The Serial Killer's Apprentice (Hardcover)

The Serial Killer's Apprentice By Katherine Ramsland, Tracy Ullman Cover Image
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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.

About the Author

Dr. Katherine Ramsland teaches forensic psychology and criminology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania. The author of 70 books, she has appeared as an expert on more than 250 crime documentaries, podcasts, and news shows. She was an executive producer of Murder House Flip and Confession of a Serial Killer and consulted for CSI, Bones, and The Alienist.

Tracy Ullman is a documentary producer, director, and writer living in Chicago. She has produced dozens of non-fiction television programs for Discovery Networks, Oxygen, AETN Networks, and PBS. Her most recent production is a six-part limited documentary series about serial murderer John Wayne Gacy and the new discoveries made in his case for NBC’s Peacock streaming service.

Praise For…

An intimate investigative account of a notorious serial killer . . . Not for the faint of heart, but true-crime aficionados will appreciate this fast-paced, illuminating report.

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

Katherine Ramsland and Tracy Ullman . . . use all their intellectual resources to illuminate the developmental and cultural forces and processes that provide a “human” explanation for what otherwise seems morally and emotionally opaque. I salute them for their intelligence, both “emotional” and “intellectual.” In their book they go well beyond the often superficial analysis offered by most “true crime” writing.
— James Garbarino, PhD, Emeritus Professor Psychology at Cornell University and Loyola University Chicago and author of Listening to Killers

Distinctively insightful . . . In this sleep-stealing page turner, the authors effectively evoke consideration for an additional offender typology and sexual homicide classification by examining the motivational factors of dominant offenders and their groomed teenage accomplices.
— Gregory M. Cooper, ret. FBI Profiler and Supervisor Behavioral Profiling Unit, and Executive Director, Cold Case Foundation

An instantaneous true crime classic, it proves eye-opening for those who wish to better understand this case and the criminal mind, and, despite its nightmarish details, impossible to put down.
— Dr. Gary Brucato, co-author of The New Evil: Understanding the Emergence of Modern Violent Crime

There are few people better qualified to unravel a psychopath's psyche than Dr. Katherine Ramsland, and The Serial Killer's Apprentice proves that she is at the top of her game! By turns intriguing and terrifying, this book shines a spotlight onto the dark corners of a predator's mind and offers urgently needed insights for those in the law enforcement community.

— Kristin Dilley, co-host of the Mind Over Murder podcast

The Serial Killer’s Apprentice reveals the incredible story of the only known accomplice to have killed the predator who lured him into a killing partnership. The urgent lessons learned from Ramsland’s interviews and study are priceless to law enforcement, parents, and, most importantly, to prevent future victims from predators lurking in today’s world. . . . This is a must-read for the true crime fan and for every parent who worries about their child’s safety.

— Chris McDonough, ret. Homicide detective, Cold Case Foundation’s Director of Investigations, host of The Interview Room podcast

Essential for victimologists, criminologists, law enforcement, therapists, and concerned citizens. The Serial Killer’s Apprentice transcends traditional true crime narratives, presenting a profound exploration of a bygone era. As hidden truths emerge and old cases are redefined, this book stands as a testament to the relentless pursuit of justice. Delve into the shadows of the past and emerge with a heightened awareness of the timeless battle against predators, as we navigate the complex tapestry of justice.

— Ann Wolbert Burgess, Professor, Boston College, and author of A Killer by Design

Amazing . . . [The Serial Killer’s Apprentice changes] what we knew as a case narrative for over 50 years and resets the errors made during the investigation and at trial.

— Michael Baden, M.D., Former Chief Medical Examiner, New York City

Product Details
ISBN: 9781613164952
ISBN-10: 1613164955
Publisher: Crime Ink
Publication Date: April 16th, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English