When you purchase a bottle of Tylenol, or any other OTC drug, for that matter, it comes with a sealed foil on the top. This sealed foil is a sign that the bottle has not been tampered with, providing peace of mind for any wary consumer.
Most people are unaware that this regulation came into play after a slew of murders in the early 1980s caused by poisoned Tylenol.
James Lewis, otherwise known as the prime suspect of the Tylenol murders case from 1982, was discovered dead this past week in his apartment in Massachusetts. Lewis, who was 76-years old at the time, was discovered by the Cambridge police on Sunday afternoon, completely unresponsive. Shortly after, they pronounced him dead.
Authorities have determined that there were no suspicions of his death, though questions surrounding his crimes still remain.
As the story goes, it was 1982 when seven individuals in Chicago lost their lives after consuming Tylenol that had been contaminated with cyanide. Shortly afterward, a letter demanding $1 million to halt the killings was sent to execs at Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Tylenol.
James Lewis was the author of that letter and was later imprisoned for attempting to extort the company, although he never faced murder charges.
Law enforcement officials have had the case under investigation for many decades now. Of course, this recent development is incredibly frustrating.
An investigation from CBS 2 in Chicago noted that Lewis had been the main suspect from the very beginning. Officials believed they had enough circumstantial evidence to charge him, though, even so, they were never able to finalize.
The first of the murders took place on September 29, 1982, when a young girl from Elk Grove tragically lost her life after ingesting the poisoned Tylenol capsules for her cold. This incident was followed by six more deaths resulting from tainted Tylenol, and investigators eventually found that the Tylenol was cyanide-laced.
Now, remember, this was before the widespread use of the internet or social media. To get the news out, officials had to go out into the neighborhood and distribute flyers to warn the community about the poisonings.
Investigators from CBS 2 reopened the case in April of 2022, and conducted an interview with Lewis in Massachusetts. Arlington Heights detectives, however, never commented on the implications of Lewis’s death for the overall case, stating that the case is still open.
We’ve yet to get any answers as to why Lewis, or any of the other suspects, did not have charges filed against them.
Jeremy Margolis, a former assistant attorney responsible for the prosecution of Lewis, said he was disappointed that Lewis did not rot in prison.
Since his release from prison, Lewis has not lived anywhere but his original Cambridge apartment. No one had heard from him in over a decade.
As to whether or not we’ll ever find a verdict in the case of the Tylenol murders remains unknown.