It was truly bad judgment that Wayne Henley used when he decided to bring his good friend Rhonda to Dean Corll's house, considering that Wayne was genuinely concerned about the young woman's safety. He did not understand the danger to which he had exposed himself and his friends by taking them there.
But bring her he did without the approval of Dean Corll.
Dean Corll was an electrician for Houston Power and Light, but most of Henley's friends knew him as the Candy Man, so named because he had labored for years in the candy manufacturing plant that he and his mother had once owned. Corll was famous for giving away candy to the kids.
Elmer Wayne Henley and his friend Tim Kerley had left the Corll's house in the Pasadena suburb of Houston in the early morning hours of August 8, 1973 in order to meet Rhonda. Earlier in the evening, Henley had been to Rhonda's house when he heard her father, who was drunk at the time, yelling at her. Knowing that Rhonda was very afraid of her father that night, Wayne promised to come back for her.
With the face of a child and the body of a woman, tiny Rhonda Williams was suffering from some severe emotional and physical traumas. Her mother had died when she was very young and her father was an intimidating man. Then her first love, a boy named Frank Aguirre, disappeared suddenly. Recently, she had sprained her foot in an accident. While she painfully convalesced, her relationship with her father became increasingly strained and he banned many of her friends from visiting the house. Wayne was the only one of her friends that her father liked.
That night, frightened by her father's anger after he had too much to drink, she packed an overnight bag and decided to get away from the house until he sobered up. Wayne left Tim at a laundromat nearby and went to the house to get Rhonda. She was too afraid to unlock her bedroom door to let Wayne in, so he came to the window to escort her from the house. The two of them then met Tim Kerley at the laundromat.
Wayne told Rhonda that they were going to Corll's house. She didn't want to go there, but finally agreed. Tim gave her a beer to drink.
The three teenagers reached Corll's house around 3 a.m.. Rhonda did not realize that Corll was infuriated that the two boys had brought a female to the house, but she knew that something was wrong. Henley was able to take the edge off Corll's anger and the small party started back up again. While Corll smoked pot and drank beer, the boys drank some moonshine that Wayne's dad had given him. Rhonda joined them in smoking some pot and fell asleep while sitting against the wall.
Hours later Henley awakened to Corll handcuffing his wrists. His ankles had already been bound together. From much previous experience, Henley understood that torture and painful death were imminent. Looking around him, he saw that Tim had been stripped and both of his friends had been bound with rope. Electrical tape sealed their lips.
" I'm gonna kill you all!" Corll shrieked, according to Henley. "But first I'm gonna have my fun."
Henley pleaded with Corll: He would help Corll torture Tim. Corll could assault Tim and he would rape Rhonda. Then they would kill Tim and Rhonda together.
After threatening Henley with a .22 caliber pistol and a knife, Corll relented and took off the handcuffs and ropes. Corll told Henley that if he did not do something to Rhonda that he, too, would be a victim.
Corll then took Rhonda and Tim into one of the bedrooms where he had a long "torture" board. Rhonda's and Tim's hands were handcuffed to the board and their feet were tied with rope. Henley had convinced Corll to remove the tape from their mouths.
"Cut off her clothes!" Corll told him and gave him the large knife.
Henley whispered in Rhonda's ear his promise that he would not let anything happen to her. She asked him not to cut off the shirt she was wearing because it belonged to a friend, so he cut off her pants, whispering an apology as he did so.
Corll tried to rape Tim, but the young man fought him as best he could. Henley got up to go to the bathroom and when he returned, he picked up the gun that Corll had left on the nightstand.
Corll's face was flushed with rage when he saw the gun pointed at him. "Kill me, Wayne," he challenged. "Kill me!" Henley backed away as Corll charged at him. "You won't do it!" Corll sneered at the terrified teenager.