Frank Olson (July 17 1910November 28 1953) was a U.S. Army scientist who died under mysterious circumstances while undertaking secret research with the U.S. Army.

Olson's death was initially ruled a suicide, but this verdict has been disputed.


A chemist with the Army's top secret Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. His specific research in the Army is unknown, but he was involved in biological weapons research and experimented with mind control drugs.

In 1953, as Deputy Acting Head of Special Operations for the CIA, Olson associated with William Sargant, investigating the use of psychoactive drugs at Britain's Biological Warfare Centre at Porton Down.[1]

MKULTRA and Olson's deathEdit

According to the government's version of events, as part of the MKULTRA mind control experiments, Olson was dosed with LSD without his knowledge, subsequently suffering severe paranoia and a nervous breakdown. The CIA sent him to New York to see one of their psychiatrists, who recommended that Olson be placed into a mental institution for recovery.

On his last night in Manhattan, Olson purportedly threw himself out his tenth-floor hotel room window, dying on impact.[2]

Motives involving US national security Edit

The explosive nature of the Olson intimations about CIA torture-to-death in Germany and bacteriologic warfare on North Korea were revealed in a german documentary and clearly laid out in phone interviews with Olson's sons (see external links)

Later disclosuresEdit

His family had no idea of the details of the accident until the Rockefeller Commission started uncovering some of the CIA's MKULTRA activities. In 1975, the government admitted that Olson had been dosed with LSD without his knowledge. The government offered his family an out of court settlement of $750,000, which they accepted.

In 1994, Eric Olson had his father's body exhumed. The forensic scientist in charge of the examination, George Washington University professor James E. Starrs, determined that Olson had suffered some form of blunt force trauma to the temple/ forehead prior to falling out of the broken window, but contrarily had no visible laceration indicating that he fell through a broken window. The evidence was called "rankly and starkly suggestive of homicide". Based on his findings, in 1996 the Manhattan district attorney opened a homicide investigation into Olson's death, but was unable to find enough evidence to bring charges.

References in pop cultureEdit

  • In the May 2, 2007 episode of the show "Bones", entitled "Spaceman in a Crater", the Frank Olson case was mentioned along with Project Paperclip and Project ARTICHOKE as examples of situations where the US government has caused the death of individuals. The reference is made by the character "Hodgins" who is noted for being a conspiracy buff.
  • In the feature film Oktober, the protagonist says he "has what Frank Olson had".
  • Two similar events are mentioned in an episode of the TV series JAG.
  • Contemporary American Poet David Clewell has a book of poetry entitled Conspiracy Quartet which includes a piece about Olson and the LSD experiments.
  • A similar event is referenced in the feature film The Good Shepherd.
  • There was a segment on the show Unsolved Mysteries exploring the theories and rumors behind Frank Olson's death.



  2. "Family Plans to Sue C.I.A. Over Suicide in Drug Test", New York Times. Retrieved on 16 March 2008. 

External linksEdit

fr:Frank Olson