There was growing skepticism this weekend that a knife reportedly found on the property of O.J. Simpson in the late 1990s had any major value in the infamous murder case.
While specialists are testing the knife, law enforcement sources said a preliminary review suggested that the weapon appeared to be unconnected to the brutal 1994 slayings of Simpson's wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
But the sources said a full investigation was continuing.
Simpson was tried for murder but a jury found him not guilty.
The knife was supposedly found while crews were tearing down the Simpson estate in Brentwood after the property changed hands. But the owner of the firm that did the demolition said no one found a knife.
“I think it’s a joke. I think it’s just filler … no one on my crew found anything” said Mike Weber, 70. “I had instructed my people, ‘If you find anything, don’t keep it. Tell me, we’ll take the appropriate action.’”
The retired Los Angeles police officer given a knife found by the construction worker called the LAPD to report it years ago, his attorney said Friday.
When the department showed no interest, retired officer George Maycott put it in his toolbox for more than a decade, attorney Trent Copeland said.
The LAPD is investigating whether the knife is tied to the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman and is conducting a forensic examination. Department officials say at this stage they have nothing to tie the knife to the slayings.
Copeland said Maycott, who retired in 1998, was working security on a movie set in 2003 when a construction worker at the demolished estate handed him the knife.
"'Hey look, I found this knife on what I think is O.J. Simpson's property,'" the worker said, according to Copeland, re-creating Maycott's recollection of the encounter. "'It is dirty, muddy and rusted out, but do you guys want it?' ... Within moments of receiving that knife, he called West LAPD Traffic Division," Copeland said.
Copeland said his client was put on hold and later told that the Simpson case was over. He was told, "O.J. Simpson has been acquitted and there is double jeopardy ... there is nothing we can do."
Maycott took the knife home and put it in his toolbox and left it there for 15 years, Copeland said. "He thought it had no evidentiary value," the attorney said.
Copeland said his client feels the LAPD is being dragged through the mud.
"He also doesn't want to be portrayed as the villain here, as the bumbling cop who had evidence here and did not do anything with it .... He did ask what he should do with that knife."
Los Angeles police said the department was now testing the knife for DNA evidence and also trying to sort out the bizarre chain of events that brought the knife into their possession.
“I don’t know why that didn’t happen or if that’s entirely accurate or if this whole story is possibly bogus from the get-go,” LAPD Capt. Andrew Neiman said Friday. He added that the timing was “interesting,” referring to a current television miniseries about the 1994 killings and subsequent trial that has attracted a massive following.
Neiman declined to specify the type of knife, but a police source described it as a small folding knife.
While the finding has stirred up controversy, it is yet another hypothesis in a tragic tale. Goldman’s father, Fred, said he would rather not form an opinion on the knife until he hears more definitive news. “Right now it’s a bunch of speculation and I’m going to stay away from that.”