Danny Casoloro & The Octopus.

Danny Casoloro (June 16, 1947 - August 10, 1991) was a reporter investigating a shadowy group known as the Octopus. The collective is supposedly involved in a litany of government conspiracies and can manipulate the course of world events. 

The day before he was scheduled to meet with an informant claiming to have information on a groundbreaking story and the organization (which is supposedly made up of a few key unknown individuals), Casoloro was found dead in a West Virginia hotel bathtub by a staff maid on August 10th, 1991.


"Conspiracy theorist is just a term used to dismiss critical thinkers."

Illustration Credit: Rina Kushnir

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His death was the result of numerous slash wounds to his arms (one of which was deep enough to sever a tendon), but his family and friends found this to be odd as Danny was notoriously squeamish. He was repulsed by the sight of blood so this method coupled with an oddly impersonal suicide note, seemed shockingly out of character for him. The note simply read "To my loved ones, please forgive me. Most especially my son, and be understanding. God will let me in.

His friends and family noted that Danny preferred to use more expressive language in his writings and that he was not a religious man in the slightest, highlighting the strange nature of the circumstances. While Danny was not known to be suicidal, it is to be noted that he had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and was suffering from some financial issues. Neither of which was known to be severe enough to cause him to take his own life.

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While the suicide note was found without issue, his notes, manuscripts, and other investigative belongings were missing. According to his brother Anthony, it was highly unlikely that Danny would have traveled without notes or the novel that he had almost completed.

The subsequent investigation after Danny’s death was marred with inept and lazy police work, leading to the crime scene being contaminated by clean up crews and maids that hurriedly scrubbed the hotel room. He was also embalmed before the family was able to give consent (an illegal process in West Virginia), which made an autopsy difficult and effectively destroyed more evidence.

Danny believed that the Octopus was the driving impetus for many of the biggest scandals to rock the 80s, including the Iran-Contra Affair, BCCI, and the October Surprise. At the heart of these affairs was Inslaw, an information technology company based in Washington, D.C. 

The CIA appeared to be selling PROMIS (sometimes under other names or derivatives), a program that would allow them to spy on thousands of agents within opposing governments by using a backdoor in the design. The software would allow the CIA (or other countries) to read in-depth files on personnel within defense agencies. This kind of technology would be the holy grail of counterintelligence, allowing the holder of PROMIS to develop comprehensive psych-profiles (or whatever else) on individuals within a particular organization. The holder would simply need to install the software onto a computer's hard-drive, and the rest was history.

This type of software could effectively be seen as the progenitor to the programs used by the NSA today as documented by Edward Snowden.

Michael Riconosciuto was the man who posited in a court of law that the software had in fact been modified for illegal government use. Within days of appearing in court to testify as a witness in the Inslaw Trial, Michael was found guilty of manufacturing methamphetamine and methadone. The DEA claimed that a lab Michael was using (he claims for the extraction of precious metals) was used with the intent to distribute illegal narcotics.

The case eventually slid into obscurity and Danny's death is still officially seen as a suicide.

Did Danny really stumble onto one of the largest conspiracies we've ever seen? We may never know.

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