Subscribe to The Atlantic and get 2 free issues

Chicago Tylenol Murders: An Oral History

Thirty years after seven people in Chicago died after taking cyanide-laced Tylenol, investigators, law enforcement officers, health and public officials, and friends and family members recount how it all unfolded. The perpetrator was never found, and the case was recently reopened:

"Nurse Jensen
The [Janus] family was all at Adam’s house, planning the funeral and mourning together. Adam’s younger brother, Stanley [Janus], had some chronic back pain. And he asked his wife—they had been married just a little while, and her name was also Theresa—to get him some Tylenol. And she came out and gave him two Tylenol, and then she took two Tylenol. And then he went down. And then she went down.

"Charles Kramer
Lieutenant with the Arlington Heights Fire Department [to the Daily Herald] When I arrived at the house, there were cars and people everywhere. All eight of my men were working, four on one man and four on a woman. Everything that would happen to the man happened to the woman a few minutes later.

"Dr. Kim
As I was putting on my blue blazer to leave, around 5:30, a nurse told me that they were bringing the Janus family back. And I said, 'Well, it’s probably the parents,' because they were feeble and they might have been very upset. And the nurse said, 'No, it’s his brother.' I had been talking to this six-foot healthy guy. And I said, 'Well, what happened? Did he faint?' And she said, 'They are doing CPR—and they are working on his wife too.' That’s when I took my blazer off."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 24, 2012
LENGTH: 21 minutes (5348 words)