismissed if they didn’t drive a Gremlin, dismissed if they didn’t look like a drawing, dismissed forever if they passed a polygraph administered by a dirty MSP polygraphist. Then as time went on, it became squelch all inquiry and any tips–we really don’t want any. Even with the older tips–every tip sheet I have ever seen says “low priority tip” or some version of that phrase. And then the most overused phrase in the OCCK task force lexicon: CLEARED.

3. The discussion of a very active production of porno and snuff films using boys as victims.

4. The discussion about the “note cards” listing clients and the obvious acknowledgment that these clients included men like judges and politicians. So of course they go missing! Just like the N. Fox Island client list.

5. The discussion of Gacy and Dean Corll’s use of teenage boys as accessories. Why is it so hard for police to accept that Gunnels was just that? Poor old drug-addled Vince. Let’s see that Oakland County grand jury testimony from 2011. I know you must have lied your ass off.

As the podcasts notes, “long sins cast long shadows.” Just ask Gunnels, Hastings and every other liar (by omission or commission), including liars in law enforcement, associated with this case.


34 Comments on ““Old Sins Cast Long Shadows””

  1. Joe says:

    Hey Cathy, We have talked about this. Just a reminder. There was only one man who survived Mr. Gacy. When he went to the police with solid evidence, “Hey, this is the plate number of the man who attacked me.” The cops said , “It’s John Gacy. He didn’t do any thing.” Neither the doctors at the hospital nor the police who visited him in the hospital believed him either.

  2. JN says:

    I’m so God damn pissed with the incompetence with the OCCK case. Disregarding polygraph tests. Disregarding a suspect just because of a woman’s fabricating bits of the case. I’m sorry but there’s WAY too many coincidences with lunatic Hastings . I compare him to Ted Bundy. Bundy said “ he killed those woman because he was short changed in life”. He got dumped by his first love because she didn’t see him being successful. So he started killing woman that resembled her. Helen has said that Hastings killed those kids because he felt he was robbed in life. No prospects to advance. Couldn’t get a girl and felt that society’ did him wrong. The only way he could get revenge was to take the kids. Hastings is alive and needs to be brought in front of a grand jury. Vince Gunnels needs to be brought forward as well. It needs to be done before something happens to one of these assholes.

    • Paul Jolliffe says:

      I don’t doubt that Hastings was involved at some level, but when Helen Dagner pressed John Hastings for a motive, all he could come up with was along the lines of “well, I wanted to exact revenge on the people with whom I grew up (Bloomfield Village) and who were mean to me”.
      (I am paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it.)

      Uh no, John. Try again . . .

      Hastings’ alleged motive for killing the kids makes no sense – not one of the four victims came from a family in Bloomfield Village. In no way were the families who lived in Bloomfield Village directly harmed by the OCCK case!

      Further, when Dagner asked him why he (allegedly) stopped after the Tim King case, Hastings replied “well, I just felt like it.”

      Wrong again, John. Serial killers don’t just stop because “they feel like it.”

      John Hastings was full of bullshit.

      Contrary to Helen Dagner’s theory, Hastings was NOT the prime mover in the OCCK case. Could he have been connected to Busch, Green and who knows who else?

      Of course.

      Could he have been a procurer, somehow?
      Maybe.
      Could he have been entrusted to guard the kids while the main perps were elsewhere?
      Maybe.
      Could he have been some minor functionary for the ring?
      Sure.

      But in no way was John Hastings the ultimate mastermind behind this case.

      He apparently really did come to the attention of the task force. Somebody really did tip them off about Hastings, and we believe he was interviewed in connection with the case back in 1977. That interview has never been made public, as far as I know. I wonder what he said, exactly.

      How Hastings ultimately came to Helen Dagner’s attention in the early 1990’s is not clear to me.

      Can anyone here publish either the 1977 police interview with John Hastings or clearly and concisely summarize how Hastings came to Helen Dagner’s attention?

      • Judi Coltman says:

        I can probably give you a more detailed answer if I go haul out al of my crap and look it up. I can tell you that Hastings came to Helen’s attention through a friend of her’s named Sylvia Agar who is the mother of John’s child. Sylvia told Helen Dagner that she thought John could be (at first) a rapist or Peeping Tom and then, it moved to Oakland County Child Killer. I honestly will have to go haul out my files – which I will do, but give me a little time.

      • Judi Coltman says:

        Paul J. – Sometimes, the information just jumps out. So, to answer your questions using the heavily redacted FOIA documents concerning how John landed on Helen’s radar. . .

        Document concerning an interview with Helen Dagner and the mother of John’s child – BLK 01569

        This interview took place on February 26, 1992 in Alpena. We picked REDACTED up at her house, in the presence of Helen, and interviewed her in the car while we were driving around. REDACTED was not very cooperative in answering any questions and was not forthcoming with any information. She said she didn’t trust police officers, and we later found out that one of her sunshade been arrested the day before o a warrant by the state police. Both her boys had been arrested for B&E and stolen Property. She said that she knew [John] a short time prior to becoming pregnant 6 years ago. The lived at the time in Lake Orion. She never married and [John} never lived with them on a full time basis. She and [John] had not been lovers since early in her pregnancy.

        REDACTED said that she did not hear the conversation at the Round Table Restaurant with Helen, where [John] and Helen were discussing this child killer case, and [John] told Helen that recooked chicken for the kids. I asked REDACTED if she thought Helen’s theory was worthwhile, if she could believe [John} could be responsible for this. She said she didn’t know.

        She did say that she thought [John] was a pervert. I asked her what she meant by that. She said she thought [John] was perverted for a variety of reasons. She said she he was a window peeper, and I asked her how she knew that.

        The document goes on the describe her catching him peeping in her windows, and while she was nursing their child. She found women’s lingerie in his stuff along with a vibrator wrapped in plastic. He collected lingerie catalogues which she thought was unusual. She did say that she met one of John’s sisters, his mother and a brother who commented to her that he thought John was a homosexual because of his “feminine actions.”

        Does this answer your question? There is more – some handwritten notes when Helen first contacts Birmingham police. There is also a paragraph that popped out at me about Don Studt saying he had never heard of Chris Busch.

        • Judi Coltman says:

          Interesting to note that REDACTED (Agar) denies hearing a conversation at the Round Table Restaurant as the restaurant where their meetings took place was the Big Boy. Was that an intentional mislead on her part or a mistake by LE ? I have no idea but there is a very credible witness who also heard John say he fed Tim chicken and that took place at the Big Boy in Alpena where, although they said they did, no LE ever interviewed any staff who worked there. Finally – apologies for typos. . . small screen and bad eyes.

          • Anonymous says:

            I had asked Helen about the Round Table Restaurant when it first referenced in the FOIA papers. Partly because I didn’t recall that name before but when she described it to me, I always recall it as the Harvest Table Restaurant. I guess for a few years it had the other name in early 90s. Anyway, Helen told me and confirmed that her and John met at that restaurant along with the other 2 Big Boys that were in town at the time. When you hang out at a restaurant for hours like they did and only order coffee you want to spread around as many restaurants as you can. Back in those days there was no limit on coffee refills so you could spend the entire evening for less than a dollar. Helen and John were on foot often so this was a way to hang out somewhere. These restaurants had their regulars that did this.

            • Paul Jolliffe says:

              Thank you Judi for taking the time to find documents on this.
              Hmm.
              So Helen Dagner came to know John Hastings’ (one-time lover?) Sylvia Agar who wouldn’t confirm anything specific about the OCCK case, but would admit to suspecting Hastings of being a “pervert.”

              Agar did confirm that Dagner and Hastings met and discussed . . . for hours. I tend to believe that Dagner more or less accurately reported what Hastings had to say. And I find it believable that Hastings claimed to have fed Timothy King chicken.

              Maybe (maybe!) he did, although that hardly proves anything other than Hastings was a part of the ring, something which I (and most everyone here, I bet) have long suspected.

              • Anonymous says:

                Paul;

                You along with most people seem to think this case relates to a ring although it’s never been completely proven. What if it wasn’t? John described to Helen the boys were molested post-mortem exactly like the examiner’s descriptions. That sure don’t sound like Busch activities but rather someone making it look like Busch activities. Perhaps the same one that killed Busch and left a sketch of Mark was trying desperately to wake the public to Busch? Until the case can be somewhat solved I don’t know how we can go off on this list of suspects when it’s based on assumptions to start with. Until the police can explain this post-mortem sex, who did the drawing of Mark, or even why John had red flags raised during his polygraph, their work is completely worthless! All of this speculation is a waste of time.

                • Anonymous says:

                  And BTW much of what you describe between Helen and John above is not how it went. You seem to be quick to throw a pile of speculation on something which most times than any leads to no where and not even accurate.

            • Judi Coltman says:

              Thank you for that clarification. I am one of the few people raised in Michigan that had never been up north until I was a senior in HS and that was to Gaylord for a night. I have zero reference for Alpena.

              • Anonymous says:

                Thanks Judi. I’ve been thru Gaylord a few times. I had many odd ball discussions with Helen and Rick over Alpena, & Rogers City thru the years along with so many things. The Round Table Restaurant was one I remember as I was curious why that was in the FOIA papers as well. I asked the same question why not Big Boy? I’ve read your posts for many years now and you try to be as accurate as possible. My extension post above was to Paul and I’m sure you know that.

                I do believe that Paul was probably asking about John’s other girlfriend. The one that turned him in originally in 1977? I don’t believe it ever gave her name in the docs. I don’t believe Helen ever knew who that was as she was trying to find her. It’s been so long since I read that stuff and if you find anything on that, it might be interesting to post. What I recall was that she originally turned him in because he acted very suspicious. Something about him and someone with him (A brother maybe Mike?) were at a party and making comments about an Aerosmith song. (Children of the Season or something like that?) and how it had secret meanings and they were influenced by it. Whatever the case she seemed to be really freaked out by him although it might just be the typical suspicions and nothing to hype a bunch of speculation around. I think she did talk about him being a talented artist back at the time although what stood our was there was no mention of him being in Europe nor anything about a passport back at that time. Imagine that? Also something about she thought John matched the OCCK sketch in the newspaper. You don’t say!

                Maybe I’m off some as it’s been years since I read those FOIA papers in any detail. Personally I have lost interest in this case after finding out what happened in Georgia with the polygraph conclusions being ignored. There is just no hope for this case ever being solved to any degree nor investigated properly.

        • Anonymous says:

          Judi states – There is also a paragraph that popped out at me about Don Studt saying he had never heard of Chris Busch.

          What’s this? That is interesting. I highly have my doubts that Don did not know about Busch. Something smells fishy.

          • Judi Coltman says:

            In reference to the above. FOIA BLK 01297. MSP Supplemental Incident Report 0001 dated Monday, July 7, 2008

            CONTACT WITH DON STUDT: BIRMINGHAM POLICE DEPARTMENT
            On 07-8-08, the undersigned contacted Don Studt of the Birmingham police department to ascertain or verify possible information about the suggested connection with REDACTED [John Hastings] and Christopher Busch. Studt stated that he has never heard of the connection with REDACTED [Hastings] and Busch until the call this very morning. Don Emphatically stated that he has never heard of Christopher Busch while adding that this name is not in any of the supplied investigation he gave this office regarding the REDACTED [Hastings] investigation into the Oakland County Child Killings.

            STATUS: Open

            As this is on Page 3 of 3 of a Report Titled Oakland County Child Killer Investigation with the first entry being JOURNAL: 7-1-08 D/Sgt Gray

            I can only guess that “The Undersigned” is Gray.

      • AH says:

        Paul;

        I have seen your posts so many times over the anti Helen rants thru the years. You are going along with a bunch of speculation on this case which is maybe the more accepted speculation I guess but it’s still speculation. You complain that Hastings doesn’t match the speculation. What the use? I still think Hastings holds the key to this whole thing. He may know how this all went down. He raised all kinds of red flags with his polygraph and the police chose to ignore it.

        • Paul Jolliffe says:

          Oh I quite agree that Hastings should have been grilled by the GBI. I agree that he may well have played some role in the ring, and I also agree that getting him to talk may be the best remaining chance to find out the specifics: who were the prime movers, who approached Hastings, where were the kids held, who actually killed them, who actually kidnapped the kids, was anyone in the ring associated with anyone in law enforcement at any level, etc.

          Now, Hastings may not know all the answers. I suspect he was only a minor player (which may be why he is still alive and why he lied to Dagner about motive – he didn’t know the motive behind the cases), but whatever he knows, no matter how little, may prove useful.

          I can’t really imagine why he’d talk now though. After all, if he was involved on any level, no matter how small, then he’s guilty of crimes that would send him to prison for life.

          I wonder if a blanket guarantee of immunity from Michigan A.G. Dana Nessel and the Oakland County D.A. would get him to say anything.

          • JN says:

            Oh it’s very well possible that Hastings is the main player. The one that did the abductions. The one that kept the kids. “ which he had access to do so” and the one to kill them. Let’s face facts here. HES THE ONLY ONE THAT FITS THOSE COMMOSITES ACCURATELY.

            You have to ask your self, why were just 4 children killed in Oakland county in this fashion? We know Sloan and the rest of those pedophiles molested multiple children. Why would they not kill any other kids? My opinion they weren’t killers. They were sick child molesters. Hastings is a whole different breed here . You have to look deep into this psychopath. Which obviously most of you have not.

            • Anon says:

              Hastings’ supposed statements about his motive and the reason he stopped killing don’t sound to me like statements a main player in the context of this case would make. Granted, as far as I know I have never talked to a mastermind killer, a main player, any killer, or any accomplice to any crime. Nor am I here to look deep into a psychopath.

              Facing a few facts here:

              Hastings does resemble the composites created after Tim’s abduction. Setting aside the contradicting statements about whether Green was incarcerated at the time, Green also resembles the composites.

              Hasting’s resemblance to the composites is a fact that weighs toward him being there at the abduction or being the abductor. The similarity does not weigh one way or the other about him being the killer.

              Wasser told Coffey that a male client told Wasser that he killed Tim. Wasser told Coffey that both the client and his lawyer were dead. Wasser’s statements were against his own interest. The client’s statement to Wasser was against his own interest. Wasser subsequently fought the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office, lost, folded, and identified Chris Busch as the person who told Wasser he killed Tim.

              We don’t yet know who killed Cathy’s brother Tim, Mark, Jill, and Kristine. We don’t yet know why they were killed. Perhaps we never will.

              Cathy, her team, and others are keeping after this, relentlessly. They are asking for and doing work that should have been done decades ago to leave no stone unturned.

              Cathy drives this bus. Most of the rest of us seem to be on board to offer her whatever support we can individually offer.

      • Stephenie L Day says:

        I considered they may have be trafficked from childhood themselves. Like the story about the newspaper boy Johnnie, that went missing. He claimed to be caught up in a child porn ring and was still scared to leave as an adult. I believe he said he helped kidnap other kids. It was him or the other paper boy that went missing from his area. Maybe?

      • cathybroad says:

        Paul, what matters is that in October 2009 Hastings bombed a polygraph given by the Georgia Highway Patrol Polygraph Division. This is significant not only because of the report given on the results, as described in the FOIA document I have posted numerous times, but because this was an agency outside of Michigan. The MSP (Gray and Robertson) bury this report. This is during a time Livonia PD Det. Williams is “kicked off” the task force and does not work on the OCCK case again until 2010 when he begins work for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office. That the MSP did not circle back after this report from an unbiased Georgia state investigator is beyond the pale. Forget about all the shit leading up to it. This guy knows something about these crimes. GHP had a plan in place to hold this creep until Michigan could come get him!! I would have loved to hear the phone conversation between Gray and GHP investigator Duncan when Gray tells him–oh, just skip it.

  3. RD1 says:

    The podcasts are now blocked, outside the US, so I won’t ever get to hear it.

    Can I ask, who was allegedly involved in “a very active production of porno and snuff films using boys as victims” ?
    There are some people with an obsessive interest in rumor-mongering that Dean Corll and his accomplices filmed or photographed the torture and murder of some Corll victims. There is not, and never has been any evidence for this of course.
    Rumor-mongering about this has waxed & waned over the decades, perhaps reaching a peak after American author Dennis Cooper and Gisèle Vienne created a play, wherein imaginary accounts of David Brooks filming some of the crimes are read out by his character in the play.
    I would never see such a thing, but I’m told it was pure – and offensive – crap.

    https://www.straight.com/article-282053/vancouver/jerk-disturbingand-pointless

    You might remember Dennis Cooper, as the sick SOB who has an old article about OCCK on one of his websites, “decorated” by an obscene desecration. A previous play of his, revolved around a Gay teen who asks his young adult lover to make love to him, then murder and eat him. Yea. That’s sicko Dennis. In any case, circa 2010 when the play was making it’s rounds, people started saying; “Well, Cooper MUST know something, right? He probably got access to secret records about films found in Corll’s house, that they’ve been covering up all this time”.
    But Cooper knows nothing, more than you or I. He just likes to write about sadistic torture and murder of boys, that’s what “gets him off”.

    .

    • cathybroad says:

      The porn and snuff films were mentioned in connection with discussions about John David Norman and his associates; it’s speculation based on discussions in recorded calls between Gacy and Randy White. I can’t listen to it again. Hearing Gacy’s voice makes me sick.

      • RD1 says:

        I won’t ask you to listen again.
        Thank you, that told me what I needed to know. I can extrapolate the context, which would surely be Gacy’s claims that he didn’t kill anyone – totally innocent, wasn’t even in town when boys were killed – it was those rat-bastards who “had my keys” and could come and go in his house as they pleased. And why would “those others” kill boys in Gacy’s house and bury them under it? Because they were making “snuff” films, of course.

        Anything that promotes doubt about their guilt, benefits perpetrators of especially heinous crimes. It would be weird, if serial killers who “have someone’s ear” did not promote alternate theories about ‘who really did it’, and exploit discrepancies of time or place or identity or what have you.

        Some people, who have an obsessive interest in serial killers and their crimes, have a weirdly worshipful attitude toward their ‘favorites’. They may profess repugnance and disgust, but they also express quasi-magical perceptions of them. Because their deeds were so dark and inhuman, serial killers must possess secret knowledge about “the dark underbelly” of their community and the people living in it, their fans seem to believe. And so they act as though serial sadist-rapists or mass killers are incapable of telling lies – everything they say, if it’s about “secret horrible stuff”, must be reality and the truth.
        Soberly, there’s no reason a serial killer would necessarily know more than your next door neighbor, about anything other than the crimes they committed, and having presumably evaded detection for some period of time, committing their crimes, are very likely to be highly practised at manipulating and deceiving people.

        Are you familiar with “Bits of Books, Mostly Biographies” site? It’s an amazing archive of documentation about pedophile sex rings, pedophile sex offenders, pedophile apologists, etc. The focus in UK, but several of the worst perverts were ‘cross-oceanic’, committing crimes over there and also in the US. Particularly useful, are commentary on historic CSA crimes by members of the pederast communities involved in committing them. On this page, if you scroll down nearly to the bottom, you’ll see on the left-hand side thumbnails for an interview with Dennison William Nichols from Mason, Michigan, who was the Sociology professor at Western Michigan University from the Sixties into the 1980s. And a self-professed boy-lover just like our least favorite pervs in the North Fox Island ring.
        Open these up, and you’ll find Nichols discussing many crimes you are very familiar with. There is a lot of stomach-turning apologetics (hurl!), but if you hold your nose you’ll find some interesting info.

        https://bitsofbooksblog.wordpress.com/tag/george-parker-grossman/

        Of particular concern, is the revelation that The Chicago Tribune bungled their reporting on John Norman and the Chicago pornography ring they purported to ‘expose’. Norman and Paske were not involved, nor were they “behind” the recruiting and exploitation of young boys on film, that the charged persons were involved in; David Berta, John Bell, Dr Lloyd Lange and Elden Wake.
        John Norman was involved in producing CSA images, a few years later, and prosecuted for that – the “Handy Andy” case. But Gacy’s belief that Norman and Paske were “the Chicago pornographers” was based on misinformation.

        • cathybroad says:

          Yes, the discussion was a part of Gacy’s attempt to reverse his conviction or get off death row. Dumbass apparently thought if the body count went down from 33 to, say 10, life in prison would be a better sentence.

          The rest, RD1, I have no knowledge of and cannot comment on.

  4. Matt says:

    Damn. I know it’s been said and is obvious, but that North Fox Island client list would be explosive. I keep holding out hope (probably foolishly), that somewhere out there is a copy or another written list, buried and just waiting to somehow be found. Every time I see it mentioned and referred to I always think “what if?”.

    Based on what’s been speculated over the years, the names of people on that list would undoubtedly leave all of us horrified, stunned and severely disappointed in some.

    I do believe that that list would help in squashing this case once and for all. Unfortunately, that’s likely also why it went “missing”.

    Damn.

    • cathybroad says:

      Just given the titles of men questioned by the MSP in their little Fox Island file (names redacted, of course)–a bank president, a school principal, a Wayne County probation officer–all of whom claimed to be shocked that the “boys’ nature camp” was a front, that client list would have been explosive indeed.

  5. JN says:

    Oh I would say Hastings is the number 1 suspect . Paul seems to think that if Hastings was a serial killer , he couldn’t stop killing. That’s not the case always . Granted most serial killers don’t stop.; however , research the Green River killer. He went 20 years without killing. Hastings has been in and out of mental institutions . Who’s to say he doesn’t regret what he did. Who’s to say he wasn’t just the abductor. He had access to keep those children . There’s no mistaking that he fits those composites over any other suspect . I mean he fits them to a T. Hastings lived within the vicinity of each child’s abduction sites. Hastings polygraph from 2009 had red flags. Duncan said there’s no doubt Hastings had something to do with those murders. You have to ask Yrself “ Sloan , Lamborghine, Busch , Greene were all pedophile child molesters’”. They molested many children . Why did they just murder these kids from Oakland county? Why weren’t any other kids murdered by these pedophiles? Because they didn’t do these murders. It doesn’t add up.

  6. JN says:

    The biggest mistake being made in this case is looking for suspects that have had prior convictions. You have to ask “ if Busch, Sloan , Lamborghine were the killers and they have supposedly molested many children. Why did they just kill our Oakland county kids?” Why didn’t they kill other children and dump them in the snow? It doesn’t add up.

    Serial killers don’t necessarily have a profile. Have you heard of Ted Bundy? He was the last person anyone would have thought would end up being a serial killer. He was a college graduate and in law school. Hastings fits much more than just the composites. That’s just a fraction of why he’s a suspect. Hes failed a polygraph in 2009. Witnesses have heard him to admitting to the crimes. Granted he has mental insides and could have lied. I don’t buy for getting meals from Helen. He wasn’t desperate in that nature. If you want a motive , here’s one. He was a society reject . Rejected by his family and peers. Abused by his father and by kids at Brother Rice high. Had zero prospects to better himself . He’s been in and out of mental institutions since the murders. So I would say he fits the profile more than any of the other suspects.

  7. Brian says:

    In looking into both Gacy and Corll I’ve discovered some fascinating things. I’ll stick with Corll for now, as I’ve been reading mostly about him. What I’ve learned causes me to look at the young men surrounding Corll, Gacy, and the various Sloan- and Busch-peers in Oakland differently.

    Dean’s mother related to the papers that when he was a young boy, Dean and his brother, who were left alone while she worked in the Houston Heights, were witness to a neighborhood crime and spoke to officers on the scene. The cops gave the boys plastic badges and seemed very taken with them in a way that made their mother angry and uncomfortable. She seemed to have worried about the cops trying to make snitches of her sons. She started sending the boys to her mother’s in Indiana over the summer.

    Dean had an abiding interest in electronics, and a unique knack with them, from an early age. His mother describes various gadgets – cameras, tape recorders, telescopes, and so forth, always being around his apartment and always consuming his interest. Interestingly, researching this period in Houston, I learned that the craze for tape recorders seemed to be most intense there, Texas-sized. Dean had one and used it to incriminate people, among them his stepfather, who was smearing his mother around the Heights.

    He once demonstrated his telescope to his grandmother, training it on a neighbor’s house. His grandmother told him to be quiet or the neighbor’s would hear them, indicating how clearly these people could be observed. His gadgets seemed to center exclusively around surveillance.

    At the time Dean and his brother intersected with these cops, Houston’s police department was one of the most corrupt in the country. Three years after Dean’s death, in 1977, in the climate of hearings around the Church and Pike committees, it was revealed that the HPD, which had no internal watchdog system and no outside oversight either, had been bugging hundreds to thousands of its citizens for some time. The department accepted no federal funding in order to maintain this independence.

    When Dean’s mother opened her first candy shop independent of her husband, Dean set up a hang-out room with a pool table in the back. Many reports remark about the curious ceramic frog in the room whose eyes lit up when a call came through. It was said to be a phone with no earpiece, which you could simply start talking into. I would expect its main function was to record conversations.

    Also at the time Dean and his brother intersected with the cops, Sam Hoover, who was at one point a district court judge and at another the mayor of Pasadena, was running a tight criminal enterprise, with protection from a major mafia figure.

    Hoover ended up in jail. He had a gang of “boys” who committed regular burglaries (and I suspect) shakedowns and violence against Hoover’s adversaries.

    The boys were also Hoover’s sex partners. He used his access to juvenile detention centers and so forth to select these cohorts, leveraging their criminal offenses for cooperation.

    During the committee hearings looking into Houston area wiretapping, Mr. Lynn, the newly appointed chief of police, who’d been pulled from the lower ranks by an incoming mayor, testified that a handful of police did not survive his transition. Some of them had said that when Louie Welch left office, they would leave too. But only part of this seems to have been loyalty. Welch had been Mayor for years and controlled the city. Their income was likely tied up in his operations.

    The operation involved the phone company. I imagine it also involved Houston Lighting and Power, where Dean, his father, and his stepmother had all worked.

    Before the hearings, Lynn himself recorded many conversations with these longtime HPD employees and determined that there was indeed a high degree of guilt there. The policemen did not know they were being recorded, which seems a fine, rich irony.

    One of these officers was a man named Felcher.

    Felcher had been director of Houston’s ultra secretive CID (I suppose it would be helpful to read this acronym as both Criminal Investigation Division and, because of the secrecy, Criminal Intelligence Division).

    Felcher was the man that either the uncle or father of David Brooks, Corll’s accomplice, contacted after news of Corll’s murder was made public. The use of informants by crooked policemen who themselves were involved in the drug traffic would have mostly been overseen by CID. The mission of the CID in the law enforcement climate described would be primarily to collect information–in bulk. All intelligence would stem from that raw data.

    Years after Dean’s death, also later in the seventies, it was revealed that the HPD had a very crooked involvement in the Houston drug trade. Most of this came out after several police brutally beat a suspect and left him to die, dumped in a ditch.

    Beaumont, where Dean spent a lot of time (close to where he went to high school in Vidor), was famous for vice and corruption. In the mid sixties, a special prosecutor was sent to clean up the town’s political and cultural graft. Some described brothels on every corner.

    Many of the missing person reports detail ransom calls; the boys called home saying they needed $1000 dollars immediately. The majority of the boys had been part of Corll’s backroom gang. Some of them had delivered “candy” for him in the neighborhood.

    Incidents are detailed which involve friends of some of the boys coming to their homes after their disappearance to search their rooms for no one knew what. Those boys ended up missing too.

    The missing reports also detail many trafficking related incidents involving the missing boys, where one boy was being hunted by others for reasons having to do with drugs.

    During Sam Hoover’s trial, his treatment of one of his burglary victims was detailed. His boys tied the subject up and performed torture at length, trying to find out where the loot they were after might be.

    One of the parents of a missing boy was a public figure who believed this explained his son’s abduction. Many of the fathers worked construction. One had just been promoted at the post office.

    In my mind, none of this exonerates Corll, but the idea that Corll merely worked for himself, feeding a singular sickness, seems practically absurd given all of this, which is just a fraction of what I’ve discovered. Equally absurd seems the notion that his house on Lamar was a proverbial House of Horrors. The horror was a system that far exceeded those domestic boundaries.

    It does all seem to indicate what coordination between criminals and various authorities might look like.

    Can we all stop referring to the checks written to Pashke as paychecks. Pashke didn’t work for Gacy. He offered services. And Gacy’s time recruiting from within the ranks of the Jaycees was clearly not about covering his tracks and distracting from his crimes. He showed porn films at these gatherings, encouraging sex. He held many such parties and met many public figures this way. Like Corll, in some way he was a collector of information with the abiding personality of an extortionist.

    Again, not saying that Gacy and Corll were not involved in murder and exploitation; rather, I think a larger picture seems a lot more instructive as to patterns and causalities than some myth about singular psychosis which persists even after new information comes in. This was about trafficking and extortion within the context of a larger set of interrelated crimes which spanned the country and reached beyond it in some cases.

    Had Corll merely wanted to abduct young men, he could have far more easily picked them up at one of the area’s many gay bars. Choosing his own neighborhood, repeatedly – the same general neighborhood – indicates he was selecting boys there for reasons that sat adjacent to his own desire and discretion. It seems to me that in a city full of graft and criminal-political pecking orders, he was more likely some sort of lieutenant of the Heights area.

    In other words, when, for instance, Chris Busch was caught with rolls of film presumably shot on Fox Island or in relation to the figures involved in that operation, he was not taking those images for himself, though he was certainly there, and an apt accomplice, because of his own inclinations, and the record associated with exercising them.

    ——

    Other possibly relevant points related to Corll:

    Candy was vending. Organized crime controlled vending during this time. Period. Both Dean and his stepfather made deliveries leading up to their move from Vidor to Houston, where almost all of their business was said to be.

    It’s been said that victims were transported after death in wooden boxes. The problem is, those boxes had breathing holes. David Brooks appeared to get dates wrong when he said that a boy who’d gone missing months earlier died in an apartment Dean lived in months later. I take this to mean that this particular boy was kept alive for some time. There wasn’t much Brooks got wrong unintentionally.

    Only one neighbor ever mentioned hearing anything that sounded like gunfire near a Dean residence. A police officer lived across the street from Corll at his last address in Pasadena and neither heard nor saw anything unusual or suspicious.

    Corll moved thirty times in four or five months. Reports suggest he stiffed his landlords, breaking leases abruptly–but surely they knew where to find him, given he had a steady place of employment from which to garnish wages and a military record. It seems likelier he had someone directing and facilitating these moves, and that they were work-related.

    Brooks mentioned that Corll was fanatically secretive about his mail. Police records show numerous P.O. Boxes. When Dean read a letter, he immediately tore it up.

    Neighbors at one location commented that Brooks was often seen on the balcony with binoculars. A lookout, perhaps; but also possibly surveillance. There was another pair in the van.

    When police talked to some of the landlords, a pattern emerged. Apartments immediately adjacent to where Dean had lived were occupied at the time he was there, but empty when the cops came months later.

    The last address at which Dean lived before moving into his father’s Pasadena house generated its own incident report. Dean was reported to have lived there just a few weeks prior with a tenant named Ashinsky.

    Ashinsky had been released from jail on drug charges the night before, two days after Corll’s death. Cops described his apartment as a shambles. He said he’d been burglarized while in prison.

    While it’s possible that the man who called in this tip – also a resident at the complex – was confused and had actually seen Dean there months earlier, not weeks, it’s also possible that Dean and Brooks had been seen there because they were burglarizing Ashinsky’s apartment.

    Tape recorders were a major fad in general–and taped letters, which require verbalizing private thoughts.

    Nowhere were tape recorders more popular than among the John Birch Society, which was prevalent in Houston and fit right in with the HPD’s attitude toward outside scrutiny in law enforcement matters. Dean was born in Indiana, birthplace of the Birchers. Furthermore, the traveling salesman who told Dean’s mother she should monetize her baking might well have been a bircher himself. Robert Welch, the founder, was a candy manufacturer. And the fond feelings between the JBS and the Houston political infrastructure were publicly professed by both sides.

    Recently the leader of a high profile church in Houston was indicted for abusing his position in the 70s and 80s. Houston is a uniquely fundamentalist environment and the church holds powerful sway. This corrals judges, police, the mayor, and the district attorney into a pen of influence already occupied by religious leaders.

    Shortly before she left Houston, in 1968, Dean’s mother, divorced from her second husband for the second time, went to a new computer dating service where she spent four hours giving personal information. The first man she was set up with seems to have been involved in organized crime. He stalked Dean’s mother so relentlessly that she and Dean acquired a gun. I believe she moved because of this man, the only person given a pseudonym in the entire case that I can find. He is often listed simply as a “sea merchant”.

    One of the boys who went missing called his mother to say that he was taking a gig out of town to pay for his lawyer. He’d been charged with possession of a weapon earlier. It’s interesting to think of this in terms of what is known about Sam Hoover’s operation: many of the accomplices he chose had records and needed representation.

    Henley, the other Corll accomplice, told a friend that he needed to find boys who wouldn’t stir a fuss if they disappeared. The one family that questioned and pestered the police most, the Hilligeists, hired a private detective, who started investigating around the neighborhood. He was shot at and run off the road on two separate occasions. Everything seemed to revolve around drugs, he discovered. Or to be bound up in them.

    In the missing report for the Hilligeist boy, a cop notes he told Mrs. Hilligeist, who called again to find out if there was any news and mentioned this private eye, that she absolutely must keep them abreast of her efforts. If she hired a detective, they should know about it, presumably so efforts could be coordinated. Henley checked in with this family in a way that seems commensurate with the noise they were making, asking a lot of questions.

    The cops charged the private eye on some trumped up charge, much to Mr. Hilligeist’s bewilderment.

    • Brian says:

      Apologies: not Lieutenant Felcher, but one J.D. Belcher.

      I think the other names are correct, if not correctly spelled.

      Probably also worth mentioning what an old friend of Elmer Wayne Henley’s reported. The two were riding their bikes together one day, and out of the blue Henley asked his friend, “What would you think about being a professional assassin?”

      His friend: A what?
      Henley: A hired killer, like for the mafia or something.


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