I'll never forget the Autumn of 1982, when I was 11 years old, and parents were fun and wild and free -- and then all of a sudden, overnight, in fact, parents everywhere suddenly became completely PARANOID FREAKS about their kids being killed by Tylenol and over-the-counter medications and pretty much everything else. In fact, even the mega-candy Halloween jackpot in our neighborhood became a complete nightmare for us kids. Parents sifted through our candy for hours and even threw some of it away!
Why? And what does Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, have to do with it? Well, in my house, we called them the Tylenol Murders.
Well, I understand now that there was a really good reason for parent fears; however, back then, I was just pissed at all the crazy adults. But the truth was, seven people, including a 12-year-old girl, in Chicago died after taking Tylenol, which was later determined to be poisoned. The scariest part, of course, was that the medications were purchased right off the shelf in grocery or drugstores, which meant someone tampered with the Tylenol right under our noses and killed people, and that person has never been caught. Which also meant, of course, it was time to fret and distrust and worry about every ... single ... thing ...
So here's the crazy news! Turns out, the FBI in Chicago recently requested DNA samples in accordance with this crime from Ted Kaczynski, 69, who is serving a life sentence in Florence, Colorado. Whoa! Could it really have been the Unabomber that killed those people (and much less significant, totally ruined my 11-year-old Halloween and every other typically easygoing childhood thereafter)?
Once Kaczynski realized that the FBI's eyes are on him, he wrote a 10-page letter to the court, requesting that they stop part of an auction of his belongings, which the government is running to provide financial restitution to victims of his crimes. Kaczynski claims items may have evidence confirming his whereabouts in 1982. He wrote:
... the FBI wanted a sample of my DNA to compare with some partial DNA profiles connected with a 1982 event in which someone put potassium cyanide in Tylenol ... I have never even possessed any potassium cyanide.
Hmmm. And why would we believe him? And wouldn't it be amazing to already have this psycho in custody?
In case you don't remember, the unsolved 1982 poisoning case led to the first mass recall of a product and to the first implementation of tamper-proof packaging on food and drug items. Yes, soon you might very well be able to tip your hat to one Mr. Ted Kaczynski for the existence and need for those dreaded, impossible lids all sealed up tightly in plastic that you can never get off without using your teeth.
And seriously, folks, parents used to be so much more chill before these horrible murders happened. They historically changed everything about childhood and about parenthood! They made us stop trusting everything! And everyone!
So whether it was the Unabomber or someone else, I'd like to get in a real good whack at the person who not only murdered seven innocent victims, but also made parenting and the headaches that come with it that much harder to handle. Let me at him!
Do you remember the Tylenol murders of 1982?
Image via Debs/Flickr