Nightly News | May 19, 2011
WILLIAMS: Good evening.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor (Los Angeles): It was the biggest product tampering case ever. In fact, it's the reason medicine containers are so hard to open to this day. If you were around back then, then you remember the Tylenol tampering case that killed several Americans. The product survived and thrived, but the case went unsolved. You may also remember Ted Kaczynski , the convicted " Unabomber ," a reclusive home-grown American terrorist and killer. And now we've learned the FBI , after all these years , is looking to see whether there is a connection between the two. Our justice correspondent Pete Williams starts us off in Washington with more on this story tonight. Pete , good evening.
PETE WILLIAMS reporting: Brian , this is a strange one, admittedly a leap for investigators. They want a DNA sample from Kaczynski , who's been serving a life sentence in the supermax prison in Colorado . Officials say it's part of an effort to pursue any avenue that might help solve the Tylenol mystery. It was a brazen attack on something in millions of medicine cabinets. Seven people in the Chicago area died in 1982 after taking pills from bottles laced with cyanide. The poisonings alarmed the nation and led to new tamper-proof packaging for all kinds of medicines.
Mr. JOHN DOUGLAS (Former FBI Profiler): Anyone could be a victim, which made it extremely frightening back in 1982 . And compared to today, it would be what we would call domestic terrorism.
P. WILLIAMS: No one was ever charged with poisoning the Tylenol , but in recent years police and the FBI have re-energized their investigation. Now the FIB wants a sample of DNA from Ted Kaczynski , convicted of being the Unabomber and serving a life sentence for his 18 year series of attacks that killed three people and injured 28 others. He has Chicago connections, born and schooled there. Kaczynski revealed this development himself in handwritten documents filed in federal court . "I have never even possessed any potassium cyanide," he wrote, using the chemical's full name. He asked a federal judge to delay a government auction now underway of items taken from his cabin in Montana , including his journals. They're all being sold to raise money for his bombing victims. Among the items, a hooded sweatshirt and dark glasses that were depicted in a widely circulated sketch after a witness saw him at a bombing scene. He says his journals, written in code, "will show whether I ever committed any illegal acts involving cyanide," he wrote. One man, James Lewis of New York , was convicted of trying to extort $1 million from the maker of Tylenol . Authorities concluded he was an opportunist, not responsible for the poisonings. Law enforcement officials describe asking for Kaczynski 's DNA as part of an effort to pursue all potential avenues. But so far they say they've found nothing tying him to the Tylenol attacks. Brian :
B. WILLIAMS: All right, interesting, a big case in Washington tonight. Pete Williams starting us off from there.