Whitewater: The Foster Report
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To sum up, the OIC has investigated the cause and manner of Mr. Foster's death. To ensure that all relevant issues were fully considered, carefully analyzed, and properly assessed, the OIC retained a number of experienced experts and criminal investigators. The experts included Dr. Brian D. Blackbourne, Dr. Henry C. Lee, and Dr. Alan L. Berman. The investigators included an FBI agent detailed from the FBI-MPD Cold Case Homicide Squad in Washington, D.C.; an investigator who also had extensive homicide experience as a detective with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., for over 20 years; and two other OIC investigators who had experience as FBI agents investigating the murders of federal officials and other homicides. The OIC legal staff in Washington, D.C., and Little Rock, Arkansas, participated in assessing the evidence, examining the analyses and conclusions of the OIC experts and investigators, and preparing this report.
The autopsy report and the reports of the pathologists retained by the OIC and Mr. Fiske's Office demonstrate that the cause of death was a gunshot wound through the back of Mr. Foster's mouth and out the back of his head. The autopsy photographs depict the wound in the back of the head, and the photographs show the trajectory rod through the wound. The evidence, including the photographic evidence, reveals no other trauma or wounds on Mr. Foster's body.
The available evidence points clearly to suicide as the manner of death. That conclusion is based on the evidence gathered and the analyses performed during previous investigations, and the additional evidence gathered and analyses performed during the OIC investigation, including the evaluations of Dr. Lee, Dr. Blackbourne, Dr. Berman, and the various OIC investigators.
When police and rescue personnel arrived at the scene, they found Mr. Foster dead with a gun in his right hand. That gun, the evidence tends to show, belonged to Mr. Foster. Gunshot residue-like material was observed on Mr. Foster's right hand in a manner consistent both with test firings of the gun and with the gun's cylinder gap. Gunshot residue was found in his mouth. DNA consistent with that of Mr. Foster was found on the gun. Blood was detected on the paper initially used to package the gun. Blood spatters were detected on the lifts from the gun. In addition, lead residue was found on the clothes worn by Mr. Foster when found at the scene. This evidence, taken together, leads to the conclusion that Mr. Foster fired this gun into his mouth. This evidence also leads to the conclusion that this shot was fired while he was wearing the clothes in which he was found. Mr. Foster's thumb was trapped in the trigger guard, and the trigger caused a noticeable indentation on the thumb, demonstrating that the gun remained in his hand after firing.
The police detected no signs of a struggle at the scene, and examination of Mr. Foster's clothes by Dr. Lee revealed no evidence of a struggle or of dragging. Nor does the evidence reveal that Mr. Foster was intoxicated or drugged.
Dr. Lee found gunshot residue in a sample of the soil from the place where Mr. Foster was found. He also found a bone chip containing DNA consistent with that of Mr. Foster in debris from the clothing. Dr. Lee observed blood-like spatter on vegetation in the photographs of the scene. Investigators found a quantity of blood under Mr. Foster's back and head when the body was turned, and Dr. Beyer, who performed the autopsy, found a large amount of blood in the body bag. In addition, the blood spatters on Mr. Foster's face had not been altered or smudged, contrary to what likely would have occurred had the body been moved and the head wrapped or cleaned. Fort Marcy Park is publicly accessible and traveled; Mr. Foster was discovered in that park in broad daylight; and no one saw Mr. Foster being carried into the park. All of this evidence, taken together, leads to the conclusion that the shot was fired by Mr. Foster where he was found in Fort Marcy Park.
The evidence with respect to state of mind points as well to suicide. Mr. Foster told his sister four days before his death that he was depressed; he cried at dinner with his wife four days before his death; he told his mother a day or two before his death that he was unhappy because work was "a grind"; he was consulting attorneys for legal advice the week before his death; he told several people he was considering resignation; he wrote a note that he "was not meant for the job or the spotlight of public life in Washington. Here ruining people is considered sport." The day before his death, he contacted a physician and indicated that he was under stress. He was prescribed antidepressant medication and took one tablet that evening.
Dr. Berman concluded that Mr. Foster's "last 96 hours show clear signs of crisis and uncharacteristic vulnerability." Dr. Berman stated, furthermore, that "[t]here is little doubt that Foster was clinically depressed . . . in early 1993, and, perhaps, sub-clinically even before this." Dr. Berman concluded that "[i]n my opinion and to a 100% degree of medical certainty, the death of Vincent Foster was a suicide. No plausible evidence has been presented to support any other conclusion."
In sum, based on all of the available evidence, which is considerable, the OIC agrees with the conclusion reached by every official entity that has examined the issue: Mr. Foster committed suicide by gunshot in Fort Marcy Park on July 20, 1993.
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