Sep 29, 2022 - News

Remembering the Tylenol murders 40 years later

Photo of a grieving family at a funeral.

Three Tylenol poisoning victims, all from the same family, were buried in suburban Niles on Oct. 10, 1982. The victims were Stanley Janus and Adam Janus, and Stanley Janus' wife, Theresa Janus. Photo: Bettmann Archives/Getty Images

Today is the 40th anniversary of the first of the Tylenol murders.

What happened: Seven people died after ingesting cyanide-laced pills from Tylenol bottles bought in local drugstores.

  • The murders led to a nationwide panic and recall that later prompted drug companies to create safety-seal packaging.
  • The killer was never caught.

Yes, but: Investigators are urging prosecutors to take another look at longtime suspect all these years later, according to the Tribune.

  • They're pointing to former Chicago resident James Lewis, who was convicted of extortion after he sent a letter to Tylenol parent company Johnson & Johnson demanding $1 million to stop the killings.
  • But there is no physical evidence linking Lewis to the crime, and he has always denied the allegations.
Photo of tylenol pills and powder on a table.
Tainted Tylenol capsules, laced with cyanide, lay right beside the pure capsules, in the medical examiner's office in Cook County in 1982. Photo: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Worthy of your time: The Tribune is exploring this anniversary with an eight-part podcast hosted by investigative reporters Christy Gutowski and Stacy St. Clair.

Photo of a woman taking Tylenol off shelf.
A drugstore clerk removes Tylenol capsules from the shelves of a pharmacy Sept. 30, 1982. Photo: Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Chicago stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Chicago.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more