After 28 years, suspected Tylenol killer on offensive

January 31, 2010 6:16:57 PM PST
As crime lab technicians compare the DNA from James Lewis' saliva to genetic evidence left on cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules in a 1982 killing spree, Lewis is conducting an experiment of his own.He is testing the waters of public opinion.

In a bizarre, 752-word harangue just posted on his Web site, the only suspect in the murders of seven Chicago-area residents floats the idea that he is being pursued by "lying" investigators on an "insane and unconscionable" witch hunt.

"For 28 years, every time anyone asked the Tylenol Investigators, 'How's the investigation going?' they always responded, 'We have a suspect. His name is James Lewis' writes Lewis, 63, who now lives in suburban Boston.

"That is me. Are you tired of hearing my name? Has being forced to stare at my ugly mug for 28 years given you any confort (sic)?" he writes.

"Calling anyone a murder suspect for 28 days, 28 weeks, maybe even 28 months is understandable. But 28 years is absolutely insane and unconscionable. When the Tylenol Investigators call a man, any man, the Tylenol Murder Suspect for 28 years, you know Tylenol Investigators are lying to you. They only want to get your mind off the fact that the Tylenol Investigators botched their investigation.

In all of history, no suspect was ever that smart, including this one. So it is obvious that the cruel Tylenol Investigators have been lying to the public and brutalizing the grieving families of victims of the Tylenol murders for 28 years."

Lewis allowed Illinois authorities to swab the inside of his mouth in January, complying with subpoenas from a DuPage County grand jury that is investigating the officially-unsolved murders. Lewis' wife Leann also provided saliva samples that are now being analyzed in a crime laboratory.

It is true that Lewis has been the Tylenol murders suspect for 28 days, 28 weeks and 28-years. He is also the only person ever convicted for crimes connected to the Tylenol case. Lewis spent 12 years in federal prison for extortion, after sending a demand letter to the maker of Tylenol. In the letter that arrived at Johnson and Johnson during the height of a nationwide panic, Lewis promised to "stop the killing" for $1 million.

One year ago the FBI and detectives from Illinois seized a computer and other items from Lewis' Cambridge, Massachusetts home. At the time, a spokesman for the FBI in Chicago cited advances in forensic technology as the essential motivation for renewed interest in the case-as well as fresh leads and tips that agents received on the 25th anniversary of the crime.

Lewis, who has always denied that he was the Tylenol killer, has also steadfastly refused to discuss details of the Tylenol case. In the controlled environs of his own website however, Lewis does just that.

"Ask yourself these common sense questions. About what else have the Tylenol Investigators lied to you and the grieving families of the victims? Whom are Tylenol Investigators protecting, other than themselves?" Lewis states.

"The victims' families have suffered unspeakable cruelty and torture for 28 years, first loosing (sic) their loved ones suddenly, and unexpectedly to the poisoned medicine they took trustingly, expecting beneficial relief, then being lied to by the Tylenol Murder Investigators.

Why do the Tylenol Investigators spit in your face and the victim family faces? Why do Tylenol Investigators taunt you by dangling before you the same suspect for 28 long years, more than half the adult life span of many people?"

In the stream of consciousness diatribe, Lewis sympathetically also lists the names and ages of victims, as well as the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

He reserves the long knives for Illinois authorities who have spent decades tracking and trailing him, without ever filing murder charges.

"Tylenol Investigators hope you won't notice the passing time, and hope you won't hold them accountable. Investigators have always known James Lewis was living in New York and not Chicago when and where the crimes were committed. That means it would have been impossible for Lewis to have been the murderer. Investigators know it was impossible, but those same investigators hope you and victims' families are stupid and won't notice. But you and the victims' families are not stupid.

"You already know that Tylenol Investigators are dishonest and heartless. Do you honestly think those same Tylenol Investigators and prosecutors would hesitate to lie to you and the victims' families about how the cyanide got into the Tylenol in the first place?

Indeed, it was Lewis himself who offered to show how cyanide could be put inside Tylenol capsules, according to the FBI.

After he was arrested in the extortion case in 1982, Lewis sketched out drawings of the equipment a killer could use to accomplish the crime: a wooden plank with lines of small holes that could hold emptied-out half-capsules; deadly cyanide powder would be scraped through the holes and into the capsules; the capsule halves would then be put back together-ready for unknowing victims to swallow.

Lewis however, says that victims' relatives and the public shouldn't be upset with him.

"You should be mad as hell at the Tylenol Investigators. You should get your friends and family together, and bang your fists on the doors of Tylenol Investigators in the FBI, in Chicago, in Cook County and in DuPage County where people died from the cyanide laced Tylenol" Lewis writes. "You lived through the terror and the misery in 1982, and the years since. You may have lost a family member or a friend to poisoned Tylenol. You have an absolute right to know the truth. You need to get in the faces of the faceless Tylenol Investigators and demand they stop lying to you and the victim's families.

"You need to demand Tylenol Investigators tell you why they botched the Tylenol Murder Investigation 28 years ago. Why did they mislead the public from the beginning? Are they protecting someone rich and powerful, someone with far greater influence than the murder victims' families."

DuPage County prosecutors told ABC7 Chicago that they had no comment Sunday.