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Report: Vince Foster Killed Himself

October 10, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ In his final days, Vincent Foster cried at dinner with his wife and told his mother he was unhappy because work was ``a grind,″ Whitewater prosecutors wrote in a final report that emphatically concludes the White House lawyer killed himself.

In poignant detail, the report released today by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr lays out new revelations about the extent of depression by one Clinton’s closest confidants leading up to his July 1993 death.

``The available evidence points clearly to suicide as the manner of death,″ Starr wrote.

His office announced two months ago that an extensive investigation _ the fourth such into Foster’s death _ had affirmed the earlier conclusions that Foster took his own life with a shot to the head from an antique revolver.

But the underlying report was not released until today. In 114 pages, prosecutors laid out in meticulous detail the forensic and eyewitness detail supporting their conclusions.

``He cried at dinner with his wife four days before his death; he told his mother a day or two before his death that he was unhappy because work was `a grind,‴ the report says.

While the report depicts Foster as a depressed man, prosecutors said they ``cannot set forth a particular reason or set of reasons why Mr. Foster committed suicide.″

The report directly addresses miscues at the scene of Foster’s death, questions about evidence and other innuendo that prompted a cottage industry of murder conspiracy theories that thrives still today with books, videos and debate on conservative TV and radio talks shows.

In one surprising piece of new information, the report says that in August 1994, Foster’s sister Sharon Bowman found at the family home in Hope, Ark., four .38-caliber cartridges of the same manufacture as in the revolver found in Foster’s hand. The cartridges found in Hope were manufactured at a different time than the cartridge and casing recovered from Foster’s gun.

Separately, carpet fibers on Foster’s clothing that had not been tested in prior investigations were tested by Starr. White fibers obtained from Foster’s clothing were consistent with samples obtained from carpet at his home, said the report. Four other fibers on Foster’s clothing were consistent with samples obtained from the White House or Foster’s car.

Among the evidence to bolster the speculation was the failure of the original investigation to directly conclude that the gun found in Foster’s hand was his own.

But Starr noted that Foster’s widow, Lisa, ``said she recalls two guns in a bedroom closet in Washington, one of which was missing when she looked in the closet after Mr. Foster’s death.″

``When Mrs. Foster was shown the gun recovered from Mr. Foster’s hand, she said it was the gun that she had been unable to find,″ stated the report. It added that Mrs. Foster did tell investigators she seemed to remember the front of the gun looked lighter in color when she saw it during the move to Washington.

But despite an extensive search of the site, Starr’s investigators never found the bullet that exited his body after killing him.

Foster’s body was found July 20, 1993, on a hillside in Civil War-era Fort Marcy park in Virginia across the Potomac River from Washington.

A former law partner in Arkansas of Hillary Rodham Clinton and a presidential friend, Foster served as a top White House lawyer in the first six months of his presidency. But his tenure was marked by tension from the White House travel office firings and other earlier Clinton controversies _ difficulties friends say drove him to his death.

The U.S. Park Police who discovered Foster’s body in the park, Starr’s predecessor as special prosecutor, Robert Fiske, and both a Senate and House committees that looked into Whitewater all concluded that Foster took his own life with a handgun.

Foster, a former law partner of Hillary Rodham Clinton, was one of a circle of close friends who followed the president from Arkansas to Washington at the start of the administration.

The revelation months after his death that papers from the Clintons’ controversial Whitewater real estate venture were removed from Foster’s White House office by presidential aides and kept from police spawned a new controversy.

Starr’s office is still investigating the handling of Foster’s papers.

A note written by Foster revealing his depression was found torn up in the bottom of Foster’s briefcase six days after his death _ and four days after White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum had searched the same briefcase in the presence of law enforcement officials without letting them peer inside the satchel. Nussbaum later said he simply missed seeing the torn up pieces of the note.

Nussbaum removed from Foster’s briefcase a notebook in which Foster scribbled an outline of the White House travel office controversy, but Nussbaum didn’t turn the notebook over to investigators and the White House finally provided it two years after Foster’s death.

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