2 The Tylenol Murders of 1982When you buy a bottle of cough syrup, eye drops, or nasal spray from your pharmacy, you probably notice the plastic safety seals around the rims of the lids as you try to open the package. Yet, do you check if the tamper-resistant seal is intact? If the seal is broken, do you return the product to the store or take your chances and use it anyway? Many people do not think about how product tamper-resistant seals first came into play. In 1982, seven people died in Chicago after someone laced seven bottles of Extra Strength Tylenol capsules with potassium cyanide. The first victim who died was a 12-year-old girl named Mary Kellerman in Elk Grove Village on September 29. Her parents had given her an Extra Strength Tylenol capsule that morning when she complained of a sore throat. They later found her unconscious. The paramedics tried desperately to revive her. Yet, Mary died on the way to the hospital and doctors believed initially Mary had a stroke.
3 The Tylenol Murders of 1982Later that same day 27-year-old postal worker Adam Janus living in Arlington Heights is rushed to another local hospital and dies. Paramedics believe he has had a massive heart attack. That night Adam’s family returns to his home to discuss his funeral arrangements. Then Stanley Janus, Adam’s 25-year-old younger brother and Stanley’s 19-year-old fiancée, Teresa, both complain of headaches. The two ingest Extra Strength Tylenol capsules found in Adam’s kitchen, and both soon collapse. Paramedics return to the house for the second time that day and attempt to save the young couple, unsuccessfully. Stanley died on the way to the hospital and Teresa died a couple days later. Doctors know the deaths of the three family members are related but are unsure how. Two off duty Chicago firefighters Philip Cappitelli and Richard Keyworth, make the connection regarding the Tylenol. Both men had been monitoring emergency calls from their homes and noticed two families reporting the person down had ingested Tylenol. The firefighters feeling Tylenol was involved confirm the other two members of the Janus family also ingested Tylenol immediately before collapsing. The firefighters call the coroner who confirms capsules of Tylenol obtained from both victim homes and finds 65 milligrams of cyanide in some of them. Johnson and Johnson initiate a recall of select Tylenol products.
4 The Tylenol Murders of 1982Chicago uses every means to alert citizens to the dangers in its midst. Police officers announce the danger over their loudspeakers as they drive through neighborhoods. Schools ask staff and students to bring all Tylenol to the nurse. Sadly, the recall is too late for the final three victims found dead on October 1st. Mary Reiner is a 27-year-old mother of four. She had just delivered her fourth baby. Paula Prince is a 35-year-old United Airlines flight attendant. She died in her Chicago apartment with an open bottle of Extra-Strength Tylenol close to her body. Then 35-year-old Mary McFarland, a mother of two boys of Elmhurst who collapsed at her job. The recall initially causes a mass panic and people flooded hospitals, poison control centers and walk in clinics, believing they were victims of cyanide poisoning. What people failed to realize was that cyanide is an extremely lethal and quick acting agent and once ingested is lethal. When the local area stores had removed the bottles of Tylenol from shelves, the capsules were tested, and investigators found that seven cyanide tainted Tylenol bottles were found in six stores in the suburban Chicago area. The fact that the tainted bottles were so localized led investigators to believe that the person or persons who tampered with the painkiller were in the local area at that time.
5 The Tylenol Murders of 1982There has been great speculation as to who was capable of carrying out such evil. Initially it was thought it happened inside a manufacturing plant but that idea was quickly disproven. The next thought turns to a disgruntled employee who was seeking revenge on the company and after tampering with the bottles, randomly placed back on store shelves. Several people were closely investigated, one a dockhand who may have used cyanide in a previous job. In his apartment were several items leading investigators to suspect him, including weapons, one-way plane tickets out of the USA and a book on killing people by using poison in capsules. Another man tried to extort Johnson and Johnson demanding a million dollars to end the Tylenol murders, although there was no evidence he was connected to the murders. Both men spent time in prison. Tylenol once a household name for pain relief suddenly was a household name for instant death. Johnson and Johnson rereleased Tylenol to the public on November 11 of 1982 with a triple safety product seal designed to prevent product tampering in hopes of saving the market for the pain reliever. Many people and companies feared product tampering would become a new fad. Thankfully, it has not, and in the years since then only a few people have attempted similar copycat product tampering. The Tylenol murders remain unsolved.
9 Stanley Janus and his fiancé Theresa Stanley and Theresa Janus, overcome with grief at Adam Janus' death, gather at the family’s home.They complain of headaches and their symptoms worsen.Paramedics are later called to the home for a second time that day.Their attempts to save the couple are unsuccessful.
11 A Nurse’s HunchA new receipt in a wastebasket and a Tylenol bottle in the Janus family kitchen were her clues as nurse Helen Jensen accompanied police through the Janus’ home.Jensen emptied the bottle and counted the pills."Six were missing, and three people were dead," said Jensen. "I knew it was the pills.“Helen Jensen
13 A nurse's hunchJensen later interviewed Janus family members at the Hospital and learned each victim had taken Tylenol capsules before collapsing.She brought the tainted bottle to Northwest Community Hospital and voiced her suspicions."They didn't want to believe me," said Jansen, now an Arlington Heights trustee. "They discounted me."Upset, she couldn't sleep that night. The next morning the hospital confirmed cyanide was in the capsules.Helen Jensen
15 Mary KellermanEarlier on the same day that the Janus’ had died, Elk Grove Village resident Mary Kellerman, 12, had complained of a sore throatCollapses at her home and is rushed to the hospitalShe dies on the way (paramedics think she has suffered a stroke)
16 Two off duty Chicago firefighters Philip Cappitelli and Richard Keyworth, make the connection
17 Richard Keyworth of Elk Grove Village, remembering with a 25-year-old Newsweek magazine, helped link the deaths of those who died in 1982 from cyanide-laced Tylenol.
18 Connecting the EventsKeyworth and a loop of Elk Grove and Arlington Heights emergency workers had been monitoring emergency calls from their homes and within hours realized that the unusual deaths in the neighboring towns may be related.They connected the apparent isolated incidents into a chain of events involving Tylenol.
20 Public ResponseChicago uses every means to alert citizens to the dangers in its midst. Police officers announce the danger over their loudspeakers as they drive through neighborhoods. Schools ask staff and students to bring all Tylenol to the nurse.
22 Tylenol is pulled off shelves 160 poisoned Tylenol capsules were found."This could have gone on for years without someone knowing about it.“ "Who knows how many could have died“, had the connection to Tylenol not been made so swiftly.Unfortunately the connection was still not swift enough.
24 Mary ReinerWinfield resident Mary Reiner, 27, takes a poisoned capsule in her home while she is caring for her infant son. Reiner dies two hours later at Central DuPage Hospital, where her child had been born a week earlier.
28 Paula PrinceChicago flight attendant Paula Prince, 35, stops at a drugstore near her North Side high-rise, buys a bottle of poisoned capsules and is found dead in her apartment two days later with an open bottle of Tylenol sitting on the bathroom sink.
30 The recall initially causes a mass panic and people flooded hospitals, poison control centers and walk in clinics, believing they were victims of cyanide poisoning.Johnson and Johnson recalls millions of bottles of Tylenol from across the nation.