Prime suspect in 1982 Tylenol murders dead at 76

Originally published at: Prime suspect in 1982 Tylenol murders dead at 76 | Boing Boing


More than that, the moral panic following this terrible crime created the entire modern food packaging paranoia state that everyone now lives in. So much food comes in “tamper evident packaging” which costs money, creates a ton of waste, and it’s all security theatre.

While the Tylenol murders were terrible, society’s overreaction to it was also not great. We waste a ton of resources to “prevent” a problem that had never happened before and has never even been attempted since. Someone tampering with food is a phobia that so many people hold, but just like razor blades in candy, it’s an urban legend and has never actually happened.

Those of us of a certain age remember the world before the Tylenol murders and the world after. I get why it happens, but I think it’s sad when we start allocating a lot of societal resources to satisfy paranoia and irrational fear.

IMHO, society should allocate resources to prevention of problems based on how likely those problems are. The entire history of human civilization has shown that food tampering by psychopaths just isn’t a serious risk. That money should be spent on climate change, preventing car accidents, the opioid crisis, or any number of other real problems that do and will kill people by the millions.


IIRC, this is the guy who smugly claimed in interviews with the police “I didn’t do it, but if I did this is how I would…” Followed by a detailed description of exactly how the pills were poisoned.

Whether he did it or not, he was an arsehole who won’t be missed.


You know, I remember this news story! I would have been 6 or 7 at the time, but somehow it made it onto my radar.

Pretty crazy back in the day you could just pop open a bottle and take a couple pills if you didn’t want to buy a bottle. Like eating a couple of grapes with out paying.


Next up, tamper-proof ice cream.


You still can. A little piece of foil isn’t stopping anyone from doing that.


I’m pretty sure even back in the day that was still called stealing…


Most ice creams have a plastic sheet that’s attached to the carton under the lid. Now a days it’s sealed to the carton, but even the old Breyer’s half gallons had a plastic sheet to keep the ice cream from drying out and forming a skin. It was attached to the flip top lid I believe - although I think those cartons had the cardboard pull strip to open.

But yeah I get the /s.


I think of that jerk every time I open a new bottle of Tylenol arthritis for mom, which she finds hard to open because … arthritis. (At least it doesn’t have the child-proof press-and-twist cap.)


There is some other creepiness in his life story. He apparently dismembered a body in the late 70’s but was not convicted of murder because the cause of death was never determined and the cops obtained some evidence illegally. As recently as 2004 he was accused of rape and kidnapping but was let off when the victim wouldn’t testify.


Let me guess, you used to be the guy at the grocery store yelling at kids at the comics spinner rack “Hey! This isn’t a library!”

I mean, sure. It’s also pretty easy to pocket a bottle. But just like no one will miss two grapes from a bunch, no one will miss two pills from a bottle, unless there is evidence tampering. And a lot of pills also have a box around the bottle too. I guess just wondering out loud if that was common back then.

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Slightly off topic, but there’s a newer tamper proof pill bottle design that drives me nuts. The woman I take care of is on Rybelsus for diabetes. It’s an oral version of Ozempic, basically. Anyway, the bottle has a tamper proof design I’ve never seen before. You’re supposed to be able to open it by the normal push down and turn method, but it doesn’t work unless you have the strength of an olympic weight lifter. There are these plastic tabs connecting the cap to the bottle and you have to exert enough force the first time you open the bottle to break those tabs. I’ve never been able to do it. I resort to sliding a knife under the rim and breaking them that way. It’s infuriating, especially since the typical user of that medicine is elderly. So yeah, fuck the Tylenol guy. I don’t believe in hell, but if one does exist, I hope he rots there.

ETA: Also, just in case anyone doesn’t know this, you can request your pharmacy to put most medications in non-child proof bottles. I can’t with the Rybelsus because it comes in the bottles from the manufacturer. They aren’t bottling it at the pharmacy. Also, most of the standard prescription child proof bottles, if you turn the cap over, you can still screw it to the bottle, but it will no longer be childproof and will be easy to open.


No reason to believe it was. The bottles were stuffed with cotton in those days too, so there would still be a lot of fiddling involved to get a pill out. Someone in the aisle is going to notice you doing that.


Do not take Rbelsus if you are allergic to Rybelsus which, since it’s a patented secret formula, you’ll just have to try it to find out. Do not open Rybelsus unless you’re a competitive weightlifter. Side effects include whatever symptoms you are trying to alleviate in the first place.


My pharmacy has gotten into the obnoxious habit of putting my blood pressure pills - which come from the manufacturer already sealed in a child resistant bottle - inside another child resistant prescription bottle.


I’ve had to deal with a prescription migraine medication in really difficult to open blister packs. Generally with blister packs you can push the pill through the foil but the foil on the migraine medication is so thick all the pressure does is break the pill into tiny pieces. So it requires scissors and a lot of very precise fingernail work to open.

I can tell whoever designed the packaging has never had a migraine.


So this guy didn’t happen to die from cyanide poisoning, did he?

I know it’s a joke, but actually Rybelsus has been really great for her. It’s brought her A1C down to the pre-diabetic range (although once a diabetic, always a diabetic, from the doctors’ perspective), and the only noticeable side effect has been weight loss, which is actually a good thing in her case. Now…the downside is that it’s expensive AF, even with Medicare. It’s insane. She’s not poor, but she’s not rich, either, so $750 for a 3 month supply was a bit much. And again, that was the price with Medicare. But the manufacturer has a program for people who can’t afford it, so she’s getting it for free from them. I’ve seen stories about the injection form becoming popular with non-diabetic people for weight loss, and they have to all be rich people, because insurance isn’t going to authorize it for that use, and that medicine is expensive.


The generic meds I take have been moved from pharmacy-dispensed bottles with requested non-childproof lids to factory-sealed bottles that must be forcefully opened. I suspect this is another bid to eliminate jobs for humans.


Same (as in, same age, even) and I was thinking a few months ago how it swept the nation into hysteria and we never caught the guy. I guess 12 years jail for extortion was as good as we were going to get.