The FBI has found a single, whole fingerprint on the latest bottle of cyanide-loaded Extra-Strength Tylenol located in Chicago, but investigators said it does not match those of any of the suspects in the case.
The evidence in the deaths of seven Chicago-area persons who ingested Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules tainted by the poison cyanide continues to be thin.
At the same time, the side effects of the crimes -- so-called copycat poisonings -- continued yesterday with the Food and Drug Administration and news services reporting incidents in at least seven states.
The Chicago poisonings and the rash of "copycat" incidents have given the FDA's emergency operations office an extraordinary battering. Details on Page A27.
Investigators would not disclose if they had linked the fingerprint with anyone, except to say that it was not the print of any of their current suspects.
These suspects are the subject of another controversy, because Chicago police superintendent Richard Brzeczek has said there are no suspects in the case.
Illinois Attorney General Tyrone Fahner, however, has continued to refer to people sought for questioning as suspects.
An FBI spokesman said it would be extremely difficult to search the millions of fingerprints in the FBI files to try to match a print from one finger.
Matches usually can be made by using computer files only if the suspect's name is known, or if prints from a whole hand are available.
The fingerprint was found on the box containing the bottle of Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules, and could belong to any one of a number of people who handled the box legitimately.
Among the reports of copycat incidents yesterday were: a Lorain, Ohio., couple who became ill after taking Excedrin capsules contaminated with crystals of a caustic substance like that used in drain cleaners; pins being found in candy bars in Iowa, Florida and New York state, and similar incidents of mouth burns suffered by a clerk in Delaware and a grandmother in Florida who drank from bottles of Pepsi contaminated with cleansing agents.
An Idaho teen-ager who turned in a container of Anacin 3 capsules contaminated with rat poison told police yesterday that she had put the poison in the pills herself.
The 17-year-old took the container to police Wednesday, saying she had found a "suspicious"-looking capsule. Eddy Jones, police chief of Blackfoot, Idaho, said the Anacin 3 was sent to Seattle for analysis by the Food and Drug Administration.
Authorities said the girl accused someone else of the tampering but later admitted she was responsible, explaining that she "hates the police," according to Jones.
Police found an earlier report of contaminated bubble gum in Colorado to be groundless.
The boys who reported being ill after eating it may have experienced "hysteria at the idea of being poisoned," and caused their own symptoms, a Colorado Health Department spokesman said.
One inmate died and a second became ill in the New Hampshire State Prison 10 days ago, and authorities now believe that cyanide mixed into illicit drugs caused the poisonings.
A spokesman for the New Hampshire attorney general's office would not elaborate on the killing, except to say that it was "not believed factually analogous to the situation in other parts of the country," where Tylenol and other non-prescription drugs have been found to be poisoned. Attorney General Gregory Smith added, "We don't think it was random poisoning," according to news service reports.
The man in Colorado who was poisoned by a mercury-loaded capsule of Extra-Strength Excedrin was said to be feeling better yesterday after surgery and transfusions, a hospital spokesman said.
But doctors were reported to have said that the man, 34-year-old William Sinkovic, still may have to undergo a kidney transplant or remain on dialysis for the rest of his life.