The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has begun considering parole for a Houston serial killer, and relatives of some of the 29 murdered boys said one board member indicated his release is "likely," Local 2 Investigates reported Thursday.
David Owen Brooks, 55, who is serving a life sentence in prison at the Ramsey Unit in Rosharon, Brazoria County, has been considered for parole at least 17 times in past years, but some of his victims' relatives are concerned he could be released this time.
"I want to see him stay there until he dies, personally," said James Dreymala.
His son, 13-year-old Stanton Dreymala, was the final victim to be found in a killing spree of young boys who were snatched in the Houston Heights. Many of the 29 victims were tortured and kept alive for days until ringleader Dean Corrl would strangle them.
Brooks and Elmer Wayne Henley were convicted of rounding up those boys for Corrl to kill.
The killing spree ended in 1973 when Henley shot Corrl to death at the home where many of the boys were killed. Henley used the phone of a KPRC-TV reporter to call his mother and declare, "Momma, I killed Dean!"
Stanton's mother, Elaine Dreymala, said, "There are many people in our same position that are still hurting 38 years later, as if it were yesterday. And there's nothing we can do, other than beg these people to not let him out so he can ever do this to anyone else."
While dozens of families received formal notice from the the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole that Brooks is being reviewed for possible release, the Dreymala family pushed for a formal meeting with board members in person.
They said that board member Conrith Davis, who will cast one of three votes on the release, told them by telephone this week that Brooks is "likely" to be released this time.
"Over the years, it's been these guys are never going to get out, never going to be put back on the streets," said James Dreymala, but he said this time it no longer sounds that way.
"They robbed us of our son," he said, as he started to sob. "Give us back our son, (then) you can get out. It's heartbreaking. I think this is something that you can never be reformed out of."
City of Houston Crime Victim's Advocacy director Andy Kahan agreed. He got involved Thursday when he learned from Local 2 Investigates that relatives were hearing the release is likely.
"You're not talking about a so-called average murderer. You're talking about one of the worst serial killings, not just in Houston history, not just in Texas history, but national history as well," said Kahan.
He said the comments attributed to a parole board member are a great concern. If it's true, Kahan said, "Red flags immediately go up. It's time for families and other concerned citizens to go into action mode. The reality is, (Brooks) hasn't even served two years for every young man who was murdered in this city."
Kahan said he has now been in contact with relatives of other victims and he helped to push for a meeting in-person tomorrow with the parole board panel that will decide the case.
"When you're looking at a bereaved family who lost a loved one to two serial killers, it's much more difficult in person to tell them that this person could be getting released," said Kahan.
Parole Board member Conrith Davis is the only member appointed by the governor who will cast a vote. The other two votes will be cast by "commissioners" who are put in place by the appointed parole board members. They are Lynn Ruzicka and Pamela D. Freeman, who all work out of the parole board's office in Angleton, Brazoria County.
The Dreymala family is also trying to drum up support on a Facebook page they created as they prepared for Friday's appearance before the parole panel.
Visitors on that page expressed shock that such a serial killer could be seriously considered for release.
Kahan said it would be the nation's first-ever serial killer to be paroled from prison.
The parole board told a Texas senator Thursday that it has 2,700 letters in its file, all protesting the potential release of Brooks. Board members also told the senator he has been considered for release on at least 17 past occasions and never got a single vote in favor of release.
The Dreymala family fears that other victims' families are growing older and may be putting up less of a fight. The mother of one young victim who was outspoken in the years after the killings has since died.
Elaine Dreymala said the process is just as tough for her family every time parole is considered for Brooks or Henley.
"It all comes flooding back. It's like a slow-moving horror movie through your mind. It just kind of plays out one scene at a time, over and over and you can't stop it. You can't sleep and, if you do, you usually have nightmares, and it doesn't get easier," she said, wiping away tears.
She said that if Brooks is released, she fears parole board members may release Henley when he next comes up for parole.