Real Name: Vince Walker Foster, Jr.
Nicknames: No Known Nicknames
Location: Washington, D.C.
Date: July 20, 1993
Details: Forty-eight-year-old Vince Foster was a White House Deputy Counsel and friend to President Bill Clinton. On July 20, 1993, he was found dead in Fort Marcy Park, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. He had been shot once in the head; the wound was apparently self-inflicted. At the time of his death, he became a central figure in the "Whitewater Scandal". Two investigations, by the National Parks Police and the FBI, concluded that he had committed suicide. However, some doubted the ruling; the most vocal was the conservative Pittsburgh Tribune Review. They believe he was actually killed over intimate knowledge he had regarding the Whitewater Scandal.
One of the most suspicious pieces of evidence was an alleged suicide note that was found ripped to pieces in his briefcase four days after his death. It read, in part: I made mistakes from ignorance, inexperience, and overwork. I did not knowingly violate any law or standard of conduct...No one in the White House, to my knowledge, violated any law or standard of conduct...I was not meant for the job or the spotlight of public life in Washington. Here, ruining people is considered sport.
Curiously, White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum had earlier inspected the contents of the briefcase, but did not find the note. This led to widespread skepticism of the document's authenticity. On October 25, 1995, a team of well-known handwriting experts, hired by the editor of an independent financial newspaper, held a press conference in Washington. The experts had examined a photocopy of the alleged suicide note. Each of them concluded that it was a forgery. They believe that the forgers studied an existing document of Vince and copied the writing style letter-by-letter.
In 1996, Unsolved Mysteries had the experts come to Boston to explain their findings. Massachusetts handwriting expert Ronald Rice pointed out that the letter I appeared to be different in the suicide note and a known document written by the victim. He also pointed out that the letter o was open in the suicide note but closed in a known document. He also claims that the letter B in the suicide note was written with four strokes of the pen. In the known sample, it was written with just one continuous stroke.
Reginald Alton of Oxford University believes that the forger had a difficult time imitating Vince's elegant writing style, especially with the word "Clinton". Examiner Anthony Iantosca noted that there were several hesitation dots in the suicide note. He believes that the dots mean that the suicide note was copied. Police document examiner Vincent Scalice believes that the letter T in the suicide note was much more hastily written than in the known sample.
However, many believe that the differences between the samples are due to stress, especially if Vince Foster was about to commit suicide. Handwriting examiner Marcel Matley disagrees with the previous experts; he does not find any evidence of forgery in the suicide note. He believes that stress and the degradation of the copy are the main reasons that the other experts found discrepancies between the handwriting samples.
Marcel points out to many similarities between the words in the suicide note and the words in the known documents. He also points out that the only differences are due to the process of photocopying. Finally, he points out that there are differences between the same words in the known documents.
However, some still believe that Vince's note was forged and that his death was not a suicide.
Suspects: None known
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the March 22, 1996 episode.
- Vince Foster on Wikipedia
- Suicide of Vince Foster on Wikipedia
- Vince Foster on Unsolved.com
- Vincent Foster at Find a Grave