Why people are afraid of dangerous Halloween candy

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In 1974, an 8-year-old boy named Timothy O'Bryan was excited to feast upon the candy he collected during his trick-or-treating bout in Pasadena, Texas.

He gulped down the flavored sugar in the "giant pixy stick," and immediately knew something was wrong, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

His father, Ronald, said the child complained that the candy tasted bitter. Ronald encouraged him to wash the taste out of his mouth with Kool-Aid.

Timothy started vomiting, so his father called an ambulance -- but help arrived too late. Before they reached the hospital, Timothy was dead.

This story has circulated for years, and people have long thought that Timothy was poisoned by an evil stranger. In reality, he was killed by his father, who attempted insurance fraud.

He also handed the cyanide pixy stix out to other children who never consumed them, "presumably hoping that if several children died, it wouldn't look nearly as fishy," according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Ronald was found guilty of murder and executed in Texas.

Many murderers like Ronald O'Bryan have tried to copy one case of random poisoning for years, according to Snopes.com.

In 1982, seven people died within three days in Chicago after taking Tylenol laced with cyanide.

The case remains unsolved, but it appears it was truly random and not an attempt to cover up the murder of one person by killing six more.

The tragedy had nothing to do with candy, but that didn't stop copycats from trying to link their own poisoning murders to this incident.

On a different note, many claims that children found pins, needles and razors in their Halloween candy are true.

Most of the time, the incidents are harmless pranks just met to scare people, Snopes.com reports. About 80 cases of sharp objects in food have been reported since 1959, and almost all were hoaxes.

One story from 2000 breaks that trend, however.

James Joseph Smith, 49, was charged with adulterating a substance with intent to cause death, harm or illness after putting needles in Snickers bars and giving them to children.

A 14-year-old boy was pricked by a needle hidden in the treat, but no one required medical attention.

Ultimately, experts say your child will not die if you don't check their Halloween candy before letting them eat it.

Joel Best, a sociology professor, told Gizmodo that after studying the subject for three years, "he hasn't yet been able to find one single instance of a child dying as a result of candy given them by a stranger on Halloween."

Though there's no harm in being safe and taking a second look at the treats your child collects from strangers, you almost certainly will not come across a cyanide-tainted candy bar.

More on Halloween candy:

52 PHOTOS
Most popular Halloween candy in each state
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Most popular Halloween candy in each state

Alabama: Airheads

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Alaska: Snickers

Photo: Shutterstock

Source: Influenster

Arizona: Toblerone

Photo: Ben Gabbe via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Arkansas: Skittles

Photo: Cassandra Hubbart, AOL

Source: Influenster

California: Lifesavers

Photo: Tim Boyle via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Colorado: Milky Way

Photo: Cassandra Hubbart, AOL

Source: Influenster

Connecticut: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Delaware: 3 Musketeers

Photo: Myra Iqbal, AOL

Source: Influenster

Florida: Nestlé Crunch Bar

Photo: AP

Source: Influenster

Georgia: Pixy Stix

Photo: Jennifer Smith via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Hawaii: 100 Grand Bar

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Idaho: Butterfinger

Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP

Source: Influenster

Illinois: Snickers

Photo: Shutterstock

Source: Influenster

Indiana: Reese's Pieces

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Iowa: Twix

Photo: ullstein bild via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Kansas: Twizzlers

Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Kentucky: Whoppers

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Louisiana: Swedish Fish

Photo: FoodPhotography Eising via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Maine: Starburst

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Maryland: Almond Joy

Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

MassachusettsStarburst

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Michigan: M&M's

Photo: elevenmoments via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Minnesota: 100 Grand Bar

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Mississippi: Hershey's Kisses

Photo: Steven Mark Needham via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Missouri: Hershey's Kisses

Photo: Steven Mark Needham via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Montana: Kit Kat Bar

Photo: Newscast via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Nebraska: Skittles

Photo: Cassandra Hubbart, AOL

Source: Influenster

Nevada: Jolly Ranchers

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

New Hampshire: Tootsie Rolls

Photo: Victor Spinelli via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

New Jersey: Sour Patch Kids

Photo: Mat Hayward via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

New Mexico: 3 Musketeers

Photo: Myra Iqbal, AOL

Source: Influenster

New York: Sweet Tarts

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

North Carolina: Butterfinger

Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP

Source: Influenster

North Dakota: Sour Patch Kids

Photo: Mat Hayward via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Ohio: Milky Way

Photo: Cassandra Hubbart, AOL

Source: Influenster

Oklahoma: M&M's

Photo: elevenmoments via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Oregon: Candy corn

Photo: Garry Gay via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Pennsylvania : Swedish Fish

Photo: FoodPhotography Eising via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Rhode Island: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

South Carolina: Candy corn

Photo: Garry Gay via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

South Dakota: Laffy Taffy

Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Tennessee: Candy corn

Photo: Garry Gay via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Texas: Candy corn

Photo: Garry Gay via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Utah: Nerds

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Vermont: Almond Joy

Photo: The Washington Post via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Virginia: Reese's Pieces

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

Washington: AirHeads

Photo: Amazon

Source: Influenster

West Virginia: Oreos

Photo: bhofack2 via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Wisconsin: Laffy Taffy

Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

Wyoming: Candy corn

Photo: Garry Gay via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

District of Columbia: Twix

Photo: ullstein bild via Getty Images

Source: Influenster

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