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Sept. 14, 2021

The Man Who Killed Halloween (Ronald Clark O’Bryan)

The Man Who Killed Halloween (Ronald Clark O’Bryan)

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.

 

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Eventually, the group came across a house that did not have a single light on. However, that did not stop the children, who still tried their luck and banged the door. Not getting an answer, the minors moved on together with Jim, but Ronald remained behind. When he caught up with the others less than a minute later, Ronald had good news. Someone had come to the door after all and handed him a handful of 21-inch tubes of powdered sweet and sour candy called Pixy Stix. Ronald gave each of the children one tube and another to a 10-year-old boy Ronald had recognized from the church as they walked home.    

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.

Timothy’s autopsy revealed he had been poisoned with potassium cyanide with a dosage high enough to kill two adults. Fortunately, the authorities were able to recover the remaining Pixy Stixs from the other children before they were consumed.

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.

Halloween Killer Ronald Clark O'Bryan

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…”