Cyanide Chicago murders case study

Cyanide Chicago murders case study

Chicago Tylenol murders are a series of deaths caused by drug tempering in 1982.

  • The plot of the story

A 12-year-old daughter of Mary Kellerman woke up in the middle of the night and complained about a sore throat in 1982. Mother gave her a painkiller. At 7 o’clock next morning Mary’s daughter was pronounced dead after being found on the bathroom floor collapsed.

Adam Janus, a postal worker and a resident of Chicago suburb died suddenly. At first, it was thought that person suffered from heart attack. After his family gathered, his sister and brother got ill as well and died later.

In the next few days, three more people died suddenly in Chicago suburbs. The investigation showed that all of the people dead have received Tylenol of extra strength few hours ahead.

Each victim had the following symptoms: they were sleepy, weak, dizzy, flushed, their skin was bright red, they had a headache, their breathing was short and rapid, they were vomiting and felt confused and disoriented.

The solving questions are whether the seven deaths are somehow connected, and what additional facts is it necessary to investigate if there is a connection.

  • Report of the autopsy

Integrating basic pathophysiology the examiner defined that the reason of each of the victim’s death was hypoxia. It means they had lack of oxygen or they were asphyxiated. Basic pathophysiology doesn’t always allow understanding the cause of hypoxia at once.

The medical expert provided the samples of the heart, liver and lung samples and defined massive cell death. The further investigation showed that their tissues had mitochondrial damages.

Despite of the fact all the people died of hypoxia, the oxygen levels in blood were almost 110 mm Hg, while the normal level is 75-100 mm Hg.

The question is what cells function was interrupted and what could be another reason of hypoxia death?

  • Toxicology reports confirmed cyanide poisoning. The murder opened the Tylenol capsules and replaced a pain killer with cyanide. The action of the poison is very fast and sometimes it kills within minutes. That’s why it was difficult to determine the death cause. As soon as the cause was determined, Tylenol along with other drugs was removed from the drug stores. They had lots of suspects and the investigation was a very long process. After that tragedy, the drug companies changed the medicine packages totally.

The question is why cyanide is such a strong poison. It interferes directly with cellular respiration. Another question is now why mitochondrion important.

The importance of oxygen

We all know we have to breathe for living. But what’s the importance of oxygen? Those people who had cyanide poisoning still had high oxygen levels in blood. The poison though affected the ways oxygen usage by the cells. Mitochondrion consists of membranes levels. The membrane surrounding the cell itself has a layer of embedded proteins and phospholipids. The electron transport chain means the proteins pass electrons from one to another in the membrane.

The ATP is generated thanks to passing of these electrons. Cytochrome C transports the electron to oxygen at the end of that chain. Oxygen creates water together with proteins. Cyanide doesn’t let protein doing its mission by inhibiting cytochrome C, so the electron cannot get to oxygen. The ATP is impossible to be made. The cellular respiration is caused.

Cyanide history

Cyanide is a very quick poison. Do you know its history? It was created to be a suicide pill during World War 2. It had to serve for British and American spies not to be caught alive. It was called L-pill.

Max’s urine case study

Max is a former college football player, who got the diagnosis of high blood pressure when he was 45 and that even influenced Max’ competitive spirit. Max was eating lots of junk food and drinking much of alcohol. Moreover, he was smoking cigars. Max was prescribed two medications, a low-salt diet and regular exercises for stabilizing his blood pressure. Needless to say, he had to decrease the alcohol intake and smoking. This scared Max a lot while his dad who had the same diagnosis died from kidney failure complications, spending many years on dialysis. Max followed all the doctor’s tips and at the age of 55, he hired a certified specialist Tracey. He was concerned by the dehydration problems and fatigue, while he didn’t drink lots of fluids when exercising.

Tracey showed Max tools for analysis his state before, during and after his workout. One of them was urine analysis, which was a bit weird for Max, but he supplied urine samples regularly. This way Max could control his hypertension and renal status. The results of the analysis showed different urine color, specific gravity, protein and glucose amount, and pH level before, immediately after and six hours after workouts.

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