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The Chicago Tylenol murders were a series of poisoning deaths resulting from drug tampering in the Chicago metropolitan area in 1982. The victims had all taken Tylenol-branded acetaminophen capsules that had been laced with potassium cyanide.[1] A total of seven people died in the original poisonings, with several more deaths in subsequent copycat crimes.

Chicago Tylenol Killings
LocationChicago, Illinois, U.S.
DateSeptember 29/30, 1982
TargetTylenol consumers
Attack type
Poisoning, mass murder
WeaponsCyanide poison


These incidents led to reforms in the packaging of over-the-counter substances and to federal anti-tampering laws. The actions of Johnson & Johnson to reduce deaths and warn the public of poisoning risks have been widely praised as an exemplary public relations response to such a crisis.[2]

No suspect was ever charged or convicted of the poisonings. New York City resident James William Lewis was considered the prime suspect, and was convicted of extortion for sending a letter to Johnson & Johnson that took credit for the deaths and demanded $1 million to stop them.


  1. Douglas, John E.; Olshaker, Mark (1999). The Anatomy of Motive – The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Explores the Key to Understanding and Catching Violent Criminals. New York City: Scribner. pp. 103–104. ISBN 0-684-84598-9.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. "5 Crisis Management Truths from the Tylenol Murders". 4 October 2012.