The Story Of Ronald O’Bryan The Real Candyman

October 31, 2016

Written by Kelli Marchman McNeely

Kelli Marchman McNeely is the owner of She is an Executive Producer of "13 Slays Till Christmas" which is out on Digital and DVD and now streaming on Tubi. She has several other films in the works. Kelli is an animal lover and a true horror addict since the age of 9 when she saw Friday the 13th. Email:





Have you ever wondered why parents began checking their children’s candy after Trick-R-Treating? It all because of one man, known now as “The Candyman”.

Ronald O’Bryan of Pasadena, a father of two, laced candy with cyanide and gave it out to five trick-r-treaters, including his own 5-year-old daughter and his 8-year-old son in 1974. You see, the twisted optician was deep in debt and had taken out a life insurance policy on his children worth $40,000.

In his mind it would have been suspicious if only his children had fallen ill so he handed out the poisoned candy to other kids. His son, Timothy, ate the poison, hidden in an old-style Pixy Stix, which O’Bryan had opened, mixed with poison and resealed with staples. Only one of the five children ate the candy, Timothy. O’Bryan later claimed he held Timothy while he was vomiting and the child went limp in his arms. Timothy died en route to the hospital less than an hour after eating the candy.

O’Bryan told police that he could not remember which house he got the Pixy Stix from. Police became suspicious of  O’Bryan and his neighbor had only taken their children to homes on two streets because it had been raining. Their suspicions increased after learning that none of the homes the kids had visited had handed out Pixy Stix. O’Bryan claimed that he revisited the home before catching up with the group. He said the owner of the home did not turn the lights on but cracked the door and handed him five Pixy Stix. O’Bryan’s wife claimed that she knew nothing about the life insurance or the plan to poison the children.




The crime shock the nation, forever changing Halloween. At his trial O’Bryan was given his nickname by the press. He was convicted, sentenced to death and executed in 1984.




There is also a ‘Candyman’ horror franchise, though it has no connection to the true story. The first film, released in 1992, was written and directed by Berneard Rose, produced by Clive Barker and Steve Golin. The film is based on Clive Barker’s short story ‘The Forbidden’. Tony Todd stars as “Candyman”, a supernatural entity with a hook in the place of his hand, which was severed before he was murdered.



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