The Horrifying Connection Between Murder And Pixy Stix

When you were younger and Halloween rolled around, you've probably heard all sorts of warnings about being careful about the kinds of candy you got. Your parents probably wanted to check through your candy before you ate it just to be safe. To a little kid like you, that was just a bunch of overprotective parent nonsense. It was free candy on Halloween! What's there to be scared of? After all, candy is popular on Halloween for a reason, right? 

While those warnings may have sounded silly to you, tainted Halloween candy was something to be concerned about, especially in the chilling case of Timothy O'Bryan in 1974. O'Bryan's begins on October 31, 1974. According to VICE's recounting of the story, young Timothy had just returned home from trick-or-treating with his younger sister, his neighbor, and his father. Much like any young kid would do on Halloween, Timothy was eager to dig into his haul of candy, with one of his first choices being a giant 21-inch Pixy Stix. Upon swallowing some of the sugary powder, Timothy claimed it tasted "bitter."  Within an hour, Timothy was convulsing on the floor, gasping and vomiting while begging for his father's help. Later that night, Timothy O'Bryan was declared dead from cyanide poisoning.

However, the shocking story doesn't end there. The murder weapon and, perhaps most disturbingly, the killer proved upsetting, too.

Ronald Clark O'Bryan was his son's murderer.

In a chilling turn of events, the murder weapon was discovered to be the seemingly normal giant Pixy Stix that Timothy had eaten before his sudden sickness. Someone had contaminated the sugar inside with a dose of cyanide powder. Even more horrific was the person behind it: Ronald Clark O'Bryan, Timothy's father (via VICE).

According to Norton News, Ronald, a church-going family man by outside appearances, was actually drowning in debt (almost $100,000 dollars worth). Investigators discovered that, shortly before Timothy's death, Ronald had taken out a $20,000 life insurance policy on each of his children, ones that would double to $40,000 should anything happen to them. It was also revealed that Ronald had taken a peculiar interest in certain types of poison, inquiring about purchasing or acquiring cyanide around community colleges and chemical companies.

As The Austin American-Statesmen reports, Ronald attempted to claim that an unknown individual had given him the candy while he and his son were out trick-or-treating, although evidence soon squashed his claims. In less than an hour, a jury sentenced Ronald — now dubbed the "Candyman" for his disturbing crime — to death. Ronald Clark O'Bryan was executed via lethal injection on March 31, 1984.

There have, of course, been cases of Halloween candy being tampered with before and since, but the CBC reports that few have been as fatal as this. So great is the concern of tampered candy that one Ohio hospital offered to X-ray candy gathered on Halloween before children ate it.