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This article focuses on the criminal case.
For the character, see Nick Branson.

Good luck on that case. [...] I'm betting the answer is right under your nose.
Nick Branson to Rogers src

The Candy Killer Case is a criminal case featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It débuts in the eleventh episode of the seventh season.


During Fifth Curse

As Nick begins hunting down members of the Coven of the Eight in retaliation against them for his sister's death, his first victim is Andrea Sage, the doctor overseeing Lucy during her stay at the hospital. Doctor Sage, after getting blood samples from both of Lucy's parents, Jacinda and Nick, in addition to Henry, who insisted on being tested as well, she sees from the results that Henry is, in fact, the biological father. Upon taking a sip of her drink, she finds herself succumbing to the effects of poison, dying shortly thereafter. Nick, wearing black gloves, then enters the room to snip off a lock of the dead doctor's hair before also swiping the test result papers. ("A Taste of the Heights", "Sisterhood", "Breadcrumbs")

His next victim, Hilda Braeburn, is a blind baker who he leaves handcuffed to a table leg before purposely leaving the gas to fill the room of her bakery, in the hopes she will suffocate to death. However, Detectives Weaver and Rogers break in and manage to save Hilda while she is still alive by transporting her to the hospital for recovery. In investigating the death of Doctor Sage and the attempted killing of Hilda, the detectives learn from the coven's purported leader, Eloise Gardener, that the killer is acting out his pain through murder and for each victim he chooses to target, he usually sends them a heart-shaped box with chocolate marzipan truffles. Upon going to the site of a flower shop where the box was last delivered, they quickly realize it was a false lead set up by the killer. This is proven correct when they arrive at the hospital, where the armed guards who were posted outside Hilda's room have already been slaughtered and they find Hilda dead inside. Tilly, who for some reason is standing over the woman's body with a bloody scalpel, flees out the window and becomes a prime suspect in the murder. Weaver and Rogers check Tilly's shed and find a cardboard with the coven's symbol, which has two of its points crossed off to imply that two members, Doctor Sage and Hilda, have been killed. Nick placed the cardboard there to make Tilly look guilty, however, neither Weaver or Rogers believe she did it. During the investigation to prove Tilly's innocence, the locks of hair that Nick took from Doctor Sage and Hilda are planted in Tilly's backpack, making her once again look culpable. Tilly is eventually exonerated when security footage proves she was at the troll statue under the Aurora Bridge at the time of Hilda's death. ("Knightfall", "The Girl in the Tower")

By this time, the killer's ill-repute has earned him the nickname "the Candy Killer" by the police officers in Hyperion Heights. Ivy is the next person to receive the heart-shaped chocolate box, which Nick leaves for her outside of Victoria's old office in Belfrey Towers. She is then attacked by him in the building's indoor parking lot, where she fends him off with pepper spray and kicking him with her stiletto. Becoming desperate to ensure her own survival, especially after Mr. Samdi foretells in her future that the killer will not stop coming for her, Ivy tries to sacrifice her sister Anastasia for her own freedom, but later changes her mind in order to make amends with the only family member she has left. The sisters then use a magic bean to leave for the New Enchanted Forest, which cuts off the Candy Killer's any means of reaching Ivy. ("Sisterhood")

Although feeling the brute of a setback from Ivy escaping his clutches, Nick looks forward to moving onto another target. Weaver, in finding a copy of Henry's novel which the killer wrote all sorts of notes in it, asks for his help in deciphering the assailant's motives. From noticing the written-in corrections in the Hansel and Gretel chapter, Henry realizes the killer believes himself to be Hansel who is a burn victim and avenging his sister's death through murdering others. This break in the case is helpful for Weaver and Rogers, but Henry ends up in hot water when he discusses his findings with Nick, whose burn marks he happens to see, making him realize he is the Candy Killer. Nick prevents him from escaping by drugging him with a tranquilizer before kidnapping him to his home. As Henry wakes up, Nick is in the middle of preparing more heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolate, with one of these boxes he leaves for Kelly outside the bar as his next intended victim. ("Breadcrumbs")

In fear of the Candy Killer, Kelly goes to the police station to get help from Weaver, who, in turn, returns her oz pendant to her, and allows Margot to remain there under his protection. After one of the officers, Samuel, notifies Rogers about Henry's car being abandoned on the road, Rogers follows up on the matter by getting in touch with Jacinda about Henry's whereabouts. Jacinda believes Henry is in New York for a job interview as she received a text from him earlier in the day, in which he told her that the interview went well. However, when Rogers asks her to look closer at the message to see if anything seems off about it, Jacinda notices "Henry" referred to her by the nickname J, something only Sabine has called her. Rogers then remembers Nick also referred to her as such several nights earlier at Flynn's Barcade, and as he receives further confirmation from Jacinda that Nick has burns on his arms which he usually hides out of embarrassment. Meanwhile, Nick continues keeping Henry captive but tries to explain the reasons behind his killings in the hopes he will understand him. Henry plays along with the delusion until his patience wears thin after Nick shows him alleged evidence that he, instead of Nick, is Lucy's biological father, in addition to Nick insisting the witch who burned him when he was a child is Kelly, Henry's aunt. After knocking out Henry, Nick goes after Kelly's fiancé, Chad, by posing as a New York doctor and luring him to Hyperion Heights with the claim that Kelly was in a cycling accident. Nick then phones Kelly, first allowing Chad to speak to her before he himself tells her to do exactly what he says or her fiancé is doomed. Upon lying to Roni about Chad being at the airport and sending her to pick him up, Kelly waits at the bar, where she hears a noise in the basement and goes down to investigate, finding a tied up Chad, as Nick closes the door to trap her there. Kelly begs him to stop making other people pay for her mistakes, which Nick agrees with by attempting to kill her once and for all, however, Kelly overpowers him and knocks him unconscious, leaving him tied in the basement until the police arrive to arrest him. As Nick is in the police interrogation room, the lights flicker before Mr. Samdi enters. The witch doctor reveals himself as the one who woke Nick up in the first place, in the hopes he would get rid of Gothel, who is his competition for the Dark One Dagger. Nick wants another chance to kill Gothel, but Samdi laments that the opportunity has passed since he was caught by the police and now he is too much of a wild card that he needs to be taken out of the deck. Samdi then stabs a voodoo doll, causing Nick to have chest pains until he collapses dead over the table, putting an end to the life of the Candy Killer. ("Chosen")

Individuals Involved


Suspects Reasons Status
Tilly Found holding a bloody scalpel at Hilda Braeburn's murder scene; evidence planted in her backpack and her boxcar Found innocent; framed
Nick Branson Henry noticed his burn scars on his arm; Rogers identified him thanks to his knowledge of his habits and the gift he made to Lucy; Kelly & Chad were assaulted by him, survived and called the police Culprit; arrested; deceased


Victims Reasons Status
Doctor Sage Member of the Coven of the Eight; discovered Lucy's real parentage Murdered
Hilda Braeburn Member of the Coven of the Eight Murdered
Ivy Belfrey Member of the Coven of the Eight; killer of Gretel Assaulted
Henry Mills Discovered the real identity of the Candy Killer Kidnapped
Kelly West Getting revenge on her after what she did to him and his family Assaulted
Chad Used as leverage on Kelly Kidnapped


Witnesses Reasons
Eloise Gardener Member of the Coven of the Eight like the victims
Tilly Framed by the real culprit
Margot Received the heart-shaped chocolate box for her mother
Jacinda Vidrio Received some "weird" text messages when the culprit posed as Henry

Other Elements Involved

Elements Reasons Status
Victims' locks of hair The culprit cut some of his victims' hair as trophies; later used them to frame Tilly Evidence
Test results of Jacinda, Nick and Henry The culprit stole these from Doctor Sage's office to prove that Henry's stories are real Stolen
Chocolate boxes The culprit sent a heart-shaped chocolate box to each of his targeted victims as a sign that he was after them Evidence
Candy Killer's Once Upon a Time novel The culprit studied the stories of his targeted victims and made corrections to the Hansel and Gretel story per his own experiences of the events Evidence
Jacinda's text messages The culprit posed as Henry and sent these messages, as Henry was supposedly in New York for a job interview Evidence


On-Screen Notes

Fairytales and Folklore

  • Nick, whose original counterpart is Hansel, giving his victims a heart-shaped chocolate boxes is a reference to the original "Hansel and Gretel" fairytale, where the titular characters try to eat a gingerbread house made full of sugar and chocolate.


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