I-Team

Intelligence Report: The Tylenol Murders

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Twenty eight years ago, a young girl from Elk Grove Village died after taking extra strength Tylenol capsules that had been laced with cyanide.

By the end of this week in 1982, there would be seven people dead after doing something most of us had done without a thought - swallow a Tylenol capsule.

But on this day 28 years ago, death in a bottle was an imminent danger. When people began dying from cyanide-tainted Tylenol, authorities didn't know who had stuffed the instant-acting poison into capsules or when it would end.

When an extortion letter to the maker of Tylenol was traced to a man named James M. Lewis, state and federal investigators worked to connect Lewis to the killings.

Despite Lewis admitting to the extortion letter; despite his criminal history, including a previous arrest for murder that was dismissed; and despite the blueprints he provided for how the Tylenol killings could have been accomplished, Lewis was never charged with the murders themselves and has always contended he never committed them, including during an interview I did with Lewis in 1992. On Wednesday, Lewis posted this on his updated website: "For 28 years, every time anyone asked the Tylenol investigators, 'how's the investigation going?' they always responded, 'We have a suspect. His name is James Lewis.'" Watch Chuck Goudie's 1992 interview with Lewis

Indeed, a confidential U.S. Parole Commission report stated in 1989 that "Lewis was the Tylenol murderer" based on information considered by the Justice Department commission. But Lewis was never charged with the murders-only the extortion that followed.

It has been more than a year and a half since FBI agents searched the apartment outside Boston where Lewis and his wife Leann live. They removed personal records and a computer.

On Wednesday, 28 years after the start of the Tylenol killings, FBI spokesman Ross Rice told the I-Team, "our investigation is still ongoing&no arrests have been made or criminal charges filed."

On Lewis' website Wednesday he continues to say that "Tylenol investigators have botched case." And speaking in third person, he writes that it is "impossible for Lewis to have been the murderer."

James Lewis has always contended that he was in New York at the time of the killings. Investigators then-and now-still consider him the one and only suspect, saying he committed not only the million dollar extortion attempt of Johnson and Johnson in 1982, but also the murders themselves.

The I-Team left a message at Mr. Lewis' home in Cambridge, Massachusetts but he didn't return the call.

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