Skip to main content

Five Crimes Committed on Halloween

Halloween pumpkins with a smoke background and a US police car photo montage

These crimes seem to take on a more sinister tone when we consider the date on which they were committed.

Poisoned candy

On Halloween night 1974, eight-year-old Timothy O'Bryan died after consuming poisoned candy in Pasadena, Texas. Earlier that night he had gone out trick or treating with his father Ronald and sister Elizabeth, as well as other children and their father.

After they returned home, Timothy ate one of the Pixy Stix that was given to him by his father who claimed he had gotten them from a neighbour. Immediately after eating the candy Timothy complained of a sore stomach and went to the toilet where he began vomiting and convulsing. He died en route to hospital. The cause of death was later found to be poisoning by potassium cyanide in the Pixy Stix.

Timothy's death lead to widespread panic about tainted Halloween treats. However, it was later discovered that Ronald was in over $100,000 of debt and had taken out multiple life insurance policies on his children. He planned to poison his children to collect the money on the policies.

O'Bryan had tampered with five Pixy Stix in total, giving the others to his daughter and the children's friends in order to throw suspicion. Ronald O'Bryan was found guilty of murdering his son and was eventually executed for his crime in 1984.

David Berkovitz

In the early hours of Halloween 1981 photographer Ronald Sisman and student Elizabeth Platzman were murdered in Sisman's apartment in the Chelsea area of New York. Both were beaten then shot in the back of the head, while the apartment was ransacked.

Interestingly, the murders were predicted by David Berkowitz, known as Son of Sam, from his prison cell. Police thought there may have been links to a satanic cult related to Berkowitz, but the case still remains unsolved.

Railroad tracks

Canadian teen Taylor Van Diest was murdered on Halloween night 2011. She was beaten and suffered a fatal head wound after leaving a Halloween party. Her body was left by train tracks. After leaving the party Van Diest texted her friend to see that she was being "creeped" (followed).

Matthew Foerster was arrested as a suspect in her murder, and later confessed to the crime – though he pleaded guilty to causing the injuries that killed her rather than her murder. He was found guilty of first-degree murder in 2014.

Kennedy connection

On October 30th 1975, teenager Martha Moxley was beaten to death with a gold club. Nobody was charged with her murder until 2000, when Michael Skakel was arrested. Skakel had a connection to the Kennedy family, as the nephew of Ethel Kennedy.

Skakel always denied committing the murder, despite his DNA being found on the body. He was found guilty of Moxley's murder in 2002 and given a sentence of 20 years. Robert Kennedy Jr. has long defended his cousin against the conviction. In 2016 he released the book Framed: Why Michael Skakel Spent over a Decade in Prison for a Murder He Didn't Commit.

Skakel was granted a new trial by a Connecticut judge in 2013 and was released on bond. The retrial has yet to take place.

Trick or treat

Peter Fabiano, a Los Angeles hairdresser, was murdered in his home on Halloween 1957 when he opened the door to what he assumed was a trick or treater. The person at the door, wearing a costume, then shot Fabiano in the chest and killed him.

The perpetrators were later revealed to be Goldyne Pizer and Joan Rabel. Peter Fabiano had revently reconciled with his wife Betty, who had been in a relationship with Rabel during the separation. Pizer was a friend of Rabel, and the pair are alleged to have killed Fabiano out of jealousy.

The case drew much media attention due to the then-taboo nature of the lesbian relationship between Rabel and Pizer.