What happened to Danny Casolaro in Octopus Murder?

Netflix's "American Conspiracy: Octopus Murder" looks back at the 1991 death of a writer who believed he uncovered a widespread government conspiracy. This four-part series is a gripping journey—even if it doesn't offer easy answers to the biggest questions. In other words, what happened to Danny Casolaro?

But that's exactly what "Octopus Murder," which opens on February 28, aims to do. Showing that true crime mysteries and conspiracy theories don't always turn out the way detectives hope.

Trigger warning : This article contains references to suicide.

pick up the trail

"The Octopus Murders" is told through the lens of photojournalist Christian Hansen, who has spent the past decade researching Casolaro's death and the "octopus" (not literally an octopus, but a carp Solaro's theory of the many-legged nature of the alleged government conspiracy.

Hansen wanted to continue writing the book after Casolaro died in a West Virginia hotel room more than three decades ago. As the documentary shows, Casolaro's death is believed to be a suicide. But some were skeptical, including Casolaro's brother Tony, who recalled in "The Octopus Murders" that Danny had received threatening phone calls before his death, warning that "if anything happened, That wasn't an accident either."


Casolaro was a writer for Computer Age when he began investigating Inslaw, a technology company that accused the Justice Department of stealing its software. The research led him to believe there was a "vast, disturbing conspiracy" surrounding America's so-called intelligence operations.

The lingering mystery

Initially, the motivation for "Octopus Murder" was that Casolaro might be murdered for knowing too much. But in the final episode, which presented authorities' timeline of the writer's final days, the investigation into his death upheld initial findings that he died by suicide. According to the docuseries , Casolaro faced mounting debt and wanted to get an advance for his Octopus book, but to no avail.

There are still some lingering mysteries surrounding Casolaro's death, including the daughter of an eyewitness who claimed her mother saw someone who was not Casolaro enter the weekend of Casolaro's death His hotel room. But instead of trying to provide a conclusive explanation, "Octopus Murder" ends with Hansen deciding not to follow Casolaro's same path. "I had a choice between learning the secrets of everything (like I realized I would never do) and having fun and enjoying it," he said.

He also expressed doubts about some of the themes he encountered along the way, admitting that "perhaps Danny was completely confused and lost in his search for answers."

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which provides free 24/7 support. You can also call Trans Lifeline 1-877-565-8860, Trevor Lifeline 1-866-488-7386 or contact your local suicide crisis center.