Halloween crimes are usually thought of as the thoughtless mayhem of demented strangers who enjoy poisoning candy or putting razor blades in apples. But crimes committed on Halloween are much more serious – and more real – than those urban legends. There have been numerous murders, kidnappings, and assaults that have taken place on October 31, and many are directly related to the festivities of the holiday. While it remains debatable whether or not there’s a spike in crime on Halloween, there’s no debate that all of these particular assaults happened in connection with the holiday.
Many of these crimes have been carried out by people who took advantage of the occasion to wear a costume and fool their victims for just long enough to kill them. Others involve people out trick-or-treating, or returning from parties late at night. But as with most violent crime in general, crimes that happened on Halloween are usually committed either by someone known to the victim, or in a case of mistaken identity. In a few cases, the crime has never been solved, and years or decades have gone by with no closure for the loved ones of the victims.
Here are some true stories of the worst crimes ever committed in connection with Halloween.
Poisoning of Timothy O’Bryan
While the vast majority of Halloween scare stories about razor blades in apples or poisoned candy are either urban legends or moral panics, one story is, unfortunately, completely true. Eight-year-old Timothy O’Bryan had a packet of Pixie Stix given to him by his father Ronald to cap off his trick-or-treating. He almost immediately went into convulsions and died an hour later.
The death sent the O’Bryan’s small Texas town into a panic, and the police determined that the Pixie Stix that Timothy ate were laced with cyanide. When Ronald’s story kept changing, police began investigating him. They found him to be deeply in debt, and that he’d taken out massive life insurance policies on his children. Police found that the other O’Bryan children had also been given candy by their dad, but hadn’t eaten it.
Ronald O’Bryan was found guilty of murder, sentenced to death, and executed in 1984.