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Police in Philadelphia Wednesday called the death of a...

By
SHARON RUTENBERG

CHICAGO -- Police in Philadelphia Wednesday called the death of a college student six months ago 'Tylenol-cyanide-related,' adding yet another bizarre twist to the deaths last week of seven people who consumed cyanide-loaded Tylenol capsules.

Investigators in Chicago had no immediate comment on the Philadelphia development.

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'If it is true, it is to say the least frightening,' said Dr. Reggie Jones, an official with Chicago's Health Department.

Philadelphia police said the death of a graduate student originally believed to have committed suicide was found to have been caused by Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules containing cyanide.

Frank Scafidi, chief of detectives for the Philadelphia police department, said the April 3 death of William Pascual, 26, a student at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, is a 'Tylenol-cyanide-related' death.

The Philadelphia medical examiner said Pascual died from ingesting cyanide, which was found in his stomach and blood. Scafidi said Pascual had left a suicide note and emptied his bank accounts.

A bottle of Extra-Strength Tylenol was found in a shoe in a closet in the room where the body was found, Scafidi said. Initial tests on the pills in April were negative, but only three were tested at that time. With the news of the Chicago poisonings, police re-examined all the capsules and found traces of cyanide, Scafidi said.

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Scafidi said the case raises 'more unanswered questions than answers' and said 'it could be' a suicide unrelated to the Chicago deaths.

The wife of the dead man, Kathleen Burkhalter Pascual, told UPI she and her husband had not been in Chicago and had no friends from there.

But she said she had always doubted her husband committed suicide and wanted a complete investigation.

'If there is a link (with the Chicago deaths) ... I want to know,' she said.

The bottle came from lot number FE7603 with an expiration date of June 1983. The capsules originally recalled by McNeil Consumer Products Co., the Tylenol manufacturer, because of the Chicago deaths had expiration dates in 1987.

Scafidi said the information was turned overato Chicago investigators.

The head of the Chicago area investigation said earlier Wednesday a list of suspects has been narrowed to 'eight or nine good leads.'

'I feel very confident at some point in time we will discover that person,' Illinois Attorney General Tyrone Fahner said at a news briefing. 'We have eight or nine good leads.'

Lab tests Wednesday revealed no cyanide in Tylenol capsules found next to the body of Thomas Isbell, 46, of Kenton, Tenn. He was found dead in his truck with three foil-wrapped Tylenol capsules in the seat beside him. Additional tests were made to determine if the pills contained strychnine.

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Also found unrelated to the Chicago investigation was the death of a woman in Wichita, Kan., whose body was found near an old Tylenol bottle.

Fahner again discounted the possibility of a 'copycat' killer in California. Greg Blagg, 27, a butcher in Oroville, Calif., went into convulsions after swallowing a capsule of Extra-Strength Tylenol laced with strychnine last Thursday. He has recovered.

Blagg purchased his Tylenol months before the Chicago residents were poisoned.

Two more lawsuits against the manufacturer of Tylenol were filed in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago by relatives of a suburban family.

Three members of the Janus family were victims of the cyanide-loaded Tylenol capsules. The suits seek $20 million in damages from McNeil Consumer Products, the manufacturer, and Jewel Food Stores, a retail grocery chain where the Tylenol was purchased. Another member of the family filed a $15 million suit against the same defendants on Monday.

Fahner learned through UPI that suburban Park Ridge postal officials told mail carriers to deliver free samples of Tylenol Wednesday morning, despite an urgent order from the postmaster general's office Oct. 1 to halt nationwide mail distribution of about 350,000 free sample packets.

'We will get a couple of agents overato negotiate that situation,' Fahner said.

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Mayor Jane M. Byrne Wednesday introduced an ordinance requiring protective sealing of all over-the counter drugs and medications sold in Chicago. The county board introduced a smiilar ordinance this week. Similar legislation has been proposed at the state and national levels.

After the California incident was reported, the Food and Drug Administration and the manufacturer issued a warning against using any type of Tylenol capsule -- extra or regular strength -- and asked retailers nationwide to discontinue the sale of all Tylenol capsules.

Johnson & Johnson Co., McNeil's parent firm, hired Intertel Security System of Northbrook, Ill., a private detective agency, to help in the investigation. Fahner said the agency is not working out of his office.

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