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James Lewis Was The Prime Suspect In 1982 Tylenol Murders Who Was Never Charged

James Lewis
James Lewis Was The Prime Suspect In 1982 Tylenol Murders Who Was Never Charged (PHOTO: The New York Times)

James Lewis was the prime suspect and was never charged with the deaths of seven people from cyanide-laced Tylenol. Still, he was convicted of extortion after writing sent a ransom letter to Johnson & Johnson requesting $1 million to “stop the killing.”

James Lewis

James Lewis Was The Prime Suspect In 1982 Tylenol Murders Who Was Never Charged (PHOTOL: ABC News)

7 Died In 1982 When Tylenol Was Laced With Cyanide

On Monday, James Lewis, the primary suspect in the 1982 murders in Chicago that resulted from Tylenol that had been laced with cyanide, a poisoning that terrified the nation and changed the way manufacturers packaged medications.

James Lewis died on Sunday in Cambridge, Mass., he was found unresponsive just after 4 p.m. and was pronounced dead shortly after at 76, according to the PEOPLE.

According to the Cambridge Police Department, Superintendent Frederick Cabral said on Monday that authorities responded to a report of an unresponsive person at his home. Cabral added that James Lewis’s cause of death was “not suspicious” and the Superintendent had declined to comment further.

Lewis spent more than four decades under scrutiny in connection with the notorious unsolved poisonings, in which someone laced Extra-Strength Tylenol with deadly potassium cyanide, killing seven people between the ages of 12 to 35 in the Chicago area in September and October 1982.

The case triggered national alarm and a manhunt for the offender and provoked an overhaul in how over-the-counter medicine is packaged.

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James Lewis Detailed To Investigators Who Were Behind The Killings

When Lewis was arrested in 1982 in New York City he gave investigators a clear account of how the killer might have operated then he later confessed to sending the ransom letter, but claimed that he hadn’t planned to collect on it, ABC news reported. James Lewis spent 12 years in prison but always denied his connection to the Tylenol poisonings.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the new rules on tamper-proof packaging due to the poisonings incident, according to the agency’s website. A year after the killings, Congress also handed to the Federal Anti-Tampering Act, which made meddling with consumer products that directed to harm or death punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Authorities wanted to conduct a “complete inspection of all evidence developed in connection with the poisonings with the benefit of advances in forensic technology.

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