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Dean Corll and the Houston Mass Murders

Dean Corll was a 33-year-old electrician living in Houston, Texas, who with two teen accomplices, kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered at least 27 young boys in Houston in the early 1970s. The Houston Mass Murders, as the case was later called, became one of the most horrific series of murders in U.S. history.

DEAN CORLL'S CHILDHOOD YEARS Dean Corll (December 24, 1939 - August 8, 1973) was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Mary Robinson and Arnold Corll.

After his parents divorced, Dean and his brother Stanley moved with their mother to Houston, Texas. Corll seemed to adjust to the change. He did well in school and was described by his teachers as being polite and well-behaved.

THE CANDY MAN In 1964, Corll was drafted into the military, but he was released on a hardship discharge a year later so that he could return home to help his mother with her growing candy business. It was there that he earned the name, The Candy Man, because he would often treat children to free candy. After the business closed, his mother moved to Colorado and Corll began training to become an electrician.

AN ODD TRIO There was nothing remarkable about Corll except for his odd choice of friends, who were mostly young male teens. Two, who were particularly close to Corll, was a 14-year-old boy named Elmer Wayne Henley and a 15-year-old boy named David Brooks. The two boys and Corll spent a lot of time hanging around at Corll's house or driving with him in his van.

That was until August 8, 1973, when Henley shot and killed Corll while visiting at his home. When police interviewed Henley about the shooting and searched Corll's home for evidence, a bizarre and brutal story of torture, rape and murder began to unfold.

$200 PER HEAD During police interrogations, Henley began to open up about his relationship with Corll.

He said Corll paid him $200 or more "per head" to lure young boys to his house. Most of the boys were from low-income Houston neighborhoods and were easily persuaded to come to a party where there would be free alcohol and drugs. Many were also childhood friends of Henley and had no reason to distrust his intentions. But once inside Corll's home, they would soon become victims of his sadistic and murderous obsessions.

THE TORTURE CHAMBER Police skepticism towards Henley's story turned after searching Corll's house. Inside they discovered a bedroom that looked as if it was designed for torture and murder. There was a board with handcuffs attached, ropes, and a large dildo and plastic covering the carpeted floor. There was also an odd wooden crate with what appeared to be air holes cut into it.

When Henley described what had happened before shooting Corll, the items in the room corroborated his story. According to Henley, he made Corll furious when he brought his young girlfriend over to the house with another friend, Tim Kerley. The group drank and did drugs and each fell asleep. When Henley awoke, his feet were bound and Corll was handcuffing him to his "torture" board. His girlfriend and Tim were also bound with electrical tape over their mouths.

Henley was fully aware of what was to follow, having witnessed this same scenario before. He managed to convince Corll to free him by promising to participate in the torture and murder of his friends. Once free, he went along with some of Corll's instructions, including attempting to rape the young woman. Meanwhile, Corll was trying to rape Tim, but the young boy fought so much, that Corll became frustrated and left the room. Henley immediately went for Corll's gun which he had left behind. When Corll returned, Henley shot him six times, killing him.

BURIAL GROUNDS Over the next few days, Henley readily talked about his part in the murderous activity in Corll's house. He led the police to where many of the victims were buried.

The first location was a boatshed Corll rented in southwest Houston.

It was there that the police uncovered the remains of 17 of the boys Corll had murdered. Ten more bodies were found at various other burial sites in or near Houston. Altogether there were 27 bodies recovered.

An examination of the victims determined that some of the boys had been shot, while others were strangled to death. Signs of torture were visible, including castration, objects inserted into the victim's rectums and glass rods pushed and into their urethras. All had been sodomized.

COMMUNITY OUTCRY There was much criticism launched at the Houston police department for failing to investigate the many missing persons' reports filed by the parents of the dead boys. The police viewed most reports as probable runaway cases, although many of the boys came from the same area or neighborhood.

The ages of the young victims ranged from ages nine to age 21, however most were in their teens. Two of the families suffered losing two sons to Corll's deadly rage.

Henley confessed to knowing about Corll's brutal crimes and also to participating in murdering one of the boys. Brooks, although closer to Corll than Henley, told police that he had no knowledge of the crimes. After the investigation ended, Henley insisted there were three more boys who had been murdered, but their bodies were never found.

THE TRIAL In a highly publicized trial, Brooks was found guilty of one murder and sentenced to life in prison. Henley was convicted of six of the murders and sentenced to six 99-year-terms. He was not convicted of killing Corll because it was judged as an act of self-defense.

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Chemical terrorist attack 'huge concern' says London fire chief

Britain's most senior fire chief has warned that the potential for a terrorist chemical attack in the country is a "huge concern".

Dany Cotton, recently appointed first female commissioner of London Fire Brigade, said she would be increasing the number of chemical attack practice drills carried out by her crews.

She also suggested the public needed more education about what to do in the event of an attack.

Ben Wallace said: “They have no moral objection to using chemical weapons against populations and if they could, they would in this country.”

Isil fighters have been accused of repeatedly using chemical weapons on the front line in Iraq and Syria and one leading expert in the field said they were becoming “the norm” for the group.

Ms Cotton told the BBC: “I think the chemical attack is a really big threat because its an unseen one, it’s something you do with a relatively small amount of chemical if you can find the means to disperse it."

She said in the event of such an attack, the public would need to make sure they did not inadvertently spread deadly chemicals.

She said: "The natural reaction would be if something happens to run away and go somewhere else. But that just spreads it, which is what the terrorist wants. It’s very important that people stay contained and allow the emergency services to help them and out and to deal with the situation.”

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former Army officer and chemical warfare expert, said such an attack may not kill many people, but would have a huge psychological impact. He said an attack need not use military grade chemical weapons, but could involve industrially available gases such as chlorine.

He said: “One of the challenges for Isil in this country is that actually doing an active shooter attack like in Paris is very difficult because they can’t get guns.

“For Isil that’s the preferred modus operandi and it’s not going to happen in this country. That’s why why they are keen to focus on asymmetric attacks, like chemical attacks.”

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The Vamp in the Veil: Is she a Saudi princess - or a prostitute? As the High Court is gripped by wild tales of cocaine, sex and the occult, what is the truth about Sara Al Amoudi?

She arrives at the High Court in London each morning in a black Rolls-Royce Phantom with a personalised number plate bearing the initials ‘HRH’.

As cameras flash, a team of Middle Eastern security guards descend from a Range Rover to help her cross five yards of pavement to the building’s revolving front door.

Some are entrusted with her handbag. Others look after her £50,000 diamond-encrusted luxury Vertu mobile phone.

A snappily dressed flunky named Mohammed pushes a wheelchair, in which she occasionally chooses to park her derriere.

This regal creature, who invariably has her face veiled, always wears a black burka, sometimes with gold silk stitching or a jewelled trim.

Underneath, you can catch a glimpse of designer shoes with five-inch killer heels. Occasionally, she stretches out an arm to reveal a gem-studded Rolex and a wristful of gold jewellery.

The apparently wealthy woman calls herself Sara Al Amoudi. She claims to be 31 years old, though others say she’s 43.

She has dark brown hair, greenish eyes and appears to wear a lot of make-up.

Oh, and for most of the past month, she has been at the centre of one of the most sordid and downright surreal court cases in living memory.

This regal creature, who invariably has her face veiled, always wears a black burka, sometimes with gold silk stitching or a jewelled trim.

Underneath, you can catch a glimpse of designer shoes with five-inch killer heels. Occasionally, she stretches out an arm to reveal a gem-studded Rolex and a wristful of gold jewellery.

The apparently wealthy woman calls herself Sara Al Amoudi. She claims to be 31 years old, though others say she’s 43.

She has dark brown hair, greenish eyes and appears to wear a lot of make-up.

Oh, and for most of the past month, she has been at the centre of one of the most sordid and downright surreal court cases in living memory.

Yet as the high-stakes civil proceedings have progressed, the ‘Vamp in the Veil’ case has grown increasingly strange and sleazy.

On Wednesday, for example, Ms Al Amoudi attempted to prove that she is incredibly wealthy — and presumably therefore does not need to defraud anyone — by insisting, under oath, that she spent almost £1 million on perfume in just a few weeks.

‘I have a problem with shopping,’ she declared. ‘In the past two months, my perfume, only the perfume … $1.4 million (£912,000). I can show you the pictures.’

Earlier, key players in the case were accused of conducting illicit sexual affairs, concealing addictions to drink and drugs, and prostituting themselves, more of which later.

Then there is a dark back-story involving a dead former business associate — and alleged ex-lover — of Al Amoudi, who is accused of dabbling in the occult with her at the Cliveden estate in Berkshire, scene of the Profumo scandal, again more of which later.

At the centre of these dizzying claims and counter claims there sits a huge unanswered question: Who exactly is this woman?

For, as proceedings have progressed, it has become apparent that no one — least of all Judge Sarah Asplin, who must decide the eventual outcome of the extraordinary trial — is entirely sure.

For example, several acquaintances have told the court that for years Al Amoudi has described herself as a Saudi royal.

One, an elderly hereditary peer called Lord Mereworth, who met her several years ago, said she had talked to him of being the estranged wife of King Abdullah, the country’s monarch.

‘I understood she was married to the king of Saudi,’ he said.

Yet in her own evidence to court this week, Al Amoudi — who has produced no credible birth, marriage or other document confirming her identity — denied having made such a claim.

A former boyfriend once told reporters that she spoke of being Osama Bin Laden’s daughter, claimed to be a friend of Kate Moss, and talked of dating two Hollywood film stars — Irish former hellraiser Colin Farrell and Gladiator star Joaquin Phoenix — as well as former Arsenal footballer Freddie Ljunberg.

However, there is no evidence of her having any link to the Bin Laden family, and none of the supposed celebrity acquaintances will admit to having anything to do with her.

A few years ago, in a successful application for a £4 million mortgage from a bank, that was shared with the court, Ms Al Amoudi allowed the bank to assume wrongly that she was the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi, one of the world’s wealthiest men.

Yet the Ethopian-Saudi billionaire’s legal representatives, who were in court all week, have issued a formal denial of paternity.

At various other points, she has told acquaintances that her father is Mohammed bin Aboud Al-Amoudi, the super-wealthy owner of the Intercontinental Hotel in Jeddah.

But the businessman’s representatives have vigorously disputed that claim, too.

Then there is the question of the source of Ms Al Amoudi’s apparent wealth. In legal papers, she has claimed to be a Saudi-born heiress, married at 13 and exiled from the country in the Nineties because of an adulterous relationship.

After arriving in London almost two decades ago, she says she has existed thanks to a £100,000 weekly allowance, sent by her family in the form of suitcases filled with banknotes.

Yet one of the two plaintiffs in the fraud case, 56-year-old property developer Amanda Clutterbuck, a well-preserved blonde, alleged this week that Al Amoudi earns her crust as a high-class prostitute, who for years worked from a £750,000 flat, with two sisters, yards from Harrods.

‘Far from being Saudi Arabian princesses, they were all prostitutes,’ she said, claiming that the women would trawl Harrods in search of clients.

Asked about that allegation in court, Al Amoudi claimed ‘in the name of Allah’ to be ‘a good Muslim woman’.

Certainly, there are questions about how rich Ms Al Amoudi actually is. In court on Tuesday, she claimed that her wealth was genuine, citing her expenditure on perfume as evidence.

‘I’m afraid I’m addicted to spending money and get through enormous amounts of cash,’ she said. ‘I can easily spend £50,000 to £100,000 in one spree.’

Yet the very next day, despite her luxury cars and huge entourage of employees, she suddenly declared herself ‘broke’, telling the judge: ‘I don’t have anything!’

It was a typically odd moment in a surreal three days during which Al Amoudi gave evidence to the court.

She had agreed to remove her veil in court, but sat behind a wall of document files, so that her face was invisible to most of the onlookers.

During hours of rambling testimony, at times she talked so softly that she could barely be heard; at other times she raised her voice and broke into hysterics or tears.

Often (but not always) she adopted a heavy Middle Eastern accent.

On several occasions, Al Amoudi insisted she could barely understand proceedings and needed to speak through an interpreter — only to break into eloquent English moments later.

At one such point, the court dissolved into laughter when the opposition counsel thanked her for suddenly being ‘fluent in English again’.

Things were similarly odd during Ms Al Amoudi’s last brush with the law, a 2010 trial at Southwark Crown Court when a former boyfriend, Swedish male model Patrick Ribbsaeter, stood accused of assaulting her driver.

Back then, she appeared in a bejewelled burka to give evidence for the prosecution, who claimed Ribbsaeter was a ‘gold digger’ after her money. Following his acquittal, he claimed Al Amoudi’s devout appearance during the trial was a facade.

During their short, volatile relationship, he claimed, ‘she didn’t wear the burka as a rule — she wore designer clothes,’ many of them revealing.

Al Amoudi also frequented upscale London bars, restaurants and nightclubs. ‘She was drinking champagne every night,’ he said.

‘She had a lot of issues … who knows what the truth is about this strange woman?’

One person who claims to know the truth is South London furniture dealer Negat Ali, who came forward after seeing Al Amoudi’s unveiled picture in the Daily Mail and told the court she knew her of old.

The ‘Vamp in the Veil’ is not a royal or even a Saudi, Ali claimed: she is an Ethiopian who later lived in Yemen and Dubai, she insisted.

Ms Ali, who is originally Ethiopian but now works in Battersea, claims to have met Al Amoudi in 1985.

She then ran into her again by chance in 1996 at the London strip club Stringfellow’s, where they were attending a ‘ladies’ night’.

The two women went on to share a flat in Bayswater, she said.

In 2000, Al Amoudi fell pregnant and gave birth to a daughter at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s son, Prince George, was born this week.

That daughter, who is now aged 13, is at boarding school.

Ms Ali claims that she lived with Al Amoudi for several years — during which time the infant was used to seek maintenance payments from a variety of men — before they fell out over an alleged unpaid debt of £500.

Ms Ali suspects the ‘Vamp in the Veil’ is not actually a Muslim and uses her burka as a disguise during public appearances to prevent old acquaintances, and clients, from recognising her.

Al Amoudi’s barrister, for his part, accused Negat Ali of being a disgruntled former servant trying to settle an old score with claims that are entirely untrue.

The nuts and bolts of the court case revolve around a disputed property deal.

The plaintiffs, Ms Clutterbuck and her partner Ian Paton, allege that Ms Al Amoudi cultivated their friendship over several years.

She then carried out a ‘very accomplished’ face-to-face fraud, convincing them to sign over six properties to her as security for a major future cash advance.

They say she claimed to be hugely wealthy and willing to act as a partner helping to secure finance on a deal to buy properties worth £170 million on Hans Place in Knightsbridge.

Al Amoudi allegedly told them she could secure a loan of £46 million from contacts in the Middle East. In exchange, they signed over to her the titles to six London properties.

But the massive loan never materialised, and now the couple want the properties, which are worth £14 million, to be returned.

‘I thought I was living through an Alfred Hitchcock film, in which reality seemed to be totally distorted,’ said Ms Clutterbuck — who counts the Duke of Gloucester among her social circle — recalling the moment she came to believe she had been conned.

Al Amoudi, for her part, claims that Paton signed over the flats to her in order to repay debts he owed her from years as a crack cocaine addict.

She claimed Mr Paton had been her ‘lover’ for around a decade, taking millions of pounds from her over this time.

Mr Paton has denied ever sleeping with Ms Al Amoudi and says he has never taken crack cocaine.

As is common in civil proceedings, the case, which continues, will be decided by Judge Asplin, not a jury.

Crucial to the eventual verdict will be Sara Al Amoudi’s love life. In court, Ms Clutterbuck and Mr Paton’s barrister identified a string of men to whom she is believed to have been attached during the years she claims to have been conducting an affair with Mr Paton.

They include a man known only as ‘Sammy’, who is the father of her child, and one Gerald Jerko Zovko, who is believed to have been married to Al Amoudi until he was killed in Iraq in early 2004 while working as a private security contractor.

His vehicle was hit by rocket- propelled grenades in the town of Fallujah, and his mutilated body was then dragged through the streets by a mob.

Then there is Cliff Besley, an Australian triathlon champion who, the court was told, was introduced as her fiancé at business meetings in 2008, and an alleged boyfriend called Ryan Bish.

Another man, still in her life, is Lord Mereworth, an 83-year-old divorced, heirless and apparently very wealthy hereditary peer, who lives in Pimlico, South-West London.

He appears to have become entranced with Al Amoudi after meeting her a few years ago. They have dined together at the House of Lords, and he agreed to give evidence in her support.

During cross-examination, in which Lord Mereworth denied that she had ever proposed marriage to him, he claimed to be convinced of her legitimacy.

‘I may have been misled, who knows? But I still trust her,’ he said.

The final player in this extraordinary soap opera is an acquaintance of Amanda Clutterbuck, a man named Elliot Nichol, with whom Ms Al Amoudi appears to have had a lengthy affair.

Mr Nichol, who died of alcohol poisoning in December 2009, is said to have been obsessed with the occult. He would speak with Ms Al Amoudi on a mobile phone that had a number ending in 666 — which is popularly associated with the devil.

In the run-up to his death, Nichol was living with Al Amoudi at properties in central London and on the Cliveden estate in Berkshire, Ms Clutterbuck told the court.

‘At Christmas 2006, Mr Nichol phoned in an almost totally incoherent state, singing at the top of his voice: “I am drowning in Vuitton handbags and Cavalli, we’re thinking of floating them down the Thames.” ’

The ‘Vamp in the Veil’ denies being with Nichol at the time of that call.

As with almost everything about this mysterious woman, the truth is hard to ascertain. Now a judge will have the unenviable task of sorting fact from fiction in this most modern tale of greed and guile.

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