Medical Examiner Donald Haut's Report on Vincent Foster
The other major document hound was busy as well. At the end of the same week in July in which Starr made his long-awaited announcement, Hugh Sprunt and the aggrieved witness, Knowlton, paid a visit to the National Archives in Washington to examine the latest hearing records of the Senate Whitewater Committee which were recently made available, and while they were at it, to see if there was anything that might have been missed in the earlier records of the Foster case. And, as luck would have it, there was. Dr. Donald Haut, Chief Medical Examiner of the Northern Virginia District had already had his 15 minutes of fame when he appeared on the 60 Minutes episode in which he contradicted Ruddy with respect to the amount of blood he saw on and around Foster's body at Fort Marcy Park. What reporter Mike Wallace did not say is that he also contradicted what he had previously said on the record and what he had told Ruddy in an interview that Ruddy had recorded. The controversy over what Haut, the official medical recorder of the scene and the only physician at Fort Marcy Park that night, did or did not see made it all the more noticeable that in the massive two volumes of Senate documents his official written incident report was missing. Well, Knowlton found it, and Sprunt, hesitant at first, quickly recognized its significance.
The first thing one would notice in reading the pre-printed form is that Haut hardly earned his money that night. In the 48 boxes under "Description of Body, " which includes spaces for noting incidence of blood, among a lot of other things, everything is blank. In the 10 blocks under "Fatal Wounds (Gunshot, Stab, etc.)," same thing. Finally, under "Manner of Death: (check one only) we hit some pay dirt. The choices are "Accident," "Natural," "Suicide," "Homicide," "Undetermined," and "Pending." No doubt here. The block by "Suicide" has an "x" mark. And there beside it in the "Cause of Death" block is a short narrative in all capitals: PERFORATING GUNSHOT WOUND MOUTH- [space] HEAD. (The odd blank space is not exactly as I have shown it. It actually starts a second line.) Turning to the second page of the two-page form we find more blank spaces: "Found Dead By." nothing; "Last Seen Alive By," nothing; "Witnesses to Injury or Illness and Death," nothing. Then under the concluding "Narrative Summary of Circumstances Surrounding Death" we have this:
"JULY 20, 1993 After anonymous call was received at 18:04 hours US Park Police officers found 48 yrs Caucasian male with self-inflicted gunshot wound mouth to neck on a foot path in Marcey (sic) Park. His car was parked in the parking lot but no note was found. MEDICAL HISTORY Unknown."
Mouth to neck!?!? But didn't he say mouth-head on the first page? Yes, but there was that curious space between the words. Oh, look! A four-letter word has been incompletely mechanically "lifted off" there, it would appear. Well, what do you know? The original word sure does look a lot like "NECK."
So there you have it. Kenneth Starr just got through telling us that the death was a suicide just like Robert Fiske said it was, and the autopsy doctor upon whom Fiske relied produced a diagram showing that the bullet came out through the crown of the head, but the doctor at the park saw a neck instead of a head wound. There's certainly no confusing the neck and the crown of the head. Somebody, to make the written record of the two doctors agree, went back and "corrected" "NECK" and put "HEAD" down beside it. But this was a government worker. He did a slovenly job on the first page and overlooked the words entirely on the second page.
Sprunt, as is usually the case when he is in the Washington area (It was often the case with reporter Ruddy, too.), was staying at Hugh Turley's home. Turley, who had actually organized and participated in the archives expedition that spanned several days, prepared a press release on the discovery and sent it around. As we have by now come to expect with any information that is particularly damning of the government, it was of course completely ignored by all the major news organs. Here is an excerpt from that press release:
The "Report of Investigation by Medical Examiner" authored by Donald Haut and available at the National Archives confirms that the Fiske Report was wrong and paramedic Richard Arthur was indeed right when he said under oath that there was a bullet wound to Vincent Foster's neck. This neck wound was absent from the official autopsy report. Dr. James C. Beyer's "Report of Autopsy" states that Mr. Foster shot himself in the mouth and that the bullet exited from the back of Foster's head. The bullet has never been found.
Paramedic Richard Arthur stated under oath that "...there was a bullet hole right here (in the neck)...right around the jaw line." The first Whitewater Counsel Robert B. Fiske in his report dismissed Arthur's testimony saying that "Arthur believed he saw a bullet wound in the right side of Foster's neck. These wounds did not exist. The autopsy results, the photographs taken at the scene...conclusively show these wounds did not exist." Much of the evidence, however, is inexplicably missing. Park Police officers stated under oath that many of the body site Polaroid photos vanished and all the 35mm pictures taken of the body were underexposed. The autopsy doctor James C. Beyer claimed his X-ray machine did not work even though his report shows X-rays were taken. (ellipsis in the press release).
That the new evidence would cause one to go back and look more seriously at the previous work of Robert Fiske and Drs. Haut and Beyer as well as at the autopsy and the curious missing evidence is certainly not surprising, but what's this about Richard Arthur, who first turns up as a significant witness in Hugh Sprunt's Citizen's Independent Report as we noted back on page 43? Arthur takes on new importance, not only because, as we see, this very compelling new evidence seems to bear out his sworn testimony about the neck wound, but also because it makes everything else he has said more credible, and that "everything else" sounded pretty incredible at first. The "confidential witness"(identified as Centreville, VA, construction worker, Dale Kyle by the Washington Times in the wake of the Starr announcement) who supposedly discovered the body had made the "incredible" statement that he saw no gun in the hand. But he wavered over that under intense adversarial questioning by Fiske's FBI agents, and his story about walking almost 300 yards uphill on a hot day to find a private place for an emergency urination doesn't, as they say, hold a lot of water. The now more credible Arthur is the only witness on that fateful night to say--and he said it with great certainty--that the gun he saw in Foster's hand was an automatic and not the old black Colt .38 caliber revolver that is the official death weapon. Arthur was so sure that he drew a sketch of the weapon he saw for Senate investigators.