The Candy Man: Texas' frightening, true Halloween horror story

DEER PARK, Texas – More than 40 years have passed, but retired patrolman Jesse Zesiger can't forget.

Zesiger recounted to KPRCKSAT 12's sister station, the helplessness he felt the night he arrived at a Houston area home for a report of a sick child. 

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"Seeing this boy, young boy with dry heaves," Zesiger recalled in a 2014 interview.

That boy was 8-year-old Timothy O'Bryan, the son of Ronald Clark O'Bryan.

Court documents show O'Bryan gave Timothy, and four other children, Pixy-Stix candies poisoned with cyanide on Halloween. All of this was in an effort to cash in on a $20,000 life insurance policy O'Bryan had taken out on Timothy. O'Bryan was charged with his son's murder days later.

According to court records, O'Bryan allowed his kids to select one Halloween candy before bed and Timothy chose the giant Pixy Stix, which his father had handed him earlier in the evening.

Timothy, records state, encountered some difficulty getting the candy out of the tube, then complained about the bad taste. That's when O'Bryan gave Timothy Kool-Aid to wash the taste out of his mouth, according to court documents. Later, Timothy became sick and died hours after ingesting the tainted candy.

"Dad said, 'I took the Pixy Stix in my hand and rolled it in my hand, broke up the clumps, and helped pour it down my son's throat,'" Zesiger told KPRC. "And later on, when I found out what was in the Pixy Stix, I'm saying to myself, 'How could somebody do that?'"

O'Bryan, an optician by trade, had inquired with his employer about obtaining cyanide to clean gold frames, but court records state the request was unusual as cyanide had not been used in the optical trade for decades.

Authorities recovered the other four Pixy-Stix and, when tested for cyanide, all had a fatal dose of the chemical in the first two inches of candy, according to court documents.

Court records indicate O'Bryan had "serious financial problems" and stood to benefit from the money reaped from his son's death.

The details of Timothy's death struck fear into families in the Deer Park area, dubbing O'Bryan the "Candy Man" and the "Man Who Ruined Halloween."

Zesiger told KPRC he's never been on a case more horrific than O'Bryan's.

A jury convicted O'Bryan of murdering his son and he was put to death by lethal injection a decade after the Halloween nightmare.

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