James Lewis Wiki – James Lewis Biography
James Lewis, the longtime suspect in the Tylenol laced with cyanide poisonings that killed seven people in the Chicago area in 1982, died at his home Sunday.
Lewis was pronounced dead by doctors at his Cambridge, Massachusetts, home after they responded to an unresponsive 911 call around 4 p.m., police said. He was 76 years old. Police said his death was not suspicious. Lewis was the prime, and only, suspect in the Tylenol murders that shocked the country and forever changed pharmaceutical packaging. He was never charged with the murders and the case remains open, but he was found guilty of the lesser extortion charge related to the deadly plan. Lewis served 12 years in prison for sending a letter to Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Tylenol, demanding that the company shell out more than $1 million “to stop the killing.” After his release from prison in 1995, Lewis and his wife moved to Massachusetts, where they have remained ever since.
Lewis was arrested in 1982 after seven people, including a 12-year-old girl, died in the Chicago area after taking cyanide-filled Tylenol pills for three days. Pain relief pills were withdrawn from the market nationwide, and the country later made tamper-evident packaging for over-the-counter medications standard. After a frantic manhunt across the US, Lewis was caught in New York City, where he gave investigators a detailed account of how the killer may have accomplished the poisonings. Years later, he told the Associated Press that the account he provided was his way of rationalizing how the serial killer might have handled the complex scheme. “He was doing what he would have done for a corporate client, making a list of possible scenarios, Lewis told the outlet in 1992. He called the killer “a heinous, cold-blooded murderer, a cruel monster” and maintained his innocence throughout his life, only admitting to writing the extortion letter.
James Lewis was 76 years old.
James Lewis convicted of extortion following Tylenol deaths
He said he was living in New York City at the time of the deaths, although he and his wife lived briefly in Chicago in the early 1980s. The Tylenol poisonings weren’t the first time Lewis, whom investigators described as a “chameleon” con man, was investigated for murder. Years earlier, in 1978, he had been charged with the dismemberment murder of Raymond West, 72, who had hired him as an accountant, in Kansas City, Missouri. However, the charges were dismissed because some evidence had been obtained illegally and West’s cause of death was unknown. He was also convicted of six counts of mail fraud in the same city in a 1981 credit card scheme, in which he used her name and information. of a former fiscal client to open 13 credit cards. His alleged crimes continued even after he was released from prison on the extortion charges.
In 2004, Lewis was charged with rape, kidnapping and related charges for allegedly assaulting a woman in Cambridge. He spent three years in jail while awaiting trial, but the case never went to court and prosecutors dropped the charges after the victim refused to testify. Family members of the Tylenol murder victims have long been frustrated with the lack of justice for their loved ones. Investigators picked up the case in 2009, and the FBI seized a computer and other items from Lewis’s home in February of that year. The following year, he turned over DNA samples to the FBI, but no charges have yet been announced. Helen Jensen, a nurse who helped treat the first victims at a Chicago hospital, said she hoped Lewis’s death would end families, even if it’s not a conviction and prison sentence. “Their death of him is a conclusion. Not necessarily the conclusion that everyone wanted,” said Jensen, who retired years ago. “But it is an end. I am 86 now. And I’m glad I got to see the end before I died.”