Vince Foster's Death Still a Mystery
Week of:
July 20, 1997

F.R. Duplantier

by:

F.R. Duplantier

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Our first 50 years . . .
Our First Fifty Years
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Controversy still dogs the discovery of the corpse of Vince Foster exactly four years ago yesterday.

The body of White House Counsel Vincent Foster was discovered in an overgrown area of Fort Marcy Park, across the Potomac River from Washington DC, at 6 p.m. on July 20, 1993. The U.S. Park Police found a pistol in Foster's hand and quickly ruled the death a suicide. Government investigators ignored evidence suggesting that Foster's body may have been dumped in the park, and that he may not have taken his own life.

Investigative reporter Christopher Ruddy has identified numerous inconsistencies in the official investigations of Vincent Foster's so-called suicide. First, there was no suicide note. Then there was a note, only it didn't mention suicide. Torn in 28 pieces, with no fingerprints on any of them, the note -- later declared a forgery -- was found in a briefcase that had already been searched.

Ruddy reports that a confidential Secret Service memo written the night of Foster's death stated that "U.S. Park Police discovered the body of Vincent Foster in his car." That might explain why the "official" suicide scene was atypical, with Foster's body neatly arranged and the gun -- with no finger-prints -- in his hand. "The fired bullet was never found. No one heard the fatal shot," says Ruddy. Nor did the FBI crime lab find any traces of soil on his shoes or clothing, "despite a 700-foot-plus trek through the heavily wooded park."

Ruddy charges that Park Police neglected to interview all persons in the park that day, as well as regular park visitors and park neighbors. They failed to seal Foster's office and "gave away key crime scene evidence, such as his beeper and papers, within hours of his death." They also delayed having the gun tested "until one week after" the death was ruled a suicide. The 35-millimeter crime scene photos, the Polaroids taken by a Park Police officer, and the X-rays mentioned in the autopsy report have all disappeared.

Ruddy reports that witnesses have accused FBI agents of badgering them to change their testimony, altering it themselves, or simply ignoring it. He also notes that the lead prosecutor in the second official probe "resigned after being thwarted" in his efforts to conduct a comprehensive investigation.

The suspicious nature of Foster's death and his connection to Whitewater, Travelgate, and other scandals make this one of the biggest news stories of the 1990s. Yet, only one reporter in America, Christopher Ruddy, has bothered to investigate the Foster death on a full-time basis. All Ruddy wants is straight answers to some simple questions: "If Foster didn't shoot himself, who did? Where? How did he really die? These are the questions investigators should have asked," says Ruddy. "Their answers lead to other, logical questions about the strong evidence that the body was moved to the park." Opinion polls show that most Americans, like Ruddy, refuse to accept the official verdict in this case. And so, four years later, the Vince Foster controversy continues.

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