FBI searches home of man linked to 1982 Tylenol deaths

February 4, 2009

(ChattahBox) — The FBI still has interest in James W. Lewis as they searched his home on Wednesday. Lewis is linked to the fatal 1982 Tylenol poisonings in the Chicago area that triggered a nationwide scare and prompted dramatic changes in the way food and medical products are packaged. Johnson & Johnson introduced some of the industry’s toughest tamper-resistant packaging after the tragedy.

No one was ever charged with the deaths of seven people who took the cyanide-laced drugs. But Lewis served more than 12 years in prison for sending an extortion note to Johnson & Johnson demanding $1 million to “stop the killing. He was arrested in December 1982 at a New York City library after a nationwide manhunt. At the time, he gave investigators a detailed account of how the killer might have operated and described how someone could buy medicine, use a special method to add cyanide to the capsules and return them to store shelves.

Lewis later admitted sending the letter and demanding the money, but said he never intended to collect it. He said he wanted to embarrass his wife’s former employer by having the money sent to the employer’s bank account. He also served two years of a 10-year sentence for tax fraud. The FBI would not immediately confirm that the search at the home was related to the Tylenol case, only that it was part of an ongoing investigation.


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