There is panic and terror every Halloween, parents scared that their children’s candy could be poisoned. The ‘Candy Man’ is why.
Halloween, 1974 was a cold and wet night, but that didn’t stop kids from going trick or treating. In Deer Park, Houston, Texas, the O’Bryan family was out at friends for dinner in Pasadena. Once dinner was eaten, the kids wanted to go out for some trick or treating. Ronald O’Bryan, an optician and father of two, Elizabeth and Timothy, offered to take them.
His friend Jim Bates went along with him and his two children with his own two children, they only went around the neighborhood, but this didn’t seem to bother the children, they were happy either way. Jim would stand on the pathway whilst Ronald walked up to the doors with the children.
They came to a house at 4112 Donerail, the lights were all switched off, but they knocked on the door anyway. There wasn’t an answer, so it was presumed the residents were either not home, or hiding from trick or treaters. They ran along to the next house, leaving Ronald to catch up. He said that the door had opened up and a hairy man’s arm appeared out holding pixy stix. He didn’t think much of it, other than it being a little weird, and headed over to where the kids were. He handed out the pixy stix to his children, Jim’s children and a ten-year-old boy Ronald recognised from church.
They carried on until the rain got a little too much and forced them to give up and head home. Timothy was excited to see what sweets he was given, he took off his Planet of Apes mask, looking through his sweets and asked his dad if he could have one before going to bed. Ronald agreed to only one, letting his daughter pick one too. Elizabeth picked what she wanted and Timothy picked a massive 22-inch pixy stix, which is essentially just sweet and sour sugar.
Timothy had trouble opening the pixy stix, it had been sealed up with a staple, so Ronald helped him out, removing the staple and telling his son to tilt his head back. Timothy did as he was told, he tilted his head back and started eating the sugary sweet, but with that kind of sweet, it tends to get stuck. Mostly due to it being clumpy or wet. Ronald helped him out again, squeezing the straw to release the powder into Timothy’s mouth.
Timothy complained that the sweet tasted funny, his dad offered him a glass of Kool-Aid to wash away the bad taste, and Timothy continued to eat the remainder of the sweet. With the sweet gone, it was time to go to bed. But minutes after being tucked into bed, Timothy started vomiting, crying in pain, convulsing, and then he passed out in his dad’s arms. On the way to the hospital in the ambulance, Timothy sadly died.
When an autopsy was done on Timothy, they found enough cyanide in his body to kill to adults; they figured that the pixy stix he had eaten before bed had been heavily laced. Pathologists examined the pixy stix he had eaten and confirmed this. Elizabeth was found in the morning with the pixy stix with her, she was unable to open the sweet due to the staple. This was the case for a few children in the neighborhood.
To stop any more deaths from happening, police went around the neighborhoods, confiscating all the sweets before the children had a real chance to open and eat any of them. They noticed that there were only pixy stix that were sealed with staples, meaning that the person responsible had only poisoned those sweets.
Police asked Ronald to accompany them to the neighborhood in hope that he would point out the house he got the pixy stix from. However Ronald claimed that he just couldn’t remember what house it was. This was suspicious to the police, knowing from what he told them, they stayed in the area and was out for less than an hour due to the rain. He also stated that he never saw the man’s face, just his hairy arm handing the sweets from the barely open door.
A few days later, police decided to try again. Only this time, they were a lot firmer with Ronald; this helped jog his memory and was instantly able to point his finger at the house responsible. When they knocked on, a woman answered, she told them her husband was at work. So of course, the police turned up there, they arrested the man whilst he was at work, in front of his colleagues.
When in questioning, police found out that the man they had arrested had a pretty solid alibi. He was at work, his wife and daughter were at home but turned the lights off early because they had run out of sweets to hand out. The man’s colleagues and boss was able to confirm his alibi that he was at work that night.
Ronald gave an emotional eulogy at his son’s funeral. He was apparently angry with family members because they didn’t stay up on the day of Timothy’s funeral. He had written a song about Jesus and Timothy joining the lord in heaven. He apparently became annoyed and angry at family who didn’t stay up to watch his song being performed and broadcasted on the TV. When police heard this, they found it really odd.
The day after Timothy’s funeral, police discovered that Ronald had a history of false insurance claims. With his information, they also found out that he was in a substantial amount of debt, but the strange thing was that he was telling people that he was going to be coming into money by the end of the year.
Monday 4th November, police got a phone call from a Galena Park insurance agent, who told them about how Ronald had paid to have $20,000 life insurance policies on both of his children on 3rd October.
It was also reported that Ronald was taking a class and asked people in the class how much poison was needed to kill certain types of animals and where he could buy potassium cyanide. Investigators also found out that on the morning after his son’s death, he called his insurers about a payout.
With all this going against Ronald, police were granted a warrant to search the house and found a pair of scissors with plastic residue attached, which was similar to what had been found on the cyanide laced sweets. This gave them every reason to arrest Ronald and take him in for questioning.
When his case went to trial, Ronald entered a non guilty plea, his defense blamed the laced sweets on an untraceable man of whom didn’t seem to exist. However, his family, co-workers and friends all took the stand and testified against him. His wife claimed that she had no idea about the amount of debt he was in or that he put more money on their children’s life insurance policies.
June 3rd, 1975, after forty-six minutes of deliberating, jury went back to the court and gave the guilty verdict for one charge of capital murder and four counts of attempted murder, due to him handing out the sweets to more than just his son. A mere hour after his verdict, it was decided that he would be executed by the electric chair.
March 31st, 1984, Ronald was instead executed by lethal injection and was buried at Forest Park East Cemetery in Webster, Texas.
His final statement was as follows;
What is about to transpire in a few moments is wrong! However, we as human beings do make mistakes and errors. This execution is one of those wrongs yet doesn’t mean our whole system of justice is wrong.
Therefore, I would forgive all who have taken part in any way in my death. Also, to anyone I have offended in any way during my 39 years, I pray and ask your forgiveness, just as I forgive anyone who offended me in any way. And I pray and ask God’s forgiveness for all of us respectively as human beings.
To my loved ones, I extend my undying love. To those close to me, know in your hearts I love you one and all. God bless you all and may God’s best blessings be always yours.