“We need to determine if it’s evidence,” Neiman said. “If it’s not, how do we prove one way or another that it’s not.”
TMZ, which first reported news of the knife’s existence early Friday morning, says the knife was discovered by a construction worker at the former Simpson property at some point in the past, anywhere from several years ago to 1998, when the house was demolished by its next owner. The construction worker gave the knife to an off-duty LAPD officer who was working security in the vicinity of the house. The officer — whom Neiman says worked in the LAPD Traffic Division and retired in the late 1990s — then kept possession of it until the last month, when he turned it over to LAPD investigators.
According to TMZ, the officer asked a fellow cop for the case number of the Simpson murder investigation so he could have it engraved on the knife. The other officer told his superiors, who demanded that the knife be turned over to them, according to TMZ. Neiman confirmed that the department has begun testing the knife for hair, fingerprints, DNA and other biological evidence.
Neiman said it’s possible for investigators to find DNA evidence years after the fact. “We’re hopeful,” he said.
Neiman revealed few other details about the knife or the investigation during his news conference. He would not reveal the name of the former officer who turned over the knife, nor would he say whether that person would be facing charges for withholding evidence, though he did express surprise that a former LAPD officer would do such a thing.
“I would think that an LAPD officer would know that anytime we come in contact with evidence that we should submit that to investigators,” Neiman said, adding later that the officer told investigators that he thought the case was closed, a “misunderstanding” that led him to believe he could keep the knife.
Neiman also asked the person who discovered the knife at the Brentwood property to come forward in order to aid the investigation.
Early on the morning of June 13, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found dead from multiple stab wounds outside Simpson’s condo in Brentwood. Simpson was nearly decapitated and had defensive wounds on her hands. Quickly identified as a suspect, O.J. Simpson surrendered to police four days later at his Brentwood mansion after a surreal slow-speed highway chase that was televised to millions on television.
No weapon was introduced as evidence during Simpson’s murder trial in 1995 and a jury found him not guilty in what was dubbed the “Trial of the Century.” Because Simpson was found not guilty, he cannot be re-tried because of any new information that comes to light. The LAPD will investigate it, however, because it considers the Simpson/Goldman slayings an open case.
In 1997, Simpson was found liable for Goldman’s death in a civil suit and was ordered to pay his family $33.5 million in damages. In 2008, Simpson was found guilty of kidnapping and armed robbery charges in Nevada over an incident involving sports memorabilia. He’s currently serving a 33-year prison sentence and is eligible for parole next year.
The O.J. Simpson case has received renewed attention in recent months because of the FX series “The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” a dramatization of the events surrounding the Brown/Goldman slayings.