Tylenol murders

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The Tylenol murders, also known as the Tylenol scare, was an event in Autumn 1982 that occurred when someone put potassium cyanide in a certain number of Tylenol Extra Strength capsules. This resulted in seven deaths in the Greater Chicago area. The perpetrator has never been apprehended.


  • Mary Kellerman, 12 years old at the time of her death.
  • Mary Reiner, who had just recently gave birth to a fourth child.
  • Adam Janus
  • Stanley Janus, brother of Adam Janus, and his 19 year old wife Theresa Janus, who both died shortly after taking Tylenol capsules found in Adam's kitchen.
  • Mary McFarland
  • Paula Prince

Analysis of the capsules

Tests have determined that the poisoned capsules had been laced with 65 milligrams of cyanide. This is a daunting 10,000 times the 5 to 7 micrograms needed to kill.


Once Tylenol was linked to the deaths, panic spread rapidly throughout the company. Store chains removed Extra-Strength Tylenol from their shelves. Police vehicles drove through Chicago neighborhoods announcing the threat on loudspeakers. The City Hospital was swamped with calls from people fearing that they had been poisoned. The police responded by trying to calm the panic, by issuing the statement that if anyone had taken a poisoned capsule, they would very likely die before being able to make a phone call.


The Tylenol poisonings issued a series of major reforms in drug packaging. Reforms enacted include tamper-evident seals now commonly seen on numerous products.