Graphic truck with candy in the background.

The Worst of Halloween Past

By Gena Sysavath
Web Content Contributor

“Trick-or-treat,” a seemingly innocent phrase that children say when they’re out trick-or-treating. Most people will hear the phrase and not think about it. To many, the phrase is about handing out candy to dressed-up kids and teenagers walking around the neighborhood.

Halloween is a fun holiday. You can go around without judgement for being dressed up or eating your weight in candy.

That type of Halloween is for the lucky ones. Some people didn’t get the classic, fun, generic Halloween night we know and love.

You hear that you can get a “trick” for Halloween, but no one ever knows how far one can go. Things can escalate or sometimes plans can fall through. Maybe you accidently got involved with something sinister. Who knows when everyone can wear a mask for one night?

Horror and Halloween comes by hand-and-hand, so let’s take a look at some of America’s past Halloweens.

“Candyman”

Halloween, 1974.

The young 8-year-old Timothy O’Bryan didn’t suspect anything to be wrong when he was given his last piece of candy: a Pixy Stix.

The moment he got it, he started eating it to his little heart’s content. However, he immediately felt like the sugar-filled stick had something wrong with it. He began to complain that the sugar inside was bitter, and within moments, he began to vomit.

Little Timothy died on his way to the hospital. The Pixy Stix was laced with cyanide.

It was his father, Ronald O’Bryan, who had opened, poisoned and given the stick to him.

O’Bryan was in debt and had just taken out life-insurance on his children. He was charged a year later and sentenced to death with lethal injection.

His crime made a lasting impression for all Halloweens to come as parents are still checking their children’s candy.

Family Massacre

Halloween, 2010.

Tragedy struck a small, blended family in Ohio. Devon Griffin, 16, had only wanted to go home and play video games after being out all day doing Halloween festivities.

Yet, the longer he stayed inside the house, he realized that his home seemed to be more silent than it should be on such a holiday.

Griffin went downstairs to find that his mother, Susan Liske, 46, and his stepfather, William E. “Bill” Liske, 53, were slain in their master bedroom. He had tried to speak to them before seeing that they were covered in blood.

He had thought it was a prank at first, but wept after realizing that it wasn’t. He would later find out that his older brother, Derek Griffin, 23, was also murdered the same night.

Griffin was traumatized, quoting that the scene was like “something out of a haunted house.”

Later, it was confirmed that Griffin’s stepbrother, William “B.J.” Liske, 16, was the culprit. The troubled teen, with a history of mental health problems, had bludgeoned, shot and raped his family to death.

He pleaded guilty on all three accounts of aggravated murder and was sent to life in prison. In 2015, he was found dead by a self-inflicted wound.

Late Night Stabbings

Halloween, 2004.

Roommates Leslie Mazzara and Adriane Insogna, both 26, thought that their night was over after passing out the last bits of their Halloween candy to trick-or-treaters. They headed off to their beds upstairs, expecting to not have any more visitors at their California home.

The third roommate, Lauren Meanza, woke up around 1 a.m. hearing scuffles and screaming from the upstairs bedrooms. Scared, Meanza ran out of the house in terror, drove away and left her two friends behind.

When she figured that the coast was clear, she headed back home to check on her roommates upstairs.

Mazzara and Insogna were both found stabbed to death.

Cops and FBI agents found butts of the cigarettes with DNA that didn’t match with anyone in the database. They have spoken to nearly 1,000 persons of interests, and only became suspicious of mutual friend, Eric Copple, when he started to avoid the investigation.

One year later, Copple turned himself in and confessed to the crime. He never told his motives. He is now serving life in prison with no chance of parole.

Crime of Passion

Halloween, 1957.

Imagine opening the door to what you think is a trick-or-treater, only to be shot by a .22 and watch your murderer run away. Well, this is exactly what happened to Peter Fabiano.

Fabiano had opened the door thinking that he needed to hand out more candy, but upon opening the door, he saw a grown woman dressed in a mask. She raised her hand, wrapped in a paper bag, and shot him straight in the chest.

The culprit, Joan Rabel, had an apparent affair with Fabiano’s wife, Betty Fabiano. Rabel had reportedly fallen in love with Betty and had talked Goldyne Pizer into helping her murder Fabiano.

Their arrest had a lot of coverage, as at the time in the late ’50s, lesbians were seen to be abnormal and depraved.

Both pleaded guilty and were convicted of 2nd degree murder, life in prison. Betty was never tried for any type of connection in her husband’s murder.

Slain in Manhattan

Halloween, 1981.

Ronald Sisman, 39, and Elizabeth Platzman, 20, were beaten to death before being shot execution-style in their Manhattan apartment.

The couple’s apartment was ransacked and had caused the cops and investigators to think that it was a robbery gone wrong. However, there were no signs of a break-in and nothing was reportedly missing.

Later, a prison informant claimed that fellow inmate predicted the couple’s murder before it even happened. The inmate had been David Berkowitz, also known as the “Son of Sam” killer.

Berkowitz was rumored to be in a Satanic cult and claimed that Sisman had a video of a “Son of Sam” killing and was ready to turn it in in order to drop some controlled substance charges he had.

According to Berkowitz, the cult was planning to go to the couple’s apartment for a ritual slaying.

There was no evidence to Berkowitz claims, even when he was right about descriptions of the Sisman’s apartment. The case remains to be unsolved.

Featured image by Gena Sysavath.

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