1. The Chicago Tylenol Murders
Occurring in 1982 in the Chicago metro are, the intentional poisoning of a number of people (seven died) resulted in federal anti-tamper packaging being required on all over the counter drugs.
The method of the murders was to place potassium cyanide into bottles of extra strength Tylenol. A very simple idea to be sure but in the 80s doing such a thing was considered such a violation of the social contract that almost no one would have thought to do such a thing. Leave it up to the mentally deranged to expand the public’s imagination for depravity.
It is believed by many that the person who committed the murders acquired the bottles of Tylenol over time from various stores and placed the cyanide tablets in the bottles before then returning them to store shelves.
Once Johnson & Johnson, the maker of the Tylenol, realized their product had been tampered with, their outreach to raise awareness was incredible. It included pulling all the product and running television ads warning that their product could contain cyanide. Police even ran warnings over loudspeakers in Chicago neighborhoods. This quick action likely saved lives.
However for the seven who died it was too late. Afterwards there were a couple of copycat actions including poisoned Excedrin capsules in 1986 which killed two. However, that turned out to be a woman killing her husband and one other and was not widespread.
The ultimate source of the Chicago Tylenol poisonings is still unknown today. The case was briefly reopened in 2009 but the suspect at the time was later cleared.
In more recent years, a whistleblower at J&J has claimed that the poisonings originated from within the Tylenol packaging facility but this allegation hasn’t gotten anyone any closer to finding exactly who did it.