Cause of death revealed for only person convicted in connection with alleged Tylenol killer

1982 Tylenol murders claimed 7 lives

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff and Christine Tressel WLS logo
Friday, August 4, 2023
Cause of death revealed for only person convicted in Tylenol murders
James Lewis' cause of death has been revealed. He's the only person ever convicted in connection with the Chicago Tylenol murders.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The I-Team confirmed late Thursday that James Lewis, the only person ever convicted in connection with the Tylenol killings, died from natural causes.

A spokesperson with the Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told the I-Team Lewis died from a Pulmonary Thromboemboli, more commonly known as a pulmonary embolism.

Lewis, 76, was found dead last month in his Cambridge, Massachusetts home near Boston, according to investigators who have been attempting to finally solve the case for decades.

He was convicted of attempting to extort $1 million from Tylenol maker Johnson and Johnson in 1982, and was sentenced to federal prison.

In a jailhouse interview, he once explained to the I-Team an intricate scheme that the killer would have used to fill Tylenol capsules with deadly cyanide using a drilled pegboard, but always denied he was the one who actually did it.

Most investigators never believed him and considered Lewis the one and only suspect in the seven Chicago-area Tylenol murders, but he was never charged with the actual killings. Investigators say that number could've been much higher.

"Had Johnson and Johnson not shut down the manufacture of Tylenol and taken all these bottles off the shelf immediately, we would've had dozens and dozens," said Former First Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Bob Milan. "This ranks among the scariest and the worst I've ever seen. Totally innocent victims."

The I-Team reported last fall that authorities were looking at possibly building a new murder case against Lewis, but his death will stop those efforts.

Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Margolis, who successfully prosecuted Lewis for an attempted extortion related to the case, said "I was saddened to learn of James Lewis' death. Not because he's dead, but because he didn't die in prison."

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