The Washington Post
November 11, 1973 - p. A2
Oakland, Calif., Nov. 10 (AP) Investigators say bullets used in the murder of Oakland's school superintendent contained cyanide.
Roland Prahl, chief investigator for the Alameda County coroner's office, said Friday that five slugs recovered during the autopsy on the superintendent, Marcus Foster, had the "distinctive odor of cyanide." A coroner's report verified the presence of the poison.
He said one bullet, found in the shirt pocket of the slain school chief, had a "tracing" of the poison.
"Just by looking at them, it appears the core or lead was removed and cyanide crystals placed inside," he said.
Foster and his deputy, Dr. Robert Blackburn, were ambushed outside the school district administration building Tuesday night as they left a school board meeting.
Foster, 50, died from eight bullet wounds, not from the poison, Prahl said. Blackburn was hit by shotgun blasts and not by the cyanide bullets. He is in serious condition but recovering under police guard in Highland Hospital.
Letters from the "Symbionese Liberation Army" to radio station KPFA and the San Francisco Chronicle claimed credit for the murders. They read in part: "Target Dr. Marcus Foster and Robert Blackburn. Warrant Order: execution by cyanide bullet."
KPFA news director Paul Fisher was served with an Alameda Superior Court search warrant for the letter and its envelope but refused to produce them. The San Francisco Chronicle, which also received a copy of the letter claiming credit for the ambush, said it had already turned its copy over to authorities.
"We refused to hand over the original to protect, under the First Amendment, the confidentiality of our news sources so we may have the credibility as a reliable source of news." KPFA manager Roger Pritchard said.
Plainclothesmen from the Berkeley police and the Alameda County district attorney's office searched the station and found the letter and its envelope.