Joseph Daniel Casolaro (June 16, 1947–August 10, 1991) was an American freelance writer who came to public attention in 1991 when he was found dead in a bathtub in room 517 of the Sheraton Hotel in Martinsburg, West Virginia, his wrists slashed 10–12 times. A note was found, and the medical examiner ruled the death a suicide.
His death became controversial because his notes suggested he was in Martinsburg to meet a source about a story he called "the Octopus." This centered around a sprawling collaboration involving an international cabal, and primarily featuring a number of stories familiar to journalists who worked in and near Washington, D.C. in the 1980s—the Inslaw case, about a software manufacturer whose owner accused the Justice Department of stealing its work product; the October Surprise theory that during the Iran hostage crisis, Iran deliberately held back American hostages to help Ronald Reagan win the 1980 presidential election; the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International; and Iran-Contra.
Casolaro's family argued that he had been murdered; that before he left for Martinsburg, he had apparently told his brother that he had been frequently receiving harassing phone calls late at night; that some of them were threatening; and that if something were to happen to him while in Martinsburg, it would not be an accident. They also cited his well-known squeamishness and fear of blood tests, and stated they found it incomprehensible that if he were going to commit suicide, he would do so by cutting his wrists a dozen times. A number of law-enforcement officials also argued that his death deserved further scrutiny, and his notes were passed by his family to ABC News and Time Magazine, both of which investigated the case, but no evidence of murder was ever found.
su·i·cid·ed: (urban dictionary) when someone is murdered and then arranged in such a way to make the death seem like a suicide. The victim may also be forced to take his own life so that the real culprit leaves little to no evidence of wrongdoing.
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