December 14, 2002 Updated Nov. 28, 2012
President Gerald Ford greeting Alice Olson in the Oval Office in 1975.
When CIA Scientist Frank Olson plunged to his death from the 10th floor of a New York hotel in 1953, his death was ruled a suicide. Twenty-two years later a special Presidential Commission investigating the CIA's development of potent drugs for use in biological warfare and assassinations revealed shocking new details about Olson's death. In 1996 Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau opened a new investigation into Olson's death based on startling discoveries uncovered by forensic sleuth James Starrs that put to lie the CIA's version of how Olson died.
by H. P. Albarelli Jr.
Editor’s Note: On November 28, 2012, the sons of Frank Olson filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., accusing the CIA of covering up the truth about their father’s death in 1953. The sons, Eric and Nils Olson, said their long efforts to get the CIA to open its files and provide them with more information about their father’s death had failed and that the court filing is their only means to find out the truth.
“The evidence points to a murder, and not a drug-induced suicide,” Eric Olson told reporters.
Frank Olson, a bioweapons expert working at the special operations division of the Army’s Biological Laboratory at Fort Detrick in Maryland, plunged to his death from his room in the Statler Hotel in Manhattan on November 28, 1953. The CIA claimed his death was a suicide.
“The CIA’s wrongful conduct in this case continues under the present administration,” said Scott Gilbert, an attorney representing the Olson brothers. “I have met personally with senior agency officials who still refuse to acknowledge the truth and to provide us with all the documents relevant to this matter.”