Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Vincent Foster

From Out of the Shadows

The torn note
The torn note

A note, torn into 27 pieces, found in his briefcase six days after his body was discovered offered possible insight into a gathering desperation as his political life unraveled. Described by his wife Lisa as a preliminary defense should he be called before Congress to explain his role in Travelgate — and not a suicide note — Foster began with regrets. "I made mistakes from ignorance, inexperience and overwork." "I did not knowingly violate any law or standard of conduct." The note then switched to a harsher, third-person accusatory tone, taking aim at the FBI and the press. "The WSJ editors lie without consequence." He concluded with a despairing: "I was not meant for the job or the spotlight of public life in Washington. Here ruining people is considered sport."

A list of three psychiatrists was discovered in Foster's wallet in his car after his death. His sister Sheila Anthony, a high-ranking official in the Justice Department, said he'd sought her advice in seeking mental health help in the weeks before his death. As more information came to light, investigators decided Foster suffered from depression. While Foster had yet to contact any of the psychiatrists, he had received a prescription for an antidepressant and sleep aid from his family doctor in Little Rock. He took the first fifty milligram dose the night before his suicide.

Page of Foster's notes on Travelgate
Page of Foster's notes on Travelgate

At Foster's autopsy, forensic pathologist Dr. James Beyer noted gunpowder burns on both of Foster's hands, indicating he held the gun in his right and steadied it with his left. There were also burns on the top of Foster's mouth. Inserting a metal rod through the bullet hole in the top of his palate and pushing it through the hole in his skull, Beyer confirmed the path of the bullet. There were no other indications of trauma to Foster's body, making struggle before his death unlikely, Beyer ruled.

And yet.

The identity of Dale Kyle was still unknown at this point in the Foster saga. The man who discovered Foster's body would only surface eight months later when he appeared on the talk radio program of G. Gordon Liddy, a conservative media personality and convicted felon of Watergate notoriety. Liddy allowed Kyle to speak anonymously, as the construction worker claimed to fear for his life for coming forward with information about Foster. In the many government investigations conducted into Foster's death, the initial discoverer of Foster's body was in fact named only as a "confidential witness."

G. Gordon Liddy
G. Gordon Liddy

And yet he came forward ultimately to have his side of the story heard and to rebut claims in the New York Daily News that he did not exist. The paper, seeking to combat its rival the New York Post, had published a story saying the park workers, who'd been drinking on the job, discovered Foster's body and made up the existence of the man in the white van — i.e., Kyle, though he was not named — to cover their boozing. On air, Kyle recounted wht he'd seen in Fort Marcy Park that hot July afternoon, and the lack of a gun in Foster's hand. He noted the strange way the corpse laid on the embankment. And he said he didn't come forward initially because "he didn't want to end up like that guy" whom he had found.

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