HomeTop StoriesJames Lewis, prime suspect in the Tylenol murders, found dead

James Lewis, prime suspect in the Tylenol murders, found dead

CHICAGO — The prime suspect in 1982 Tylenol Murders was found dead.

James Lewis was found unconscious just after 4 p.m. on Sunday, according to police in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Shortly afterwards he was pronounced dead.

Police said his death was “determined not to be suspicious”.

1982seven people in the greater Chicago area died after taking Tylenol laced with cyanide.

Soon after, a man wrote an extortion letter to Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, the maker of Tylenol, demanding $1 million to stop the killings.

Lewis was identified as the source of the letters and was convicted of extorting $1 million from Johnson & Johnson in the days after the cyanide-laced pills appeared on store shelves. He spent a dozen years in prison for the attempted extortion.

For forty years he remained a person of interest in the actual murders, but was never charged with the murders.

Sources tell CBS Chicago that this is a frustrating day for law enforcement officers who have been investigating the case for decades. The station’s reporting indicated that Lewis had been a prime suspect since day one, and some officials believed they had enough circumstantial evidence to charge Lewis.

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CBS Chicago began to investigate again the case last year, and reporter Brad Edwards traveled to Massachusetts to track down Lewis.

He lived in the same apartment in Cambridge that he moved into after being released from prison, and Edwards spoke to him there. Lewis was the only living acquaintance suspect and had not been seen or heard from for over a decade.

In September 2022, the task force investigators returned to interview Lewis again.

CBS Chicago also interviewed family members, lawyers and law enforcement officials whose lives were forever impacted by the murders. Among them are members of the Janus family, who have lost three loved ones: brothers Adam, 25; Stanley, 27; and Stanley’s wife Theresa, 20 — after taking Tylenol.

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