Counsel gets Foster death findings

March 16, 1994|By Boston Globe

WASHINGTON -- The police chief who headed the investigation into the death of White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster has turned over his findings to the Whitewater special counsel, saying the documents should "put to rest" unfounded rumors that Mr. Foster was murdered, or his body tampered with after his death.

"This case is closed," said U.S. Parks Police Chief Robert Langston yesterday in an interview in which he outlined the findings of his report. Mr. Foster's death was "clearly a suicide," he said.

Chief Langston said that, along with his report, three file boxes filled with forensic evidence, notes and interviews were in the process of being turned over to special counsel Robert B. Fiske Jr. Mr. Fiske is re-examining Mr. Foster's suicide as part of his probe into President Clinton's one-time investment in Whitewater Development Corp. Hours after Mr. Foster's death, the White House removed Whitewater-related files from his office.

Chief Langston debunked many of the lingering conspiracy theories surrounding the Foster suicide and defended his department's investigation of the case.

"We're anxious for them [Mr. Fiske's office] to put this to rest," said Chief Langston. "It's been unfair for the politicians and the media to put the family through this. If Whitewater is the issue, let Whitewater be the issue. But the suicide has never been the issue."

On July 20, Mr. Foster's body was found face up on a grassy hillside in Fort Marcy Park in Northern Virginia, just over the river from the capital. He was lying with his feet down hill, a Civil War cannon perched next to him. An antique Colt revolver he inherited from his father was in his right hand.

Since that day, rumors have circulated in Washington that Mr. Foster -- who was the Mr. Clintons' personal lawyer on the Whitewater development affair -- was driven to suicide by a supposedly imminent federal investigation into the matter.

Among the rumors that, said Chief Langston, do not stand up to fact:

That Mr. Foster was murdered and his body dumped in the park to look like a suicide. The story gained circulation when the New York Post in January quoted a paramedic named George Gonzalez who said the scene was unlike any other he had observed in 20 years on the business. There was only a thin trickle of blood, and the body was laid out neatly, while "Usually a suicide by gunshot is a bloody mess," Mr. Gonzalez said.

Chief Langston said there was a substantial amount of blood seeping into the grass underneath Mr. Foster's head and that there were photographs of the crime scene to back up the claim.

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