Frank Olson, a military scientist working at Fort Dietrich, plunges eighteen stories to his death on the night of November 28, 1953. I first learned of this tragedy while reading the mystery book Better Dead by Max Allen Collins. (Click on the book title to read my review.) This year I came upon Wormwood, a documentary film by Erroll Morris, that focuses on the strange events surrounding Olson’s death.
It has interviews with Frank Olson’s son Eric, attorney’s David Kairys and David Rudovsky who represented the family, reporter Seymour Hersh and many others. Also, the film shows real footage of Olson with his family as well as dramatic re-enactments of his last days.
Officially Olson’s death is a suicide. The result of government LSD experiments gone terribly wrong. However, his family doesn’t agree and presses the government for the truth. Among their many questions included: Why did the CIA insist an allergist provide Frank counseling instead of a licensed psychiatrist? How come no one close to Frank said to his wife Alice, he is getting worse not better? Also, why didn’t the person who took Frank to the Statler Hotel on that tragic night not tell the manager, his companion is suicidal?
This intriguing and captivating documentary film goes into these questions and many more; providing answers for every one of them. It also goes beyond the mystery to not only show the terrible affects on the Olson family but also reveals the possible acts a few people in government may or may not have committed to silence one of their own.