Vince Fosters "suicide" note
sam.teel at SFWMD.GOV
Mon Apr 22 07:41:06 MDT 1996
Anthony, I hope this helps.
WARNING! This is long!
> Mr. Teel said
> >How do you account for the FACT that his suicide note is a fake? EVERY
> >who had looked at the note has called it fake.
> Who are the "experts"? This matters to me. It has been my experience
> that so-called "experts" will often say what they are paid to say, regardless
> of the "FACTS".
> >I hit a web site that had a
> >copy of the note digitized and also a letter that he DID write. Hell, I
> >could tell the difference. (Of course, I AM the father of a teenager ;)
> >I have asked people and thought about it, but I cannot remember a case where
> >a suicide note was faked and the motive was not either to hide a murder or
> >insurance fraud. Have any of you?
> Assuming the note is fake, I absolutely agree with you. There would be no
> other logical reason to fake a suicide note.
Experts: Foster note fake
By Christopher Ruddy
FOR THE TRIBUNE-REVIEW
WASHINGTON - At a press conference in Washington today, an international
panel of forensic handwriting experts - including one from Oxford
University - will announce its findings that a torn note, said to have been
Vince Foster Jr.'s "suicide" note, is a forgery.
Strategic Investment, a Baltimore-based financial newsletter, and its
editor, James Dale Davidson, have called the conference to issue the
written findings of three experts that analyzed a copy of a note.
Twenty-seven pieces (the 28th piece was missing) of the note were claimed
to have been found in the late Deputy White House Counsel's briefcase
almost a week after his sudden death on July 20, 1993.
If the forensic panel's assertions are true, it could indicate that someone
engaged in a major cover-up of Foster's death and obstructed justice by
hindering the investigation of the matter. The U.S. Park Police originally
determined that the note was written by Foster, and ruled his death a
suicide. At the request of former Special Counsel Robert Fiske, the FBI lab
examined the note and concluded it was authentic.
The methodology used by both the FBI and Park Police to certify the note,
however, has been challenged. Fiske relied on the note to help make his
case that Foster was depressed in the last days of his life, particularly
over apparent improprieties in the White House Travel Office.
The note begins, "I made mistakes from ignorance, inexperience and
overwork", and from there rambles on about legal, personal and office
concerns on a single sheet of 81/2 by 11 legal paper.
Foster's wife, Lisa, told the FBI that she believed her husband had written
the note in the weeks before his death after she had advised him to
document "everything `they' did wrong." She told the FBI that she "did not
view or read the note" until it was pieced together and shown to her.
The three forensic reports obtained by the Tribune-Review indicate that the
experts came to independent conclusions that Foster did not write the note.
Reginald E. Alton indicated that, based on his comparison of a photocopy of
the note with a dozen photocopied documents known to have been written by
Foster, the torn note "is a forgery."
Alton has for 30 years lectured on handwriting, manuscript authentication,
and forgery detection at England's Oxford University. In recent years he
led a panel of experts that ruled on the challenged diaries of noted
English author C.S. Lewis. Alton's opinion has been sought by British
police agencies and, according to his biography, he has testified in
British courts as an expert witness relating to questioned documents.
Alton is currently Dean of Degrees at Oxford's St. Edmund Hall, its oldest
undergraduate institution. In his report Alton noted eight major
discrepancies between the torn note and Foster's known handwriting. He
described Foster's natural writing as "firm, open, rounded, with a
consistent slight backward slope and an easy currency that joins letters
with scarcely an interruption. ..." The torn note, he said, is written in a
less open style with an inconsistent slope, and with letters drawn in a
characteristic arched style.
Coming to a similar conclusion, Vincent Scalice notes that the "execution,
form and style of the writing ... is not consistent with (Foster's)
Scalice, a former homicide and identification expert with the New York City
Police Department, has 22 years experience handling questioned documents
and is a certified document examiner with the American Board of Forensic
Examiners. He has testified in numerous court cases relating to documents
and has consulted for major firms and banks, including Citibank and
Chemical Bank, as a document examiner.
"Look at the note, and just compare it with the flow of the letter the Park
Police used to authenticate," Scalice said in an interview. "Even a lay
person can see it's not a match." Scalice added that he also analyzed the
challenged document for specific letter characteristics and other patterns
that indicate the note to be a forgery.
Offering a third opinion of forgery, Ronald Rice heads New England
Investigations of Boston and has 18 years experience examining documents
and is board certified. A consultant to the criminal unit of the
Massachusetts Attorney General's Office, Rice has worked on a number of
celebrated cases, and recently was asked by CNN to examine notes written by
Rice told the Tribune-Review that the note is "an artistic forgery." The
forger, Rice suggests, took known writings of Foster and "either drew them,
used a cut-and-paste method, or used a highly sophisticated computer
Alton and Scalice also agreed that the forger created the torn note from
known writings. "A good forger always wants to mimic the real thing, rather
than create a word," Scalice explained. "This is probably why the note
never makes a reference to suicide. Foster likely had never written any
"The flimsy investigation into the note parallels still the flimsy
investigation of the death," Davidson said. Davidson and his newsletter
have criticized the handling of the Foster case by federal authorities.
Given the political overtones of the Foster matter, Davidson noted he
strongly supported President Clinton in the past, having donated the
maximum amount allowable to his 1992 presidential campaign, and has
attended "renaissance weekends" and inaugural balls for then-Gov. Clinton.
He said he hired the experts after he received information that the FBI and
Park Police did not adequately review the note. In his report, homicide
expert Scalice said the torn note is "not consistent" with a suicide note,
since it makes no mention of intentional harm, suicide, death, farewell, or
expressions of departure.
Scalice, also an expert in the identification of latent fingerprint
impressions, said if the note was torn into 28 pieces without leaving any
fingerprints, this "would be consistent with someone having worn gloves."
"Otherwise there should have been numerous latent impressions," he said.
Scalice and Alton both said finding of the note "torn" should have been a
red flag for investigators that a forger may have been attempting to make a
comparison of the document more difficult. "Anytime a document is torn,
mutilated, something spilled on it, suspicion should be aroused," Scalice
The White House says that the note was found in Foster's briefcase as it
was being packed almost a week after his death. Then-White House Counsel
Bernard Nussbaum admitted he searched the briefcase two days after Foster's
death and that he did not detect the torn pieces.
The Park Police in both private and public interviews have claimed that the
briefcase was searched properly, and that the torn note was not in it
during the official search conducted by Nussbaum.
Earlier this year Park Police detective Pete Markland told the Washington
Post that Nussbaum searched the briefcase twice, declaring "It's empty."
Markland told the New York Post in April that he became suspicious when the
note was later found in the same briefcase. "Nobody could have missed that
note in there," Markland told the Post. Markland never testified at Senate
hearings this past summer.
POLICE, FISKE EXAMINATION
Despite apparent suspicions about the note, police apparently took a rather
casual approach to its examination. On July 29, 1993, the Park Police had
Sgt. Larry Lockhart, an expert in handwriting for the U.S. Capitol Police,
examine the note. Lockhart concluded that Foster wrote it.
Lockhart told the Tribune-Review that he has no certification as a
handwriting examiner, but has developed his skill over a 15-year period. He
admitted that he used only a single document of Foster's known writing - a
curt letter that Foster had written shortly before his death - to make the
"According to the federal rules of evidence you need at least four known
writings to compare a questioned document, but usually an examiner wants as
many as he can get," explained Ron Rice, who wrote the course on
handwriting examination for the American Board of Forensic Examiners.
Scalice noted that in a homicide investigation police "would not normally
accept a single document (for comparison purposes) from a family member.
You'd want documents from several sources to make sure the police aren't
given a forged document to compare another forged document."
Asked how many known writings he typically wants to make a comparison,
Lockhart said his rule is "the more the better." He said he made his
opinion based on one document in this case because that "was all the police
Lockhart said when he examined the torn note he did notice a wavering in
the writing "which could have been a tremble." He said that although he
noted it to himself, "I didn't say anything at the time to investigators.
There was something in the writing that indicated the individual could have
been a manic depressant."
He said he later read in the paper that Foster was on medication and saw
that as a possible reason for the "tremble." He was unaware that Foster is
said to have gone on medication for insomnia the night before he died, and
that the note was said to have been written days or weeks earlier.
Other experts say that a "tremble" could be a sign of hesitation - a forged
document lacks the free-flowing style of the actual writer. The Park Police
say that they did not use the FBI lab to examine the document because
Foster had criticized the FBI by stating in the torn note: "The FBI lied in
their report to the AG."
According to the report of former Special Counsel Robert Fiske, the FBI lab
subsequently was brought in and "determined that the torn note was written
by Foster." Fiske used, like the Park Police, a single page document
offered by the family, adding only two checks written by Foster, for
handwriting comparison purposes.
But a source close to the Starr probe said Fiske was imprecise in his
report: the FBI lab found the two checks to be an "inconclusive match" to
the torn note. The FBI lab matched the note to the single page document.
The lab's reliance on so few documents in the case contradicts normal FBI
procures. "The general guidelines is to have more (known writings) rather
than less," explained John Hicks, recently retired FBI assistant director
and head of the FBI Crime Lab, which oversaw the Document Unit.
"If I had to come up with a minimum number of (known writings) I'd want,
I'd say 10," James Lyle said. Lyle, a former special agent and unit chief
for the Question Document Section who retired in 1993, said there "is no
rule of thumb" except that analysts "usually want as many as you can get."
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