How the ‘Razor Blades in Candy’ Myth Began in Texas in the 70’s
Hey all you boos and ghouls! This morning on the Show Lisa, Nico and I were discussing the story out of Georgia, where police officers found what they thought was a bag of candy but instead it was ecstasy! This also brought up a great reminder about trick-or-treating and how one of the main rules of trick-or-treating is to ALWAYS CHECK YOUR CANDY!
However, we weren't exactly sure how that became a thing. There is always a rumor of razor blades or poison in the candy- but how did that exactly get started?
According to History.com, there have always been urban legends of tainted candy. Actual cases include a woman in 1964 who was arrested after handing out rat poison and dog biscuits to children. She claimed it was just a joke and that she was only handing them out to the children she believed were too old for trick-or-treating. Luckily, no children were actually harmed.
But no other story was as awful as that of Ronald Clark O'Bryan. He has been appropriately named "The Candy Man" and "The Man Who Ruined Halloween". His story takes place on Halloween of 1974. O'Bryan took his two children, Elizabeth and Timothy, trick-or-treating. Accompanied by his neighbor and their two children, they went around the block in a Pasadena, Texas neighborhood. After approaching a house with the lights off, the children decided that no one was home and ran to the next house- O'Bryan stayed behind.
When O'Bryan caught up to the group, he did so with five Pixy Stix- you know, the candy that is basically sugar? He gave his children, Elizabeth and Timothy, and the neighbor children each a Pixy Stix. Upon getting home, Timothy was allowed to eat some of his candy, he chose the Pixy Stix. Timothy complained that the candy tasted gross and bitter. Later that evening, Timothy complains of stomach pains, and then falls to the ground and starts convulsing. Paramedics were called but unfortunately, Timothy died on the way to the hospital.
After news got out that Timothy died from what they believed was poisoned Halloween candy, parents went into a panic and took away their kids candy. Police collected candy and went into an investigation. No other children were harmed. O'Bryan wasn't a suspect until Timothy's autopsy showed that the Pixy Stix powder he had consumed was laced with enough cyanide to kill two people. Luckily, the other four Pixy Stix were able to be located and turned into police who noticed that the Pixy Stix had been sealed with a staple. A pathologist concluded that the Pixy Stix were indeed laced with cyanide.
Police then asked O'Bryan to take them to the house where he had received the Pixy Stix. Police became suspicious when he couldn't "remember" which house it was. Eventually, O'Bryan led them to a house that he claimed didn't have their light on but did manage to give him five Pixy Stix. The owner of the home was named Courtney Melvin, but he had a solid alibi.
Soon after, police found out that O'Bryan was over $100,000 in debt, his car was about to be repossessed, he was suspected of theft at his job at Texas State optical and was close to being fired. They also found that he had defaulted on several bank loans and had his home foreclosed on. Police also discovered that in the months leading to Timothy's death, O'Bryan had taken out $10,000 life insurance policies on his two children. Just a few days before Timothy's death, O'Bryan had taken out yet another life insurance policy on his children, this time for $20,000.
Police arrested O'Bryan on November 5, 1974. Despite not knowing when or where Bryan bought the poison, O'Bryan was arrested for the death of Timothy- he was indicted on one count of capital murder and four counts of attempted murder. O'Bryan pled not guilty on all five counts. O'Bryan maintained his innocence until his execution on March 31, 1984.
If you're interested in more details, check out this great video by Bailey Sarian!
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