It’s Halloween! To celebrate, Bourke employees are engaging in a “Decorate Your Right Arm” competition (hopefully, this won’t become a tradition, as it was a lot harder than it sounds). While a lot of us really like Halloween, there is an aspect of danger to the holiday that isn’t evident in any of the other festive days we celebrate.

Halloween is, by its nature, spooky; it’s a holiday defined by ghosts walking the earth, scary costumes and creepy stories. Even the urban legends, especially those concerning poisoned trick or treaters, are blatantly grotesque. But isn’t it unsettling when urban legends come to life?

Rumors surrounding poisoned candy is believed to have started around the time of the Industrial Revolution, when “when food production moved out of the home” ( All of a sudden, food wasn’t made by Grandma, but by some stranger who might want to cause harm for unknown reasons. In the 1930s, with the advent of trick or treating, poisoned candy gradually morphed into poisoned Halloween candy. Although there has never been a child murdered by poisoned Halloween candy (, this is an urban legend that still has parents checking fun size Snickers bars every year. Wait, did we say no child has ever killed by poisoned Halloween candy? That’s not exactly true, actually. However, the murderer wasn’t a faceless monster, but someone very well known to the 8-year-old victim.

On Halloween, 1974, Ronald O’Bryan took his two children, Timothy and Elizabeth, trick or treating with a neighbor and his son. When no one answered at a particular house, the children and the neighbor moved on. O’Bryan hung back, but quickly reappeared with five large Pixy Stix. “You must have some rich neighbors,” O’Bryan quipped to his companion, handing the candy to the children ( Once the group returned home, O’Bryan allowed his kids one piece of candy each. Timothy wanted the Pixy Stix, but couldn’t open it, so O’Bryan kindly helped his son. Timothy complained that the candy tasted bitter, drank some Kool-Aid and toddled off to bed.

Within the hour, Timothy was vomiting and in extreme pain. Although the ambulance arrived within minutes, Timothy was pronounced dead at the hospital. An autopsy showed that Timothy had died from potassium cyanide poisoning and a mad search for the remaining Pixy Stix ensued. None of the other children had eaten the candy (one boy had his in bed, having fallen asleep before he could open it). Over the following days, O’Bryan tried to remember where he had gotten the candy, finally accusing a man with an air-tight alibi.

Authorities became a little suspicious. When it was discovered that O’Bryan was heavily in debt and had bought life insurance on his children days before Halloween, they became a lot suspicious. After an investigation turned up cut Pixy Stix tops and a knife covered in cyanide at O’Bryan’s house, he was arrested for murder. In addition, O’Bryan’s in-laws testified how, at Timothy’s funeral, O’Bryan had giddily listed all of the things he was planning to buy with the insurance money. The jury took 46 minutes to decide on a guilty verdict and Ronald O’Bryan was put to death on March 31,1984 (

O’Bryan, AKA The Candy Man, thought that his murder would be chalked up to an insane and unknown Halloween poisoner. Instead, he added credence to the urban legend and even more danger to an already creepy holiday. Remember, Parents, it’s never out of fashion to check that candy!

Bourke Accounting has clean, safe Halloween candy. During this scary time of year, why don’t you come talk to a Bourke Accounting pro about your financial future? With all of the weirdness going on, your money issues shouldn’t be a mystery or reason for sleepless nights.

Come see us any time. Our number is 502-451-8773 and don’t forget to visit our website at See you soon!

Written by Sue H.