Suspect in Notorious 80s Murders Has Died, Police Say

Photo by James Yarema on Unsplash

( – Police disclosed last week that James Lewis, the longtime suspect in the 1982 Tylenol murder which led to seven people dying in three days, died in Cambridge, Massachusetts in his home.

The 76-year-old’s death was determined by police to not have been suspicious, according to a statement released by Cambridge Police Superintendent Frederick Cabral.

Four decades of panic spread across the nation after Mary Kellerman, 12, was the first person to die from taking a dose of the nonprescription pain reliever. Following her death, another six people died in the Chicago area from the best-selling drug.

Investigators were quick to realize that the deaths weren’t the result of the medication, but rather of the fact that the tablets they swallowed had been laced with cyanide in a lethal dose. Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of the pill, found that the pill bottles had been tampered with after they exited their factory.

Allegedly, someone had taken the pill bottles off the shelves, laced them with poison, and then returned them to the shelves. However, no one was charged for the deaths. Lewis became a prime suspect after sending an extortion letter to the company stating that he wanted $1 million in order to end the killings.

Following the letter, Lewis was arrested in New York City in 1982, however, he denied that he was responsible for the deaths, while claiming that he only sent the letter to embarrass his wife’s former boss. Still, he was convicted of extortion which resulted in him spending over 12 years in prison.

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