It was 1973 and I was a pediatric resident in the Baylor College of Medicine program in Houston, Texas. On a warm summer day I was riding my bicycle south on Hiram Clarke Road, and had about 7 or 8 blocks to go to our home on South Brownstone. I had just passed South Fuqua when a white Ford Econoline van passed me and then veered to the curb as it cut me off.
I could do nothing but stop, and I knew this couldn’t be good. The mustachioed man in the passenger seat peered out through the window and said, “Hey, you got any money we could borrow?” I said, “Fraid not” (emphasis on the fraid). He then stated, “Well, maybe we just better check you out”, as he opened the door. I was preparing to hop off and run to a store across the street when the driver said something to him and he shut the door and they drove off.
That was scary enough, but a couple of weeks later I saw the man’s photo (Elmer Wayne Henley, Jr.) along with another man (Dean Corll) on the front page of the Houston Post and they were identified as the Houston Mass Murderers. It turns out that they had tortured and killed some 29 young boys whose ages ranged from 9 to 21, and buried their mutilated bodies in three locations, including the beach at Galveston and a boat shed owned by Corll.
In looking back, I think Corll might have told Henley that I was a bit too old for them to abduct. I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt that day, so I may have appeared more as a teen from behind. I am nervous to this day whenever I am behind a white Ford van.
On the day they were discovered, Henley had shot Corll to death with 6 shots from a .22 revolver in the midst on one of Corll’s torture sessions in southwest Houston. Henley is currently serving 6 life sentences in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice system.
I have written to the TDCJ facility where Henley is incarcerated, even identifying him with his TDCJ number, but have never gotten a reply. All I can say is, “thank you, God, for sparing me that day!”
Stay safe out there.