Tennessee health officials said a man whose body was found next to a nearly empty bottle of Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules died from 20 times the lethal dose of cyanide.
The capsules' manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, recalled the capsules nationwide when a Peekskill, N.Y., woman died Feb. 8 after taking a cyanide-tainted Extra-Strength Tylenol capsule. Tennessee officials today banned the capsules' sale.
The FBI joined the investigation here into the death of Timothy R. Green, 32, whose partially decomposed body was found in his bed Sunday night. An Extra-Strength Tylenol bottle containing one capsule was found on the floor next to the bed, police said.
Dr. Charles Harlan, the Davidson County medical examiner, said that Green's body contained 20 times the fatal dose of cyanide and that the bottle had "the aroma of cyanide." Harlan said the remaining capsule had not been tested. No traces of acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, were found in the body, he said, adding that could mean that Green had not taken a capsule or that a capsule's contents had been replaced with cyanide.
Assistant Police Chief Sherman Nickens said authorities were trying to determine if Green's death was homicide or suicide. Harlan said Green -- a sometime musician and Jehovah's Witness preacher from Minnesota -- had been dead as long as five days when found.
The batch number on the bottle in Green's room was APA 327, city police said. The capsules that killed Diane Elsroth in Yonkers, N.Y., were from batch ADF 916. After her death, cyanide was found in another batch, AHA 090, in a store near the market where Elsroth's capsules had been purchased.
In Washington, the FBI said today it has found "previously undetected signs of tampering" in the two New York cases, and said the poisoning occurred "independent of the manufacturing process." In a statement, the FBI said: "Evidence developed earlier in this investigation supported the theory that cyanide had been added to the bottled capsules independent of the manufacturing process.
"Our examinations have further determined that it was possible to invade the bottle after packaging was complete without detection through conventional means of examination. Previously undetected signs of tampering have now been discovered using sophisticated scientific examination."
Last week, the FBI had said its tests of the bottles' tamper-resistant packaging found "no evidence of tampering."
A spokesman for Johnson & Johnson, said, "We have felt from the beginning that there was tampering. There had been no evidence of it before this, and now there is."
The New York death occurred 3 1/2 years after seven people in Illinois died after taking cyanide-tainted Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules. No one has been charged with those deaths.
Nashville police initially did not link the capsules to Green's death. Officials said he had recently undergone surgery and had not been in the "best of health."