September 29, 1982 - This was the day that 12-year-old Mary Kellerman of Oak Grove Village, Illinois woke up with a sore throat and runny nose. Her parents gave her an Extra Strength Tylenol capsule and shortly thereafter she died.
That same day an Arlington Heights man named Adam Janus was the next to die. His brother, Stanley, and his sister-in-law, Theresa, were among friends who gathered to mourn Adam's death. The couple took some Tylenol from a bottle they found on Adam's kitchen counter and soon they were dead, too.
3 more women who lived in the same area would die in similar Tylenol-related incidents. Once the investigators made the Tylenol connection, an urgent recall campaign ensued. Police cars with loudspeakers fanned out into Chicago neighborhoods to warn residents.
Agents on the so-called TYMURS investigation surmised that the culprit had managed to purchase packages of Tylenol from Chicago-area stores, then he or she had replaced the contents of the capsules with cyanide. The packages were carefully resealed and then reshelved where innocent shoppers would buy them.
Johnson & Johnson removed 31 million bottles of Tylenol from stores nationwide and three more tainted but unopened bottles were found. The company also offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the capture or conviction of the killer, but the case has never been solved.
A man named James Lewis was convicted of trying to extort a million dollars from Johnson & Johnson in exchange for an end to the killings, but authorities have never been able to connect him with the murders. He was released in 1995 after serving 13 years on a 20-year sentence.
As a result of the murders, the over-the-counter drug industry revolutionized its packaging to prevent future tampering, but over the years there have been similar cases.