Upon initial review, the reports and inquiries appear to be straightforward, with few problems to be discussed. However, some inconsistencies have led many conspiracy theorists to suggest Foster was murdered, presumably to prevent him from revealing secrets about one or both of the Clintons.
The Official Account
According to the official version of events, after six months in Washington, the stress and pressure had caused Foster to become depressed. On Tuesday afternoon, 20 July 1993, at approximately 1:00 P.M. Foster left his White House office and drove to Fort Marcy Park, located in the Virginia suburbs approximately 6.5 miles from downtown Washington.
Foster’s car was later seen at the Fort Marcy Park parking lot at approximately 4:30 P.M. Thus, sometime between 1:20 P.M. and 4:30 P.M. Foster arrived at the park, walked to an isolated location, sat down on a steep berm, placed his 38.-caliber revolver into his mouth, and killed himself.
At 5:45 P.M. a man, only identified in the Fiske Report as Confidential Witness (CW), in a white utility van informed two park service works that he had discovered a dead body in Fort Marcy Park. The park service workers called both the Fairfax County, Virginia, emergency number as well as the U.S. Park Police.
At approximately 6:10 P.M. Fairfax Fire and Rescue units and one Park Police officer arrived at Fort Marcy Park. There were only two cars in the small parking lot, one of which had Arkansas license plates. Because of the lack of specifics from the 911 call, the seven emergency workers split up to conduct their search.
Within minutes the rescue workers found the body resting on the berm, face up, with the head near the crest of the berm. Fort Marcy Park, which was originally used as an “earthwork fortification” (Starr, 11) during the Civil War, contains two Civil War cannons (Ruddy).
U.S. Park Police Officer Fornshill radioed police headquarters at 6:15 P.M. stating that a body was found and that it appeared to be a suicide. Investigators arrived at the park and took Polaroid photos as well as one roll of 35mm film of the body and death scene. The Polaroid photos were mainly close-ups of the body.
A Park Police investigator eventually searched the car with Arkansas license plates and found White House identification revealing the body to be Vincent Foster, Jr. Sometime between 7:30 and 8:30 P.M. the White House was notified of Foster’s death.
The medical examiner arrived at Fort Marcy Park at 7:40 P.M. and by 8:17 P.M. an ambulance had transported Foster’s body to the morgue. By 8:45 P.M. Park Police investigators had cleared the death scene and eventually arrived at Foster’s home at 10:00 P.M.
On 21 July, the deputy medical examiner of Northern Virginia conducted an autopsy on Foster, who was then buried in Hope, Arkansas, on 23 July. Six days after Foster’s body was found, Associate White House Counsel Stephen Neuwirth, while packing Foster’s personal items from his office, found a torn-up note in the bottom of Foster’s briefcase. White House personnel believe that the note is in Foster’s handwriting.
The note, though not signed, identifies the travel office scandal (in which the Clintons were accused of firing staff in the White House Travel Office in order to install political allies) and the editorials naming Foster in the Wall Street Journal as being the major source of his depression (Fiske).
On 10 August, the chief of the Park Police held a news conference where he stated that based on the death scene, the autopsy findings, and the investigation, it was clear that Vince Foster committed suicide in Fort Marcy Park on 20 July 1993.
Contradictions and Problems
One of the major contradictions in this account is the location and condition of Foster’s body and clothing. The police report places Foster’s body near the front of cannon #2, which is in the northwest corner of the park. The berm surrounding this cannon is low vegetation and mostly bare dirt.
Of the two cannons, cannon #2 is the farthest from the parking lot, approximately 800 feet. The police report also indicates that Park Police Officer Fornshill was the first to locate the body (Ruddy). The crime lab examination of Foster’s clothing showed it was clean of all soil and dirt, as were his shoes.
Lead paramedic George Gonzalez from Fairfax County’s Fire and Rescue has stated he was the first to discover Foster’s body, not Officer Fornshill. Gonzales also states that the body was in heavy/tall vegetation and was near, but not in front of, cannon #1. Gonzales also has stated that the body was laid out perfectly straight, not contorted or bent in any way. Conspiracy theorists have also pointed out the dirt-free conditions of Foster’s clothing and shoes.
If Foster had walked across a dirt pathway and then lain down on a dirt-covered berm it would be impossible for his clothes and shoes to be dirt free. However, if Foster’s body was by cannon #1, in the heavy vegetation, this could have prevented any direct contact with dust and dirt.
The photos raise other issues with the investigation. One account indicates that over forty Polaroid photos were taken; yet only thirteen are listed in the official report. Also, the one roll of 35mm film did not produce any usable photos (Ruddy). The Polaroid of Foster’s right hand holding the revolver shows some vegetation, which is much more consistent with cannon #1 than cannon #2, as the police report states.
Nine months after Foster’s death the FBI conducted a metal detector search around cannon #2. They found dozens of bullets but were not able to find the bullet from Foster’s gun. The FBI also found blonde human hairs as well as carpet fibers on Foster’s clothes. The FBI never gave an explanation as to the origin of either the hairs or fibers, which has led to speculation that Foster was murdered elsewhere and then transported to Fort Marcy Park.
The assertion that Foster still had the gun in his hand has also raised doubts about the suicide. The gun was reported to be hanging off Foster’s right thumb, as seen in the police photo. Thus, Foster must have gripped the gun with both hands, in a sort of cupping action, placed his right thumb on the trigger, placed the barrel in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. Then, after the fatal shot, Foster’s arms would have fallen to his side, with the gun hanging on his thumb.
The questions raised by this account assert that the cupping action would have placed Foster’s fingers over the cylinder of the revolver, making the rotating action impossible, and leaving fingerprints; the FBI did not find any fingerprints on the gun. In addition, this was a very awkward way to hold a gun, even during a suicide (Kellett). CW, who found the body, has stated repeatedly that he did not see a gun in Foster’s hand.
Another major contention is the note found in Foster’s briefcase six days after his death. The briefcase had been searched by White House staff in the presence of both Park Police and the FBI two days after Foster’s death. During this initial search the torn-up note was not found.
After finding the note, White House staff not only reassembled the twentyseven pieces using clear tape, but also did not immediately notify the police or the FBI. The note also did not have a date or a signature, nor were any fingerprints found on it. The FBI finally authenticated the note as Foster’s handwriting, but by using only one comparison sample (Ruddy).
The action of the White House staff along with some questionable police work has led many conspiracy theorists to believe Foster was murdered. However, if Foster did not commit suicide then this was one of the largest multiagency conspiracies and cover-ups in the history of the United States.
The U.S. Park Police, the FBI, two independent counsels, White House staff, and the Fairfax County Medical examiner would all have had to agree to assist with the cover-up and this list does not include the conspirators in the actual murder.