American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders

American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders
American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders
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This four-part documentary series ‘American Conspiracy – The Octopus Murders’ is about the death of an investigative journalist known as Danny Casolaro who died in August 1991. Though local police ruled it as suicide, his family and friends thought that there was something more behind his death. At the time, Danny was working on a book he believed would redirect America’s course in the last five decades of history. Was there any truth to Danny’s suspicions? Did he pay with his life because he knew too much?

The central premise of ‘American Conspiracy – The Octopus Murders’ concerns what transpired surrounding Danny Casolaro’s demise and the revelations contained within his unpublished book. Three decades later after Casolaro’s death; Phtotographer Christian Hansen aims at pulling together all loose ends derived from this research and writings into a plausible story line. Series director Zachary Treitz follows him on this journey.

The investigating officers assigned to the case concluded it as suicide when they found him dead with slit wrists inside a hotel bathtub in West Virginia according to reports by numerous sources. However, during Christian’s interviews, former paramedic Don Shirley tells us what he thinks doesn’t add up here. In his opinion, there was too much blood splattered all over the room and bathroom walls, plus there were far too many cuts on each wrist which ran too deep for self-infliction purposes. So did someone cover up why Casolaro actually died? And why? For instance, Tony Casolaro (his brother) remembers Danny talking to him three weeks prior telling that if anything happened leading to his death then it wasn’t accidental.

Through Christian’s eyes we venture further into political conspiracy theories, alleged money laundering scandals involving politicians & organized criminal syndicates worldwide; arms deals gone bad; espionage and many others — one layer upon another being peeled back until the entire onion is laid bare! Mr.Casolaro had begun investigating a case between the Department of Justice and a computer software firm known as Inslaw. The company had invented an innovative software program called Promis which is a criminal tracking system that could link cases together and track them back to one another. Inslaw would first provide the software’s services to the Department of Justice only for it to terminate the deal without paying, nearly driving the business into bankruptcy. The department cited delays in providing them with services they were supposed to get from Inslaw, but the owner Bill Hamilton maintained that this was due to theft of source code by DoJ with its stolen intellectual property being sold off by another company owned by Dr.Earl Brian, who held shares on behalf of Ronald Reagan’s former advisors (Hamilton claims).

While Casolaro was probing into the story, another story started to come out. A genius, a child prodigy and an odd person named Michael Riconosciuto claimed that he had been employed by the US government to get backdoor entry to the program that would enable him to manipulate it. Promis was being sold by the US government as an intelligence software to other countries; however, this back door entry seemed to have enabled the US government to spy on what other countries were spying on. This even went further with some theories concerning October Suprise which held that Reagan had tied up with Iranian government of keeping American hostages in Iran so as to make Jimmy Carter then president look weak. Only when President Reagan ascended into power did these hostages get released and Dr Earl Brian helped set up this deal.

As seems like already too much for one mind to take in at once but actually just a taste of what Casolaro uncovered and put down in his writing. The more Christian dug deeper and read more about him, the more it looked like every one of his stories led him towards another. Hence making it appear like there was a wide network spread across international borders having different legs or arms which were part of clandestine operations carried out by American intelligence agencies.Danny listed eight names from a previous spy ring who orchestrated global conspiracies that seemed fit for a novel entitled The Octopus; one he hoped could be given an advance for.

This series also explores Danny Casolaro’s findings and theories but simultaneously uncovers an investigative journalist obsessed with his subject, even alienating friends who’d rather change subjects than hear about it again. It would seem that despite mounting debts, Casolaro was forever chasing after new leads hoping they would bring him nearer to the truth unknowing he was being led instead? Strangely enough, as Christian sought after truth and wanted completion of Casolaro’s unfinished book, he looked like he was also going down the rabbit hole. Sometimes, she says, it’s about pulling back and choosing one’s sanity over it all.

American Conspiracy – The Octopus Murders is told in four 50-minute episodes and intersperses between interviews, research and archive footage across the two timelines. However, this constant shift from past to present times also adds more confusion and sometimes even irritation for the viewer, who knows that Christian portrays Casolaro in the reconstructed scenes. In addition there are revelations made by Michael Riconosciuto which experts believe were intended to be confusing with some truth wrapped in a lot of lies. There is all this coupled with realms of information and theories that fall out alongside alleged connections to other murders, military intelligence, illegal drug and arm dealings etc. In spite of the mood enhancing background score that makes it interesting and captivating to watch, this intricate series does not necessarily provide any definite answers. It presents all what Christian and Zachary found during their investigative journey including some topped up queries as well as skepticism while others simply unnerve him.

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