What a Knife Can Tell Us About the O. J. Simpson Case (2024)

On Friday, police in Los Angeles announced that a knife—which may have been the murder weapon in the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, in Los Angeles, in 1994—had very belatedly been turned over to the authorities. A construction worker had found the knife while helping to raze O. J. Simpson’s former home in Brentwood, in 1998. He gave it to a police officer, who unaccountably waited almost two decades before submitting the knife as evidence, which he did just recently. Police investigators are now running tests on the knife.

Is this knife the murder weapon? Put me down as skeptical. The passage of time has likely destroyed any forensic value, and the murky circ*mstances of the discovery suggest that it may be a hoax, or at least a mistake. Still, the discovery raises tantalizing questions about the case.

Certainly, the news was not a publicity stunt for the FX series “American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson,” which is based on my book “The Run of His Life.” In my book, I assert without equivocation that I believe Simpson killed his ex-wife and her friend, on June 12, 1994. (The FX series is not as definitive on the question of Simpson’s guilt.) Simpson’s blood at the scene, the bloody footprints (in Simpson’s shoe size) leaving the scene, the blood on his Ford Bronco and on the glove found at his home (a matching pair with a glove found at the scene), plus Simpson’s history of violence against Nicole were more than adequate proof for me.

Still, the prosecution left some unanswered questions. What was the murder weapon? And what happened to it? And how exactly did the murders take place in the crowded space in front of Nicole’s condominium? Here is my informed speculation about those questions.

In the late afternoon of June 12th, Simpson and Nicole attended a dance recital of their daughter, Sydney. The former spouses quarrelled. Simpson returned to his home on Rockingham Avenue and stewed. Some time around ten in the evening, he drove to Nicole’s condo, on Bundy Drive. As a frequent visitor to the home of his children, he knew to park in the alley by the back entrance, not on Bundy, which is a busy street.

Simpson walked through the back gate to a pathway that led to stairs into the kitchen. There the confrontation with Nicole began and escalated. Simpson grabbed a knife from her kitchen and chased her into the small walkway in front of the house, where he killed her. Goldman arrived while Simpson was attacking Nicole, and Simpson set upon him as well. Both bodies were discovered along the small path from the Bundy entrance to the front door. Simpson left the bloody scene through the back, dripping blood from an injury to his left hand. (He had a bandage on his left hand the next morning.)

In other words, the murder weapon was a knife that came from Nicole’s kitchen. When the police examined the contents of her kitchen in subsequent days, they would have had no way of knowing if any knives were missing. This theory would also explain why no knives were missing from Simpson’s house on Rockingham. (In the preliminary hearing of the case, prosecutors implied that the murder weapon was a knife Simpson purchased in downtown Los Angeles a few days before the murders. Simpson’s defense lawyers produced that knife, which was in pristine, unused condition, during the course of the investigation, scotching that theory.)

I am less sure of how Simpson disposed of the knife. Shortly after the murders, he was driven to Los Angeles International Airport for a late-night flight to Chicago. I have always assumed that he dumped the knife in a trash can at LAX. or at O’Hare Airport, in Chicago. At his trial, there was vague but provocative testimony about his placing something in a trash can at LAX. In those pre-9/11 days, Simpson would have had no trouble bringing a knife onto the plane. Investigators later searched the trash from both airports, but the volume was such as to make the task futile.

The failure to present a movie-like, frame-by-frame account of the murder was certainly a weakness in the prosecution's case, if a common one. By killing Nicole and Goldman, Simpson made sure no one was around to describe precisely what happened. The scenario I’ve outlined makes the most sense to me. The newly discovered knife raises interesting new questions, but the most important questions about the case, at least for me, have long since been answered.

What a Knife Can Tell Us About the O. J. Simpson Case (2024)
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