Survivor still friends with serial killer's accomplice

He was the accomplice who took her to Dean Corll's home and watcher her suffer for hours. But to this day, they still talk regularly
November 1, 2013 4:34:27 PM PDT
Forty years ago, Rhonda Williams survived Houston's worst serial killer. She was tied up and being tortured the morning Dean Corll was killed by an accomplice. She's never given an interview about that day until now. And now, we're exploring her relationship with one of Corll's accomplices.

Williams survived Corll, Texas' worst serial killer. Corll had her tied up for hours in the home where he's killed 28 boys in the months before. Corll tortured a teenage boy tied up next to her for hours too. But she survived. In the years since, a judge told her to forget about that night, her family abandoned her, she's had death threats and she's never talked about any of it -- until now.

Williams was just 15 when she slipped away from an abusive father with a friend, Elmer Wayne Henley, on August 7, 1973. What she didn't know then was that Henley was a serial killer's accomplice and had been for months. He'd been luring dozens of teenage boys to Corll's Pasadena home where at least 29 of them were tortured and killed.

"To begin with, he wanted to kill me. He was mad because I brought the chick over there," Henley said in 1973.

The night she slipped away with Henley, he and Corll were planning to kill the 30th. That teenage boy and Williams were lashed to a board as Corll tortured them for hours.

"Wayne was telling me not to worry, and he was going to get me out of there," Williams said.

For hours, she kept up the pressure and the faith in him.

"Because I had all that faith, I gave him the courage to finally turn the gun on Dean," Williams said.

And it worked. Henley shot Corll dead, ending Texas' worst mass murders.

With the case swirling in the headlines, her father, who she says was abusive and tried to get away from, turned her away.

"The first thing he said to me was, 'You can never come home again,'" Williams said.

Her family and some of the victims' families refused to believe she was innocent, that somehow she must've played a role in luring those boys to Corll. There's nothing in the record supports that. Her own teenage fiance was one of the victims but her dad died thinking she was guilty. Her sister did, too.

"I would like to be known as a person who did do something. I am not the bad person who lured boys to a madman," Williams said.

She says some people connected to the case still threaten her, which is why she won't let us show you her face. As for Henley...

"He kept his promise that night. He got me out of there," Williams said.

Somewhat unbelievably, Williams is still in touch with him in prison. She says they talk every two weeks.

"He's still my friend, but now I have a lot more questions to ask him and I'm learning more as I go," Williams said.

Nothing though that would explain how this could happen, how 29 boys could disappear, be tortured, killed and buried. And how even today, 40 years later, we may not know all there is to know about Houston's worst mass murder.

"Do you think he's told authorities everything he knows?" we asked Williams.

"I think he's tried," she replied.

Williams says she speaks to Henley as part of her own recovery. She is still troubled by what happened that day. There are still questions about more victims and a set of remains the medical examiner has but has not identified.

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