In a child’s eye, parents are living, breathing superheroes who know how to fix any problem and are there for their child no matter what.
So when one 9-year-old boy from Maryland found out his father had died, he was absolutely devastated. But when he was told his father had committed suicide and chose to leave him and his family, he knew it couldn’t be true. Decades later, he uncovered information that proved he had been right all along…
The Family Man
After earning a B.S. and Ph.D. in Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin, Frank Rudolph Olson got a job working at Purdue University and had 3 kids, Eric, Nils, and Lisa, with his new wife, Alice. A few years later, the family man left his university job to serve as a captain in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps.
After serving in the Army, Frank was recruited to work for the U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratories. Frank was assigned to experiment and develop aerosolized anthrax to be used as a weapon. After 10 years with the program, he became a senior bacteriologist…
Working For The CIA
While working for the U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratories, Frank was a civilian U.S. Army contractor. But during that time, he also became a CIA employee as part of their Technical Services Staff, which was run by Sidney Gottlieb and his deputy Robert Lashbrook.
Frank didn’t know it when he joined the CIA, but his coworkers were involved with a top-secret program that was studying and testing psychotropic drugs for their potential espionage and military uses. And in mid-November, 1953, Frank became an unwitting test subject…
The Work Retreat
Just a week before Thanksgiving, Frank and his co-workers were invited to a work retreat at Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, which was about a 3-hour drive from their base at Camp Detrick. On the second day of the retreat, Frank unknowingly took LSD after Gottlieb secretly spiked a bottle of liquor with the drug.
A Nervous Breakdown
After being drugged, Frank suffered from extreme paranoia and panic attacks. His anxiety got so bad that he even tried to quit his job just a week after the retreat and do something else with his life. But Frank’s superiors wouldn’t accept his resignation…
Trip To NYC
Instead of allowing Frank to resign, the CIA sent him to New York City for psychiatric advice from Harold Abramson, an allergist being paid by the CIA to experiment with LSD. Abramson prescribed Frank Nembutal and bourbon to help him sleep.
Frank was then taken to John Mulholland, a magician that was also working for the CIA, to be hypnotized. According to CIA records, this only made Frank more paranoid so they decided he needed to be placed in a mental institution in order to recover…
His Final Conversation
However, when Alice spoke to Frank on the phone that night, she thought he sounded much better and Frank told her he was looking forward to seeing her and the kids the next day. After the phone call, Frank washed his socks and underwear and then went to bed.
4 Hours Later…
Four hours later, at around 2 a.m. on November 28, 1953, Armand Pastore, the night manager at the Statler Hotel on 7th Avenue, found Frank lying on the sidewalk after falling from the window of his 10th-floor room. ”He was broken up something awful,” Pastore said, but Frank was still alive…
”He was trying to mumble something, but I couldn’t make it out. It was all garbled, and I was trying to get his name,” Pastore said about Frank, who was dead by the time the ambulance arrived. Pastore then took police up to room 1018A, which was being shared by Frank and Robert Lashbrook.
Police found Lashbrook on the toilet holding his head in his hands. The hotel’s telephone operator claimed she overheard 2 phone calls from 1018A. In the first, a voice said, “He’s gone.” Lashbrook told police he had made 2 phone calls but claimed he never said anything like that…
Breaking The News
Later that same night, Lt. Col. Vincent Ruwet, Frank’s boss at Fort Detrick, told Alice and her eldest son, 9-year-old Eric, that Frank had fallen or jumped from his hotel window and was dead. ”In that moment when I learned that my father had gone out a window and died, it was as if the plug were pulled from some central basin of my mind and a vital portion of my consciousness drained out,” Eric said.
18 Years Later
The Olson family were given no specific details about Frank’s death and believed his suicide was caused by a nervous breakdown. But in 1975, the government admitted Frank had been given LSD days before his death after some of the CIA’s drug experiments were revealed to the public…
The Olson’s planned to sue the CIA for wrongful death, but in 1975, they agreed to a settlement of $1,250,000, which was reduced to $750,000. The family also received apologies from Gerald Ford and William Colby, the CIA director at the time.
The family finally felt closure for the first time since Frank’s death, but that peace didn’t last. Eric tried to move on with his life and moved to Sweden. But in 1984, he returned home to figure out the truth about his father’s death and checked into room 1018A…
Retracing Frank’s Last Steps
Once inside the very room where Frank was last alive, it was obvious to Eric that the size and set up of the room made it impossible for his father to dive and break through the window. And when Eric found his father’s passport, he discovered his father had been to Sweden, Germany, and Britain in the summer or 1953.
A Security Risk
After speaking with a consultant who worked for British intelligence that knew Frank, Eric believes his father discovered America and England were working together to experiment on human test subjects. Frank was horrified by what he witnessed and his superiors started to fear he was a security risk. The only way they could guarantee Frank wouldn’t leak top-secret information to the public was to kill him and frame it as a suicide…
A Second Opinion
In 1994, Eric received more information that supports his theory that his father was murdered when he had Frank raised from the ground to be reburied with Alice after she passed away. While the casket was exhumed, Eric had a forensic team from George Washington University examine the body, which had been embalmed so was perfectly preserved. The team discovered a blow to Frank’s temple, which could not have been caused after he went out the window. Based on the injuries, James Starrs, who led the team, believes Frank was knocked out and then thrown out of the window.
Still Searching For The Truth
In the years that followed these major discoveries, Eric and his brother Nils tried to file a suit to gain access to classified documents about their father’s death and seek compensatory damages. However, the case was dismissed because the original settlement in 1976 where the family agreed to waive further legal proceedings. “While the court must limit its analysis to the four corners of the complaint, the skeptical reader may wish to know that the public record supports many of the allegations [in the family’s suit], farfetched as they may sound,” U.S. District Judge James Boasberg admitted when he was forced to dismiss the case.