Tylenol Victims' Families Wait For Beak, Again

By: By DON BABWIN
By: By DON BABWIN

CICAGO (AP) - Michelle Rosen hoped a Boston-area FBI raid this
month meant she might finally be able to stop wondering if the
grocery bagger or the gardener down the block could be responsible
for killing her mother and six others who swallowed cyanide-laced
Tylenol decades ago.

But in the three weeks since the raid, nothing.

Not a word from law enforcement or a news conference to discuss
possible evidence seized from the Cambridge, Mass., apartment
belonging to James W. Lewis - long considered the main suspect in
the Chicago-area crime that terrified the nation in 1982.

Despite a flurry of speculation that the case could be verging
on conclusion, Rosen fears she's no closer to answering the
question that's plagued her since her mother collapsed in front of
her when she was 8 years old.

"You find yourself thinking if they had anything, he'd be
locked up by now somehow," Rosen said. "I would have thought by
now, with the whole world watching, you would have made an arrest
immediately if you had something."

At the time of the Feb. 4 raid, officials were telling family
members for the first time in years that they may be onto
something.

"I was hoping, I really was," said Rosen, of the Chicago
suburb of Winfield. "This was the first time they'd knocked on
anybody's doors."

On Tuesday, FBI Special Agent Frank Bochte in Chicago said
agents are examining evidence in the case, but there were no
arrests or developments to announce.

It's been a tough month for families given a glimmer of hope in
the case that triggered a nationwide scare and prompted dramatic
changes in the way food and medical products are packaged.

The spotlight's return to Lewis is reminiscent of the months
after the slayings, when he was charged with sending a letter to
Tylenol's manufacturer demanding $1 million to "stop the
killing." He was convicted of extortion, but never charged in the
slayings. Combined with a mail fraud conviction in an unrelated
credit card scheme, Lewis spent 12 years in prison.

Many family members had long ago given up on their loved ones'
killer ever being brought to justice.

"I was hoping this was not just something to stir up a lot of
interest and lead to nothing," said Robert Tarasewicz.

Tarasewicz, who was 17 when his 19-year-old sister died along
with her husband and brother-in-law after all three took pills from
the same Extra-Strength Tylenol bottle, conceded he didn't
necessarily expect a quick arrest after the raid on Lewis'
apartment.

"This isn't a one-hour TV show," said Tarasewicz, of Lisle,
outside Chicago. But "if something doesn't happen in the next
couple of months, I will start to wonder what's happening."

At the same time, Tarasewicz said he is not going to get his
hopes too high only to find himself, like his father, devastated
again about his sister's death.

"They never recovered," Tarasewicz said of his parents. "My
mom passed away and my dad is still alive. It doesn't take much for
him to think about it and get some tears."

Jack Eliason - whose 31-year-old sister, Mary McFarland, was
among those killed - is trying to take an equally measured
approach.

"I think a month or two is reasonable," Eliason said of how
long he might wait before this chapter in the story starts to feel
as empty as those that marked the slayings' many anniversaries.

Like Tarasewicz, Eliason had come to believe he would never
learn who killed his sister. Then he watched as FBI agents marched
across his television screen, carrying boxes and a computer from
Lewis' home.

Eliason said he always was skeptical Lewis was responsible,
thinking it was more likely he was a con man.

But now, "I'm sure just to get a judge to allow them to go and
actually have a search warrant and seize whatever they took out (of
Lewis' home) they had to have something, probable cause," he said.

Eliason was further encouraged when the FBI called him after the
search to ask him if he'd be interested in getting updates.

He's still waiting for his first one.

"I got the initial letter and haven't heard anything since,"
he said.

When investigators do contact him, no matter what they say,
Eliason now knows there is a chance me might someday learn the
truth.

"If they say no evidence, the search goes on," he said.


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