Daniel Casolaro In ‘The Octopus Murders’: Did The Journalist Commit Suicide?

American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders is a brand-new political documentary on Netflix about the politics of America during the Cold War. Several documentaries about the dreadful period when capitalism and communism were at loggerheads worldwide question a lot of political moves made by the United States of America to safeguard the rich and the powerful, including then-President Ronald Reagan. The documentary reopens the subject of the journalist Daniel Casolaro, who, according to the police and other investigative agencies, committed suicide in 1991 inside the bathroom of his room in the Sheraton hotel in West Virginia.


Daniel Casolaro was a journalist who had developed an interest in writing articles about computer software and other upcoming technologies. This drew him to the Inslaw Inc. case. Inslaw Inc., owned by Bill Hamilton, had developed software named “PROMIS” for the Department of Justice of the American government. The legal drama was between Bill Hamilton and the Department of Justice about nonpayment of the yearly retainer by the client, which dragged Inslaw Inc. into bankruptcy. 

Daniel was curious to know from Bill Hamilton himself about the real issue, which was initially treated as a contractual matter by the Department of Justice. Daniel Casolaro was intrigued by the case, which took him down the rabbit hole of corruption, bribery, bureaucracy, and organized crime. He dug deep into it to find out if there was anything about the software “PROMIS” that the government desperately wanted. 


Daniel Casolaro hunted for a story that could shake the foundation of the US government, especially at a time when the Cold War was at its peak.  Ronald Reagan, the infamous president, had also made a great name for himself in every household in America. Daniel had gotten in touch with Bill Hamilton, the man who created “PROMIS,” and Michael Riconosciuto, the computer whiz who had gotten involved with the government and the Octopus conspiracy. The name of the so-called mission was “The Octopus” because just like the sea animal, the multiple concerns were like tentacles and were spread across many countries around the world.

Daniel Casolaro had only touched the tip of the iceberg, as there was much more to uncover. He began to dig deep into the matter, and he was shocked to come across many unpleasant truths. Bill Hamilton and Michael Riconosciuto were the only people who were willing to not just offer him certain details about the Octopus conspiracy but, at the same time, request that he not go too close to the source of the matter. Daniel Casolaro shared many details about his work with his brother, Dr. Tony Casolaro. 


Tony claimed Daniel knew he would be harmed in the process of researching more on the Octopus. Daniel had gotten himself many transcripts, and it made him wonder if anyone would be willing to publish the story. Even though he was considered a good writer, he was facing many issues financially because he was obsessed with the Octopus story.

Daniel had gotten close to knowing about Ronald Reagan’s alleged involvement in the Iran hostage situation. The conspiracy alleged that Reagan’s campaign funded the Iranians that prolonged the hostage situation until Ronald Reagan won the presidential election. The Iranian hostages were released hours after Ronald was sworn in as the leader of the country. Earl Brian was the main guy who pulled off this mission, and in return, he was asking for “PROMIS,” a state-of-the-art software developed by Bill Hamilton. Bill was already in business with the Department of Justice, and they made sure the man was forced to sell off his company. This was again a conspiracy, and apparently, Daniel had papers to prove this to be true. There were many illegal acts carried out by people who were important to the government of America. Daniel had unearthed and come across much information about organized crime and its connection to several intelligence agencies, the Department of Justice, and how the US government was protecting many men who were involved in first-degree crimes.


Daniel sadly got lured into the idea of bringing down the government just by using his pen and paper. There was a lot of idealism and aggression in his work to show the world the real face of the American government. The man was sadly struggling financially and was hoping to submit the draft he had prepared to the many publishing houses. The publishing houses were expecting a trail of proof before going ahead with finalizing the deal on printing the book. Daniel needed this money for his daily expenses, which included taking care of his son. 

In his mission to find the truth and wanting answers, Michael Riconosciuto and Robert Booth Nichols were the only people who had shown some interest in offering documents. Michael eventually backed away, claiming Daniel was flying too close to the sun and he might end up burning himself in his pursuit of glory. Robert Booth, on the other hand, was considered to be one of the mediators between organized crime and the Department of Justice. Daniel had traveled across different cities, expecting proof from both, but they never offered the details he was seeking. Daniel was in West Virginia to meet Robert Booth Nichols, on what turned out to be his final trip, when his body was found mutilated.


The police claimed Daniel committed suicide in the bathtub. His wrist had multiple cuts, but the first responders at the crime scene wondered if Daniel was murdered. Many of them who spoke in the documentary claimed it was difficult to conclude if the death was due to self-harm or murder. Dr. Tony was also informed about the death two days later, by which time Daniel’s mortal remains had been embalmed, and they had not carried out any autopsy. 

The fact that Daniel was alerted by Michael several times about the subject he was working on for his exposé indicates that the man could never have killed himself. Daniel had a young son he was taking care of, and he could not have abandoned his offspring in a dire state. Tony Casolaro had mentioned in many instances in the documentary that Daniel was being threatened to abandon the project he was working on. The speculation surrounding his death is still looming around like a thread. While officially his death was a suicide, many who spoke in the documentary believed that Daniel was murdered by powerful people working in the system. 


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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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