Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Tylenol Terrorist

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After the addition of new tamper-proof bottles, extra strength Tylenol was again released to the public, in new packaging. There was a big push by Johnson & Johnson to try to reclaim part of the market share that they lost due to the poisonings.

Mary Kellerman was age 12 when she complained to her parents that she wasn't feeling well. She took one extra strength Tylenol, and was discovered unconscious a little later. She would be the first victim of cyanide-laced Tylenol.

Adam Janus died after ingesting one of the cyanide-laced Tylenol pills. When the family gathered to discuss funeral arrangements at his home, his brother, Stanley, and Stanley's wife, Theresa, took pills from the same bottle, and both died quickly. Instead of one funeral, there were three funerals at one time, much to the dismay of the rest of the Janus family.

A map showing the area around Chicago Illinois, and locations where cyanide-laced Tylenol was discovered. It was suggested that the locations were just random, and of no real value to investigators.

James W. Lewis tried to extort money from Johnson & Johnson. He was caught, but it was determined that Lewis was just trying to run a con, and had not been involved in tampering with extra strength Tylenol.

As part of a copycat killing, extra strength Excedrin was used. Police uncovered a plot by a wife to kill her husband. She set other poisoned bottles out around the area to try and make the murder look random.

Bruce Nickell was poisoned by his wife, and she tried to make it look like the poisoner had come back, this time using extra strength Excedrin as the killer pill.

Johnson & Johnson Chairman James Burke held a press conference, explaining what they knew about the tampering, and introducing the new tamper-proof packaging for customer safety.

Testing began on all extra strength Tylenol that had been pulled from the shelves. There was a special piece of paper that, when exposed to the presence of cyanide, would turn blue. Investigators tested thousands of bottles, and only turned up a few contaminated ones.

The president of Johnson & Johnson, David Clare, went to Washington D.C., and briefed Congress on the project for creating a new, tamper-proof bottle.

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