A federal judge absolved the maker of Extra-Strength Tylenol in the death of a woman killed by poisoned capsules, saying the company could not be held responsible for the action of "an unknown third party."

Judge Gerhard Goettel, who dismissed the 1986 liability suit on the product tampering case Tuesday, emphasized that Diane Elsroth, 23, of Peekskill, N.Y., died from tainted Tylenol capsules that were enclosed in a sealed package but that the company could not be held liable for "a wrong that they did not truly commit.""An unknown third party purchased or stole the Extra-Strength Tylenol . . . breached the packaging, and substituted cyanide for some of the medicine contained in several of the gelatin capsules," Goettel said in his ruling.

"That individual replaced the now-contaminated capsules in the container and somehow was able to reseal the container and box in such a way that the tampering was not readily detectable," the judge said. No arrests have been made in the case.