Urban legends have a way of sticking around in popular folklore, taking on a life of their own over the years. What once was just a scary story for children, however, can turn into something a whole lot more chilling when it becomes a part of real life. Such was the case for the O’Bryan family, who saw their worst Halloween nightmares become a reality right before their eyes. While you might take Halloween tales of poisoned candy and razor blade-stuffed chocolates as old wives’ tales, they became all too true for the family, destroying their way of life forever.
A family man, Ronald O’Bryan lived in Texas in the mid ‘70s, sharing a home with his wife Daynene and their two children, Timothy and Elizabeth. Despite having a steady job in an optical company, O’Bryan was in serious debt, a fact which he discussed freely with the people closest to him. While his financial situation might seem to have been a black mark against his name, O’Bryan managed to increase his children’s life insurance policies, agreeing on a fee of $30,000 for each child.
Although the act might have seemed to have been made in good nature, O’Bryan had a much darker motive up his sleeve, one that he started to put into action on Halloween night in 1974. A celebration like any other, the night started with the O’Bryans taking their children, along with a few friends, trick or treating. While the group had a lot of success along the path, one household took their time in answering, leading to the children running off in frustration. O’Bryan, however, hung back, seemingly waiting for the door to be answered. By the time that he had caught up with the children, he had a handful of chocolates to offer, which he claimed he had obtained from the tardy household.
O’Bryan took to handing out the candies, giving two to his own children and two to the friends that they were with. The eldest child, Timothy, took a giant sugar stick from his father, complaining almost instantly that it tasted bitter. O’Bryan gave his son some Cool Aid to wash the candy down but Timothy soon began vomiting uncontrollably, convulsing as he did so. While O’Bryan called an ambulance to come and help his son, Timothy died within an hour of eating the candy. Later examinations revealed that the boy’s body contained a deadly amount of potassium cyanide, which he had consumed from the sugar stick.
Soon enough, police grew suspicious of O’Bryan. While he claimed the poisoned candy had come from the home from which the children had run, later investigations revealed that the household was empty all evening, with no-one at home to give out candy. Following this, O’Bryan stated that he couldn’t remember where he had got the candy from, changing his story. The police discovered that no other children in the neighborhood had eaten the kinds of chocolates O’Bryan had handed out, causing them to believe that it was he who had laced the candies in the first place.
Later evidence revealed that O’Bryan had tried and failed to buy cyanide at his place of work, and had left a trail of having researched the poison earlier that year. A salesman at a nearby chemical outlet remembered having seen O’Bryan asking where he could obtain large quantities of the stuff, effectively sealing his guilty fate.
While O’Bryan was never proved to have actually bought the poison, the circumstantial evidence was hugely against him and not long after the trial had started, he had been found guilty of one count of murder and four counts of attempted murder. Friends and family revealed he had been showing an alarming interest in the poison for as far back as a year and a half before the incident, evidently looking for an effective way in which to get his hands on his children’s life insurance. O’Bryan was sentenced to execution for his crimes, while his wife remarried. Since the event, Halloween safety was taken more seriously, with parents being taught how to properly inspect the candy before giving it to their children.