Archive for May, 2016

Vince Foster: Myths & Realities

Thanks to one of Donald Trump’s rambling blusters, the strange death of Vince Foster is back in the news. On several occasions, the soon-to-be GOP Presidential nominee’s shoot-from-the-hip first and walk the bullets back later-style of campaigning has become fodder for late night comedians. Yet, on occasion, Trump — like the blind squirrel Franklin Roosevelt once cited — can find a nut sometimes.

In regards to Vince Foster, creditable investigators agree that President Clinton’s Deputy White House Counsel was found dead on July 20, 1994 in Ft. Marcy Park, a small federal government common in Virginia, just across the river from the nation’s capital. It is at this point, however, that a consensus seems elusive.

Over the course of the past week, Megyn Kelly has chided those who view Foster’s death suspiciously. Another Fox commentator, Howard Kurtz, purported that Foster left a suicide note and, thus, the case is closed. However, if Kurtz had done more than simply skim the surface, he would have learned that Reginald Alton, considered one world’s foremost document examiners, declared the note a forgery. Unfortunately, both commentators’ remarks affirm Obama administration speech writer Ben Rhodes’ perspective that only a few high profile media personalities do their own research and, instead, rely on “27-year-olds” with inadequate critical thinking skills.

Having spent 15 years conducting homicide investigations and having observed hundreds of dead human bodies in various states, the Vince Foster ‘suicide in the park’ narrative doesn’t pass the smell test. I base my professional opinion, in part, on a memo written by Miguel Rodriguez, an assistant U.S. attorney, who was the leader of Special Prosecutor Ken Starr’s team that probed Foster’s death.

In this memo, Rodriguez debunks the government-media depiction that Foster was “depressed,” and further noted that the deputy legal counsel’s involvement in the travel office scandal was minimal. According to those who spoke with Foster on the day he died, the attorney and Hillary Clinton confidant exhibited no signs of a man about to take his own life. It is, however, the state of the crime scene and some aspects of the investigation that raise red flags.

Vince Foster allegedly killed himself by placing a .38 caliber revolver in his mouth and pulling the trigger. Yet none of Foster’s teeth were chipped or broken and the gun supposedly used in the shooting was not Foster’s. Manufactured in 1913, the revolver’s frame housed two non-indigenous components and is, therefore, consistent with a “throw down” — an untraceable-type gun sometimes left at crime scenes. Since Foster owned and stored a different firearm at his personal residence, why would he defer to the relic pistol?

Even more troubling than the presence of a possible throw down-type firearm is the lack of blood, blood splatter, and brain material found at the scene. Typically, gunshot wounds to the head generate a large quantity of blood. Reports indicate that an exit wound was located in the rear of Foster’s head, which should have resulted in blood spatter and brain matter being ejected from his skull. Only a small amount of blood was found underneath Foster’s head and a smaller amount of blood was located on the right side of his shirt.

A forensic examination of the antique revolver recovered at the scene indicated that the firearm did not contain any fingerprints or fingerprint smudges; that, despite allegedly being placed in Foster’s mouth, the firearm contained no saliva; and that no blood was found inside the barrel of the gun. It is unclear whether investigators used a metal detector to search for the fatal round, which has never been recovered.

Rodriguez’s report also describes a second wound that was located on the right side of Foster’s neck. The District of Columbia Medical Examiner’s autopsy noted “the appearance of two crater-like indentations on the right side of the neck.” Based on his experience, Rodriguez attributed the marks to a stun-gun or a Taser “type weapon.” Unfortunately, quality crime scene photographs do not exist. Officers from the U.S. Park Police Service took Polaroid pictures at the scene, but every photograph taken with at least one, possibly two, 35mm cameras were “over exposed.”

Another key piece of physical evidence is Foster’s car. Investigators theorized that, based on the state of his body, Foster had been dead for about two hours when his corpse was discovered just prior to 6 p.m. But a key witness, Patrick Knowlton, who had been at the park at 4:30 p.m., told the FBI that Foster’s Honda was not present. Instead, a “Hispanic looking” man, who had occupied a brown car next to him, kept tabs on Knowlton as he entered the park to relieve himself.

Other physical evidence that serves to heighten suspicion was located on Foster’s body. “Blonde to light brown head hairs of Caucasian origin,” which did not belong to the deceased, were located on Foster’s “T-shirt, pants and belt and socks and shoes.” A semen stain, identified as Foster’s, was also found in the interior side of his boxer shorts.

Although these red flags (and numerous others not cited here) offer serious questions, conspiracy theorists discredit themselves by overreaching. Individuals stage or alter crimes scenes for a variety of purposes. One of the principal reasons for fudging or removing evidence at a crime scene is to protect the deceased, as well as his or her family, from the embarrassing circumstances surrounding a death. Based on the physical evidence, a likelihood exists that Vince Foster’s body may have been moved. At least one person noted that blood was observed inside the 6’4” Foster’s vehicle, and the front driver’s seat of the car had been moved forward to a point suggesting that the driver was about 5’8’.

Is it possible that an alleged a government cover-up is really an effort to prop up a convenient narrative? Could it be that repeating the line that there is nothing to see concerning Vince Foster’s death may simply be away to sweep some uncomfortable or highly embarrassing facts under the proverbial carpet? The odds are that we may never know.
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Steve Spingola is a retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide lieutenant, an author, and an investigator for TNT’s Cold Justice