Authorities Mum Re: Tainted Tylenol Case

Activity around the cold case renews memories of crimes

Federal agents may be closing in on a man they say could be behind one of the most notorious unsolved murder cases in Chicago history, the tainted Tylenol investigation.

Seven people died when they took Tylenol laced with cyanide in 1982.  The deaths launched a national security scare, leading to the tightening of regulations on packaging for over-the-counter drugs.

Three of those victims were from Arlington Heights, and that town's police commander, Kenneth Galinski,  told the Associated Press that he's cautiously optimistic that investigators may have a break in the case.

Galinski said a department officer is in the Boston area, where federal authorities on Wednesday excelerated their investigation of the murders that terrorized Chicago residents 27 years ago.

The FBI's Chicago office cited "advances in forensic technology" in a statement announcing that it, along with Illinois State Police and local departments, was reviewing all evidence in the case.

The review began in part because of publicity and tips that arrived after 25th anniversary of the deaths in 2007, according to the FBI. It has not resulted in any criminal charges.

"All of these tips have been or will be thoroughly investigated in an effort to solve this crime and bring some measure of closure to the families of the victims," an FBI statement said.

Investigators worked through the night collecting evidence in the Boston area, where one-time suspect James Lewis now lives with his wife.

Lewis was never charged in connection with any of the deaths, but served time for extortion after sending a letter to the makers of Tylenol, Johnson & Johnson, demanding a million dollars to stop the killings.

On Wednesday, agents began removing boxes and boxes of evidence from Lewis' apartment and two nearby storage areas.

Galinski said that his department's involvement in the investigation is limited and that no one was in custody as of Thursday morning

The attorney general at the time of the murders, Tyrone Fahner, said recently, "We felt that he had committed the murders, but we could never prove it at that time."

Lewis, who had referred to the person behind the poisonings as "a monster," said in a 1985 interview, "They're barking up the wrong tree."

The renewed interest in Lewis may indicate otherwise, but authorities are unwilling to confirm any specific link between Lewis and the murders, saying only that it is an ongoing investigation.

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