It was more than 40 years ago when teenage boys in Houston began disappearing. Elmer Wayne Henley, 56, was just a teenager at the time. He was the one luring many of those boys to the home of a sadistic serial killer named Dean Corll.
"At 15 years old, I met a serial killer. The type of person scientists don't claim to understand, psychologists don't claim to understand, the law doesn't claim to understand," Henley tells FOX 7 from inside an East Texas prison.
He says he became friends with Corll and that it was months before he found out Corll was killing the boys. Rather than go to police, he continued to do what Corll wanted and eventually began participating in the killings.
"Whether or not anybody feels that at 15 years old I was mature enough to make those kind of decisions, I did make them, and I'll regret that for the rest of my life."
For his role in the "Houston Mass Murders," Henley was given six life sentences. He was arrested in 1973 after he shot and killed Corll following an argument inside Corll's home. Henley then led investigators to where nearly 30 bodies were buried.
"When I finally killed Dean Corll, when he was no more, when I was able to tell the truth, then I was who I was comfortable being, it was who my mother raised me to be."
According to Henley, he's been that person for the four decades he's spent behind bars.
Because of legislation in place at the time, Henley was not given the death penalty and does have the possibility of being granted parole. He's been up for parole nearly 20 times, while he thinks he'll likely never make parole, he believes he deserves to.
"There's no doubt in my mind that I can reintegrate to society. There's no doubt in my mind that I'm of no danger to anyone, that I can contribute, and I live every day of my life proving that."
But, the families of the victims live every day working to make sure Henley stays in prison. For years, forensic anthropologists in the Houston area have been working to identify all the remains found. Thirty-five years after teenager Randall Harvey was last seen by his family, his body was identified.
"After a while you kind of give up hope and we all prayed it would happen," said Randall's sister, Donna Lovrek, when her brother's remains were identified in 2008.
When Henley was asked what he would want to say to the victims' families, he told FOX7, "I would want them to know that Elmer Wayne Henley never meant them harm, never meant them, their sons, brothers. And I'm sorry. It's not enough and I can never fix it for them, but I do want them to know I live with that every day."
It's not nearly enough for the families living with the pain caused by Henley, but, 40 years after the horrific murders, Henley says the thoughts of what he did never leave him.
"It's hard to live the rest of your life knowing you've done something like that, it really is. You try to bely the action then with action now. You try to quell the horrors that you feel at quiet times with action, movement, busyness. I don't think that any right-minded person could cause someone's death and not feel it the rest of their lives."