A team of handwriting experts contend the suicide note supposedly written by Bill Clinton’s deputy counsel was a forgery.

Vince Foster, black and white headshot

Vince Foster

Foster’s alleged suicide note, illegible

Foster’s alleged suicide note

CASE DETAILS

Handwriting experts analysing various prints of Foster's writing

Experts did a handwriting analysis

On July 20, 1993, President Bill Clinton’s Deputy Counsel Vincent W. Foster died unexpectedly. Foster was 48. His body was found in a park across the Potomac River from Washington. Foster had been shot once in the head, the wound was apparently self-inflicted.

At the time of his death, Foster had been implicated in the Whitewater Scandal. The United States Park Police and the FBI concluded that Foster had taken his own life. But journalists raised serious doubts about that theory. Among them was investigative reporter Christopher Ruddy:

“Vince Foster was the highest Federal official to die under suspicious circumstances since the death of President Kennedy. I don’t push a non-suicide theory, I have never said Vince Foster was murdered. I have said that police are trained to treat every suicide, no matter how apparently, as a homicide, as a murder first, until the facts prove otherwise. What is clear in this case is that police procedure was never followed.”

Expert pointing out a small discrepancy in Foster's writing

Experts found discrepancies

One of the key clues in this case is a note allegedly written by Vince Foster. The message was unsigned. When found, it had been ripped into 28 pieces. 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.”

The shredded note was found in Foster’s briefcase four days after his death. Curiously, White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum had searched the briefcase earlier, but never found the note. This put the document’s authenticity in question.

A paper with the Handwriting experts notes on the handwriting in Foster's "suicide note"

Was the suicide note forged?

On October 25, 1995, more than two years after Foster died, a team of well-known handwriting experts held a press conference in Washington. Each of the experts examined a photocopy of the alleged suicide note and concluded that it was a forgery.

Unsolved Mysteries invited these same handwriting experts to meet with us in Boston to explain their conclusions. The experts compared the suicide note to 12 other samples of Foster’s handwriting. Ronald Rice, a handwriting examiner who has worked for the State of Massachusetts, is convinced that the note was forged:

“If we compare the formation of the cursive capital ‘I’ here on the questioned document, to the formation of the capital ‘I’ here, on the known document authored by Mr. Foster, we can plainly see it is not the same. It’s an entirely different letter formation.”

Rice went on to describe other discrepancies. For example, in the suicide note, the letter “O” is open. In the Foster’s samples, it is closed. In addition, Rice claims that the letter “B” in the note was made with at least four strokes of the pen. He says that in the known sample, the letter was written with one continuous stroke. Rice discovered numerous other discrepancies and believes the suicide note was not written by Foster.

“My study examination concluded that this was a document that was very skeptical and it was my opinion that it was a forgery.”

Handwriting experts say that Foster’s writing was typified by U-shaped strokes known as “swags.” Reginald Alton of Oxford University in England, believes the forger had a difficult time imitating Foster’s graceful style:

“When Foster writes ‘Clintons,’ the’ n’ is an elegant double swag. When the forger writes “Clintons,” we find the strokes are not easy and elegant, and not really on form at all.”

The note also apparently contained an inordinate amount of hesitation dots. Hesitation dots are small blobs of ink left where the pen starts or stops. Forensic handwriting examiner Anthony Iantosca explained that when a document has many dots, it’s a tip off that the penmanship was being copied:

“If we take a look at the capital letter ‘N’ you’ll see four distinct hesitation dots, starting at the top where the pen comes in contact with the paper. It stops. He comes down, and it stops at the bottom. He comes back up and retraces, he comes back down again, you’ll see a third hesitation dot. He stops, he comes back up, and you’ll see a heavy concentration of ink right here for the fourth hesitation dot.”

Retired homicide investigator Vincent Scalice is a certified document examiner. He points to the fact that the words beginning with the letters “TH” are much more crudely written in the suicide note than in the known samples. Some suggest the differences can be explained by stress, the stress of a man about to kill himself. But Vincent Scalice
disagrees:

“Your handwriting would not change because you were under that type of stress. It might get a little sloppier, it might get a little less clear, but your style of writing normally would not change.”

Our four experts all concluded the note was forged. But at least one other handwriting expert Marcel Matley says it’s authentic:

“There’s nothing in the questioned document that would support any finding of forgery. And the things that are brought forth, the apparent fragmentation, and those things, are explained by the fact that we have a deteriorated copy and the fact that the man was under some emotional stress at the time.”

Marcel Matley is convinced that the other experts are wrong. He believes that some of the inconsistencies seen on frequently used words like “the” and “to,” were part of Foster’s writing style:

“From comparing these words, the conclusion is, the same person wrote both writings.”

Did Vince Foster write the suicide note? Or, as Clinton critics contend, is the note part of an elaborate cover-up? There have been three official investigations into Foster’s death. The most comprehensive took three years and was conducted by Kenneth Starr. All three concluded his death was a suicide.

Yet the doubts still persist. And if the note is, in fact, a forgery, who wrote it … and why? These lingering questions may never be laid to rest.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season eight with Robert Stack and in season four with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

SUBMIT A TIP

 

14 Comments

  1. Mark

    The problem ultimately is why Foster committed suicide (assuming that he did). That has never been adequately answered; all the investigations have only determined if his death was by suicide, not why. What did he know that was so awful that he could not live with himself anymore?

    Reply

  2. Anonymous

    My gosh. What a bunch of whackadoodles leaving comments on here. The episode reports that there have been THREE separate investigations, including one multi-year investigation by Clinton-hater Kenneth Star, each of which determined that Foster committed suicide. Sheesh. Get over it already.

    Reply

  3. Susan M

    Carl Gee, I agree with you on the Clinton-Foster subject – but you lost me at O.J.. Even his own lawyers agreed that the murders were committed before he left L.A. for Chicago. The murders are estimated to have been carried out between 10:15 and 10:40 pm, but O.J. didn’t leave his house until 10:54 pm. The limo driver’s cell phone calls to his boss prove he was at O.J.’s at 10:40, when no one was home to answer the intercom. Nicole’s house was a 5 minute drive from O.J.’s.

    Reply

  4. Anonymous

    I’ve read Hillary’s emails, [from ALL her different serevrS] Vince Foster was murdered, because he was about to break under presure, turn state’s evidence [cop a plea bargin/limited amnisty] & spill his guts to Star & the world. Having Bubba’s Attorney General investigate that murder, well, it’s like asking A. G. Holder or Lynch to investigate Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS Targeting or Obamacare scandal. Just ain’t honestly gonna’ hapen, ever!!! When the world finds out about Hillary’s & Obama’s other serverS, all hell wil break loose, the DNC will take a huge hit, & we will see one, last Republican president, Scott Walker, the last Republican president. Guccifer knows where the [Clinton] bodies are burried, where the serverS/emails are, & others involved in these cover ups/scandals. Guccifer Knows

    Reply

  5. Roy

    I don’t think it is much of a secret that the Clintons have a long, long, long list of dead associates, bodu guards, or ex-lovers. Foster was doing Hillary and must have had the inside scoop on her Arkansas drug empire at Mena and money laundrying activities at Whitewater. Foster had to go.

    Reply

  6. Tom

    Has anyone compared handwriting in suicide note with Hillary Clinton’s handwriting.

    Reply

  7. Johnny

    This Vince Foster case is a real mystery. There’s evidence that points to both murder and suicide. Foster was under pressure with the investigation and knew plenty of things. He probably took that to his grave. I’m leaning towards Vince Foster and suicide. Almost 25 years later, you would have think somebody would have come forward or said something if it was murder.

    Reply

    • Anonymous

      Vince Foster did not commit suicide. He was murdered & the crime scene was staged to look like a suicide. There’s just too many things surrounding his death that don’t add up.

      Reply

  8. Marcel B. Matley

    Please see my paper on the handwriting of Foster compared to the alleged suicide note posted open access at https://archive.org/search.php?query=marcel%20matley. There are some 40 other forensic writings of mine posted there open access.

    Marcel Matley

    Reply

  9. Annonamous

    Someone needs to Check out Hilary Clinton’s association with reputed mob figure, Anthony Pellicano.

    Reply

  10. Carl Gee

    I don’t feel that the suicide note is either the only or even the most compelling evidence of foul play. The list of inconsistencies is a mile long. Without doing further investigation into the matter, I can not recall all the evidence, but a few of the things I recall are as follows: There was no blood at the site where Fosters body was found. The car that he supposedly drove himself to the park was not his car, and the drivers seat was pulled up all the way. Foster was a relatively tall man, and would not have driven a car in that position, or for that matter, even been able to get in or out of the drivers seat with it in that position. There was an unexplained automobile spotted in the parking area of the park at the time of the alleged shooting, and it was not the same car as was there in the investigation. It had Arkansas license plates. Hilary Clinton’s mysterious phone call from her mothers house after midnight on the night of the death.
    There were so many investigations ongoing involving the Clintons at that time that it is hard to keep them all straight. The whitewater scandal, the Minna cocaine scandal, Rose Law firm, Travelgate, to name a few. These investigations were brimming and boiling about to overflow. Vince Foster was up to his neck in trying to cover up all the Clinton’s dirty laundry. If questioned in a congressional investigation, he would have been forced to either perjure himself or roll over on Bill and Hilary. They could not take that chance. After his death and the subsequent dog and pony show of an investigation, Ken Starr took the lead and it all began to fall away in loo of the sperm stained dress of Monica Lewinsky. What a joke. Of course there was one other key component to mask the fast culminating investigations which by now were nearly a year further along and almost impossible for even the powers that be to keep out of the media. OJ Simpson allegedly, brutally and savagely attacked and murdered his trophy wife and her alleged love Ron Brown in June of 1994. From that day forward, all attention was taken off the Clinton’s and their woes and misdeeds and all eyes were fixed on the successful black athlete/actor personality who so brutally slaughtered his white wife and her white lover, even though at the time of the murders, he was in Chicago, Ill. By the time the OJ trials were over, the grass had grown long and covered up almost all the cars parked in the Clinton’s yard. All except the sperm stained dress. The rest is evident.

    Reply

  11. Frankie Adamo

    Since the experts cannot agree on the formation of the letters and words in the note, perhaps the phrases and word use should be examined. For example, each person has a unique manner in which they present a thought, such as the manner in which they use verbs and other parts of speech. Usually a forger neglects this aspect of the forgee’s writings.

    Reply