Halloween Murder: The True Story of The Candy Man

I love Halloween. And thanks to member Erica’s genius brain, we’re celebrating the build-up to Halfoween, the halfway point to Halloween this year.

Faith made these awesome banners for Halfoween and I’m in love. I picture little Dracula bunnies with fangs, hopping around among happy Easter eggs.

halfoween april (4)


Today’s story is not a happy one but a true one nonetheless, about a horrific murder that took place on Halloween night in 1974. This story is the cause of many urban legends, parental fears and movie inspirations, to this day.

This is the true story of The Candy Man.

On October 31, 1974, the O’Bryan family (Father Ronald, wife Daynene, son Timothy, and daughter Elizabeth) of Deer Park, Texas went to dinner at the Bates residence in Pasadena, Texas. After dinner, the kids wanted to go trick-or-treating, and Ronald offered to take them. Mr. Jim Bates and Mr. O’Bryan took their combined four children to trick-or-treat around the neighborhood. They had started a kind of system. Jim would stand on the sidewalk waiting and Ronald would accompany the children up to the doors to get their candy.

At 4112 Donerail, in the Bowling Green subdivision, the home had a wall concealing the front door. When no one answered, the children grew impatient and ran off to the next house. A few moments later, Mr. O’Bryan emerged from behind the wall, with five large Pixy Sticks given to him from the occupants of the home. According to Jim Bates, he recalled what Ronald said. “He came out and said, ‘You’ve got rich neighbors. Look what they’re giving out.’”

The kids continued on until the rain forced them to turn in early for the night. Back at home and out of his Planet of the Apes costume, eight-year-old Timothy O’Bryan wanted one last sweet treat before bedtime He examined his loot and picked a delicious looking one…a large 22 inch stick of powdery candy known as Pixy Stix.


Timothy’s father, Ronald Clark O’Bryan helped his son remove the staple in the candy flap and instructed his son to tilt his head back. Ronald poured a large amount of the sugary sweetness down his son’s throat. Strangely, Timothy reported the flavor sugar to have a bitter taste, so his father fixed him some Kool-Aid to chase it with.

Timothy climbed into bed, ready for sweet dreams and a candy hangover that was sure to meet him in the morning. Unfortunately, a few minutes later, something was very, very wrong.


Timothy began vomiting and convulsing, crying out in pain and soon had collapsed in his father’s arms.

Rookie police officer Jesse Zesiger, who was just finishing up his shift, received a call about a very sick boy. When he arrived he had, “…the trauma of seeing the boy laying in the bathroom going through dry heaves,” said Zesiger.

Poor Timothy was taken in an ambulance to the hospital. There is debate on when he died. Some reports show that he passed en route to the hospital. Other accounts have him dying shortly after arrival.

It was soon discovered Timothy had died from being poisoned with cyanide that was laced into his Pixy Stix. He’d never stood a chance. According to a pathologist who tested the Pixy Stix, the candy consumed by Timothy contained enough cyanide to kill two adults.

Many of the other children in the party who had also been given the same Pixy Stix were within inches of suffering the same fate. One of the candy’s recipients was reportedly found sleeping in bed with the poisoned Pixy Stix in his hand… he had been unable to remove the staple from the tainted candy.


Police spent time canvassing the neighborhoods, confiscating candy and trying to find the sicko who would try to poison kids who were out for a little Halloween fun.

The day after Timothy’s funeral, where his father delivered a heartfelt and tearful speech, the police came into some very interesting information. They discovered that Ronald had a history of false insurance claims. Police discovered that Ronald was in serious debt and had told people that he expected to come into money by the end of the year.

It’s also reported that Ronald had made several inquiries in a class that he was taking, as to the amount of poison needed to kill certain types of animals. According to one of O’Bryan’s customers, Ronald had quizzed the chemist about poisons and had asked where potassium cyanide might be purchased.

On Monday, November 4th, Pasadena police received a call from a Galena Park insurance agent, recounting how O’Bryan paid cash for $20,000 life insurance policies on each of his children on October 3rd.

The funeral director for Timothy’s service said that O’Bryan had requested six death certificates on November 1st, just one day after his son’s death, and stated that his son died of potassium cyanide poisoning.

On June 3rd, 1975, it took a jury only 45 minutes to find Ronald Clarke O’Bryan guilty and only 70 minutes to sentence him to death.


On March 31, 1984, shortly after midnight, O’Bryan was executed by lethal injection. He was pronounced dead at 12:48 A.M.

He’s buried at Forest Park East Cemetery in Webster, Texas.

This is his final statement:

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.

Ronald C. O’Bryan

P.S. During my time here, I have been treated well by all T.D.C. personnel.



Sources: here, here, here, here, here, and here.

  • Erica Davis
    April 11, 2016

    Oh my lard. Ok. So. Wait. What? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    • Jolene Haley
      Erica Davis
      April 12, 2016

      So no eating opened Pixy Sticks, okay?

  • Krystal Jane
    April 11, 2016


    • Jolene Haley
      Krystal Jane
      April 12, 2016

      SO MUCH YIKES, KRYSTAL! I’ll even raise you an EEK!

  • Kim Graff (@kk_writes)
    April 13, 2016

    Jolene you are so badass for putting this together

    • MidnightSocietyJolene
      Kim Graff (@kk_writes)
      April 25, 2016

      Crazy right?! I can’t even. But thanks for the love. This case was SO creepy to me!

  • Kathy Palm
    April 19, 2016

    I can’t. Just…no.

  • Unknown
    October 27, 2016

    Mr. O’Bryan, may you rot in hell for all eternity; you got what you deserved…

  • Kellie
    October 30, 2016

    I remember this. I was a kid, just a little older than Timothy was when he was killed by his father. I was 19 when that POS was put to death here in Houston. May you burn in Hell for eternity Ronald. RIP Timothy.

    • MidnightSocietyJolene
      November 3, 2018

      Hi Kellie. It’s so sad to think a father could do that to his kids for money. Thanks for the comment. I hope Houston is treating you well.

  • Brenda
    October 29, 2018

    This story changed Halloween for so many for so long. But for some, the horror of what this man did lives on. The other children he tried to poison (and their families) have to live with the knowledge it could have been them. His own daughter has to live with knowing she was also a target but, more than that, the loss of her brother at the hands of the man she was supposed to be able to trust. Just so tragic

    • MidnightSocietyJolene
      November 3, 2018

      Hi Brenda, I totally agree. It’s so sad to think family could do this to each other–especially a father. I remember my parents scrutinizing my candy as a kid and feeling like they were being dramatic. I was sure that no one could possibly taint candy for kids. Who would do that. -__-
      Thank you for the comment and the heartfelt thought.

  • Deloris M Threet
    June 8, 2020

    I remember when this happened.. For the live of me, I cannot understand how a person, especially a parent can kill their own child! Some little person whom is a part of you, who loves you unconditionally and looks up to you to protect them.. I know for a FACT if someone were to do any kind of bodily harm to my babies (even tho they are grown) I could and probably would fit them with concert shoes.. I just don’t understand how he could that to his children…

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