Posts Tagged ‘ David Brooks ’

Another Serial Killer Victim Identified

After nearly four decades, a team of Harris County forensic scientists has identified one of the last victims of Houston serial killer Dean Corll as Roy Eugene Bunton, a teenager missing since about 1971.

Bunton was only 17 or 18 when he disappeared, possibly snatched up while hitchhiking by Corll or one of his two teenaged accomplices.

Harris County forensic anthropologist Sharon Derrick said Wednesday that Bunton’s body, which was recently exhumed as part of an effort paid for by National Institute of Justice, was identified through a combination of DNA and circumstantial evidence.

He was one of only two still unidentified victims of the serial killer, who tortured and kidnapped at least 28 Houston teens, forcing some to write false runaway letters to their families. Both of those bodies were found buried in a boathouse that belonged to Corll, whose murder spree ended when Corll was killed by his teenaged accomplice, Elmer Wayne Henley Jr., in August 1973.

Henley and another accomplice, David Brooks, were convicted in the teen murders and remain in prison.

Bunton’s body had previously been mistakenly identified as a different teen – Michael Baulch – an error discovered after earlier DNA tests in 2010.

In 1971 or 1972, Bunton left for work at a shoe store at Houston’s Northwest Mall and never came home.

Bunton’s sister, who still lives in Houston, first contacted Derrick, the forensic anthropologist, in 2009 about her fear that Corll had killed her missing brother. Like other victims, Bunton lived in the Houston Heights neighborhood where Corll’s family had owned a candy factory and where Corll trolled for local teens.

Derrick reviewed her files, but in 2009 found no unsolved cases that could have matched Bunton, an unusually long-legged teen with blonde hair and a wide smile who stood a full 6-feet tall.

That changed in 2010, however, when Derrick discovered an error that had been made back in 1973: A body buried in a family plot thought to be that of Michael Baulch, another Corll victim, was not Baulch after all.

Hints at identity

As she examined the newly disinterred body, she immediately thought of the call she’d gotten in 2009 from Bunton’s sister.

“As I kept working, I kept seeing things that reminded me of Roy Bunton. He would have gone missing at the same time and he was either 18 or 19,” she remembers. This boy too had unusually long legs. And when she checked for Roy’s photos in her files, the shape of the teeth matched too.

Bunton’s family plans a private burial. His sister declined comment through Harris County officials.

Corll’s victims were found in three different mass graves: four in St. Augustine on Lake Sam Rayburn in East Texas; seven on the beach at High Island and 17 buried in the Houston boathouse.

In 2008, another long- unidentified boathouse victim was confirmed to be Randy Harvey, only 15 when he disappeared in 1971 after riding his bicycle to a gas station. In 2009, another positive ID was made of 17-year-old Joseph Lyles, whose skeletal remains were discovered in another mass burial site on High Island in 1983, the last of Corll’s known victims’ remains to be recovered.

Now, it is the last unidentified teen who haunts Derrick. She is hoping for yet another relative to call about this boy whose body was discovered buried near Bunton’s.

Clothing stands out

He likely went missing in 1971 or 1972. Two possible candidates, old unsolved missing persons cases, remain open from that era. But their last names are so common – French and Harmon or Harman – that Derrick has been unable to find any relatives.

The unknown boy died still wearing distinctive striped swim trunks, red white and blue, and a tan shirt with a huge peace symbol. When examined under a microscope, the shirt reveals several tiny letters that might be LB4 MF or possibly LBHMF. Was this boy or an older brother a U.S. Marine?

Derrick wonders if the letters might refer to the Third battalion of the 4th Marines, which saw action in its deployment to Vietnam. For now, he has only a case number: ML73-3356.


Serial killers better be on alert. Science is becomming their biggest enemy. Nothing makes me happier. I wish Ms. Derrick the greatest luck in identifying these victims.

For those who are wondering what happened to Michael Baulch he was a victim of Corll.

Of the 28 known victims of Dean Corll, Houston’s sadistic killer of the 1970s, all have been identified save two. But finishing the job and closing the book on one of the worst serial murderers in American history is proving an exasperating challenge.

Scientists with the Houston Institute of Forensic Sciences — the new name for the medical examiner’s office — encountered an unexpected wrinkle this week when they learned that one of the last two sets of anonymous remains are those of Michael Baulch, who disappeared in August 1972. Problem is, Baulch was already known to police as a victim, and what was thought to be his remains were buried along with those of his brother, Billy, another Corll victim.

So, if Baulch’s actual remains had been sitting for decades in a cooler at the ME’s office before finally being laid to rest in 2004, then who was buried alongside Billy Gene Baulch Jr.? It’s a question that cannot be answered until the casket is disinterred and the remains separated. The exhumation should be done sometime this fall.

The good news is that the Baulch brothers finally will be reunited. But the vexing mission of full identification lingers still for Sharon Derrick, a 53-year-old forensic anthropologist with the institute who has labored under the belief that mixing modern science with old-fashioned, painstaking detective work ultimately will yield a full roster of boys and young men who were abducted or lured to their death.

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I hope that all of these families find peace.

One thing that I often wonder about as I read these stories is how do these victims remain unidentified? How can young men and women not be missed? I mean not be missed by anyone ever. How does that happen?

I know that in some cases the body is found in one state and the person went missing in another but still, it is hard to believe young people can go missing and not be missed.

A Sister Mourns

Houstonian’s brother left for a party in 1972, and became a serial sadist’s nameless victim



Sandy Henrichs was 14 when her brother, Steven, disappeared. Now 53, she regrets squabbling with him earlier that day, but also strong is her anger at the Houston police: “They didn’t do anything.”

“My journey since I was 14 years old was to bring him home,” said Henrichs, “but not in this fashion.”

In the early 1970s, Corll orchestrated — along with accomplices Elmer Wayne Henley and David Brooks — the sexual torture and murder of what authorities believe to be at least 29 teenage boys and young men. Remains were found at three mass grave sites. Two victims have yet to be identified.

Sickman was last seen July 19, 1972, about a year before Corll’s murderous rampage came to light. On the day he disappeared, Sickman, 17, and his sister had been squabbling at their home near West 34th Street and the Northwest Freeway. He called her names and snapped a towel at her while she did the dishes.

“We were a typical brother and sister,” Henrichs recalled at her Katy home. “We picked on each other and we aggravated each other.”

Sickman later tried to make amends, even promising to take his younger sister to Astroworld.

“He apologized to me that day. It was the first time he ever apologized,” Henrichs said.

Later that evening, she watched as her brother left to attend a party with his friends.

“I was the last one to see him,” she said, with a slight catch in her voice.

Henrichs said her family immediately reported Sickman missing after he didn’t return home. The Houston Police Department didn’t seem particularly interested because he was 17, she said.

HPD ‘would just hang up’

Relatives searched their northwest Houston neighborhood and talked to Sickman’s friends. And as Corll’s story started making headlines, Sickman’s mother kept pressing police.

“Over time, they would just hang up on her,” Henrichs recalled.

Corll’s killing frenzy ended on Aug. 8, 1973. Henley, then 17, told police he grabbed a pistol and opened fire that night after realizing that he was now considered the prey during one of the torture sessions in Corll’s house.

Henley led investigators to the victims, who had been buried in shallow graves in a southeast Houston boat shed, on High Island, and in the woods near Lake Sam Rayburn in East Texas.

Henley and Brooks are serving life sentences in prison.

Sickman was not listed among Corll’s victims during the early stages of the investigation.

“There were some individuals who were so badly decomposed that there wasn’t a lot to go on,” said Sharon Derrick, a forensic anthropologist with the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences.

Mistaken conclusion

In 1994, medical examiners, relying on early DNA testing and a physical examination, concluded that one of the bodies found in the boat shed was that of a 17-year-old named Mark Scott, and it was later handed over to his family.

As it turned out, however, Derrick was to discover that those remains were actually Steven Sickman’s.

After being hired in 2006 as a forensic anthropologist, Derrick asked to be assigned to the Corll case. She eventually came across a missing persons report for Sickman.

“Everything fell into place,” Derrick said. She was sure that he was one of the victims, but a DNA test on remains still left unclaimed was not a match.

“Then we started looking at the Mark Scott identification,” Derrick said. “I felt that Mark Scott’s remains were also consistent with Steven Sickman’s. Even the teeth looked a little similar.”

Henley had always maintained that Scott was not one of the victims in the boat house, Derrick said.

Another round of more advanced and sophisticated DNA testing was ordered in 2010. Samples were taken from relatives of both Scott and Sickman.

Feels for both families

Derrick contacted both families in March of this year once she learned of the match for Sickman.

“It was a relief, but then, of course, I started bawling,” Henrichs said. “It was very hard for me to believe.”

Scott’s family could not be reached for comment. Henrichs said she has spoken to them.

“Now they’re dealing with, ‘Where is our son?’ ” she said. “This has been very traumatic for all of us.”

No remains for Scott

Even as she plans the trip to her mother’s home in Missouri for her brother’s memorial service, Henrichs remains angry at the way she feels Houston police treated her family over the years.

“They didn’t do anything. They didn’t talk to anybody,” she said.

Derrick said two of Corll’s victims have yet to be identified. The DNA match for Sickman also means investigators have no remains on hand for Scott, who was named by Henley as a victim.

Derrick said she won’t give up her quest to offer some measure of comfort to the grieving families.

“I just feel the need to follow through with this and get some answers for families who have never known,” she said.

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