The last of the seven victims of the Tylenol killer were buried Tuesday.
Relatives sobbed uncontrollably at the funeral of the three members of one family killed by cyanide-loaded Tylenol capsules. Archbishop Joseph Bernardin blessed the bodies of Stanley Janus, 25, his wife, Theresa, 19, and Stanley's brother Adam, 27. At the same time, a funeral was held for stewardess Paula Prince, 35, in her home town of Omaha, Neb.
The other three victims were buried Saturday.
In Chicago's Tylenol terror, the one critical moment of the investigation was not a police lead or evidence left behind by the killer. It was the deaths of Stanley and Theresa Janus.
Without them, said Dr. Thomas Kim, chief of critical care at Northwest Community Hospital who wrestled with the problem alone for the first day of the tragedy, the crimes might have gone undetected "for days, or weeks, or maybe even longer than that."
He said several lives may have been saved by the one tragic coincidence in the first day of the case.
The deaths began at 7 a.m. last Wednesday when 12-year-old Mary Kellerman stayed home from school with the sniffles. Her father gave her a Tylenol; moments later the Kellermans found her collapsed in the bathroom.
She was taken to the Alexian Brothers Medical Center, and declared dead at 10 a.m. Why a healthy little girl should collapse and die suddenly was not known. From the first killing, Kim says, the crime probably would not have been discovered.
Two hours later and half a dozen miles away, Adam Janus took a capsule and lay down with shoulder pain. In a few minutes, his wife spoke to him, and shook him, but it was too late.
He was in a deep coma, and the paramedics slammed his chest to keep his heart going all the way to the hospital. Then Kim took over.
"You can bring back almost anybody who gets to the hospital with his heart still beating," Kim said. Modern drugs and life support machines are almost always effective.
"But here was a young, healthy man with no disease or apparent injury, and after three hours we just could not resuscitate him," said Kim. He fingered a yellow sheet as he talked, a dozen feet from the bed where Janus had lain several days before.
He said he couldn't understand it. Now he says it is spooky to remember that he said just that to the couple who stood by Adam's bed. Adam's brother, Stanley, and his sister-in-law, Theresa, were grieving. In a few hours they would be dead.
When Adam Janus died, it was the second murder. But like the death of the little girl it might have gone undetected, a medical oddity.
After Adam was declared dead, the eight members of his family who had gathered around his hospital bed went to Adam's nearby home, a small brick structure with white awnings and a well-tended lawn. They were upset, and had been in anguish at the hospital for hours.
Some of the older people took aspirins. But Stanley and his wife reached for the same bottle of Tylenol that Adam had used a few hours before.
It was when these two came back in to Kim at the hospital that the doctor knew there was at least a health emergency on his hands.
Kim said he is still a little amazed at how unusual a thing it was. If the two had taken aspirin, or if they had taken naps, or if they had gone to their own home 20 miles away, and later to a hospital near there, the coincidence might not have been caught.
Hospitals do not communicate unexplained deaths to one another, Kim said.
But with the coincidence before him, Kim immediately began to notify health authorities and began to think of what the three had shared that would kill them so quickly.
He thought of carbon monoxide in their house. He thought of food poisoning. He had all the drugs and any suspect food removed from the Janus house, brought to the hospital and put on his desk. There were some preserves, but they seemed all right.
He opened the bottle of Tylenol and spilled some pills into his hand, but saw and smelled nothing unusual. On a yellow sheet, he made a chart with the names across the top, listing all the things the Januses might have had in common.
There was nothing at all, except Tylenol. He talked to the Cook County medical examiner over the phone about the Tylenol. "You'll have to have a look at those." He knew the symptoms were wrong for a Tylenol overdose.
But eventually, after more hours of labor and failure to resuscitate Stanley and Theresa, poison crossed his mind. The only poison he knew that could kill so quickly was cyanide, so he took blood samples and sent them out to be tested.
Later, two firemen who knew of the little girl's death and that of the Januses noticed that in both cases the victims had taken Tylenol. Through the police, the message was passed to Kim.
Now he asked police to get the bottle from the girl's home, and take both to be tested at the coroner's office.
It was 1:15 a.m. when Kim received the call from the lab testing for cyanide in the victims' blood. It was positive. Very large amounts of cyanide, several times the usual lethal dose, were present.
Not many hours later the coroner's office delivered the second key fact: it was the Tylenol. The capsules contained huge doses of cyanide.
Early Thursday morning the alarm went out.
Now, a week later, the investigation moves slowly, with only brief moments of false hope when red and white capsules are scraped up in a parking lot, when a paper bag found in an abandoned car has the word tylenol scrawled on it.
There is really no good evidence in this case, the investigators admit.
In the Chicago case, they have the murder weapon, but it is mute: there are no fingerprints on the capsules. They can't trace the poison. The victims have no connection between them.
The dead are merely a random sampling of victims -- a girl home from school with a runny nose, a tired stewardess, a young man with a sore shoulder, a woman at work with a headache, a woman just home with a new baby -- now caught and frozen permanently in a moment when they wanted to relieve a little of their pain.