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Whitewater: The Foster Report
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Certain issues related to the conduct of the initial 1993 investigation into Mr. Foster's death warrant discussion in this report.

A. Photographs

Park Police Identification Technician Simonello took 35 millimeter photographs of Mr. Foster's body and of the scene. Park Police investigators also took a number of Polaroids of Mr. Foster's body and of the scene. Polaroids taken at a crime or death scene develop immediately, and thus are useful in the event that problems subsequently occur in developing other film (as occurred here ).

Thirteen of the Polaroids provided to Mr. Fiske's Office and the OIC are of the body scene, and five are of the parking lot scene. Of the 13 Polaroids of the body scene, eight are initialed by Investigator Rolla. The backs of the other five say "from C202 Sgt. Edwards 7-20-93 on scene." Officer Ferstl said that he took Polaroids and, without initialing or marking them, gave them to Sergeant Edwards, who gave them to the investigators. Sergeant Edwards does not recall taking Polaroids himself.

B. Keys

Investigator Rolla said he felt into Mr. Foster's pants pockets at the scene in looking for personal effects. Later, when it became apparent to Investigators Rolla and Braun that they did not have the keys to the car, they went to the hospital to check more thoroughly for keys. The hospital logs indicate that Investigators Rolla and Braun were at the morgue at 9:12 p.m. Investigator Braun thoroughly searched the pants pockets by pulling the pockets inside out, and she found two sets of keys. She prepared an evidence receipt indicating that the keys were taken from the right pants pocket, and she subsequently placed the keys in an evidence locker.

C. X-Rays

Although no x-rays were produced from the autopsy, the gunshot wound chart in the autopsy report has a mark next to "x-rays made." Dr. Beyer has stated that either he did not take x-rays because the machine was not functioning properly at the time, or that if he attempted to take x-rays, they did not turn out. He stated:

I had intended to take x-rays, but our x-ray machine was not functioning properly that day. And if we took any all we got was a totally black, unreadable x-ray, so I have no x-rays in the file. . . . I could very well have tried to use it on the Foster autopsy and got an unreadable x-ray. If his wound had been a penetrating wound, where there was only a wound of entrance, and the missile was retained within the body, then there would have been a requirement that I have an x-ray. Since this was a perforating wound, where there was a wound of entrance and a wound of exit, and I was going to examine the tissue through which the missile path had taken, I concluded we could proceed without the x-ray, rather than delay it six to eight hours. Dr. Beyer's assistant recalled that, at the time of the Foster autopsy, the laboratory had recently obtained a new x-ray machine and that it was not functioning properly. The assistant stated that the machine sometimes would expose the film and sometimes would not. In this case, the assistant recalled moving the machine over Mr. Foster's body in the usual procedure and taking the x-ray. He said that he did not know until near the end of the autopsy that the machine did not expose the film. In addition, like Dr. Beyer and the assistant, the administrative manager of the Medical Examiner's Office recalled "numerous problems" with the x-ray machine in 1993 (which, according to records, had been delivered in June 1993).

With respect to the check of the x-ray box on the report, Dr. Beyer stated that he checked that box before the autopsy while completing preliminary information on the form and that he mistakenly did not erase that check mark when the report was finalized.

Foster Report Table of Contents

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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