Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Murder Cop: A Profile of Vernon J. Geberth

Surprise in Court

Nicole Brown Simpson
Nicole Brown Simpson

On June 12, 1994, the nation learned about a brutal double murder that would have a significant impact in the future on how such crimes would be investigated.  Nicole Brown Simpson, the wife of former football celebrity O. J. Simpson, was the victim of an assailant who slashed her to death.  The killer also slaughtered the man with her, 25-year-old Ronald Goldman.  He had come to deliver eyeglasses that Nicole's mother had left behind at a restaurant where he was a waiter.  They both lay dead in pools of blood inside the front gate.

Ron Goldman
Ron Goldman

Although Nicole was no longer married to Simpson, the police contacted him, and he soon became a suspect. At his home, detectives noted a bloodstain on the door of his white Ford Bronco. A trail of blood also led up to the house, but Simpson appeared to be gone.  It turned out that he had just flown to Chicago.

He returned to Los Angeles and agreed to answer questions.  Investigators then noticed a cut on a finger of his left hand that would prove to be problematic for him when they eventually charged him with the crimes.  First, he told several conflicting stories about how he had gotten the cut. Second, the crime scene indicated that the killer had been cut on his left hand and had trailed blood outside the gates.

Several droplets of blood at the scene failed to show a match with either of the victim's blood types.  Then Simpson's blood was drawn for testing (after the droplets had already been collected) and comparison between Simpson's DNA and that of the blood at the scene indicated a match.  Next to the bodies was a bloodstained black leather glove that bore traces of fibers from Goldman's jeans.  The glove's mate, stained with Simpson's blood, was found on his property.  There were also traces of the blood of both victims lifted from inside Simpson's car and house, along with blood that contained his DNA.  In fact, his blood and Goldman's were found together on the car's console.

OJ Simpson booking photo
OJ Simpson booking photo

When Simpson was notified that he would be arrested, he fled with his friend, Al Cowlings, and hinted in a note that he might kill himself.  He finally turned himself in but pleaded not guilty and hired a defense team of celebrity lawyers.  They intimated that Detective Mark Fuhrman, who had been at O. J.'s home the night of the murder, was a racist and had planted evidence. 

The entire trial was televised from the courtroom, and along with the rest of America, Geberth watched.  To his surprise, he saw Practical Homicide Investigation used by both teams as an authoritative guide about the forensic and investigative issues.  He agreed to become a weekly commentator for "Inside Edition."  He got quite involved and anticipated a guilty verdict.

Yet, deliberating less than four hours, the jury freed Simpson with a finding of not guilty.  In an interview with PI Magazine, he said, "I felt like I had suffered a loss.  This guy was guilty, pure and simple....But it motivated me to write the third edition....specifying why O.J. did it."   He also updated the forensic procedures, which helped to make the book a standard for international protocol.

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