On Halloween night in 1974, children were out trick or treating in their neighbourhood – unknowingly about to become the victims of a life-threatening trick.
Ronald Clark O'Bryan, an optician, was out too, watching over his kids— eight-year-old Timothy and five-year-old Elizabeth — as they trick-or-treated in a suburban neighbourhood with neighbours Jim Bates, and his young son.
One of the houses the group approached had all its lights switched off, but the kids banged on the door anyway; the vague promise of candy was too enticing.
But there was no answer.
The kids ran off to find another house with Jim, leaving Ronald alone.
Catching up with the others a short while later, Ronald had good news as he claimed someone had been in the house and gave him a handful of 21-inch Pixy Stix (sherbert straws to us Brits).
The kids each got one before returning home to scoff their stash.
Before bed, Timothy O'Bryan was allowed one treat from the evening's haul, and picked his Pixy Stix tube—but the powdered sugar was stuck in the straw.
His dad helped him take his first mouthful but he complained it tasted bitter and he immediately began to complain that his stomach hurt and ran to the bathroom where he began vomiting and his arms went limp.
Less than an hour later, Timothy was dead.
Timothy's death from poisoned Halloween candy raised fear in the community as it emerged the cand had been was laced with a fatal dose of potassium cyanide.
Four of the five Pixy Stix O'Bryan claimed to have received were recovered by authorities from the other children, none of whom had consumed the candy.
The parents of the fifth child became hysterical when they could not locate the candy after being notified by the police. but later found their son asleep, holding the unconsumed candy.
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The boy had thankfully been unable to open the staples that sealed the wrapper shut.
Police began investigating the incident and first became suspicious of O'Bryan after learning that none of the homes in the two streets they visited had given out Pixy Stix – despite authorities triple checking the area.
As their investigation progressed, police learned that Ronald O'Bryan was over US$100,000 in debt and was unable to hold down a job.
They found out he'd called his insurers to ask about the payout at 9 AM the morning after Timothy's death, which started to bring the whole case together.
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Despite it never being confirmed where the twisted bloke got a hold of the poison he was indicted on one count of capital murder and four counts of attempted murder on November 5, 1984.
The dad pleaded not guilty to all charges but on June 3, 1975, a jury took 46 minutes to find O'Bryan guilty.
The jury took 71 minutes to sentence him to death by electrocution but was executed in March 1984 by lethal injection.
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