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THE SERIAL KILLER'S APPRENTICE by Katherine Ramsland Kirkus Star


by Katherine Ramsland and Tracy Ullman

Pub Date: April 16th, 2024
ISBN: 9781613164952
Publisher: Crime Ink/Penzler

An intimate investigative account of a notorious serial killer focused on the making of his teenage apprentices.

Acclaimed forensic psychologist Ramsland, author of Confession of a Serial Killer, Beating the Devil’s Game, and dozens of other true-crime books, teams up with investigative journalist and documentarian Ullman to add materially to the 50-year-old story of the “Candy Man” killer, Dean Corll, who was shot and killed in 1973. The authors examine the involvement of David Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley Jr. as apprentices, performing Corll’s “grunt work,” which consisted of the abduction, torture, murder, and burial of other teenage boys. The authors explore the devious strategies predators employ when choosing their “apprentices” and grooming them. Brooks and Henley were both ready targets for Corll, but Henley, the book’s primary character, is especially noteworthy, both in terms of his vulnerability and willing participation as a primary accomplice to a serial killer. Ramsland and Ullman expand the background to Corll’s reprehensible acts to reveal the work of a larger criminal organization, a widespread network of sex offenders dealing in the trafficking and murder of boys operated by John David Norman, who “had been charged more than two dozen times previously for child sex crimes and had a long rap sheet charted by the FBI.” Norman, Corll, John Wayne Gacy, and thousands of other pedophiles coordinated their heinous acts for years. At the end, the authors provide sobering images from the case, including those taken on the day of Corll’s murder, as well as statements by the teen accomplices upon their arrests. Frighteningly, the authors write, “many of the same grooming techniques that Corll employed are still in use because they’re successful.” Ramsland and Ullman paint a disturbingly vivid portrait of true evil.

Not for the faint of heart, but true-crime aficionados will appreciate this fast-paced, illuminating report.