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James Lewis, suspect in Tylenol poisonings in 1982, has died

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Posted at 11:29 AM, Jul 10, 2023

The suspect in the 1982 Tylenol poisonings that killed seven people in the Chicago area and triggered a nationwide scare has died, police confirmed on Monday.

Officers, firefighters and EMTs responding to a report of unresponsive person about 4 p.m. Sunday found James Lewis dead in his Cambridge, Massachusetts, home, Cambridge Police Superintendent Frederick Cabral said in a statement. He was 76, police said.

“Following an investigation, Lewis’ death was determined to be not suspicious,” the statement said.

No one was ever charged in the deaths of seven people who took drugs laced with cyanide. Lewis served more than 12 years in prison for sending an extortion note to Johnson & Johnson, demanding $1 million to “stop the killing.”

When he was arrested in 1982 after a nationwide manhunt, he gave investigators a detailed account of how the killer might have operated. Lewis later admitted sending the letter and demanding the money, but he said he never intended to collect it.