The Tylenol murders, part 6: The sting

Nearly a quarter-century after the Tylenol murders, retired FBI agent Roy Lane Jr. obtained an surprising telephone name from Robert Grant, particular agent in control of the bureau’s Chicago office.

It appeared investigative reporter Bob Arya had been trying into the 1982 case since becoming a member of CLTV, then a regional 24-hour information station, greater than a decade earlier. And now he believed he had solved it.

Grant actually didn’t know a lot concerning the poisonings, however he thought it was price listening to what Arya needed to say. He requested Lane and some others to satisfy with the reporter.

Lane agreed instantly, his want to shut the case nonetheless burning robust. He had helped put away judges, mobsters, aldermen and even a former Illinois governor throughout his legendary 26-year career, however the Tylenol killer had at all times been past his attain.

Bob Arya, a former investigative journalist who has devoted years to the Tylenol case, holds a set of green folders containing his work this month in Barrington.

On a spring morning in 2006, Arya walked right into a convention room on the FBI area office in Lisle and offered his case to a number of present and former brokers.

“I went through it like I was presenting a case to the grand jury,” Arya stated. “It was one of the most important moments in my life.”

Arya didn’t suppose the killer was James Lewis, the person convicted of tried extortion after the poisonings. He additionally had dominated out Roger Arnold, the wannabe chemist who caught the curiosity of some Chicago detectives.

Instead, he provided a completely new suspect. The Tribune is just not naming the person as a result of legislation enforcement has by no means charged him or severely thought of him as an individual of curiosity.

After Arya left, the brokers talked. They didn’t suppose the award-winning journalist had the fitting man — the group thought the proof within the dormant investigation nonetheless pointed at another person — however Grant’s curiosity had been piqued.

Robert Grant, a former special agent in charge of the Chicago field office of the FBI, helped revived the Tylenol investigation in 2006.

“This would make a perfect cold case,” Grant stated he instructed his brokers.

Everyone agreed — particularly Lane.

Before retiring in 1996, Lane had stored tabs on Lewis, the person the Tylenol process power thought of to be its prime suspect. Lane and former federal prosecutor Jeremy Margolis had even flown to Boston in 1985 to interview Lewis’ spouse, LeAnn, whereas Lewis was serving time in jail for tried extortion.

Lane and Margolis met LeAnn Lewis at her residence constructing one night as she returned house from work. Lane instructed the Tribune she expressed a willingness to speak however wished her husband’s permission first.

After elevating the agent’s hopes, she referred to as Lane again just a few days later and stated she wouldn’t be capable to communicate with him in any case.

James Lewis “didn’t want me to interview her,” Lane stated. “And then an attorney called me and said: ‘Don’t go near LeAnn.’ And that’s kind of how that ended.”

Until Arya spoke up in 2006.

The FBI wasn’t the one company newly intrigued by the Tylenol case. About six months after Arya met with the FBI, an Arlington Heights police detective was paged to his division’s foyer. A girl was ready there with an explosive story: She believed her ex-husband was the Tylenol assassin and answerable for the deaths of three folks — Adam, Stanley and Terri Janus — in that city.

Detective Scott Winkelman started studying up on the case and rapidly dominated out the ex-husband, sources stated. Beyond a common disdain for her ex, the girl’s suspicions have been primarily based on the truth that the person knew the place the killer’s first sufferer, 12-year-old Mary Kellerman of Elk Grove Village, had lived along with her mother and father.

It turned out that a lot of folks on the town knew the place the Kellermans as soon as lived. The group wasn’t that large, and the Tribune had even printed the household’s actual tackle within the paper in cooperation with the FBI and her mother and father.

The extra Winkelman dug, although, the extra within the case he turned, sources instructed the Tribune. But there was an issue: The information, the proof, the institutional reminiscence — they have been scattered throughout the assorted businesses concerned within the unique process power.

The grave of Adam Janus is at Maryhill Catholic Cemetery in Niles. A false tip about the Tylenol murders and the deaths of Adam, Stanley and Terri Janus in 2006 proved to be a catalyst for a new Tylenol task force.

Winkelman reached out to the FBI for assist. His newfound curiosity dovetailed completely with Grant’s want to take a contemporary take a look at the case.

“It all came together,” Lane stated.

The second Tylenol process power was born.

The new legislation enforcement crew — which might informally name itself Task Force 2 — had assembled by the early weeks of 2007, with detectives from a number of native municipalities becoming a member of FBI brokers and an Illinois State Police investigator.

The Chicago Police Department, which had clashed with the bureau in the course of the unique investigation, agreed to cooperate with the reboot. Records present the division assigned two detectives from its chilly case unit to take one other take a look at the dying of Paula Prince, the one Chicago resident to die from tainted Tylenol.

Two detectives from the Chicago Police Department's cold case unit reexamined the death of Paula Prince, the only Chicago resident to die from tainted Tylenol.

The FBI has declined to touch upon Task Force 2 and denied requests for information associated to its work. Winkelman — the previous Arlington Heights detective who would develop into the driving power behind the investigation — instructed the Tribune he was not approved to talk publicly concerning the case.

The Tribune traced the crew’s efforts via sealed court docket paperwork, an undercover recording, out there police information and interviews with greater than a dozen folks with direct information of the investigation. Reporters even have reviewed a confidential presentation given to prosecutors in 2012, a slideshow that ends with the duty power asking that witnesses be referred to as earlier than a grand jury.

As Task Force 2 started its work, James Lewis was in a Massachusetts jail awaiting trial on fees that he kidnapped and raped his neighbor amid a 2004 business dispute. Grant stated these allegations strengthened his dedication to reexamining the Tylenol murders.

“In my calculation, he was an ongoing threat,” Grant instructed the Tribune. “He’s out there and his still being a threat to people concerned me. … That’s not to say he’s a killer.”

This October 2007 photo shows James Lewis at a restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He had recently spent more than three years in jail before charges against him were dropped.

The fees towards Lewis have been dropped in 2007 after the girl declined to testify towards him. Lewis, who at all times maintained his innocence, was launched after greater than three years behind bars.

Lane was the one member of the unique Tylenol process power to play an energetic function within the new investigation. He initially had been requested solely to introduce one other FBI agent to LeAnn Lewis and let his colleague take it from there.

But that function rapidly expanded.

Around the time Lewis was launched from jail, investigators had launched an elaborate sting operation to get him speaking, in accordance with information reviewed by the Tribune. And Lane knew Lewis effectively, having met with him a number of instances in 1983 whereas Lewis awaited sentencing for attempting to extort money from the company that made Tylenol.

For the sting, information present, Lane launched Lewis and his spouse to a girl Lane referred to as Sherry Nichols, saying she was an investigative journalist engaged on a e-book concerning the Tylenol murders.

In actuality, the girl was an undercover FBI agent. Her title was not Sherry Nichols.

Roy Lane Jr., shown in August, retired from the FBI in 1996 but stayed involved in the Tylenol case, helping run an elaborate sting operation involving James Lewis.

Crafting a narrative paying homage to Arya’s meeting with FBI brokers in 2006, Lane instructed Lewis that Nichols had achieved copious analysis on the case and firmly believed another person was answerable for the killings. With Lewis’ assist, Lane stated, she may clear his title.

Broke and by no means afraid to have interaction with legislation enforcement, Lewis jumped on the alternative.

“Sounded like a great idea,” Lewis later wrote on his web site. “I had endured nearly 30 years of being publicly vilified in the press worldwide as the prime Tylenol mass murder suspect.”

Lewis, who declined to be interviewed for this collection, wrote extensively concerning the sting on his web site. Lane wouldn’t talk about particulars of the undercover operation however he instructed the Tribune Lewis’ account was about “50%” correct.

In a short interplay with a Tribune reporter in August, Lewis disputed that description.

“It’s absolutely, very carefully, 100% correct,” Lewis stated.

Lane and “Sherry Nichols” met with the Lewises greater than 5 dozen instances between April 2007 and November 2008, information present. The brokers spoke with James and LeAnn each individually and collectively. Behavioral analysts labored with the crew all through the 18-month sting, providing recommendation on the best way to stroke Lewis’ ego and make him snug sufficient to share his ideas on the poisonings, sources stated.

During the operation, Lane helped Lewis with a novel he had begun in jail just a few years earlier. Titled “Poison! The Doctor’s Dilemma,” it’s the story of an excellent physician from rural Missouri who works with a legislation enforcement process power to discover a rogue authorities worker named Agua Naranja — Spanish for “orange water” — and determine who has poisoned underground water provides.

The e-book, which Lewis self-published in 2010, opens with a mass poisoning in Chicago and the physician testifying on the similar federal courthouse the place Lewis’ tried extortion trial was held.

“Poison! The Doctor’s Dilemma” is a self-published 2010 novel by James Lewis about a brilliant doctor from rural Missouri who works with law enforcement.

It is devoted to his spouse, with gratitude for her generosity and understanding, and their daughter, “Toni, who never lived to see this book.”

According to Lewis’ web site, Nichols gave him money to purchase a brand new laptop computer. He stated the brokers additionally handled him and his spouse to good dinners, encouraging them to drink though they’re self-described teetotalers.

“Jim was very impressed,” stated Roger Nicholson, a group entry tv host who befriended Lewis round 2007. “You know, he was being wined and dined and treated like a dignitary. That’s what the attraction was … but Roy was pulling a number on him.”

Lewis describes Nichols paying for the couple to take a weeklong trip to Missouri, as effectively, in accordance with his web site. Sources instructed the Tribune that undercover officers from Task Force 2 trailed the couple your complete time, following them as they did analysis for Lewis’ novel in Kansas City and in his small hometown exterior Joplin.

As part of the operation, Nichols and Lane additionally went to New York with James and LeAnn Lewis at separate instances, visiting the inns the place that they had lived, the workplaces the place she had labored and the library the place Lewis had been arrested for the Tylenol extortion letter in December 1982.

In 2007, the foursome traveled to Chicago and visited, amongst different locations, the rental constructing the place Prince lived and the Old Town Walgreens the place she bought her poisoned bottle. After he left the pharmacy, Lewis instructed the undercover brokers he had a way of “deja vu,” police information present.

Lewis stated, “I haven’t been this excited since I met my biological mother,” in accordance with a legislation enforcement doc.

As part of their sting operation, undercover agents brought James Lewis to the Walgreens at Wells Street and North Avenue where Paula Prince bought the Tylenol that killed her.

At the pharmacy, Lewis walked on to the shelf the place Tylenol had been displayed in September 1982 however was now not stored there, the doc states. He hadn’t lived removed from the pharmacy throughout his temporary keep in Chicago.

Also in Chicago, Lane fastidiously confronted Lewis with a chunk of latest details about the extortion letter Lewis had mailed years earlier. The males have been in a suite on the Sheraton Grand Chicago on the time, with FBI behavioral analysts and different process power members monitoring the dialog from an adjoining room with the assistance of eavesdropping gear, in accordance with information reviewed by the Tribune.

A hidden digicam additionally was used to file the dialog. The Tribune has reviewed a clip of the video that begins with Lewis seating himself on a sofa subsequent to Lane, who’s dressed casually in denims. Reporters additionally verified the video’s contents with a half-dozen sources who’ve seen it in full.

In the recording, Lane tells Lewis there’s a drawback with the timeline Lewis offered in regard to the extortion letter.

Lewis confirms that he instructed the brokers he spent not less than three days engaged on the letter earlier than mailing it to Tylenol’s mum or dad company, Johnson & Johnson. It arrived on the agency’s company headquarters in New Jersey on Oct. 5.

James Lewis was convicted of attempted extortion for sending this letter to Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Tylenol, demanding $1 million to

At Lewis’ 1983 trial for tried extortion, prosecutors couldn’t decide the precise date on the letter’s postmark. They instructed jurors solely that it had been despatched in early October.

Since then, nevertheless, developments in technology had allowed the FBI to find out the letter was mailed Oct. 1, 1982, the Tribune has realized.

On the recording, Lewis doesn’t dispute that date. After confirming he spent three days writing the letter, Lewis asks Lane when the homicides passed off.

Lane picks up a manila folder, sketches out a calendar and exhibits it to Lewis, who has a messenger bag strapped throughout his physique. The agent calmly counts again three days from Oct. 1, touchdown on Sept. 29 — the day all seven victims swallowed poisoned capsules.

News of the poisonings didn’t develop into public till Sept. 30. There was an apparent drawback with Lewis’ timeline.

Lewis is quiet for a second on the recording after which hugs the messenger bag to his chest.

“I see your quandary,” he says on the recording. “I’ve been telling myself for 25 years I worked on it for three days. But it’s impossible.”

The Oct. 1 postmark additionally created one other situation for Lewis. During his interviews with Margolis and Lane in 1983, Lewis stated he had realized concerning the poisonings from an article in The New York Times, authorities instructed the Tribune. The newspaper printed its first story concerning the killings on Oct. 1.

Jeremy Margolis, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago, worked on the Tylenol case and interviewed James Lewis in 1983.

If Lewis’ assertion concerning the Times was right, he had lower than a day to hatch his extortion plan, analysis the company’s tackle in a pre-internet world, write the letter and get it within the mail.

Lewis’ pal Nicholson stated he has had many discussions with Lewis concerning the occasions surrounding the extortion notice. According to Nicholson, Lewis instructed him he wrote six drafts of the letter earlier than mailing it. Nicholson stated he didn’t know the date it had been mailed.

“He did say he wrote it six times so it sounded at a sixth-grade or fifth-grade level of writing,” Nicholson instructed the Tribune. “He was very calculated.”

In the Chicago video recording, Lewis blamed faulty memory” for the issues along with his timeline. But the FBI later cited his phrases as one of many causes for a search warrant executed on his Cambridge house on Feb. 4, 2009, sources stated.

As the raid started, James Lewis realized there was by no means any e-book concerning the Tylenol murders.

And that Roy Lane was by no means his pal.

With reporters ready exterior and information helicopters hovering above the constructing the place Lewis lived, the brokers combed via the two-bedroom rental that LeAnn Lewis bought whereas her husband was in jail. They additionally knocked on doorways in his constructing, inquiring whether or not the occupants have been renting any basement storage space to the Lewises.

Lewis, in the meantime, walked to a close-by indoor shopping center and handed hours milling round a bookstore and sitting in a espresso store, in accordance with sources. Authorities tracked Lewis all through the day however didn’t attempt to interview him, which some members of Task Force 2 thought of to be a mistake.

The FBI wrapped up its search round 7:30 p.m., leaving via a aspect door with a number of packing containers and a big Apple computer, information present. They additionally took gadgets from storage items within the constructing and elsewhere. The gadgets seized in the course of the raid stay beneath seal, regardless of the period of time handed and the dearth of an arrest.

FBI agents carry away boxes after searching the apartment of James Lewis in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2009.

Documents reviewed by the Tribune, nevertheless, present investigators discovered a four-page, handwritten timeline of the Lewises’ actions within the weeks earlier than and after the Tylenol killings. The detailed record included every thing from shopping for a frying pan at Gimbels division retailer in New York on Sept. 16, 1982, to visiting the library just a few days earlier.

It’s unclear who authored the record, when it was written and for what goal. The author refers to James Lewis in each the primary and third particular person. At the time of the raid, Lewis had been serving to the FBI agent he knew as author Sherry Nichols reconstruct the occasions main as much as the Tylenol poisonings.

Though the pages embody entries for LeAnn Lewis all through the month of September 1982, there’s no log of James Lewis’ actions between Sept. 25 and Sept. 28. His subsequent entry is for Sept. 29, the day the seven victims took poisoned Tylenol capsules. The doc says he arrived at a Manhattan temp job round midnight on that date.

The hole within the timeline caught the eye of the duty power as a result of investigators had lengthy thought the bottles have been tampered with someday between Sept. 26 and Sept. 28. That conclusion was primarily based on when the bottles have been delivered to the shops and after they have been bought, starting on the afternoon of Sept. 28 when Mary Kellerman’s mom bought a 50-count bottle of Extra-Strength Tylenol.

The handwritten timeline notes that safety cameras may verify Lewis’ arrival at work on Sept. 29. Nicholson instructed the Tribune that Lewis repeatedly stated he made some extent of waving to safety cameras to show he was in New York across the time of the murders. Nicholson discovered that odd, as Lewis was not but a suspect.

“I’m like, why do you need people to know where you are?” Nicholson stated in a current interview. “Why does anyone need to know where you are at that point?”

Authorities additionally seized a handwritten record titled “Yes, I am a killer but I got 10 good reasons.” Again, it’s unclear who wrote the record and for what goal, however it’s among the many proof that has been offered to prosecutors over time.

“Killing people is OK if you got good reasons,” it states.

Among the explanations listed within the doc, which the Tribune has reviewed, are “to wipe out scum,” “to show who is boss,” “to protect my family” and “to teach a lesson.”

The doc doesn’t specify the crime being justified; it additionally doesn’t point out Tylenol, Johnson & Johnson or something associated to the 1982 poisonings.

At the time of the raid, Lewis was nonetheless engaged on the novel for which Lane had offered recommendation. Many paperwork seized within the search have been linked to his literary efforts, in accordance with Lewis’ web site. The e-book’s villain is an unscrupulous, high-ranking FBI agent who targets the good-looking hero.

FBI agents carry out boxes after searching the apartment of James Lewis in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2009. Documents reviewed by the Tribune show investigators found a four-page, handwritten timeline of the Lewises’ movements in the weeks before and after the Tylenol killings.

Lewis contends on his web site that Lane and Nichols urged him to make the e-book’s fictional protagonist — whose again story had many similarities to the writer’s — finally confess to a mass killing in Chicago that’s referenced within the novel’s opening scenes. Lewis stated he refused.

“Got the picture? Writing a murder mystery can be extremely dangerous,” he wrote. “But it didn’t work out the way Roy and Sherry promised their bosses, who were bankrolling the sting operation.”

Regardless, there’s no point out of Lewis’ novel in process power displays reviewed by the Tribune.

At the behest of Task Force 2, Chicago police supervisors assigned a chilly case squad in fall 2007 to dig via eight packing containers of proof from the Paula Prince homicide investigation.

Many of the unique detectives had retired or died by that point, however Jimmy Gildea was nonetheless investigating crimes on the North Side.

Former Chicago police Detective Jimmy Gildea, shown in July at his Chicago home, declined to get involved with the revived Tylenol investigation.

Unhappy about how rapidly state and federal investigators dismissed Arnold as a possible suspect a quarter-century earlier, Gildea declined to take one other shot on the case. He provided to answer any questions that arose, however he anxious the FBI merely wished to cross Arnold off the record of suspects so it may stay targeted on Lewis.

“It was pretty clear what was happening,” Gildea stated.

Arnold, then 73 and residing on the Southwest Side, had rebuilt his life after jail, thanks in massive part to a surrogate household he had fashioned within the decade since his launch.

Steve Schulman, proprietor of A-1 Truck and Auto Supply within the Archer Heights neighborhood, had employed him after Arnold answered a help-wanted advert for a part-time supply driver. Arnold proved a dependable worker who confirmed up early for work and did no matter was requested.

In his new co-workers, Arnold discovered acceptance and a way of belonging that had eluded him his whole grownup life. His colleagues talked with him, shared jokes and customarily cared about his well-being.

“We became his family,” Schulman stated.

Steve Schulman, who owns A-1 Truck & Auto Supply in Chicago, employed Roger Arnold for many years and helped take care of him after he retired.

Arnold didn’t discuss a lot concerning the time he spent in jail for killing John Stanisha, a father and computer programmer whom Arnold mistakenly blamed for making him a suspect within the Tylenol case. But he did disclose his previous to his co-workers and his landlord, none of whom held the knowledge towards him.

“He was upfront about it,” stated Jasmin Breitung, who rented her upstairs residence to Arnold whereas finishing a medical residency. “So I immediately appreciated his honesty.”

Thirty years his junior, Breitung instructed the Tribune she got here to view Arnold as a favourite uncle. He joined her for household holidays, ran errands along with her and infrequently confided in her concerning the ingesting drawback he had earlier than going to jail.

Arnold rented the residence from Breitung for about 5 years till she completed her residency and located a job out West. The two stored in contact by phone on holidays and each time Arnold had a medical question.

In the spring of 2008, Arnold referred to as to say the VA hospital would now not give him a prescription for antidepressants and he had fallen right into a horrible state. He had stop his job on the auto components retailer after a few decade, telling his boss he feared he would possibly get into an accident as a result of he was distracted and troubled by the Stanisha homicide 25 years earlier.

Roger Arnold, center, surrenders to police in connection with the fatal shooting of John Stanisha in 1983. Arnold, who was convicted, remained haunted by the murder for years, friends said.

“He was seeing the person that he shot, his face, in front of him,” Schulman instructed the Tribune. “He couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t sleep. He was having nightmares. He was very much haunted.”

Aware of Arnold’s deepening melancholy, Schulman and one other worker usually checked on their pal and introduced him meals. They even gave him a cat named Harley to ensure he wouldn’t be too lonely.

After not listening to from Arnold for a number of days in June 2008, Schulman drove to his residence and located him lifeless on the toilet ground. Heart illness was listed because the official explanation for dying.

Schulman made certain Arnold, who served two years within the Army within the late Nineteen Fifties, was buried with full honors at a close-by army cemetery.

But Arnold’s relaxation would quickly be disturbed.

In November 2009, investigators got here to Schulman’s business, hoping to glean a viable DNA pattern off Arnold’s outdated hats, winter gloves, ties, belts or a pockets that Schulman and an worker had stored after donating most of Arnold’s stuff to a veterans charity.

It’s unclear whether or not the gadgets yielded the proof the investigators had sought, however prosecutors requested a DuPage County choose the next summer season for permission to hunt his DNA by extra dramatic means.

According to a sealed court docket order obtained by the Tribune, the duty power obtained approval to exhume Arnold’s physique in June 2010.

“The DNA testing is necessary to attempt to either include or exclude Arnold as a perpetrator in the crimes being investigated,” prosecutors wrote in a sealed petition to the court docket.

Authorities secretly exhumed the body of Roger Arnold from Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, shown here in September, for DNA testing related to the Tylenol case.

According to the petition, prosecutors said that developments in forensic technology had allowed them to establish DNA profiles on three of the contaminated Tylenol bottles and the capsules inside.

The petition detailed the restricted circumstantial proof towards Arnold, together with the truth that he labored for the grocery retailer chain that offered two of the poisoned bottles. It additionally talked about his subsequent conviction for Stanisha’s homicide.

A forensic pathologist eliminated Arnold’s femur bone and the physique was returned to his grave that very same day, information present.

Tylenol investigators additionally interviewed a number of of Roger Arnold’s pals and a former cellmate, most of whom didn’t know Arnold on the time of the poisonings. None thought he was able to the cyanide murders, regardless of killing Stanisha, information present.

Two process power members even flew to New Mexico, the place Breitung had established her medical apply. Breitung, who accomplished a twin residency in psychiatrics and inner medication, instructed them the Tylenol killings have been premeditated, calculated and detailed — all traits Breitung stated Arnold lacked.

“I felt like he committed his murder out of impulsive, irrational, highly emotional behavior at the time,” she instructed the Tribune. “I mean, I’m not saying he couldn’t have done (the poisonings), but personality wise, I don’t think he did it. I don’t think he would’ve held a grudge and been angry for such a sustained period of time as to carry out serial killings like that.”

This photo of Roger Arnold belongs to Steve Schulman, who hired him as a delivery driver. Several of Arnold's friends told the Tribune they do not think Arnold was capable of the Tylenol killings.

Given her areas of medical experience, Breitung’s insights performed a task within the process power eliminating him as a suspect, sources stated. His DNA additionally didn’t match the profiles on the bottles, information present, although that alone wouldn’t be sufficient to clear him.

More than 14 years after his dying, Breitung retains a framed photograph of Arnold in her hallway alongside photos of different family members. Schulman additionally retains his pal’s {photograph} on show in his auto components retailer.

“I don’t think he found peace,” Schulman stated. “It was just a bad situation.”

The Chicago police chilly case squad ended its investigation into the Tylenol murders in March 2012, and a lot of the Prince homicide recordsdata have been returned to the division’s warehouse. The metropolis detectives provided no written conclusion about who poisoned her, however they did ship a field of information to Task Force 2 with an image of Arnold proper on high.

Some on the duty power thought it a message, however it didn’t change their focus.

James Lewis remained their prime suspect.

While Lane labored Lewis in 2007, information present Task Force 2 brokers reexamined Lewis’ life in Missouri earlier than the Tylenol murders.

The investigators traveled to Kansas City to look into vital moments of their suspect’s life — the mail fraud conviction, the dismemberment of his former tax shopper Raymond West and the dying of his 5-year-old daughter, Toni Ann — with contemporary eyes. They wanted to know if something had been missed by the FBI throughout their preliminary investigation in 1982.

James Lewis, front, leaves a federal courtroom in Kansas City, Missouri, after pleading not guilty to income tax and mail fraud charges on Jan. 13, 1983.

It wasn’t a simple process. Many folks have been already lifeless and others refused to cooperate, sources instructed the Tribune.

Among these nonetheless alive and prepared to talk was Dr. Keith Ashcraft, the well-respected pediatric surgeon who operated on Toni Ann in 1974. In a meeting with investigators, Ashcraft, who died in 2019, confirmed the findings in Toni Ann’s post-mortem report, which confirmed that she died after the sutures used to repair her congenital coronary heart defect tore.

The sutures have been made by Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, in accordance with a medical doc reviewed by the Tribune.

The info — which was not included in FBI reviews from 1982 — provided investigators an elusive piece to a decades-old puzzle: a possible motive for the Tylenol murders.

Records present the duty power had thought of a number of motives over time, together with whether or not Lewis had hoped to compete with Johnson & Johnson along with his failed pill press business within the Seventies. They additionally weighed whether or not Lewis may have poisoned the capsules as an excuse to write down the extortion letter that pointed the finger at his spouse’s former boss.

Prosecutors, in fact, aren’t required to supply or show motives at trial, however juries like them. And protection attorneys use it to their benefit after they don’t exist.

It’s unclear if Lewis ever learn the post-mortem. In 1982, relations and well being care staff instructed investigators that Lewis appeared to simply accept his solely baby’s dying and by no means faulted anybody, in accordance with confidential information obtained by the Tribune.

Lewis didn’t reply to Tribune questions on his daughter’s medical process.

His web site, nevertheless, accommodates a number of rants towards Johnson & Johnson and even questions whether or not the company’s executives bribed the unique Tylenol process power. One publish takes direct purpose at Ethicon, which has lost tens of millions in jury awards over advertising claims associated to its pelvic mesh merchandise. In one of many instances, a federal Justice of the Peace dominated that the J&J subsidiary was “negligent” when it destroyed paperwork related to one of many instances.

“Johnson and Johnson is at it again!” Lewis wrote.

A Tribune reporter spoke briefly to Lewis in late August whereas he was strolling close to his house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He gave no direct response to questions concerning the ongoing investigation — however he did fireplace a shot at Johnson & Johnson.

He questioned why the company’s workers have been allowed to check greater than 10 million recalled capsules after the murders. Records present the capsules have been burned following the testing and solely untainted bottles have been destroyed.

A Tribune reporter spoke briefly to James Lewis in late August while he was walking near his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “What have you done on that story about J&J’s destruction of all the evidence?” he asked.

Lewis has lengthy maintained that the company was given too highly effective a task in an investigation that centered round its personal product.

“What have you done on that story about J & J’s destruction of all the evidence?” he requested.

Johnson & Johnson didn’t reply to repeated requests for remark for this collection. The company’s scientists discovered one bottle containing poisoned capsules and handed it over to investigators, information present.

In addition to investigating Toni Ann’s passing, Task Force 2 brokers additionally took one other take a look at the dying of Raymond West, the 72-year-old retired supply driver who was discovered lifeless and dismembered in his attic in August 1978. Lewis had been charged with murdering West, however the case was dropped on the eve of trial after a choose discovered Lewis had not been learn his rights earlier than being questioned about his former tax shopper’s dying.

After interviewing witnesses within the West case, Illinois investigators requested Kansas City police to reopen their murder investigation. A choose beforehand dominated a lot of the proof inadmissible, however Task Force 2 thought the cast notice present in West’s house and the $5,000 test cashed by Lewis across the similar time his shopper disappeared have been sufficient to benefit one other laborious look.

Lewis has lengthy denied killing West and created a web site concerning the case, which questions whether or not the sufferer’s longtime pal and even the Kansas City police might be accountable.

“How did Raymond West die?” Lewis wrote. “No one knows!”

The sun rises over the grave of Raymond West, who is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Carrollton, Missouri. James Lewis has long denied killing West, who died in 1978.

Records present the Kansas City Police Department’s chilly case unit reviewed the case file at Winkelman’s request and consulted a neighborhood prosecutor. According to a memo obtained by the Tribune, the prosecutor looked for the recordsdata associated to West’s dying, however that they had gone lacking from the office archives.

“We both agreed that nothing has changed from the time this was originally charged and then later dismissed,” Detective Billy Martin wrote in March 2007. “He (the prosecutor) also agreed that it would be highly unlikely that this case could be re-charged against James Lewis.”

The outcome was clear.

If the rebooted process power hoped to see Lewis indicted, it wouldn’t be for West’s dying. The Tylenol investigators must shut their very own case.

In 2010, DuPage County prosecutors filed a sealed affidavit outlining their case towards Lewis with a purpose to acquire a DNA pattern from him.

The affidavit, which a number of sources have described to the Tribune, included, amongst different issues, particulars from Lane’s undercover operation, references to the sketches Lewis made for legislation enforcement whereas awaiting sentencing in 1983 and fingerprints discovered on a poison handbook as soon as belonging to Lewis.

A DuPage choose granted the request, prompting Lewis to combat the order in a Massachusetts courtroom. After Lewis lost throughout a closed listening to, a process power investigator swabbed Lewis’ mouth in a backroom close to the choose’s chambers and took his fingerprints, as effectively.

Lewis’ pattern didn’t match any of the profiles recognized on the bottles, sources stated.

The FBI has by no means publicly confirmed the testing, however Lewis taunted investigators on his web site afterward.

“OK, boys and girls, now you have my DNA and your jillionth set of my fingerprints,” he wrote. “You could have saved thousands of taxpayers dollars coming here to Massachusetts for DNA which you knew would never match anything in your archive, because you already knew that I was never near that evidence in the first place.”

A year after the courts ordered Lewis to supply a pattern, investigators additionally sought Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski’s DNA. Kaczynski revealed the hassle in a court docket movement in search of to halt the federal government’s plans to public sale his belongings in 2011 on the grounds the gadgets may assist show his innocence within the Tylenol case.

Sources instructed the Tribune that Kaczynski, who grew up within the Chicago suburbs, was by no means severely thought of a suspect and didn’t match the recognized DNA profiles. Instead, investigators wished to check his pattern so nobody may accuse them of overlooking the likelihood that the murders have been dedicated by a recognized home terrorist from the realm.

The FBI has lined the price of forensic testing since not less than 2006, in accordance with paperwork obtained by the Tribune. The work included inspecting buccal swabs — the noninvasive scraping of cells from inside an individual’s cheek — taken from investigators, public well being officers, scientists and medical professionals who dealt with the poisoned Tylenol in 1982.

Chemists at the Illinois Public Health Department extract the contents of Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules for testing in 1982.

As technology improves, forensic scientists are working to establish new profiles linked to the contaminated bottles in order that they are often in contrast with the present samples. Sources stated a number of profiles already had been eradicated from suspicion, together with one belonging to an FBI analyst who examined the proof in the course of the process power reboot.

The second process power, nevertheless, insisted they didn’t want forensic proof to maneuver ahead.

In summer season 2012, the duty power offered its findings to each Cook and DuPage County prosecutors, within the hopes that not less than one among their workplaces would take the largely circumstantial case.

The meeting was held in Grant’s nook office at FBI headquarters in downtown Chicago, the place investigators gave a PowerPoint presentation that outlined the proof that they had collected in the course of the reboot. Over the course of a number of hours, they defined the highlights of their work.

The Tribune reviewed the presentation and verified its authenticity with a number of individuals who have seen it. Among the alleged proof cited:

  • The “Handbook of Poisoning” discovered amongst Lewis’ belongings in October 1982, which contained six of his fingerprints. One was situated on a web page that listed how a lot cyanide could be wanted to kill the common particular person.
  • Statements Lewis reportedly made relating to the Old Town Walgreens, by which he later described having a way of “deja vu.”
  • The undercover FBI video by which Lewis says he spent three days writing the extortion letter to Johnson & Johnson.
  • The handwritten record titled “Yes, I am a killer…”
  • The timeline that doesn’t account for Lewis’ whereabouts in the course of the interval by which investigators suppose the contaminated bottles have been positioned on the cabinets.
  • Toni Ann Lewis’ post-mortem, which exhibits she died after the sutures utilized in her coronary heart surgical procedure tore. The sutures have been manufactured by a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary.
  • The letters to each Johnson & Johnson and President Ronald Reagan, which an appellate court docket described as “an inferential admission” to the poisonings.
  • The match the FBI discovered between Lewis’ proper thumb and the fingerprint on the pulley used to hoist Raymond West’s dismembered physique.
  • Statements Lewis is alleged to have made to 5 inmates who hung out with Lewis in both a federal jail or native holding services in Illinois, Oklahoma and Massachusetts over 20 years.

The process power’s presentation additionally harassed the significance of the speculative drawings Lewis made for Margolis and Lane shortly earlier than his 1984 sentencing. The sketches, which Lewis stated he made in an effort to assist resolve the murders, had been shared with a world-renowned poisoning skilled who decided them to be possible strategies of filling and transporting the capsules with cyanide.

Dr. Christopher Holstege, a toxicologist on the University of Virginia and medical director of the Blue Ridge Poison Center, has consulted on a few of the world’s most well-known poisonings, together with the 2001 anthrax assaults and the dioxin poisoning of Viktor Yushchenko, the pro-Western president of Ukraine from 2005 to 2010.

Holstege confirmed his involvement within the Tylenol investigation however stated he wouldn’t go into element about his evaluation as a result of the case stays an open investigation. However, he instructed the Tribune that the 1982 poisonings and the copycat incidents that adopted have been comparatively easy crimes, which Lewis’ drawings replicate.

“From my perspective, I think all of these are feasible,” he stated of the strategies proven within the drawings. “Again, it’s just not hard to manage these. The real question is: How do I hold the capsule to put the cyanide in? And how do I get the cyanide into the capsule? And there’s lots of different ways you could do that.”

At the time of the 2012 meeting, Grant already had deliberate to retire from the bureau after a storied 29-year career that netted convictions towards former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the Chicago Outfit and two males concerned within the Mumbai terrorist assaults. He held the rebooted process power’s work in such excessive regard, he made the presentation to then-Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin one among his final formal conferences earlier than leaving the job.

“There’s not, as the prosecutors say, a smoking gun,” stated Robert Grant, former particular agent in control of the FBI's Chicago office. “But smoking guns can come in a lot of different places and they can come from a compilation of evidence.

“There’s not, as the prosecutors say, a smoking gun,” Grant instructed the Tribune. “But smoking guns can come in a lot of different places and they can come from a compilation of evidence. … It’s all the pieces assembled on the table that makes a gun. And it’s all those pieces I think we have.”

Members of Task Force 2 acknowledge the case is just not unassailable. Over the course of the group’s investigation, prosecutors raised questions concerning the period of time handed and questioned whether or not they may meet their obligation to make sure all proof might be turned over to the protection. Legal specialists even have instructed the Tribune that Arnold’s story may present the type of cheap doubt that may make it a troublesome case to win.

The investigators additionally had the identical drawback as their 1982 colleagues: No information positioned Lewis in Chicago in the course of the three-day window investigators suspect the contaminated bottles have been positioned on retailer cabinets.

Their presentation, nevertheless, notes that Lewis already provided a potential clarification for why that is likely to be in his letter to Reagan.

James Lewis wrote this letter to then-President Ronald Reagan in 1982, signing it

“I caused the issuance of many airline tickets in many names,” he wrote. “With these tickets I can fly to any city quickly and plant more cyanide in stores all over the country.”

After the PowerPoint presentation, prosecutors requested then-acting U.S. Attorney Gary Shapiro, whom Grant invited to the meeting regardless of the dearth of federal jurisdiction within the case, for his impressions of the proof and whether or not they need to transfer ahead with a grand jury. Shapiro was unequivocal, in accordance with a half-dozen folks with information of his feedback.

“I don’t know what you’re waiting for,” the sources recalled him saying.

Shapiro, who’s now retired, declined to remark, saying that if such a meeting occurred he couldn’t talk about it.

Grant instructed the Tribune that Shapiro’s opinion mattered to him and different officers within the room.

“He’s not a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants prosecutor,” Grant stated. “He’s very methodical, very smart, very cautious. He would not have said that unless he felt that there was a real case to be made here.”

The meeting ended with the state’s attorneys neither rejecting the crew’s findings nor considerably advancing them. The Tribune reviewed a memo to prosecutors by which investigators stated that they had a “chargeable, circumstantial case” towards James Lewis and requested prosecutors to make use of a grand jury to acquire sworn testimony from almost a half-dozen witnesses.

Multiple sources instructed the Tribune one vital witness did seem earlier than a DuPage County grand jury after the 2012 presentation. That witness invoked her Fifth Amendment proper towards self-incrimination, the sources stated.

No fees have been authorised.

“Our position was this may be the last, best chance to bring this to public light, but it’s a prosecutor’s decision, not an investigator’s decision,” Grant instructed the Tribune. “I felt very bad for the families. I felt very bad for the people who might be at risk. There’s a public interest to (put all the evidence out there) but that’s a prosecutor’s decision.”

A year after the 2012 meeting, the FBI pulled out of the duty power and turned over duty for the investigation to the Arlington Heights Police Department, which stays the lead company on the case right now.

Two accordion-style folders containing Tylenol documents sit on a table at the Arlington Heights Police Department on Sept. 19, 2022.

An Arlington Heights police detective is assigned to the case, however nobody within the varied native, state and federal businesses concerned within the investigation works on it full time.

The present-day detective work is targeted totally on forensic testing, authorities stated. Investigators are presently ready for the outcomes of a number of gadgets of proof being examined at out-of-state laboratories, together with tainted capsules, bottles, packing containers and cotton balls.

Authorities have despatched not less than three gadgets for testing throughout the previous year, police information present. The most up-to-date was a doc despatched to the Northeastern Illinois Regional Crime Laboratory for a “forensic biology” examination on Sept. 22 – the identical day investigators returned from interviewing Lewis in Boston.

Arlington Heights police Sgt. Joseph Murphy, who was in control of the investigation till a really current promotion, declined to supply specifics about specific leads. However, he instructed the Tribune the division is relying upon new technology that permits scientists to separate and establish a particular DNA profile from proof that accommodates a combination of genetic samples.

“That’s our focus right now — seeing what we have available and making sure that we’ve exhausted every option available,” Murphy stated. “We’re making sure that we’re doing everything we can to solve this case.”

DuPage County State’s Attorney Berlin has held a number of current conferences concerning the case, in periods that introduced his workers along with Illinois State Police and officers from Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office. Representatives for Berlin and Foxx each acknowledged the case is energetic and ongoing however declined additional remark.

An Illinois State Police spokesman confirmed the company was concerned in “the most recent investigative efforts,” however couldn’t present additional particulars about an energetic investigation.

But investigators, previous and current, agree that point is operating out to unravel the murders. Grant, for one, has urged prosecutors to maneuver ahead with the case whereas remaining witnesses are nonetheless alive to testify.

He fears, nevertheless, that the elected state’s attorneys would favor to expire the clock than to threat shedding a circumstantial case.

“Forty years is a long time for witnesses to still be alive, a long time for victims and family members to be left in the dark about who killed their loved ones,” he stated. “It begs to be prosecuted even if the chances of not winning are not what you normally would want.”

Several victims’ households instructed the Tribune they haven’t been provided an replace from investigators in years, although some obtained telephone calls associated to media protection of the anniversary. Just a few have given up hope. Others suppose there’s nonetheless an opportunity to carry somebody answerable for the seven murders.

Joseph Janus, whose youthful brothers Adam and Stanley and sister-in-law Terri Janus have been all fatally poisoned, isn’t certain the place he falls on that spectrum. The previous 40 years have taught him to mood his expectations for justice, although he prays his brothers’ killer shall be caught earlier than he dies.

Joseph Janus, shown in the Wisconsin Dells in June, said he prays that the person who killed his younger brothers Adam and Stanley and sister-in-law Terri will be brought to justice.

Janus desires the killer to know what the murders have achieved to all of them. To Adam’s widow. To Adam’s youngsters. To Terri’s household. And to his mother and father, Tadeusz and Alojza Janus.

The elder Januses spent the remainder of their lives shrouded in grief and regretting their resolution to depart Poland. They visited Adam and Stanley’s grave websites nearly each day, spending hours there on garden chairs and weeping over their loss.

“I hope before I die, I see the face of the person who did that,” Joseph Janus stated, tears operating down his face. “My parents wanted that too before they died.”

Alojza and Tadeusz Janus, center and right, grieve outside St. Hyacinth Catholic Church in Chicago, which hosted the 1982 funeral for their sons Adam and Stanley and daughter-in-law Theresa. Their son Joseph is behind at right.

Joseph Janus’ 12-year-old granddaughter, Isabel Tischer, just lately wrote a paper concerning the murders as part of a sixth grade historical past task by which college students have been instructed to analysis their household’s heritage. As somebody who has borne witness to her grandfather’s sorrow her whole life, she considers the poisonings to be as a lot a part of the Janus household historical past as their immigration to America.

Her 72-year-old grandfather cried when she learn her paper to him. Isabel promised him she would preserve pushing for justice, even when he’s now not alive to see it.

“I’ll keep going,” Isabel instructed the Tribune. “Maybe I’ll solve it or maybe I’ll help someone solve it. But this is something we should get an answer to. He deserves to know who did this to our family.”

Isabel Tischer, left, recently wrote a paper for school about the Tylenol murders. Her mother, Monica Janus, at right, is the daughter of Joseph Janus, who lost two brothers and a sister-in-law to cyanide poisoning.

After greater than a dozen years on the Tylenol investigation, Arlington Heights police Detective Scott Winkelman retired in 2019.

Records present he took a job with the Inverness Police Department a short while later, however sources stated he by no means actually stopped working the case. He is aware of the paperwork, the information, the historical past and the important thing gamers higher than anybody.

Winkelman works on the Tylenol murders in his spare time, studying over reviews, reviewing DNA take a look at outcomes and consulting with different investigators when he’s not out on patrol. He has instructed those that he fears time is operating out to shut the case.

According to a number of sources, he has large names supporting his efforts, together with Lane, Margolis and Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly.

In January 2022, Winkelman mentioned the case with officers from the Cook County state’s legal professional’s office, utilizing an up to date model of the PowerPoint that investigators have used for the previous decade. Seven months later, he met with DuPage County prosecutors in a video convention to speak concerning the investigation, as effectively. Representatives from Cook County and the Illinois State Police additionally attended.

And a 3rd meeting was held in August. Charges should not considered imminent and should not come in any respect, in accordance with sources.

Last month, Winkelman and two Illinois State Police investigators traveled to Cambridge to interview Lewis. Sources stated they persuaded Lewis to satisfy with them by providing to return a personal merchandise seized within the 2009 raid.

Lewis agreed, persevering with the protracted recreation of cat-and-mouse. He met with investigators on an overcast afternoon at a lodge inside strolling distance of his rental.

James Lewis is now 76. Authorities publicly named him as a “prime suspect” in the Tylenol murders in the 1980s and raided his Cambridge, Massachusetts, condo in 2009. He has not been charged in the murders.

Then he spoke for a number of hours in a recorded interview that sources wouldn’t talk about intimately. Investigators left Boston the following day, having offered the decades-old case with its most vital signal of exercise in a decade.

So the suburban detective retains working.

For now, the Tylenol murders stay simply as they have been on the first process power meeting 40 years in the past:


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