1982: The Chicago Tylenol Murders

1982: The Chicago Tylenol Murders
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 29 September 1982
  • 12-year-old Mary Kellerman, who lived in a Chicago suburb, was the first fraud victim. She died after taking a capsule of Extra-Strength Tylenol (a highly toxic cyanide salt), which had been laced with potassium cyanide. Then, other deaths occurred...

On this day, the 12-year-old girl Mary Kellerman died.

Soon, other sudden deaths occurred, and all those people (in the Chicago area) had taken the Tylenol capsule.

Investigators connected all murders with Tylenol, and an urgent warning was issued. People were warned not to drink this medicine. Police cars were driving through the suburbs and telling people what was going on.

Seven people died after they had taken the Tylenol capsule. The medicine killed them because someone maliciously replaced the content of the capsules with cyanide, a strong poison.

Capsule vials were made in different factories, and the investigators concluded that fraud did not occur during the production, but later.

All people, who died after taking capsules, lived in the vicinity of Chicago. Therefore, it was concluded that someone stole drugs in local shops, filled the capsules with cyanide, and returned them to shelves. Namely, Tylenol is a pain reliever, and was very popular in the United States.

The Johnson and Johnson company reacted after the scandal, and withdrew about 31 million bottles of Tylenol, a loss of around $ 100 million.

If someone had found the culprit, they would have given a reward of $ 100,000. Interestingly, the company even had benefits after the whole incident because people were impressed by their reaction during a crisis situation.

They didn’t find the perpetrator. After the incident, drug packages changed (sealed packages were used). Therefore, if a package is opened, a person will see that.

After the two-piece capsules (which can be subsequently opened), one-piece capsules were introduced.

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