New Book Unravels the Unsolved Tylenol Murders Case

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Scott Bartz, a former Johnson & Johnson insider, says he knows why the unsolved Tylenol Murders case has confounded investigators for more than 29 years. He unravels this mystery in his new book, The Tylenol Mafia: Marketing, Murder, and Johnson & Johnson.

The Tylenol Mafia: an expose of the unsolved Tylenol murders case
“The Tylenol Mafia is one of the best pieces of journalism I have ever seen. All students of PR and journalism should read it.”

On September 29, 1982, seven people in the Chicago area died after taking Tylenol capsules laced with cyanide. Officials quickly surmised that a madman had put the poisoned capsules into Tylenol bottles in local retail stores. However, a new book, The Tylenol Mafia: Marketing, Murder, and Johnson & Johnson, discredits this madman-in-the-retail stores hypothesis, and points instead to a culprit who planted the lethal capsules at a warehouse in the Tylenol distribution system - a system the police did not understand and the media did not investigate.

Scott Bartz, a former J&J insider, spent the past 3 1/2 years researching the Tylenol murders case and writing The Tylenol Mafia. He analyzed over 8,000 documents, met with victims’ family members, and talked with FBI agents and Chicago-area police officers. He also interviewed the men who were targeted as the prime suspects.

The Daily Herald, a suburban Chicago newspaper that ran a front page story about the book, said it is filled with details about Johnson & Johnson's drug production and distribution process, the relationships and backgrounds of company executives, and newspaper and television reports about the crime. The book also raises suspicion over dozens of incidents, including a bottle of cyanide-laced Tylenol turned in two weeks after the poisonings by the wife of a DuPage County, Illinois judge, and a cyanide poisoning death that occurred in New York in 1986.

Bartz is a stickler for details, notes an article in the Chicago Reader. In the book, Tylenol lot numbers, warehouses, repackaging facilities, distribution channels, and manufacturing processes get traced and tracked. Bartz pays close attention to the exact terminology used by J&J, the FDA, and the FBI. Inconsistencies of statements are noted; what is said—and not said—is important. He also describes the personal and professional allegiances between key players. And he reveals allegations about the current reactivation team that—if even partially true—call the entire endeavor into question.

Jack O’Dwyer, who has covered the PR industry since 1968 after ten years at two of America's biggest dailies--the Chicago Tribune and New York Journal-American, commented on The Tylenol Mafia after reading an advance copy of the book. “I have always found the Tylenol story to be a masterpiece of spin although media have swallowed it as the "Gold Standard" for crisis handling,” said O’Dwyer. He said the “PR Society of America as well as major media such as the New York Times, Economist, Fortune and Christian Science Monitor must revisit the Tylenol murders and revise their glowing opinions of how J&J behaved.”

“The Tylenol Mafia is one of the best pieces of journalism I have ever seen,” said O’Dwyer. “All students of PR and journalism should read it.”

Book Summary:
The Tylenol Mafia rips away the facade of the investigation that J&J CEO James Burke labeled “A demonstration without parallel of government and business working with the news media to help protect the public.” This gripping, meticulously documented expose’ unearths the troubling details of an investigation corrupted by well-connected corporate executives and politically motivated government officials who simply buried the truth inside a shadow legal system inaccessible to everyday Americans.

The Tylenol Mafia is available at online book sellers like and Barnes&, and at some independent book stores.

Contact Information:
Scott Bartz


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