LAPD officials on Friday confirmed the department was investigating a knife that was allegedly discovered buried on the Brentwood property once owned by O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted two decades ago in the 1994 killings of his ex-wife and her friend.
During a morning news conference, Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Andrew Neiman said the department recently became aware of the knife. It was allegedly found by an individual claiming to be a construction worker years ago at the former professional football star’s estate, Neiman said.
It was unclear when the discovery was made, but the house was demolished in 1998.
After finding the knife, the worker took it to an either off-duty or retired LAPD officer who was near the Rockingham Avenue estate at the time working security for a film shoot, Neiman said.
Detectives with the department’s elite Robbery-Homicide Division learned of the knife’s existence within the past month, and the now-retired officer was ordered to turn it over, according to police. The knife was submitted to a lab and was in the process of being tested for DNA evidence and forensics, Neiman said.
He cautioned it was being treated like any other piece of possible evidence, and it has not conclusively been tied to the double homicide.
The former lead detective in the Simpson case, Tom Lange, doesn’t believe the newly discovered knife is the real murder weapon.
“I believe Simpson dumped the murder weapon at the airport,” Lange said. “We have a witness who observed this happen.”
CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos said a knife could be tested for hair or blood but, with the passing of time, “it’s going to be a difficult test because this stuff is probably degraded significantly by being buried in the soil.”
Neiman declined to say what type of knife investigators were testing, and where exactly on the property it was allegedly found, telling reporters he did not want to compromise the investigation.
“Bottom line is that with all cases that remain open — such as the O.J. Simpson and other murder cases or robbery cases — unless there’s an actual arrest or conviction to prove that we have actually closed the case, the cases remain open,” he said.
The officer who was holding the knife until two months ago possibly believed the case was closed, and consequently kept it in his possession, according to the caption. He added that was also being investigated
The captain stated that the officer possibly believed the case was closed, and consequently kept the knife in his possession.
“I would think that an LAPD officer – if this story is accurate as we’re being told – would know that any time you come into contact with evidence, that you should and shall submit that to investigators,” Neiman said. “So, I don’t know what the circumstances are, why that didn’t happen, or if that’s entirely accurate, or if this whole story is possibly bogus from the get-go, involving a variety of people.”
Neiman would not name the officer, who retired sometime in the late 1990s. He said it was doubtful he would face any administrative charges since he was no longer employed by LAPD.
“In terms of criminal allegations, robbery homicide and our investigators will look into if there are any potentiality of criminal charges related to this,” Neiman said.
As the investigation continued, he also encouraged the citizen who found the knife to come forward and speak with authorities about the finding.
Police never recovered the weapon used in the June 12, 1994, killings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
Simpson was arrested on suspicion of murder days after the two were brutally slain outside the Bundy Drive residence of his ex-wife; he then assembled a team of prominent attorneys that was billed as the legal “dream team” for the nationally televised trial.
Testimony took about nine months, encompassing about 120 witnesses, 45,000 pages of evidence and 1,100 exhibits.
Perhaps the most famous piece of evidence was a blood-soaked glove that was found at Simpson’s home. He tried the glove on in court and struggled to fit it on his hand, leading to defense attorney Johnnie Cochran’s famous line, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
The so-called “Trial for the Century” concluded on Oct. 3, 1995, with Simpson being found not guilty on the charges and subsequently freed from jail.
Since he was already tried and acquitted by a jury, authorities wouldn’t be able to try the former NFL and USC star again — even if evidence found on the knife linked Simpson to the crime — because of double jeopardy protections in the U.S. Constitution.
“Double jeopardy would be in place here,” Neiman confirmed.
Simpson is currently serving time in a Nevada prison in connection with a robbery at a Las Vegas hotel room back in 2007.
He was convicted on a number of charges the following year, including armed robbery and kidnapping, and sentenced to a maximum 33 years in prison. He is eligible for parole after nine years.
Interest in Simpson and the 1994 killings have recently gained renewed nationwide attention thanks to the FX miniseries “The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” which is based on a book about the infamous trial.
TMZ first broke the story about the discovery of the knife.
CNN contributed to this story.