2 Tylenol Bottles Contain Same Cyanide
Authorities Say This Indicates Same Hands Involved With Tampering
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.--Potassium cyanide found in two bottles of Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules apparently came from the same source, authorities said yesterday, and the manufacturer offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the poisoner.
"This is an act of terrorism, pure and simple," said James E. Burke, chairman of Johnson & Johnson.
Scientists determined that a second bottle of Tylenol contained the same poison that had killed a 23-year-old woman last weekend--an indication, authorities said, that the same hands were involved in both tamperings.
"The reports we're getting is that there was no tampering afterwards. So this would lend support to the theory that somewhere during the manufacturing process is when the cyanide was put into the capsule...in the plant," said Westchester County District Attorney Carl Vergari.
He said tampering at the plant was "one avenue we are exploring, but not the only one."
The lot numbers of the two bottles appeared to indicate one was manufactured in Pennsylvania and one in Puerto Rico, and it was not known whether the two lots might have been stored together somewhere in the distribution chain.
Although the manufacturer and the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers nationwide not to use Tylenol capsules, and at least nine states banned sales of the capsules, no poisoned Tylenol had been found outside Westchester County in the northern suburbs of New York City.
Burke said the company would give a refund, or a new bottle of Tylenol tablets or capsules, to any consumer who wished to exchange Tylenol capsules.
Police said they had no suspects and discounted a letter which claimed responsibility for the poisoning, demanded $2 million and threatened to poison other products. The man who admitted writing the note was charged only with an unrelated credit card fraud.
"I think it's just one of those [people] trying to extrot money and trying to get publicity," said Bronxville Police Chief Carl Steinmuller. He said he did not think the man had any hand in the poisoning death of Diane Elsroth of peekskill.
Meanwhile, at least nine states joined New York in banning the sale of Tylenol capsules, and several others asked retailers to suspend sales voluntarily.
No Tampering Found
Elsroth died after taking two capsules Saturday from a bottle of Extra-Strength Tylenol purchased at an A&P supermarket in Bronxville. Authorities say they believe those capsules contained potassium cyanide; three other poisoned capsules were found in the bottle.
On Thursday, officials of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said they had found five more poisoned capsules in another bottle taken from a Woolworth's store about two blocks from the A&P.
Dr. Frank Young, FDA commissioner, said the department's Cincinnati laboratory had analyzed the contents of the second bottle and believed that the poison in both bottles came from the same source.
He could not say how the poison was introduced into the box. The seals and wrapping appeared to be unbroken.