Saturday, April 25, 2015

Do you remember Danny Casolaro?

Boy, this takes me back...!

Do you know who Danny Casolaro was? Some of you will recognise the name; younger readers probably won't.

Back in the 1990s, around the time The X-Files first hit the air, Casolaro's mysterious death was the hot topic among parapolitical researchers. Casolaro was found dead -- almost certainly murdered -- in a hotel room in Martinsburg, West Virginia, in 1991. He had been working on a sprawling book about Spookworld, tentatively titled The Octopus.

Casolaro may be best known for uncovering the Spookworld takeover of the Cabazon Indian reservation in the California desert. (Previously, that reservation was made locally famous by its giant roadside dinosaur statues, as seen in the film Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.) There were only a handful of actual Cabazon Indians left, and most of 'em were pretty easy to buy off. This opened up the res for weapons manufacture and God-knows-what else. As many noted at the time, setting up shop on an Indian reservation is a good way to avoid EPA inspectors and other pesky outsiders.

The Cabazon episode gave rise to several lingering murder mysteries.

"The Casolaro papers" (as some called them) were an agglomeration of documents which circulated samizdat-style after the writer's death. I still remember reading that file at an all-night diner, starting at 2 a.m. and lasting until nearly sunrise. Those pages introduced many researchers to the Cabazon arms deals, to Wackenhut, to the PROMIS mystery -- and to the claims made by the outrageous Michael Riconosciuto.

Michael (who had a familial connection to a spooky corporation called Hercules) was a tinkerer, a con-man, an alleged "genius," and a Spookworld hanger-on. He was also -- as Penny from The Big Bang Theory might have have put it -- "a kind of chemist." Casolaro used him as a source, although I'm not sure if Danny believed all that he heard. Riconsciuto certainly loved to talk, and some of what he said was actually true, although he also unloaded some outrageous whoppers. I tend to visualize him as being akin to Jack Black's character in The Jackal.

Around the time Casolaro's body was found, Riconosciuto was busted on a serious drug rap. In prison, he told hair-raising yarns to anyone willing to pay for the phone call, wildly inflating his importance in the scheme of things.

(Whatever happened to Mikey? I seem to recall that he was received a very long sentence -- still, he ought to be out by now.)

Many would-be sleuths, most of them gullible and inexperienced, tried to follow Casolaro's leads. The trail began in the realm of the possible (Iran-Contra, BCCI, drug smuggling, October Surprise) and led straight into the swamplands of Wackyland (UFOs, Satanism, weird science). Naturally, and as always happens, the wacky stuff brought discredit to the entire "Octopus" investigation. After a while, only the doofiest conspiratards were still following the breadcrumbs.

That said, Casolaro must have stumbled onto something. I have never believed that his "suicide" was just a suicide.

If you're a nostalgic oldster like me -- or if you're a younger fan of spy-stories who would like to learn more about the smack that all of the hippest paranoia-junkies pumped into their veins, back in the day -- you're in luck. A cache of Danny Casolaro's private papers has just been placed on the internet, courtesy of the good folks at Cryptocomb.

Go here for fear!

I haven't yet gone through it all, but I've flipped through part of it. Though decades have passed, some of that stuff is still meaty and juicy.
Comments:
Ah, the man with the purple prose. That takes me back to my roots as a teenage armchair conspiracy theorist. Tomorrow is my 30th birthday, perhaps I will spend some of it on these old files.
 
Wow I remember this some was covered in Spy Mag. I do also remember that this was also some how tied to INSLAW or was it. There was the murder of a HS teacher in Bakersfield then a real strange murder in SF were the dead person was skinned alive according detectives. I'll come by tomorrow a read up on what you have.
 
Whatever happened to Mikey? I seem to recall that he was received a very long sentence -- still, he ought to be out by now

30 year sentence - earliest release date is 2017, so he's still in the slammer.
 
That's not much time off for good behaviour. And 30 years just for cooking a bit of meth seems horribly excessive. You'd get less than that for murdering someone in most civilised countries.
 
It is indeed true that Mikey was given an extraordinary sentence. Also, I believe that he did a lot of favors for the feds while incarcerated.

Basically, he did everything he could to mislead anyone trying to investigate everything having to do with the CIA or national security. I know for a fact that he claimed to know people he never met and that he sent reporters scurrying down blind alleys. I would bet my left testicle that he did all of this in exchange for an early release.

The fact that we have heard NOTHING since roughly 2002 is...suspicious. I would not be surprised to learn that he was quietly bounced out of the joint ten years ago, although he may technically still be incarcerated.

But of course, that's just a hunch and I could be wrong.
 
Everything I could find indicates he's still in FCI Terminal Island. What that says about the circumstances of his incarceration are of course anybody's guess.
 
Then Promis. Now Google and Facebook.
 
I thought you were older than that, Stephen. Hope you had a nice birthday, and many happy returns! :-)
 
That's odd, b, I thought I was younger. Anyway, a birthday is just another day closer to death.
 
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