Life | 70s

We've All Heard The Urban Legend Behind This Photo, But It's Not Even True

Esquire recently wrote an article about this story, so stop me if you've heard this before;

"On Halloween night 1974, Timothy O'Bryan, an eight-year-old boy from Texas, dressed up in a Planet of the Apes costume, and, along with his sister and a number of neighborhood children, went out trick-or-treating.

It was raining that night, so the trip did not last long, but before the night was finished, the boy would end up convulsing over the toilet, weeping, as his father held him in his arms. O'Bryan, an autopsy later revealed, had died from a fatal dose of potassium cyanide that was delivered in a tainted Pixy Stick."

Midnight Society

It's a case that always pops back up around Halloween. The death launched an investigation into the poisoning of Halloween candy by "The Candy Man," who appeared to be targeting trick-or-treaters for murder.


The story has caused panic among parents for decades, who worry about their kids receiving something that could prove harmful. It often comes accompanied with that photo, reminding us of the life that was lost thanks to the Candy Man.

Brad Searles

The only problem is? That picture isn't even of anyone named Timothy O'Bryan.

The real details of the photo are much less scary than you thought...

In an investigation by Esquire, the photo is traced back to its true origin: Brad Searles, a music blogger who claims to have posted the photo to the internet in 2006. According to their investigation,

"This was the early days of social media, when sharing photos online wasn't as big a part of our daily routine as it is now, so he remembers getting a few comments on the photo about how silly or creepy it was—goofy vintage Halloween!—and forgetting about it. [...] In October of 2013, the Facebook page of the radio station 94.7 WCSZ shared it, adding some impact meme text to the photo, pulling in almost 560,000 likes, and nearly 130,000 shares. Searles' childhood was now everywhere."

Brad Searles / Facebook

It was later, in 2014, that a documentary looking into the Candy Man case and the death of Timothy O'Bryan used Searles' photo, which happened to be taken the night that O'Bryan was murdered. As Searles recounts,

"They were using me as a stand in for him. Part of the voiceover mentions his four or five family members, so it's very much implied that that was an actual picture of them. It doesn't say it, but when you're zooming in and saying he wore this costume, it subtly zooms in on my costume and my face, and it says he died that night of cyanide poisoning. That's when I got super creeped out. Totally disturbing."


If anything, this serves as a great reminder to always fact-check things that you find online, especially around a time when superstitions and urban legends run wild on the internet.

Did you fall for this unrelated photo? Let us know in the Facebook comments!