Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Vincent Foster

Wrongful Death?

Dee Dee Myers
Dee Dee Myers

The Washington press corps had already begun raising questions about Foster's death and the White House's handling of it long before Kyle came out of the shadows. The Wall Street Journal editorial page, perhaps somewhat chagrined by the death of their repeated target, pressed hard for an investigation in the days after the suicide. The New York Times editorial page followed, and was the first to call for an independent counsel to investigate. News articles by the Times, the Washington Post, The Washington Times, Newsweek and others piled on speculations and suspicions both about why Foster might have killed himself and how the Clinton administration seemed to have sought to stall and subvert attempts to search Foster's White House office.

White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers faced a growing hostility from the press corps, after she changed the official storyline after Foster's note was found. As the Washington Post put it in a July 29, 2003, news article, "After originally describing Foster's death as a shock that mystified the White House and President Clinton, the White House over the past several days has — in the face of revelations from friends and law enforcement officials — acknowledged a far more depressed and unhappy official than it first described."

White House inconsistencies in handling the aftermath of Foster's death further fueled rumors of misconduct. The handling of the files in Foster's office set off an early feeding frenzy by the press with accusations of a cover-up and obstruction of an ongoing investigation.

Book cover: The Strange Death of Vincent Foster, An Investigation
Book cover: The Strange Death of
Vincent Foster, An Investigation

Yet it was not until certain members of the press — notably Christopher Ruddy at the New York Post — began to hypothesize openly that Foster may have been murdered that the conspiracy theories began to heat up. While the Park Police investigation announced its conclusion that Foster killed himself in an August 10, 1993, press conference, neither its report nor the autopsy were released to the public. Over the next several months, pressure would mount to dig deeper into what happened at Fort Marcy Park.

On January 27,1994, about a week after independent counsel Robert Fiske was appointed to investigate both the death of Foster and his and the Clinton's involvement in the Whitewater land deal, Ruddy published his first Post story entitled "Doubts Raised Over Foster's 'Suicide.'" The story was based on interviews with two of the emergency responders who arrived at Fort Marcy Park that day, as well as with Park Police Officer Fornshill. The EMTs told Ruddy that there was a suspicious lack of blood around Foster's body and that the body had looked laid out on the sloping embankment, as though placed there, "as if it was ready for the coffin." One of the responders hadn't seen an exit wound in Foster's head even though he had lifted him into a body bag. Based on these descriptions, homicide investigators Ruddy spoke to speculated that Foster may have been killed elsewhere, and the body moved.

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