The Man Who Killed Halloween (Ronald Clark O’Bryan)
Halloween night on October 31, 1974, in Deer Park, Texas, was cold and misty. It had been raining that day, but 8-year-old Timothy O’Bryan and his 5-year-old sister Elizabeth were determined to go trick-or-treating. Their father, Ronald Clark O’Bryan, was watching over his children as they went from house to house looking for candy. With them were also two other minors and their father, Jim Bates.
Around 9 PM, Ronald told Timothy and Elizabeth that they could have one piece of candy before bed. Timothy picked out a sucker, but his father said:
“No, no. You don’t have time to eat a sucker. Here, try this Pixy Stix.”
Immediately, Timothy complained about the weird, bitter taste of the candy, which Ronald helped him wash away with a glass of Kool-Aid. Within moments Timothy experienced severe stomach cramps and violently vomited in the bathroom before going limp in his father’s arms. Ronald called for an ambulance, but unfortunately, Timothy died on the way to the hospital less than an hour after eating the powdered candy.
At first, everybody thought someone had a sinister plan to kill as many children that Halloween as they could. But when the man living in the house where Ronald claimed to have gotten the sweets in the first place had a solid alibi, the suspicion quickly changed to Ronald himself. The police discovered that he had recently taken out $30,000 life insurance policies on both of his children and had debts of over $100,000. When it was found out that Ronald had called the insurance company about collecting on his son’s policy just a day after Timothy’s death, authorities felt they had a solid case against him.
Ronald was arrested on November 5, 1974, and charged with one count of capital murder and four counts of attempted murder. He claimed to be innocent but was eventually found guilty on June 2, 1975, and sentenced to death. Right after midnight on March 31, 1984, the 39-year-old Ronald O’Bryan was executed by lethal injection. He maintained his innocence until the very end.
Even though Ronald’s crime was targeted at his own children and their friends, urban legends of randomly distributed poison candy live strong almost 50 years later. The so-called Candy Man truly left a stain on Halloween, as his own attorney said:
“…my client was convicted of killing Halloween…”