On October 31, 1974, Timothy and his sister Elizabeth anxiously waited for their father to get home so they could go trick or treating. They rushed Ronald as he walked through the door. Still clad in his white optician’s coat, he rounded up his young children and went out to celebrate Halloween. Ronald accompanied his children and their friends to the first stop of the night: 4112 Donerail Drive.
Timothy rang the doorbell. Nothing. The owners were taking much too long to answer the door. The children impatiently ran to the next house, leaving their father in their dust. When Ronald finally caught back up with his saccharine obsessed kids, he was sporting five Giant Pixy Stix.
The kids hungrily grabbed at the neon sticks of sugar, but Ronald promised he would distribute the candy among the children when they got back to the house. It was late when they returned home. Ronald got the kids ready for bed. But before he fell asleep, Timothy requested a treat from his delicious treasure trove. Timothy chose the crown jewel: The 22 inch Giant Pixy Stix. The sugar had stiffened in the tube, so Ronald helpfully rolled the candy between his hands to loosen the contents for Timothy. The child hurriedly poured the confection into his mouth. Timothy recoiled. It didn’t taste as he had expected. In fact, it tasted awful. Ronald dutifully ran to get some Kool-Aid for his son to wash the bad taste out.
But the Kool-Aid didn’t make it very far. Timothy immediately starting vomiting and convulsing. When the ambulance arrived, they found Ronald holding Timothy as he foamed from the mouth. Timothy was pronounced dead at the hospital less than an hour later.
An autopsy revealed the eight year old died from a fatal dose of cyanide. The top two inches of the Giant Pixy Stix Timothy prized so much contained a dosage of cyanide that was enough to kill two adults. Thankfully, the other four laced Pixy Stix remained uneaten. Ronald sobbed as he hypothesized that an unidentified monster must have handed out poisoned candy to trick-or-treaters. He told police officers he vaguely remembered getting the candy from 4112 Donerail Drive. But he didn’t get a good look at the owner. He only saw a shadowy arm.
The police questioned The Melvins, owners of 4112 Donerail, but were confounded when they learned Mr. Melvin didn’t return home from work until 10:30pm on Halloween, and Mrs. Melvin stopped answering the door when she ran out of candy at 6:45pm…before Ronald said he was there. Not to mention, none of the candy Mrs. Melvin gave out were Pixy Stix. Police interrogated the entire neighborhood and still couldn’t find the source of the deadly candy.
Ronald was beside himself. He was already having a terrible year and his son’s death appeared to push him over the edge with grief. Ronald was $100,000 in debt. He was eight months behind in car payments and was being threatened with repossession. Ronald held 21 jobs in the last ten years and was already struggling to keep his latest optician gig. He further strained the family finances by taking out a $10,000 life insurance policy on his children earlier in the year, to which his wife protested as an unnecessary expense. She also probably would have objected to the additional two $20,000 dollar life insurance policies Ronald took out on Timothy and Elizabeth on October 3, if she had known about them.
Mrs. O’Bryan would have also been horrified to find out that, mere hours after Timothy’s murder, her husband called to collect on the policies. Ronald was a man who had never had a parking ticket in his life. By all accounts, he was a dedicated father and devout member of the Second Baptist Church. But it took a jury just 46 minutes to find Ronald guilty of capital murder and four counts of attempted murder.
Ronald didn’t just kill his own son (and attempted to murder his daughter and three other children) he also killed Halloween for generations of children yet to be born. Ronald Clark O’Bryan, also known as “The Candy Man” by his fellow death row inmates, successfully perpetuated the decades old myth that despicable people violate Snickers and Milky Way bars with the intent on mercilessly killing innocent children. The truth is, there has never been any documented case of strangers handing out poisoned candy to little kids on Halloween. “Strangers” is the operative word there.