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Episode 99 The Man Who Stole Halloween

Nearly fifty years ago the country mourned eight year old Timothy O’Bryan who died in his Texas home after eating poisoned trick or treat candy on Halloween. Timothy’s death changed Halloween celebrations for generations of children

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“Poison in candy kills Texas boy”…this shocking headline out of Pasadena, Texas in early November 1974 told of Timothy O’Bryan’s death by cyanide poisoning in candy he ate Halloween night. Chemical tests by the county medical examiner found cyanide granules in the Pixy Stix candy eaten by the eight year old just before bed.

Within minutes Timothy became violently ill and would be pronounced dead within an hour.

Pasadena Police Lieutenant E.L. Goad asked that parents in the Houston suburbs of Deer Park and Pasadena confiscate trick or treat candy from their children and further asked that any candy that had been obtained in the Bowling Green Subdivision in Deer Park be brought to the police station

Fear spread throughout the community that there could be more poisoned candy…perhaps a stranger targeting children. Within days neighbors in this Houston suburb learned the horrific crime had been part of a months-long plan carried out by Timothy’s father in an effort to collect life insurance.

Listen to this episode to hear the story of how Ronald Clark O’Bryan carried out the crime and how Timothy’s death changed Halloween for generations of children.

Note: Another serial killer from Pasadena, Texas was dubbed “The Candy Man” in 1973. His family had owned a candy business and the nickname took root in local media. Ronald Clark O’Bryan has also been called “The Candy Man” but the lasting impact of his horrific crime led to countless children being robbed of the innocent fun of trick or treating for years. That’s why he was also dubbed “The Man Who Stole Halloween”.

Timothy Marc O’Bryan, 1974. Family Photo
Ronald Clark O’Bryan seated next to his wife Daynene at Timothy’s funeral. Photo: Larry Evans/Houston Chronicle
Sheriff’s Sgt. D.F. Morgan wears surgical gloves to protect him poison in Ronald Clark O’Bryan’s deteriorating Pixy Stix. Photo: Steve Ueckert/Houston Chronicle 1986
Ronald Clark O’Bryan on his execution day, 1984. Photo: Associated Press


Ronald Clark O’BRYAN, Appellant, v. The STATE of Texas, Appellee. September 26, 1979. 

The ex-wife of Ronald Clark O’Bryan, awaiting his execution. UPI. March 30, 1984

The True Story of the Notorious Trick-or-Treat Murderer. Vice. October 31, 2016.

35 years later, memories of notorious Halloween ‘Candyman’ murder remain vivid. Statesman News Network. October 14, 2016

Looking back at the ‘Candy Man’ 42 years later. Houston Chronicle. November 1, 2016.

The Candyman: Houston’s own real-life Halloween horror story. ABC 13 Eyewitness News. October 13, 2018.

How Trick-or-Treating Became a Halloween Tradition. History. October 3, 2019


Lost Time, Ambient, Ossuary 1 A Beginning, Ossuary 6 Air, B Somber Ballad and Long Note One by Kevin MacLeod. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Source:

Theme Song “Dark & Troubled” by Pantherburn. Special thanks to Phillip St Ours for permission for use.