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He changed our lives

August 27, 2010 - Blaine Hyska

Everyone should know the name of James W. Lewis.

If police are correct, Lewis changed the lives of everyone in the U.S., probably the world.

The under 30 crowd won’t remember, but there was a time when you could walk into a store, buy a bottle of aspirin, twist the cap and drop two into the palm of your hand.

Today, if you purchase aspirin, or just about any product, it is trapped in multiple layers of cardboard, wire ties and formed plastic — with a sealed top.

You need a good Leatherman to get to your purchase.

Police believe Lewis was responsible for the Chicago Tylenol killings.

In a span of three days beginning Sept. 29, 1982, seven people in the Chicago area died after taking cyanide-laced Tylenol.

A culprit or culprits purchased or stole bottles of Tylenol, emptied the capsules, replaced the medicine with cyanide, and put the bottles back on the store shelves.

Unsuspecting headache sufferers became murder victims.

The unsolved case remains open today.

Lewis served more than 11 years in prison, after being convicted of extortion in connection with the killings.

Lewis was convicted for attempting to extort $1 million from the makers of Extra-Strength Tylenol. He admitted to writing a letter to Tylenol's manufacturer the week after the killings, demanding the $1 million to "stop the killing."

He was released from prison in 1995, after serving more than 11 years behind bars. He is still listed as the only suspect in the case.

Meanwhile, today’s consumers must continue to wrestle, struggle and attack safety-seal products.

Thanks a lot.


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