Halloween night has long been associated with mischief and troublemaking. Children run from house to house asking for a trick or a treat. We give them candy and they spare our home from impish misdeeds. But even when they don’t, these pranks are usually all in good fun. Sure, they might leave smashed eggs, streams of toilet paper, or destroyed pumpkins in their wake, but there is rarely permanent damage left behind.
But it’s also a night when costumes and masks are not only accepted but encouraged. Parties thump in neighborhoods and groups of prowling teens roam the streets. And this opens the door for some to take advantage of the holiday mayhem in the worst ways. We dug up eight of the creepiest crimes committed on Halloween night.
Ronald O’Bryan's Poisoned Pixy Stix
We’ve all grown up with our parents insisting they check our candy before we ate it. And while most of those urban legends about razor blades or poison weren’t founded in fact, one father made it horrifyingly true.
After eight-year-old Timothy O’Bryan finished trick-or-treating, his father Ronald O’Bryan gave him a Pixy Stik. Less than an hour later, Timothy died. Authorities quickly unraveled the cause: cyanide poisoning.
After Ronald’s story changed, he became a suspect. Police discovered he was in severe debt and took out large life insurance policies on his children. After testing the candy, they found that all of the children had been given cyanide-laced Pixy Stik’s, but only Timothy ate it. Ronald was executed in 1984.
The Murders of Ronald Sisman and Elizabeth Platzman
In the early morning hours of Halloween, 1981, Ronald Sisman and Elizabeth Platzman were murdered in their Chelsea apartment. The apartment was ransacked, and the couple was severely beaten before they were shot execution-style.
Police began looking for a motive, but before they got far, a prison informant told authorities that another inmate predicted the crime weeks before it happened. The prisoner? Infamous “Son of Sam” killer, David Berkowitz.
It had been rumored that Berkowitz was involved with a satanic cult. According to the informant, Berkowitz had said his cult was planning on entering a home in that neighborhood for a ritual killing. When questioned, Berkowitz claimed Sisman had footage of a “Son of Sam” shooting. No video was ever found, and the crime is still unsolved.
The Shooting of Marvin Brandland
On Halloween 1982, Marvin Brandland and his wife were handing out candy in their fort Dodge, Iowa home. A man in a mask came to their door and said, “Trick-or-treat. Give me your money or I’ll shoot.”
Thinking it was just an elaborate prank, the couple tried to unmask the prankster. But the man pushed them inside the house and pulled out a gun, demanding the money they kept in a basement safe. Marvin tried to grab the gun, but the man shot him in the throat and fled.
Somehow, the mask was left behind. Since no one knew about the safe, it was assumed someone in the family was behind the robbery. But even with DNA in the mask and a family member bragging that he did it, no one was ever arrested for the murder.
The Candy Lover
On Halloween night in 2011, 55-year-old Ledell Peoples noticed a bag of his Halloween candy was missing. He accused his girlfriend, Maria Adams, of taking it and the couple began fighting. At one point, dishes were thrown, and Peoples had a cut over his eye.
As the fight escalated, Peoples grabbed a knife and stabbed Adams multiple times with several steak knives. He then called the police to notify them of the attack. Adams later died at the hospital and Peoples was arrested.
The entire time he contended the fight and subsequent attack were because of a missing bag of candy. The justice system was less than sympathetic, and he was sentenced to thirty years in prison.
The Trick-Or-Treat Murder
In 1957, Peter Fabiano was woken up in his Los Angeles home by a late-night trick-or-treater. When he complained about the late hour, he was shot in the chest. By the time his wife, Betty, made it to the porch, the shooter was gone.
Police tracked the suspect to North Hollywood after the murder weapon was found in a storage locker. They traced it back to Goldyne Pizer, who admitted to shooting Fabiano on the urging of another woman, Joan Rabel.
Rabel was enamored with Fabiano’s wife and convinced Pizer he was cruel and abusive. Rumors that Betty and Rabel had an affair were never confirmed. Rabel and Pizer were sentenced to five years in prison.
Tricks Inside the Treats
We all know that some people take the trick part a lot more seriously than the treat. Usually, these pranksters are teenagers and kids. But on Halloween night in 1959, dentist William V. Shyne decided to give out tricks with his treats.
The trick? Shyne bought candy-coated laxatives and gave them out to roughly 450 very unlucky trick-or-treaters. Although laxatives aren’t deadly, thirty of the children did actually eat the “candy” and got violently sick.
Authorities were able to narrow the cause of the illnesses and tracked the laxatives back to Shyne. He was charged with multiple crimes including “outrage of public decency” and “unlawful dispensing of drugs”. He never gave a reason for handing out the laxatives.
Murderous Pastor John Douglas White
In the early hours of October 31, 2012, former pastor John Douglas White crept into the home of his 24-year-old Rebekah Gay with nefarious intentions. He had been self-reportedly watching necrophilia videos and increasingly became obsessed with his neighbor.
White hit Gay in the head with a mallet and strangled her with zip-ties before undressing her. Allegedly, he didn’t go through with his plan, but only because he physically couldn’t, so he disposed of the body.
Tragically, Gay had a three-year-old son who was in the trailer the entire time. In a creepy turn of events, White didn’t feel comfortable leaving the boy alone, and cared for him throughout the day—even dressing him in his Halloween costume before his dad picked him up. White was sentenced to 56 years in prison.
The Chainsaw Prankster
Some people always take their Halloween spirit a bit too far. We all know the houses. The ones where you never know if the guy in a rocking chair is real or a decoration. Or if that life-sized coffin will have a hand reach out.
Frank Alba took this to a whole new level when he decided to dress in a bloody apron with a real chainsaw and hide in the bushes on Halloween 2011. He knew he was in the direct path of kids coming home from trick-or-treating, and sure enough, a group soon walked by.
Alba jumped out of the bushes and revved the chainsaw, sending the children screaming. Unfortunately, 12-year-old Leslie Garcia ran into a busy road and was hit by a car. The family sued as the girl sustained permanent injuries and trauma, but the results of the lawsuit are unclear.