Anchored in mischief and mayhem, All Hallows Eve, is a time for ghoulish costumes, scary stories related by candlelight, bingeing on candy, spooky parties and pumpkins glowing in the dark. All good fun you might say. But it also gives rise to the wacky, weird and sinister.
5The Candy Man
Just like any dutiful father Ronald Clark O’Bryan set out on October 31, 1974, on the Halloween trail in Deer Park, Texas. His party included his two children, Timothy, eight and Elizabeth, five, and a neighbour and his two kids. At some point in the evening, the children ran off ahead of their father after failing to get a response from a house they’d visited. A short time later O'Bryan caught up and eventually gave all the children some Pixy Stix candy. This was a type of treat that you ingested through a straw.
After returning home, Timothy complained of feeling unwell and began to vomit and convulse. Sadly, before he arrived at the hospital, he died. Subsequent tests led to the discovery of cyanide in his blood and bodily fluids. The police began their investigation but failed to generate any substantial leads. That is until they received a call from an insurance company stating that O’Bryan had taken out life policies on his children. Further digging by the police uncovered a chaotic lifestyle led by O’Bryan that included huge debts and the threat of looming repossessions. He was also close to losing his job. Evidence also emerged that he’d been enquiring about how best to obtain cyanide in the weeks leading up to Halloween. He was arrested and charged and following a trial was found guilty of the murder of his son and attempted murder of his daughter Elizabeth and other children.
Not only was O’Bryan given the title of the Candy Man, but he was also referred to as ‘The Man Who Killed Halloween. Even though he’d been caught, paranoia set in. For many years following this evil episode parents became super vigilant towards their children, even preferring accompanied trips to the mall to acquire ‘sanctioned’ candy. The punk rock group, Siouxsie and the Banshees 1986 track, ‘Candyman’, is thought to be about the poisonings.
After being granted several stays of execution – one of which was scheduled for Halloween night - Ronald Clark O’Bryan was finally executed for his crimes by lethal injection on March 31st, 1984.
Halloween is meant to be full of surprises for children. Although rather more so for three young candy collectors when they knocked on the door of Donald Junior Green’s girlfriend.
Green, a twenty-three-year-old panel beater from Oldham, Manchester generously handed over what he thought were Haribo sweets to the grateful kids, aged eight, six and five, dropping them into their outstretched goody bags. Some minutes later Green was met with horror. Instead of withdrawing bags of coke from his pocket, which he’d earlier paid £200 for, he was left staring at packets of Haribo sweets. He had mistakenly given the children his treats. Green jumped in his car and desperately searched the local area trying to locate the children but to no avail.
Eventually, the children returned home and poured out their Halloween bounty. It was time to divide up the spoils and get munching. They had been chaperoned on their sweet hunt by their father who was an off-duty policeman, and upon surveying their haul, he recognised the drugs. After ascertaining where his daughter thought they had come from Green was arrested. Later in court, his solicitor said his client had acted in the ‘public spirit’ by giving what he thought was genuine candy to the children and had tried to rectify his error. Green pleaded guilty to possession of Class A drugs and was given a 12-month community order and 130 hours of community work.
3Fat-Shaming Halloween Kids
Be careful if you live in Fargo-Moorhead, North Dakota, USA. You could knock on the door of a woman who hardly epitomises the spirit of Halloween. She doesn’t give out candy to kids. She gives out warnings!
In 2013 when young children visited her home she gave some of them fat-shaming letters. The woman, identified only as ‘Cheryl’, told her local radio station she found it irresponsible of parents to send their kids out looking for sugar-coated sweets. The letters wished the parents ‘Happy Halloween’ and then went on to inform the readers their offspring were moderately obese and should be weaned off such fattening treats. All very polite, of course.
However, her stand on children’s health was not well received in some quarters. Some aggrieved persons took to social media to announce plans to give the lady some nasty tricks for her Halloween surprise. It is not known whether the aforementioned ‘Cheryl’ was on the end of any candy mischief. In another twist to the story, some have speculated that the story was a prank thought up by a local news network. This has not been either confirmed or denied.
Two thirteen-year-old boys got the surprise of their lives when they visited the home of Andrew McClure Johnson, 23, of Boulder, Colorado. Apparently, Johnson inquired of the boys whether they owned DVD players. When they answered in the affirmative, he disappeared back into his house and then returned clutching two dvds. One had C-Man written on its otherwise blank cover, and the other depicted a woman performing a sex act.
According to the boys, Johnson then dropped the two cases into their candy bags and closed the door on them laughing as he did so. The boys became spooked and reported their stash to their parents. A week or so later Johnson was arrested by officers on suspicion of felony obscenity.
In 2010 residents of a Miami neighbourhood were met with a rather grisly depiction of Halloween. In a macabre scene, invoking Hollywood’s darkest fantasies, and stretching over two blocks were dozens of butchered and decapitated remains of pigs, hens, goats, cats and birds.
Startled neighbours reported hearing loud noises in the night and of cars screeching away. Some witnesses claimed they saw up to five figures dressed completely in white. Police theorised that it could have been part of a ritual sacrifice linked to Santeria, an Afro-Caribbean religion that evolved during the slave trade in Cuba and is practised in some areas of Florida.