CHICAGO – 40 years ago today, what would become known as the “Tylenol Murders” started to tragically unfold in Chicagoland.
Over the span of three days seven people died from poisoning after ingesting cyanide-laced capsules of Extra -Strength Tylenol bought in local drugstores.
The case terrified Chicagoans, gripped the nation, and led drug companies to create safety-seal packaging for their products.
Police believe someone took bottles of Tylenol capsules from several grocery and drug stores in the area, filled them with the cyanide pills then put the tampered bottles back on the shelves.
The killer was never caught, and the case remains unsolved to this day.
In 1983, James W. Lewis, a former Chicago resident, was convicted of attempting to extort Johnson & Johnson, after he sent them a letter saying he would stop the Tylenol killings in exchange for $1 million.
Below are the names of the victims who died from taking laced capsules between Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, 1982.
- Mary Kellerman, 12, Elk Grove Village
- Adam Janus, 27, Arlington Heights
- Stanley Janus, 25, Lisle
- Theresa Janus, 19, Lisle
- Mary McFarland, 31, Elmhurst
- Paula Prince, 35, Chicago
- Mary Reiner, 27, Winfield
WGN was there when the case played out and here’s a look at some of that coverage.
WGN’s Larry Roderick reports on the first victims
WGN’s Larry Roderick reports on possible suspects and another victim
WGN’s Don Harris reports on the removal of tylenol from store shelves
WGN’S Don Harris reports doctors confirm cyanide tampering and police issue warning to residents
WGN reports on police door-to-door in search for tylenol, and psychiatrist gives profile of suspect
WGN’s Don Harris reports on lab testing and source of contamination
WGN’s Larry Roderick reports on what it takes to test bottles of tylenol
WGN’s Don Harris reports on the arrest of LeAnn Lewis in connection with an extortion letter
WGN’s Muriel Clair reports on James Lewis court appearance
WGN’s Don Harris reports on Mayor Jane Byrne’s order that all over the counter drugs, cosmetics and some foods be sealed
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