Dead Pool 31st October 2021
Welcome everyone, to the special Halloween edition of the Dead Pool Newsletter. I have really pushed out the boat this year by including one, yes one, Halloween related article. So whilst you drink your cup of tea, enjoy the massive effort I made.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- James Michael Tyler, 59, American actor (Friends, Motel Blue), prostate cancer.
- Florence Alice Lubega, 103, Ugandan politician, MP (1962–1980).
- Camille Saviola, 71, American actress (The Purple Rose of Cairo, Addams Family Values, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).
- Christopher Wenner, 66, British-East Timorese journalist (Channel 4 News) and television presenter (Blue Peter), throat cancer.
- Rossano Rubicondi, 49, Italian model and actor (The Eighteenth Angel, The Golden Bowl, Natale a Beverly Hills), 4th husband of Ivana Trump, melanoma.
In Other News
The Queen has been advised by her doctors to rest for at least the next two weeks and to undertake only “desk-based duties”, Buckingham Palace has announced. But the head of state has the “firm intention” of leading the nation in honouring the country’s war dead on Remembrance Sunday on 14 November, the palace said. The Queen underwent tests in hospital last week, where she spent a night, and then “reluctantly” accepted medical advice to rest, cancelling a planned two-day trip to Northern Ireland. On Sunday, the 95-year-old missed a church service at Windsor, then on Tuesday cancelled her planned evening reception for world leaders at the UN climate conference in Glasgow. The monarch is said to be in good spirits, and during Friday afternoon recorded her speech for the Cop26 summit, which will be played to delegates. The statement from the palace said: “Following on from their recent advice that the Queen should rest for a few days, Her Majesty’s doctors have advised that she should continue to rest for at least the next two weeks. The doctors have advised that Her Majesty can continue to undertake light, desk-based duties during this time, including some virtual audiences, but not to undertake any official visits. Her Majesty regrets that this means she will be unable to attend the Festival of Remembrance on Saturday, November 13th. However, it remains the Queen’s firm intention to be present for the National Service of Remembrance on Remembrance Sunday, on November 14th.” There will be concern for the Queen given her advanced years, but further rest was a “sensible precaution”, a palace source said. The Queen, who next year celebrates 70 years on the throne, has been known for her robust health. She appeared cheerful and in good humour when she hosted a virtual presentation ceremony on Thursday, awarding the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2020 to poet David Constantine. Speaking from Windsor Castle during a video call, she joked with the writer at Buckingham Palace, asking of his award: “Do you put it in a cupboard?” She was also seen greeting foreign ambassadors via video link. The Queen spent one night at King Edward VII’s Hospital earlier this month, her first overnight hospital stay in eight years. During the coronavirus pandemic, she retreated to Windsor Castle for her safety, where she was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh in lockdown. She was recently seen using a walking stick at a Westminster Abbey service, the first time she has done so at a major event.
Shirley Ballas has revealed she will undergo an “urgent scan” on all her organs after a doctor found her to have “concerning” levels of testosterone. In an interview with a flying monkey, the 61-year-old said that she was told by a doctor that her levels of testosterone were “the highest she’s seen in a female”. Ballas added: “My NHS doctor is very good, so the fact that she is concerned makes me concerned – and she was mortified by my results. She said I have the highest testosterone levels she’s ever seen in a woman, and testosterone can wreak havoc on the female organs. So she’s requested an urgent scan of all of my organs at King’s College, London.” Ballas continued to say that her doctor “won’t speculate on what the cause is”, stating: “She just says, ‘We need to deal with this. Let’s deal with the hormones and then see what else is there. So I’ll have the scans and then I’ll be able to let everyone know what’s going on.” The news comes after Ballas gave fans an update on her health following a doctor’s appointment that was prompted by concerns raised by Strictly viewers who apparently noticed “lumps” in her armpit. Earlier this month, she explained that a doctor had examined her underarm and breasts but “couldn’t feel anything”. The professional dancer went on to say, however, that the doctor had discovered her hormone levels to be “all over the place” and added that she will be having “full blood work done”. Ballas has previously spoken about her family history of cancer. She recently had a scare in June when she found a lump in her shoulder but said her doctor “seems to think it will be fine”. In 2019, she had her breast implants removed in order to reduce the risk of developing the disease, as implants can block early signs of it being detected.
Will Smith has revealed he once considered suicide. The Fresh Prince can be seen discussing his mental health with his family in a new trailer for Will Smith: The Best Shape of My Life, his new YouTube docuseries. The series follows Smith as he attempts to lose one and a half stone in 20 weeks, but he quickly realises that his journey involves work on his inner self far more than his outer self. “When I started this show, I thought I was getting into the best shape of my life, physically,” he says in the trailer. “But, mentally, I was somewhere else. I ended up discovering a whole lot of hidden things about myself.” In one clip in the trailer, Smith can be seen bursting into tears while sat with his family. He also tells them about a moment in his history – which we do not yet know the details of – that particularly haunted him. “That was the only time in my life that I ever considered suicide,” Smith says, while his daughter Willow can be seen looking anguished. In recent months, Smith has made a number of surprise revelations about his marriage to wife Jada and his mental health. In September, Smith confirmed that he and Jada had opened up their marriage to other sexual partners after both realised that they were “miserable”. Smith also revealed that, during a mental health crisis, he made plans to date a “harem” of women that included Halle Berry. He also rented a house in Utah and sat in solitude for 14 days, before flying to Peru to take part in a number of ayahuasca rituals. I’m sure Halle Berry was as horrified as a horrific thing on a horror trip to horror land!
On This Day
- 1941 – After 14 years of work, Mount Rushmore is completed.
- 1963 – A propane tank explosion at the Indiana State Fair Coliseum in Indianapolis kills 74 people and injures another 400 during an ice skating show.
- 1984 – Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by two Sikh security guards. Riots break out in New Delhi and other cities and around 3,000 Sikhs are killed.
- 2011 – The global population of humans reaches seven billion. This day is now recognised by the United Nations as the Day of Seven Billion.
- 1926 – Harry Houdini, American magician and stuntman (b. 1874)
- 1984 – Indira Gandhi, Indian politician, Prime Minister of India (b. 1917)
- 1993 – Federico Fellini, Italian director and screenwriter (b. 1920)
- 1993 – River Phoenix, American actor and singer (b. 1970)
- 2006 – P. W. Botha, South African politician, President of South Africa (b. 1916)
- 2020 – Sean Connery, Scottish actor (b. 1930)
Ronald Clark O’Bryan nicknamed The Candy Man and The Man Who Killed Halloween, was an American man convicted of killing his eight-year-old son on Halloween 1974 with a potassium cyanide-laced Pixy Stix that was ostensibly collected during a trick or treat outing. O’Bryan poisoned his son in order to claim life insurance money to ease his own financial troubles, as he was $100,000 in debt. O’Bryan also distributed poisoned candy to his daughter and three other children in an attempt to cover up his crime; however, neither his daughter nor the other children ate the poisoned candy. He was convicted of capital murder in June 1975 and sentenced to death. He was executed by lethal injection in March 1984.
On October 31, 1974, O’Bryan took his two children trick-or-treating in a Pasadena, Texas, neighbourhood. O’Bryan’s neighbour and his two children accompanied them. After visiting a home where the occupant failed to answer the door, the children grew impatient and ran ahead to the next home while O’Bryan stayed behind. He eventually caught up with the group and produced five 21-inch Pixy Stix, which he would later claim he was given from the occupant of the house that had not answered the door. At the end of the evening, O’Bryan gave each of his neighbour’s two children a Pixy Stix and one each to Timothy and Elizabeth. Upon returning home, O’Bryan gave the fifth Pixy Stix to a 10-year-old boy whom he recognised from his church.
Before bed, Timothy asked to eat some of the candy he collected, and according to Ronald, he chose the Pixy Stix. Timothy had trouble getting the powdered candy out of the straw so O’Bryan helped him loosen the powder. After tasting the candy, Timothy complained that it tasted bitter. O’Bryan then gave his son Kool-Aid to wash away the taste. Timothy immediately began to complain that his stomach hurt and ran to the bathroom where he began vomiting and convulsing. O’Bryan later claimed he held Timothy while he was vomiting and the child went limp in his arms. Timothy O’Bryan died en-route to the hospital less than an hour after consuming the candy.
Timothy’s death from poisoned Halloween candy raised fear in the community. Numerous parents in Deer Park and the surrounding area turned in candy their children got from trick or treating to the police, fearing it was laced with poison. The police did not initially suspect O’Bryan of any wrongdoing until Timothy’s autopsy revealed that the Pixy Stix he had consumed was laced with a fatal dose of potassium cyanide. Four of the five Pixy Stix O’Bryan claimed to have received were recovered by authorities from the other children, none of whom had consumed the candy. The parents of the fifth child became hysterical when they could not locate the candy after being notified by the police. The parents rushed upstairs to find their son asleep, holding the unconsumed candy. The boy had been unable to open the staples that sealed the wrapper shut. All five of the Pixy Stix had been opened, with the top two inches refilled with cyanide powder and resealed with a staple. According to a pathologist who tested the Pixy Stix, the candy consumed by Timothy contained enough cyanide to kill two adults, while the other four candies contained enough to kill three to four adults.
O’Bryan initially told police that he could not remember which house he got the Pixy Stix from. Police became suspicious because O’Bryan and his neighbour had only taken their children to homes on two streets because it had been raining. Their suspicions increased after learning that none of the homes they visited had given out Pixy Stix. After walking the neighbourhood with police three times, O’Bryan led them to the home where no one had answered the door. O’Bryan claimed that he went back there before catching up with the group. He said the owner of the home did not turn the lights on, but did crack the door open and hand him five Pixy Stix. He claimed to have only seen the man’s arm, which he described as “hairy”. The home was owned by a man named Courtney Melvin. Melvin was an air traffic controller at William P. Hobby Airport and did not get home from work until 11 p.m. on Halloween night. Police ruled Melvin out as a suspect when nearly 200 people confirmed that he had been at work.
As their investigation progressed, police learned that Ronald O’Bryan was over $100,000 in debt and had a history of being unable to hold a job. At the time of his arrest, he was suspected of theft at his job at Texas State Optical and was close to being fired. His car was about to be repossessed, he had defaulted on several bank loans, and the family home had been foreclosed on. Police discovered that O’Bryan had taken out life insurance policies on his children in the months preceding Timothy’s death. In January 1974, he had taken out $10,000 life insurance policies on both of his children. One month before Timothy’s death, O’Bryan took out additional $20,000 policies on both children, despite the objections of his life insurance agency. In the days preceding Timothy’s death, O’Bryan had taken out yet another $20,000 policy on each child. The various policies totalled approximately $60,000. O’Bryan’s wife maintained that she did not know about the insurance policies on her children’s lives. Police also learned that on the morning after Timothy’s death, O’Bryan had called his insurance company to inquire about collecting the policies he had taken out on his son. After learning that O’Bryan had visited a chemical supply store in Houston to buy cyanide shortly before Halloween 1974 (he left without purchasing anything after learning the smallest amount available to purchase was five pounds), police began to suspect that Ronald O’Bryan had laced the candies with poison in an effort to kill his children to collect on their life insurance policies. They believed he gave the other children poisoned candy in an effort to cover up his crime. Police repeatedly questioned O’Bryan but he maintained his innocence.
Although police never discovered when or where O’Bryan bought the poison, he was arrested for Timothy’s murder on November 5th 1974. He was indicted on one count of capital murder and four counts of attempted murder. O’Bryan entered a plea of not guilty to all five counts. O’Bryan’s trial began in Houston on May 5th 1975. During the trial, a chemist who was acquainted with O’Bryan testified that in summer 1973, O’Bryan contacted him asking about cyanide and how much would be fatal. A chemical supply salesman also testified that O’Bryan had asked him how to purchase cyanide. Friends and co-workers testified that in the months before Timothy’s death, O’Bryan showed an “unusual interest” in cyanide and spoke about how much it would take to kill a person. O’Bryan’s sister-in-law and brother-in-law testified that on the day of Timothy’s funeral, he spoke of using the money from Timothy’s insurance policy to take a long vacation and buy other items. As well, his wife rejected the claim that Timothy chose the Pixy Stix, stating that O’Bryan had, in fact, forced him to choose the Stix. O’Bryan continued to maintain his innocence. His defense mainly drew upon the decades-old urban legend concerning a “mad poisoner” who hands out Halloween candy laced with poison or needles or candy apples with razor blades inserted. These stories have persisted despite the fact that there are no documented instances of strangers poisoning Halloween candy.
The case and subsequent trial garnered national attention and the press dubbed O’Bryan “The Candyman”.
On June 3rd 1975, a jury took 46 minutes to find O’Bryan guilty of capital murder and four counts of attempted murder. The jury took 71 minutes to sentence him to death by electrocution. Shortly after he was convicted, his wife filed for divorce. She later remarried and her new husband adopted her daughter Elizabeth.
At the time, men sentenced to death under Texas law were confined to the Ellis I Unit near Huntsville, Texas. According to Reverend Carroll Pickett, a former chaplain who worked for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, O’Bryan was shunned and despised by his fellow death row inmates for killing his child and was “absolutely friendless”. The inmates reportedly petitioned to hold an organised demonstration on O’Bryan’s execution date to express their hatred of him.
O’Bryan’s first execution date was set for August 8th 1980. His attorney successfully petitioned for a stay of execution. A second date was scheduled for May 25th 1982. That date was also postponed. Judge Michael McSpadden scheduled a third execution date for October 31st 1982, the eighth anniversary of the crime, and he offered to personally drive O’Bryan to the death chamber. It was to have been the first time Texas executed an inmate by lethal injection. The Supreme Court delayed the date yet again to give O’Bryan a chance to pursue an appeal to seek a new trial. A fourth date was scheduled for March 31st 1984. O’Bryan’s lawyer sought a fourth stay on the basis that lethal injection was a “cruel and unusual punishment”. On March 28th a federal judge rejected the request. Before heading to the execution chamber, O’Bryan chose a T-bone steak with fries, salad and French dressing, peas, corn and bread rolls, followed by iced tea and a Boston cream pie for his last meal. Then shortly after midnight, O’Bryan was executed by lethal injection at the Huntsville Unit. In his final statement, O’Bryan maintained his innocence, stating that he felt the death penalty was “wrong”. He added, “…I forgive all—and I do mean all—those who have been involved in my death. God bless you all, and may God’s best blessings be always yours.” During the execution, a crowd of 300 demonstrators gathered outside the prison cheered while some yelled “Trick or treat!” Others showered anti-death penalty demonstrators with candy.
Ronald O’Bryan is buried in Forest Park East Cemetery in Webster, Texas. Timothy is buried in Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery in Houston.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Peter Jackson (60), Erica Cerra (42), Willow Smith (21), Stephen Rea (75), Sanjeev Bhaskar (58), Vanilla Ice (54), Fiona Dourif (40), Clémence Poésy (39), Henry Winkler (76), Jessica Hynes (49), Juliet Stevenson (65), Winona Ryder (50), Rufus Sewell (54), Ben Foster (41), Richard Dreyfuss (74), Dan Castellaneta (64), Joaquin Phoenix (47), Julia Roberts (54), Annie Potts (69), Matt Smith (39), Gwendoline Christie (43), Caitlyn Jenner (72), John Cleese (82), Robert Picardo (68), Kelly Osbourne (37), Cary Elwes (59), Seth MacFarlane (48), Jon Heder (44), Anthony Rapp (50), Jaclyn Smith (76), Tom Cavanagh (58), Roger Allam (68), Keith Urban (54), Glynis Barber (66), Nancy Cartwright (64), and Katy Perry (37).