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Tylenol Murders: Main Suspect in 1982 Cyanide Capsule Poisonings Found Dead in Massachusetts Apartment

tylenol murders
Source: FBI, New York; UNSPLASH

Jul. 10 2023, Published 1:46 p.m. ET

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The man suspected of lacing bottles of Tylenol in the 1980s died in his apartment over the weekend, officials in Massachusetts announced.

Chicago’s WBBM-TV has reported James Lewis, 76, was found unresponsive around 4 p.m. on July 9 and pronounced dead, police in Cambridge said, noting his death was “determined to be not suspicious.”

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In September 1982, a 12-year-old girl died after taking two Tylenol capsules in Elk Grove Village to treat a cold. After her death, six more people in the Chicago area were killed by cyanide-laced capsules.

The poisonings created mass panic at the time, and Tylenol’s parent company, Johnson & Johnson, received an extortion letter threatening more deaths if the company did not pay $1 million.


Investigators later determined Lewis wrote the letter, and he was sentenced to years behind bars on extortion charges.

He was never charged in connection with the seven murders despite circumstantial evidence indicating he may have been responsible.

According to WBBM-TV, Lewis had been living in the same Cambridge apartment he died in since his release from prison years ago.


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