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Cyanide in N.Y. Case Isn't Same Type Used in Chicago

February 13, 1986|Associated Press

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — The type of cyanide that killed a woman who took Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules last weekend differed from the poison that killed seven people in Chicago in 1982, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

Diane Elsroth, 23, of Peekskill, N.Y., died Saturday after taking two capsules of Extra-Strength Tylenol, at least one of which contained potassium cyanide, said Millard Hyland, the county medical examiner.

Tests conducted on two of three poisoned capsules found in the bottle used by Elsroth showed that the cyanide had a different chemical profile from the chemical used in Chicago in 1982, FDA spokesman William Grigg said.

The Chicago case remains unsolved.

Poisons Differ

The poisons used in both killings also differed from the cyanide used for testing and quality control in the Johnson & Johnson plant that produces the painkiller, Grigg said.

The FDA inspected the factory where the pills were made and determined that "there were no indications that it (the contamination) could be the result of the manufacturing," he said.

Grigg said the determination that the type of cyanide in the latest death differed from that found in Chicago or at the manufacturing plant constituted "two more pieces of information that continue to point away from a widespread problem."

Westchester County Dist. Atty. Carl Vergari said earlier Wednesday that the contamination of the capsules "could have happened anywhere" and several theories were being investigated.

Factory Considered

He said tampering at the factory had not been ruled out, despite Hyland's contention that the cyanide found in the Tylenol would have eaten through the capsules in eight to 10 days.

"It might have happened at the factory, it might have happened during shipping, it might have happened at the store," Vergari said.

Elsroth took the pills while staying at her boyfriend's home in Yonkers.

The boyfriend, Michael Notarnicola, 23, told authorities he opened a new bottle of the painkiller at about 1 a.m. Saturday, when Elsroth complained of a headache.

Her body was discovered at the home 12 hours later.

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