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Did a government scientist jump to his death from a New York hotel? Or was he pushed?
In the early morning hours of November 28, 1953, a crowd gathered outside of New York’s Hotel Statler. A man had apparently jumped to his death from a 13-story window. The victim was later identified as a government scientist named Frank Olson. Olson left behind a wife and three small children. His sons are now grown men and are still trying to find out what really happened to their father.
According to Nils Olsen, Frank Olsen’s son, Frank worked at Fort Detrick, Maryland, headquarters for the military’s biological warfare research and development program, also known as germ warfare.
Nils said that two weeks before his death, his father went to a three-day conference with some of his colleagues and came home a changed man:
Frank’s boss, Vincent Ruwett, told the Olsons he believed Frank was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Just before Thanksgiving, Ruwett took Frank to New York for treatment.
In New York, Frank shared a hotel room with Dr. Robert Lashbrook, a CIA scientist. Eric Olson, another of Frank’s sons, said that nearly a week passed before they finally heard from their father:
Frank Olson was dead at the age of 43. Investigators determined that he had either jumped or fallen to his death, something a young Eric Olsen had trouble reconciling:
The night manager of the hotel, Armond Pastore, found Frank’s death suspicious as well:
Armond said he immediately took the police to Room 1018A:
But the Olsons weren’t told about the doorman’s suspicions. They were told simply that Frank had a nervous breakdown and jumped out a window. And they believed that for the next 22 years.
In 1975, a government commission was formed to investigate past abuses committed by the CIA. Among other incidents, the official report made mention of a scientist who had plunged to his death from a hotel room ten days after being dosed with LSD. That scientist turned out to be Frank Olson.
A year and a half later, the Olson family received a formal apology from President Gerald Ford and a check from the government for $750,000. Nils Olsen recalled how he and his family met with then CIA Chief, William Colby:
The Olsons learned that the LSD was slipped into an after-dinner liqueur by either Sidney Gottlieb, head of the CIA’s Technical Services Staff, or by his deputy, Dr. Robert Lashbrook. The CIA reportedly feared that the Soviet Union might use LSD on captured CIA agents. Gottlieb believed that his “test” would prepare American spies for that possibility.
The laced drinks were served to eight of the ten scientists present. Some of them, including Frank Olson, were not warned about the test. Within an hour, the LSD began to take effect. According to Nils Olsen, when Gottlieb told the group that their drinks had been spiked with LSD, his father became angry.
Less than a week later, Frank made his fatal trip to New York, supposedly suffering from a nervous breakdown. Frank was taken to see Dr. Harold Abramson, an LSD expert, who worked extensively with the CIA. Accompanying Frank were Robert Lashbrook and Frank’s boss, Vincent Ruwett.
Frank remained in New York, and over the next several days, made repeated visits to the doctor’s office. Eric Olsen says his family was dubious about the supposed treatment:
Nils Olsen said his father was exhibiting strange behavior:
Apparently, the pattern continued in the immediate aftermath of Frank’s death. For some unexplained reason, Robert Lashbrook never phoned for help. However, according to Armond Pastore, Lashbrook allegedly did make a disturbing call, which was overheard by the hotel operator:
In 1993, Frank’s widow, Alice, passed away. Eric and Nils had their father’s body moved to rest beside her. But before Frank was re-interred, they asked forensic scientist, James Starrs, to perform an autopsy:
As part of his overall investigation, Professor Starrs and his colleagues went to the old Hotel Statler. The first thing that Professor Starrs looked for was evidence that Frank had indeed, smashed through a window. According to Starrs:
Eric Olson said the new finding is further proof of a continued cover up:
After years of research and investigation, the Olson family has become convinced that Frank Olson was murdered by agents of the US government. The Olson’s believe Frank was silenced because he had become extremely critical of illegal, top-secret programs and policies of the CIA and US government, with which his own research group was deeply involved. Frank Olson’s family hopes that someday the entire story will be exposed.