Whitewater: The Foster Report
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(Part V Continued)
Dr. Lee concluded, "[b]ased on laboratory observations and the examination of the scene photographs,'' that "the revolver . . . is consistent with the weapon which resulted in the death of Mr. Vincent Foster. The barrel of this weapon was likely in Mr. Foster's mouth at the time the weapon was discharged. Gunshot residue noted on Mr. Foster's right hand and the lesser amount of deposits on his left hand indicated that Mr. Foster held the weapon when it was fired."
At the autopsy, clothing was removed from Mr. Foster's body and placed on a table in the autopsy room. Park Police Officer Johnson took this clothing and placed it in a single bag for return to the Park Police offices. There, brown wrapping paper was laid on the floor of a photography room and the clothes placed on that paper. The clothes were left to dry in the photography room until Monday, July 26, when Technician Simonello packaged the clothing and put it into an evidence locker.
The FBI Laboratory and Dr. Lee independently examined the clothing, examined debris collected from the clothing by the FBI Laboratory during the 1994 investigation conducted by Mr. Fiske's Office, studied photographs taken at the scene and autopsy, and reported a number of findings related to the clothing.
Dr. Lee, in his examinations, reported "[s]mall deposits of gunpowder residue and partially burned gunpowder particles" on the shirt. Earlier FBI Laboratory examination of the shirt resulted in a positive reaction for vaporized lead and very fine particulate lead on the front of the shirt. "This type of reaction is consistent with the type of reaction expected when a firearm is discharged in close proximity to this portion of the shirt. It is consistent with muzzle blast or cylinder blast from a revolver like the [submitted] revolver using ammunition like" the cartridge and cartridge case submitted with the gun. The FBI Laboratory further stated that
Similarly, when the ATF Laboratory, at the request of the Park Police, tested Mr. Foster's shirt, it found ''a positive reaction consistent with the discharge of a revolver in close proximity to the upper front of the shirt."
The FBI Laboratory examined the bloodstain patterns depicted in the Polaroids taken at the scene. The Laboratory Report stated:
The contact stain on the right cheek and jaw of the victim is typical of having been caused by a blotting action, such as would happen if a blood-soaked object was brought in contact with the side of his face and taken away, leaving the observed pattern behind. The closest blood-bearing object which could have caused this staining is the right shoulder of the victim's shirt. The quantity, configuration and distribution of the blood on the shirt and the right cheek and jaw of the victim are consistent with the jaw being in contact with the shoulder of the shirt at some time.
On a separate bloodstain issue, Dr. Lee examined the photographs and reported that "[h]igh velocity impact type blood spatters were observed on Mr. Foster's face, hands, and shirt." Dr. Lee stated that "[t]his type of blood spatter typically is produced at the time when a weapon is discharged and the spatters result from the backspatter of the gunshot wound." Dr. Lee reported that "[t]hese blood spatters are intact and no signs of alteration or smudging were observed." This finding is in conflict with any theory that the fatal shot was fired elsewhere and the head wrapped during movement or cleaned upon arrival -- because those actions likely would have altered, smudged, or eliminated the blood spatters, contrary to what Dr. Lee found.
Dr. Lee noted that Dr. Beyer had "observed a large amount of liquid blood in the body bag and in Mr. Foster's body," which "further indicates that the location where the body was found is consistent with the primary scene [and that it] is, therefore, unlikely that Mr. Foster's body was moved to the Fort Marcy Park scene from another location."
The shirt itself, which was removed at the autopsy after movement of the body to the morgue, contains bloodstains on areas where blood does not appear in the photographs of the body at the scene. Dr. Lee stated that these stains on the shirt "most likely occurred when the body was placed into the body bag and moved from the scene and/or when in the body bag, prior to the collection of the decedent's clothing." As noted below, the experts concluded that the shirt likely would have been more extensively stained when the body was found at the second cannon area at Fort Marcy Park had the body been moved from another location.
Dr. Lee reported that examination of a photograph of Mr. Foster's shoes taken by the FBI Laboratory at the time of its initial examination revealed brownish smears on the left heel. Dr. Lee further stated that his own macroscopic and microscopic examinations of the shoes revealed the presence of soil-like debris. (The FBI Laboratory photo of the shoes, taken in 1994 at the time of the Laboratory's examination of the clothing, shows traces of soil visible to the naked eye.) Dr. Lee found that "[t]race materials were located embedded in the grooves of the sole patterns at the heel of [the left shoe]. A portion of this material subsequently was removed. Microscopic and macroscopic examination showed this material to contain mineral particles, including mica, other soil materials, and vegetative matter." Dr. Lee stated that this fact "indicates the sole of the shoe had direct contact with a soil surface containing these materials."
Dr. Lee found a small amount of vegetative material on Mr. Foster's shirt that could have resulted from contact with the ground in the park. Dr. Lee found no ripping, tearing, or scratch or scraping-type marks on the shirt. Dr. Lee stated that this fact "suggests that no prolonged moving contact with a soil surface occurred which would cause the type of damage commonly resulting from dragging or similar action."
Dr. Lee reported that soil and grasslike materials were similarly present on the pants in the area of the rear pocket, which indicates that the pants had direct contact with a soil surface. Dr. Lee reported that "[n]o dragging-type soil patterns or damage which could have resulted from dragging-type action were observed on these pants."
Dr. Lee examined debris collected from Mr. Foster's clothing and reported that the debris was "found to contain a bone chip." Dr. Lee stated that DNA was extracted from this bone fragment and amplified, and the DNA profile generated for this bone sample was consistent with the DNA types of Mr. Foster. Based on his analysis of the evidence, Dr. Lee concluded that "[t]his bone chip originated from Mr. Foster and separated from his skull at the time the projectile exited Mr. Foster's head.''
William Kennedy, Associate White House Counsel, eventually took possession of Mr. Foster's car on behalf of the Foster family after the Park Police released it on July 28, 1993. Mr. Kennedy maintained contents of the car that had not been taken into evidence by the Park Police, and he produced those contents to investigators from Mr. Fiske's Office. The contents included a kitchen oven mitt that had been in the glove compartment in Mr. Foster's car (the mitt is depicted in the glove compartment in the Park Police photographs of the car taken at the impoundment lot on July 21).
Dr. Lee's examinations of this oven mitt and of Mr. Foster's pants (taken into evidence by the Park Police at the autopsy on July 21) produced circumstantial evidence relevant to the investigation.
Dr. Lee reported that "[m]acroscopic and microscopic examination of the inside of the front pants pockets revealed the presence of fibers and other materials, including a portion of a sunflower seed husk in the front left pocket. Instrumental analysis of particles removed from the pocket surface revealed the presence of lead. These materials were also found inside the oven mitt located in the glove compartment of Mr. Foster's vehicle. . . . The presence of these trace materials could indicate that they share a common origin. These materials in the pants pocket clearly resulted from the transfer by an intermediate object, such as the Colt weapon."
As noted, Dr. Lee also examined the oven mitt recovered from Mr. Foster's car. He reported: "Dark particle residues were located inside of the oven mitt. Instrumental analysis revealed the presence of the elements lead and antimony in these particles; this finding could indicate that an item which had gunshot residue on it, such as the revolver . . ., came in contact with the interior of [the oven mitt]."
Dr. Lee further stated that "[s]unflower-type seed husks were located on the inner surfaces of this oven mitt. These sunflower seed particles were similar to the sunflower seed husks found in Mr. Foster's front, left pants pocket." Dr. Lee stated that "[t]his finding suggests that the sunflower seed husk found inside the pants pocket could have been transferred from the oven mitt through an intermediate object, such as the revolver."
Virtually all theories that the manner of death was not suicide assume that Mr. Foster did not previously possess the gun recovered from his hand at Fort Marcy Park. Apart from a variety of other compelling circumstantial and testimonial evidence (discussed below) that the gun belonged to Mr. Foster, the evidence regarding the pants pocket and oven mitt also tends to link Mr. Foster to the gun. Mr. Foster was found by police and rescue personnel with the gun that fired the fatal shot in his hand, and the oven mitt was found in the glove compartment in his car. There is no evidence, moreover, that anyone other than Mr. Foster did place or would have placed this or any other gun into Mr. Foster's pants pocket and into the oven mitt. Those pieces of evidence, when considered together and with all of the other evidence, tend to link Mr. Foster to the gun and thus tend to refute a theory that the manner of death was not suicide. The evidence regarding the pants pocket and oven mitt does not itself compel a finding as to location of death, but it is consistent with a scenario in which Mr. Foster transported the gun from the Foster home in the oven mitt, and carried the gun in his pants pocket as he walked from his car in Fort Marcy Park to the berm near the second cannon.
In debris collected from Mr. Foster's clothing, the FBI Laboratory reported finding two blond to light brown head hairs of Caucasian origin that were suitable for comparison purposes and dissimilar to those of Mr. Foster. The hairs did not appear to have been forcibly removed. Hair evidence can become important or relevant in a criminal investigation when there is a known suspect and a significant evidentiary question whether the suspect can be forensically linked to another person (a rape or murder victim, for example) or to a particular location. If the suspect is a stranger to the victim or the scene, the presence of the suspect's hair is relevant in assessing whether he or she had contact with the victim or scene. In this case, however, the only known individuals who reasonably might have been compelled to provide hair samples were persons already known to have had contact with Mr. Foster.
The FBI Laboratory reported 35 definitive carpet-type fibers in the debris collected from the clothing. Of those fibers, 23 were white fibers. OIC investigators sought to determine a possible source for the fibers for the white fibers in particular, in light of the number of white fibers in comparison to the limited number of fibers of other colors. The logical known sources for possible comparison were carpets from locations with which Mr. Foster was known to heave been in contact his car, home, and workplace. OIC investigators obtained carpet samples from those sources, including from a white carpet located in 1993 in the house in Washington where Mr. Foster lived with his family. The FBI Laboratory determined that the white fibers obtained from Mr. Foster's clothing were consistent with the samples obtained from that carpet.
In sum, therefore, the carpet fiber evidence the determination that the white fibers were consistent with a carpet from the Fosters' house and the variety and insignificant number of other fibers does not support speculation that Mr. Foster was wrapped and moved in a carpet on July 20. Indeed, the fiber evidence, when considered together with the entirety of the evidence, is inconsistent with such speculation.
When found, Mr. Foster's body was located on a steep berm with his head higher than his feet and his feet pointed essentially straight down the berm. Mr. Foster's eyeglasses were recovered by Park Police Technician Simonello approximately 13 feet below Mr. Foster's feet.
Dr. Lee stated that "[b]loodstains were found on both sides of the lenses" of Mr. Foster's eyeglasses. These bloodstains "were less than or equal to 1 mm in size. In addition, bloodlike and tissue-like materials were identified on the [fingerprint] lifts of the eyeglasses. "
The FBI Laboratory found one piece of ball smokeless powder on the eyeglasses, and it was "physically and chemically similar" to the gunpowder identified in the cartridge case.
Dr. Lee stated that the above facts "support the interpretation that Mr. Foster was wearing his eyeglasses at the time the gun was discharged." The analyses and conclusions of the experts and investigators in this and prior investigations reveal that the location where the glasses were found is consistent with the conclusion that Mr. Foster was wearing the glasses at the time the shot was fired.
As part of his examination, Dr. Lee went to Fort Marcy Park with OIC investigators and obtained soil and other materials from the berm on which Mr. Foster's body was found. Dr. Lee examined the soil samples; he reported that "[a] few unburned and partially deformed gunpowder-like particles were recovered from the soil in the area where Vincent Foster's body was found.'' It cannot be determined "[w]hether these particles were deposited on the ground at the time of Mr. Foster's death or at any other period of time."
Dr. Lee stated that one photograph of the scene "shows a view of the vegetation in the areas where Mr. Foster's body was found. Reddish-brown, blood-like stains can be seen on several leaves of the vegetation in this area." He also noted that "[a] close-up view of some of these blood-like stains can be seen in [a separate] photograph."
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