Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman, slain side by side in a brutal attack that has grabbed the attention of the world, were buried in separate funerals Thursday, with O.J. Simpson, a suspect in the killings, attending the service for his ex-wife.
Simpson’s children, 6-year-old Justin and 9-year-old Sydney, accompanied him to their mother’s funeral in Brentwood and to her burial service in Lake Forest. They were sleeping Sunday night when an attacker killed her outside their Brentwood home.
In Westlake Village, mourners gathered to grieve for Goldman, 25, a waiter and friend of Nicole Simpson whose body was found a few feet from hers just after midnight Sunday. Goldman’s sister, who wept as she eulogized him Thursday, spoke in memory of him, saying: “I don’t know if I ever told you how proud I am of the man you have become.”
In other developments Thursday:
* Los Angeles police released documents detailing a 1989 beating by Simpson of his wife. The documents, which include the original police reports of the incident, said officers found Nicole Simpson cowering in the bushes, bruised and bloodied and afraid for her life. Prosecutors involved in that case said Simpson, who did not serve jail time, got off too lightly.
* Detectives interviewed a new witness about her observations on the night of the killings. In an interview with The Times, that witness said that while she was jogging Sunday night, she spotted a car that closely resembles one owned by O.J. Simpson parked across the street from Nicole Simpson’s house. She could not tell whether anyone was inside.
* In Los Angeles, police studied clothing, shoes and other items belonging to Simpson--whom police sources have identified as the prime suspect--searching for bloodstains or other clues. Meanwhile, in Chicago, another group of officers hunted for a possible murder weapon in a field near a hotel where Simpson spent a few hours Monday.
* Two nationally acclaimed experts, a pathologist and a forensic scientist hired by Simpson’s lawyer, left for Los Angeles to assist in Simpson’s defense in the event that he is charged with the slayings.
As investigators continued their review of the physical evidence and their interviews with possible witnesses, families of each victim gathered 20 miles apart for the funerals.
About 200 close friends and family members made their way to Nicole Simpson’s funeral at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church on Sunset Boulevard in Brentwood on Thursday morning, under sunny skies and the buzz of media helicopters.
A phalanx of reporters and camera people flanked narrow Saltair Avenue, on the western side of the church grounds, straining for a glimpse of a familiar face in a passing car or a stray quote from a mourner.
Men in dark suits and women in sleek, short-skirted black suits and high heels arrived looking solemn behind sunglasses. A line of luxury cars and trendy trucks snaked up to the iron gate entrance to the parking lot that bristled with private security.
The role of gatekeeper was performed by Al Cowlings, a former football player with Simpson at USC and with the Buffalo Bills. Cowlings waved through familiar cars, briefly questioned some arrivals, and greeted most guests with warm hugs.
A white hearse carrying the light wood casket of Nicole Simpson, covered with a spray of white roses, arrived shortly after 11 a.m., followed by limousines ferrying family members.
O.J. Simpson emerged from one and lingered briefly with other family members outside the side entrance. He held the hands of his two small children--his daughter in a patchwork print dress and his son in pants and jacket and tennis shoes.
Former football players, Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner and former baseball player Steve Garvey were among those attending the Mass, celebrated by the church’s Msgr. Lawrence O’Leary. Simpson’s lawyers also were in attendance. Reporters were kept out.
“It was beautiful,” said Garvey after the service in the church, a mixture of traditional and contemporary. “Msgr. O’Leary gave probably the most poignant and moving homily I’ve ever heard.”
Among the latecomers to the service--who were forced to wait outside the church--was comedian Byron Allen, who said he last saw O.J. and Nicole Simpson together five or six weeks ago at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard. “They were happy, hanging out, having a good time,” Allen said. “They sat down at my table for about 10 minutes, had a bite of my salad. . . . I figured they were working it out.”
Allen peered at the parked hearse. “It’s devastating,” he said. “It’s really hard to believe.”
After the hourlong service, family and friends paused outside the side entrance, surrounding O.J. Simpson, who was dressed in a black suit and wearing sunglasses. Guests embraced.
Simpson’s attorney, Robert L. Shapiro, said later that Nicole Simpson’s mother had expressed a wish to him at the service. “Mrs. Brown told me: ‘Please take good care of him (Simpson). The children need their father.’ ”
A mile-long funeral procession headed south to Orange County about 2 p.m. for burial services at Ascension Cemetery in Lake Forest. The site was not far from Dana Point, where Nicole Simpson graduated from high school in 1976 and where her parents still live.
Security was so tight at the service that even the Rev. Bruce Lavery, who would officiate, was made to show identification to sheriff’s deputies who kept guard at the iron gate in front of the cemetery.
Simpson, holding the hand of his son and followed by about 50 relatives and friends, walked slowly after the pallbearers onto a green baize carpet and under a light gray canopy that had been set up beside the grave site.
Lavery said Simpson looked “very solemn and hurt” during the service, where he was seated with Nicole Simpson’s family.
“There was no estrangement at all,” Lavery said.
After the service, many mourners lingered, with many exchanging tearful embraces and hugging the Simpson children before walking back toward their limousines. Just before leaving, several women approached the wooden casket and kissed it before turning away.
Nicole Simpson was buried next to her grandparents.
Everyone, including Simpson, was invited to the Monarch Bay home of Nicole’s parents after the service, Lavery said.
Friends who could not get into the service gathered in front of the cemetery gate and greeted one another with hugs and smiles. Some had attended Rancho Alamitos High School in Garden Grove with Nicole and had fondly remembered her family. Many reminisced about the Browns’ family pool with its high diving board, and how the family loved horses.
“It is really sad to have a school reunion this way,” one woman said.
Jeff Daly, 42, of Newport Beach, carried a single red rose surrounded by a sprig of baby’s breath.
“She was the greatest,” said Daly, a family friend. “But I’m not just here for Nicole. I’m here for the family.”
Bob Chandler, a former teammate on Simpson’s USC and Buffalo Bills football teams, said the ceremony “was very nice. There was a lot of love and support from everyone.”
Reporters, photographers and Lake Forest residents whose homes border the cemetery peered over back walls and fences.
Chris Valdivia, 36, who attended Dana Hills High School with Nicole Simpson and her sister Denise, had hoped to attend both her memorial service and the interment in Lake Forest, but was turned away by security guards. He settled for a glimpse of the scene from 200 yards away, borrowing binoculars from resident Debbie Sims to gaze over her back-yard wall at the service for the young woman he had known.
“She was the type of person who walks into your life and becomes a presence there,” said Valdivia, who had taken two classes with Nicole and described her as a casual friend. “She was very down to earth, very levelheaded and wholehearted. There was no phoniness about her at all.”
Meanwhile, at a tiny Westlake Village chapel, about 400 of Goldman’s friends and relatives attended services. Some stood in the chapel’s aisle while others huddled by the doorway and listened to loudspeakers placed outside. Kim Goldman, 22, wept as she said farewell to her brother.
“Not in my worst nightmare did I imagine that I would be here in front of our family and friends saying how much I’ll miss you,” she said. “I admire everything about you. I don’t know if I ever told you how proud I am of the man you have become.”
Goldman, according to his friends, thrived on the excitement of Los Angeles’ night life, but also spent much of his time working with children. Two of his goals were to open a trendy Brentwood bar and work as a paramedic.
“Ron lived life to its fullest,” said Mike Pincus, a longtime friend. “He took everything life had to offer.”
After the chapel service, hundreds crossed the lawn at Pierce Bros. Valley Oaks Memorial Park to attend the burial. The crowd of friends, most in their 20s, ignored the dozens of television cameras set up across the street as they huddled around the grave site. They stood silently as Goldman’s stepbrother and close friends walked the casket from the chapel.
Family members and friends sobbed as the final prayers were read in Hebrew, and the casket was lowered into the ground.
“You can’t possibly give justice in a service to someone’s whole life,” said Frank Enderle, one of Goldman’s friends. “It’s just too hard to deal with.”
The burials were haunted by the possibility of exhumations, as Shapiro had said he wanted a leading national pathologist to conduct his own autopsies to check the work of the Los Angeles County coroner’s office. But Shapiro--who Thursday identified that pathologist as Dr. Michael Baden of New York--said he had at least temporarily dropped those plans out of deference to the victims’ families and instead was asking for the cooperation of the county coroner’s office in supplying his pathologist with information related to the autopsy.
“Because of the dramatic effect on the family, I have decided not to encroach upon the family with this subject during this period of grief,” Shapiro said.
Baden is a former chief pathologist for New York City and works for the New York State Police as a forensic scientist. Shapiro also is bringing in Henry Lee, a nationally known forensic scientist who was retained by lawyers in the William Kennedy Smith rape trial.
Even as the funerals were under way, investigators continued probing the killings and interviewed a new witness, who said she saw a car that resembled one owned by Simpson parked across the street from the residence of his ex-wife Sunday about the time of the killings.
The witness, a young woman who said she jogs in the area every night, said she could not be sure whether anyone was in the car when she jogged past, but her description of the vehicle generally matches the car that police seized from Simpson’s home two days ago. The woman--who met with a homicide detective in a church parking lot to avoid the crush of media following the case--said she was familiar with the cars in the area and noticed this one because it was parked in an unusual location.
“I saw a light-colored Ford Bronco or Blazer-type car,” the woman, who asked not to be identified, said in an interview with The Times. She added that she did not see any activity outside the house, nor did she hear anything unusual.
Police have not released the exact time of death, but sources have placed it between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. The woman spotted the car between 9:45 p.m. and 10:10 p.m., she said.
On Monday, officers seized a white Ford Bronco from Simpson’s home. Police sources say blood samples were recovered from the upholstery in that vehicle. They are testing those samples to determine whether the blood might have come from either of the victims or from Simpson.
Other blood samples taken from the scene match O.J. Simpson’s blood type, sources close to the case have said. Such a match does not necessarily prove that Simpson was at the crime scene because many people share blood types.
Investigators also are combing clothing, shoes and other items seized from Simpson’s home to determine whether any of them contain bloodstains and to see whether the treads on any of his shoes match tracks found at the crime scene, sources said. At least some of that clothing was taken from a washing machine at Simpson’s home, sources said, adding that detectives are trying to determine whether he was trying to wash out bloodstains.
In Chicago, meanwhile, police roamed a field near the hotel where Simpson briefly stayed Monday, trolling with metal detectors as they searched for a possible weapon. Asked about their activities, officers at the scene would only say that they were following up on leads provided to them by Chicago police.
According to sources, police are nearly ready to forward their investigation to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, but prosecutors and police are discussing whether to arrest Simpson and then file charges against him or to submit the evidence to a grand jury and seek an indictment.
Submitting the case to a grand jury might delay an arrest, but it would eliminate the need for a preliminary hearing. Unlike grand jury sessions, preliminary hearings are held in public, a spectacle that sources say prosecutors are eager to avoid.
While sources said the case is proceeding quickly, Police Chief Willie L. Williams--interviewed from Philadelphia, where he is testifying in a trial--cautioned that it could still take time.
“Everybody expects this case is a slam-dunk, and no homicide case is a slam-dunk,” Williams said. “We would be beyond the greatest police department in the world if we could close a homicide case in four days.”
Times staff writers Adam S. Bauman, Leslie Berkman, Tina Daunt, Len Hall, Mark Platte and Rebecca Trounson and correspondent Matthew Mosk contributed to this report.