Noman:He never arrived

On January 14, 1973, 16-year-old Norman Lamar Prater arrived at the 24-hour coffee shop his mother worked at around midnight in Dallas, Texas. He had come by to surprise his mother and ordered a soft drink. With him were two teenage boys with shoulder-length hair that his mother did not recognize and a slightly older Hispanic man whom she remembered seeing before but, did not know the name of. These men have never been identified. Norman left after telling his mother that he planned to go home and that he would help her move the next day. Norman never arrived home.

It has been speculated that Norman was a victim of Dean Corll, also known as the Candy Man. Dean Corll was responsible for the sexual assaults and murders of boys in the Houston area between 1970 and 1973. His victims were lured in with the help of Corll’s teenage accomplices – Elmer Henley and David Brooks, for which Corll apparently paid them $200 a boy. Elmer Henley shot and killed Corll in 1973, after which his crimes were uncovered when he called and confessed to the police. Twenty-eight of Corll’s victims were found buried in Corll’s boatshed. That being said, one confirmed victim – seventeen-year-old Mark Scott – has never been found and Henley has said there were more bodies that the police had not yet uncovered. Police also believe that there are likely more murderers that Corll was responsible for.

Though Norman lived in Dallas, he was originally from the Houston area and had been enrolled in Jackson High School there for the 1970-1971 school year – where he attended alongside Elmer Henley. He had lived there with his father in a neighborhood where many of Corll’s victims had lived. He had moved to Houston, around 3 and a half hours away, to live with his mother.

One of the bodies found in the boatshed remains unidentified, known as the Swimsuit Boy, but, Norman has been ruled out as a possible identity. Corll is also suspected in the disappearance of Darren Hillis, who vanished from a bus stop in Norfolk, Virginia in March of 1973. A photograph found in Corll’s possession of a handcuffed teenage boy appears to resemble Hillis, though whether or not he is the boy has not ever been truly confirmed.

It is worth noting that Henley and Brooks sometimes did not know the names of Corll’s victims and individuals in some of their confessions have never been identified. According to the picture on Brooks’s wikipedia page (dated as being from 1973), Brooks did have long shoulder, length hair in 1973 though ths does not appear to be the case for Elmer Henley, though I don’t know what he looked like before August when this picture was taken. Brooks died in 2020 from COVID-19 complications. Henley is still alive but, as far as I could find, has never indicated involvement in Norman’s disappearance, though I’m not sure if he was ever directly questions.

There is sadly not much information in this case and many questions are left remaining. Who were the individuals Norman was last seen with? Could he have been a victim of Dean Corll and if so, how did he get from Houston to Dallas or how could Corll or one of his accomplices found Norman in Dallas? If he is a victim of Corll, who was white, then who was the hispanic man last seen with Norman?

There does not appear to be a record of what Norman was last seen wearing. He was sixteen at the time of his disappearance with brown hair and blue eyes. His earlobes were attached. He stood at 5’8 and weighed 130 pounds. Norman, if he were alive today, would be 67 years old.

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