The Bundy Drive Irregulars : Second Anniversary of Slayings Finds Sleuths Still Sorting Through Evidence
The details haunt them.
Details like a wooden stick. A piece of plastic. An angry shout. A trail of blood that abruptly ends. Tracks from paw prints padding down a street. A silent night.
Two years after Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman were murdered, professional investigators and armchair detectives are still picking over the crime, sorting through every possible clue, rustling up every potential connection.
Some think O.J. Simpson is guilty. Others insist he’s innocent. A few profess neutrality. But all say they are absolutely, 100% convinced the police have never proved beyond a reasonable doubt whodunit. “Is there anyone who wants to get to the bottom of this?” Denver-based crime writer Stephen Singular asks.
Police say they got to the bottom of it by June 17, 1994, five days after the killings. They remain convinced that Simpson slashed and stabbed both victims to death--acting alone in a frenzy of jealousy. “If we got something persuasive [from an independent investigation], certainly we wouldn’t ignore it,” Capt. Bob Ruckhoft said. However, he added, “as far as we’re concerned, this case was closed.”
And yet . . . Simpson has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence. A jury has pronounced him not guilty. The case still disturbs, even obsesses.
In that context, playwright and historian Donald Freed says it is a civic duty to “push against the official story,” to seek closure of this nagging wound. “We should not just gossip and whine and blame the jury,” he says. “How about taking responsibility as a citizen? Why not do something to investigate?”
The sleuths still working on the case--some paid by Simpson, some digging on their own--have not come up with any blockbuster revelations.
Mainly, they rehash the same arguments the defense brought up in the criminal trial to discredit the case against Simpson: police misconduct, what they call a rush to judgment and a tight timetable. They bolster these contentions with a few fresh tidbits--some from anonymous sources, some from witnesses discredited at the trial--but offer few facts that point to the real killer or killers.
In fact, the investigators cannot even agree on where to start looking: in the drug world, in the pornography business, in gambling circles, in organized crime, among associates of Simpson or among friends of Goldman--or in another direction entirely.
In his upcoming book, “Killing Time,” Freed and his co-author, computer scientist Raymond P. Briggs, call attention to some tenuously linked incidents, which they see as more than coincidence. Both the defense and prosecution in the criminal case evaluated them and rejected them, either because the witnesses were not credible or the connections were too tenuous.
“Not even Mr. Simpson and his lawyers in good conscience are pursuing such frivolous dead ends,” Goldman family attorney Daniel M. Petrocelli said.
Still, Freed insists they merit further investigation. He finds meaning in the knifing death of music promoter Brett Cantor, whose body was found June 30, 1993, in his Hollywood home. Sources said Cantor had pushed underground music in a nightclub where Goldman once worked and Nicole Simpson liked to dance. And, Freed asked, what about the other waiter at Mezzaluna, the restaurant where Goldman worked, who was shot and killed in a Hollywood parking lot in September 1995, after a struggle with two robbers? Or therapist Jennifer Ameli, who says she treated Nicole Simpson and Goldman, and reported a burglary at her office three months after the murders? The main item she said was stolen was Goldman’s file. Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys found her story credible.
Along with suggesting that the Brentwood slayings are part of a much bigger crime rampage, investigators have developed their own theories about pieces of evidence.
Private eye Bill Pavelic, who works for Simpson, suggests that the bloody paw prints heading down Bundy Drive might indicate that Nicole Simpson’s Akita was chasing the killer. If so, that would punch a hole in the prosecution’s murder scenario, which envisioned Simpson dashing out the back gate into his waiting Bronco.
Singular, who continues to ponder the murders even as he finishes a book on Michael Ovitz, has relied on an anonymous source for his hypothesis.
He argues in his book “Legacy of Deception” that former Police Det. Mark Fuhrman may have snapped a stick from a wood fence near Nicole Simpson’s condominium and used it to pick up one of two bloody gloves near the bodies. Fuhrman could have stashed the glove in a blue plastic bag that he carried as part of his homicide investigation kit, and later, planted it in Simpson’s yard, Singular said.
A stick and a piece of plastic recovered from Simpson’s property were introduced as evidence in the criminal case, but neither defense lawyers nor prosecutors addressed their significance. And police officers testified that at least a dozen officials were on the scene by the time Fuhrman arrived, making it unlikely he could have walked off with a glove without attracting notice. The defense during Simpson’s criminal trial implied that Fuhrman might have tampered with evidence, including the glove, but presented no proof of that theory.
As he prepares for the upcoming civil trial, which seeks to hold Simpson liable for the Brentwood slayings, attorney Petrocelli has pressed for details about Simpson’s personal efforts to find out who killed the mother of his two young children.
Simpson had vowed after the verdicts to “pursue, as my primary goal in life, the killer or killers who slaughtered Nicole and Mr. Goldman. They’re out there somewhere. Whatever it takes to identify them and bring them in, I will provide it somehow.”
But his friends said Simpson has not discussed the investigation with them. Cora Fischman, who was close with O.J. and Nicole Simpson, dismissed the whole subject as “not that interest[ing].”
Simpson refused to talk about his investigation during his 10-day deposition.
To Petrocelli, that silence speaks volumes. “If Simpson has made no effort to find the ‘real killers’ despite his public claims, it casts doubt on his credibility and suggests consciousness of guilt,” Petrocelli wrote in a motion asking a judge to force Simpson to answer questions on the subject.
But the lawyers defending Simpson in the civil case insist that the former football star is working behind the scenes to ferret out leads. “Investigation on behalf of O.J. Simpson has been and will be continuing,” one defense source said. The work, the source said, includes tougher scrutiny of Faye Resnick, the former cocaine user who stayed at Nicole Simpson’s condominium and who defense lawyers suggested may have been the real target of the slayings.
Although Simpson may suffer some bad publicity if it looks like he’s giving up the hunt, members of the defense team say they should not be responsible for tracking down a murderer on the loose.
“Frankly, it ain’t my job to find the real killer,” Simpson investigator Pat McKenna said angrily. “That’s the cops’ job. I’m so convinced he’s innocent, I don’t really give a [hoot] who did it.”
McKenna still works on tracking down clues, however. He said he has spent months trying to pin down a witness who saw two men running from the murder scene--but is now too terrified to come forward. Most of the leads are far less promising. Every time the Simpson case surges to the headlines, McKenna said, “I get 8,000 freaking psychics, kooks, everyone calling me in Florida. My fax machine runs out of paper with 31-page spiels.”
Separating the decent tips from the nutty ones, Simpson investigator Pavelic said he has turned up far more information pointing toward unknown killers than the defense team ever used during the murder trial. Figuring they had injected reasonable doubt in the case by attacking police misconduct, Pavelic said, they decided not to bother putting on his secret evidence.
“We knew the case was won, so we had no need to go into it at the time,” Pavelic said. “Suffice it to say, the public really knows only 40% or 50% of [the evidence in] the case.”
Some of those leads might emerge in the civil trial, where defense lawyers face a much harder task because jurors need only find a preponderance of evidence implicating the defendant instead of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Well aware they have a tough fight ahead of them, the defense vows to spring some surprises.