Danny Casolaro: How Did He Die? Was He Killed?

If there’s one thing nobody can deny, it’s that the 1991 demise of computer trade magazine publisher and freelance writer Joseph Daniel “Danny” Casolaro is as baffling as it is intriguing. That’s because, as carefully explored in Netflix’s ‘American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders,’ he was found dead under the most mysterious of circumstances considering his recent work. This was actually to such an extent there are still — 3 decades after the fact — genuine questions on whether he died by suicide or if he was murdered at the hands of someone else entirely.

Danny Casolaro Passed Away in a Hotel Bathtub

At the age of 44, Danny was reportedly leading a good, happy life in suburban Washington when everything turned upside down for him in the worst way imaginable for reasons more than one. The truth is he was a caring son, a loving brother, as well as a proud father, yet his growing interest in exposing a possible political scandal spanning across the globe was leading him to lose stability. After all, this entrepreneur had no real backing; his funding was coming from loans he’d taken out against his home in the hopes he’d quickly be able to get his book on the conspiracy published.

But alas, while on a trip to Martinsburg, West Virginia, to follow up on a lead seemingly supplied by one of his sources, Danny passed away in the bathtub of his room (#517) at Sheraton Hotel. It was around noon on August 10, 1991, when housekeeping staff discovered a bloody mess in the form of handprints plus spatters inside his bathroom, driving them to call maintenance and officials. The latter thus found him lying naked in the tub, with such deep slashes on his wrists it’d severed his tendons — there were 3-4 on his right and 7-8 on his left, sadly resulting in fatal blood loss.

Danny Casolaro’s Official Manner of Death is Suicide

According to records, upon actually investigating the scene, authorities recovered an empty beer can, two white plastic trash bags, and a single-edge razor blade from underneath Danny’s body. A half-empty wine bottle also lay nearby, but none of the bathwater was saved since nothing was ever placed on the chute to prevent it or any other debris/evidence from draining away. Though the most telling thing for first responders was purportedly the fact his actual room in itself was utterly clean, save for a legal pad, a used and torn page from it, as well as a pen on the desk.

This torn page read, “To those who I love the most: Please forgive me for the worst possible thing I could’ve done. Most of all I’m sorry to my son. I know deep down inside that God will let me in.” Therefore, combined with there being no signs of a forced entry or struggle plus the presence of four additional blades among Danny’s belongings, the police deemed this matter a clear suicide. However, per the docu-series, his remains were strangely embalmed within hours — before his family was even notified — which made their subsequent request for a complete autopsy difficult to fulfill.

Nevertheless, the coroner at the University of Virginia did their best, and their process on August 14, 1991, helped positively conclude Danny had died just an hour or four before he’d been found. They also determined his cause of death to be blood loss following severe self-inflicted injuries to both wrists, meaning even they asserted this one-time journalist turned writer had taken his own life. That’s when nearly all his friends and family members publicly came out against this verdict, especially since the victim himself had told them not to believe in any accidents mere weeks prior.

Danny had apparently been receiving death threats for weeks owing to the political conspiracy story he was pursuing, so he’d ensured to indirectly tell his loved ones he could be in real danger. It hence comes as no surprise they did their best to push officials to pursue different avenues, only for it to go further once a paramedic who’d been on the scene came forward to suggest foul play too. According to Don Shirley, both his wrists were completely floppy owing to the extent they’d been slashed, so there was no way he could’ve even held a blade properly to cut his second after doing one.

Moreover, this paramedic added, per the show, the pattern of blood spatters and handprints on Danny’s hotel bathroom’s walls/floors were all wrong — it was as if it’d been squirted on after the fact. Another autopsy was thus performed around January 1992 — this time by the Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office — yet they too ultimately returned with a blood loss-driven suicide conclusion. They also added this 44-year-old had alcohol, antidepressants, plus some other drugs in his system, but not to the level “that it could have incapacitated him, so he would have been incapable of struggling against an assailant, let alone been sufficient to kill him.”

The matter doesn’t end here, though — despite the fact some members of Danny’s family subsequently tried to accept this analysis in an attempt to move on, many were still raising valid questions. The primary one concerned this writer’s briefcase, full of all his detailed notes on the scandal he was hoping to expose because it was missing from his hotel room, and he always had it on his being. Another revolved around this unidentified source he was supposed to be meeting as their plans were allegedly scheduled for 9 pm on August 9, yet the former was seen alone the entire evening.

Furthermore, according to records, later inquiries indicated several members of an FBI task force looking into Danny’s demise seriously questioned the repeated conclusion of self-infliction/suicide. This level of doubt, per reports, “was especially significant because even at that time (December 1992), it was understood that to express those views risked one’s career.” Then there’s the fact some official documents regarding this whole ordeal are still not public — the ones Christian Hansen got his hands on while filming ‘American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders’ are only a part of it.

We specifically mention the files photojournalist Christian recently received from Martinsburg County since they revealed that a witness/fellow guest at Sheraton Hotel had actually seen someone use Danny’s hotel room key card on the fateful day, but it wasn’t him. She’d even written a letter reiterating this to the police, describing this strange man as someone standing between 5’9″-6’1″ and having dark hair — Danny’s blonde mane was almost white — but they reportedly never once followed up with her. In other words, despite all doubts over the years, Danny’s official cause of death remains suicide, with the motive behind it being impending financial struggles.

Read More: Tony Casolaro: Where is Danny Casolaro’s Brother Now?