The Tylenol Murders: How a capsule, which is used to relieve pain, can kill anybody? It’s used as a painkiller, so how? After the deaths of the three members of the Janu Family, Nurse Helen Jensen and Kramer thought something was fishy about these deaths. They went to the Janus family’s house and found a Tylenol bottle. Medical officials didn’t believe that Tylenol killed them, so they didn’t believe Helen and Kramer.

The next day, on September 30, 1982, it was all over the news about the Tylenol Murders. Helen gave the Tylenol bottle to investigator Nick Pishos, and with the help of doctors, they found out the bottle smelled like almonds, and cyanide smells like almonds. They removed every Tylenol bottle from the markets and warned everyone not to use them. If they had Tylenol, they should give it to the police.

Johnson and Johnson, the company that owned Tylenol, issued a warning and removed all their stocks from the market. They also assisted the police. They tested 10 million Tylenol bottles and found 50 capsules with cyanide from eight bottles, five of which belonged to the victims. Two bottles were found when they were collecting bottles from people, and one bottle was found in a store. Whoever did it did it before the first murder, as cyanide can destroy a capsule if it stays for a long time.

Investigators believed the killer bought Tylenol bottles from different stores in Chicago, added cyanide to them, and returned to the same stores to place them. This was done on the day before the first death. It was 1982, so surveillance cameras weren’t used much. They made significant progress in the case when they obtained DNA evidence from some of the bottles.

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There were three suspects in the Tylenol Murders:

  1. Roger Arnold

Roger Arnold was a dock worker who mentioned in a bar that he was behind the Tylenol killings. The police investigated him and found some interesting items. Roger had worked with the father of Mary Kellerman in a Jewel store. The police discovered chemistry-related materials and a “How To Crime” book at Roger’s house.

The evidence wasn’t sufficient, so they asked Roger to take a lie detector test, but he denied it. Roger later killed a man at the bar whom he believed had reported him to the police. Roger was sentenced to 30 years for the killing but was released early on parole. He died in 2008, and investigators collected his DNA. The DNA did not match the bottles.

  1. Ted Kaczynski

Ted Kaczynski is a domestic terrorist who killed three people and injured twenty-three. In 2011, the FBI requested Ted Kaczynski’s DNA, but he refused, stating that he had no connection to the murders. Ted had lived in his parents’ home in Chicago in 1982, which made investigators consider him a suspect.

  1. James William Lewis

James William Lewis was the prime suspect in the Tylenol Murders. James wrote a letter to Johnson and Johnson, claiming responsibility for the Tylenol murders and demanding $1 million to stop them. The police soon investigated James and found that he owned a poison book and had a history of violence.

He had also been admitted to a mental hospital. James claimed he had no connection to the murder, and he wrote the letter to divert suspicion toward his wife’s former employee who owed his wife $500.

The bank account number he provided belonged to his wife’s former employee. The police also determined that James and his wife were not in Chicago when the murders occurred. They were in New York, and there was no evidence of them being in Chicago before the murders, as cyanide can destroy capsules if they are stored for too long. James was still found guilty of extortion and spent ten years in prison.

As of the date I’m writing (October 11, 2023), there are no suspects in the Tylenol Murders.

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