Early this morning, TMZ reported that a buried knife had been recovered from the O.J. Simpson estate by a construction worker at some point between 1998, when the house was demolished, and “several years ago.” The construction worker turned it over to an LAPD officer who was on the street, who turned out to be working private security for a movie shoot, and kept the knife for himself.
In incredible timing for the renewed media attention on the O.J. Simpson murder trial via both Ryan Murphy’s new show and a forthcoming ESPN documentary, this twice-buried knife was brought to light only very recently: by TMZ’s account, the cop retired, then contacted a friend in the LAPD’s Robbery Homicide Division, asking for the case number for the Simpson/Goldman murder, so he could engrave it on the frame he was purchasing for this O.J. knife.
By 10 a.m., the LAPD had confirmed the story to NBC4, and at 12:30 p.m., they held a press conference. Andrew Neiman, a police captain in the media relations division, gave a few more details: most notably, that they will not be releasing the name of the officer who had the knife in his possession, who reportedly believed that the O.J. case was closed. (As no conviction had been secured, it technically remained, and remains, open.)
“As I explained at the beginning,” Neiman said, “any case that we don’t have a conviction on all of the charges or we’re not able to prove to our satisfaction that we’ve proved the facts of the case, remains an open case.”
He also specified that he “shouldn’t be calling it the O.J. Simpson case. This is the Nicole Brown case. This is a double homicide that is still open and ongoing.” Investigators in Robbery Homicide are treating it “as we would all evidence, so it has been submitted to our lab. They are going to study and examine it for all forensics, including serology and DNA and hair samples, and that is ongoing as we speak.”
The first question he took was from a reporter who asked about his reaction, upon hearing that an LAPD officer had withheld evidence in what “many would call the biggest murder trial in L.A. history.” Neiman said, “I was really surprised. I would think that an LAPD officer—if this story is accurate, as we’re being told—would know that any time you come in contact with evidence, that you should and shall submit that to investigators. I don’t know why that didn’t happen, or if that’s entirely accurate, or if this whole story is bogus from the get-go.”
When asked about whether or not the officer could be called up for obstruction of justice, Neiman said, “I don’t know that. We will look into potentiality of any criminal charges that may be involved here.”
Neiman also specified that the cop retired in the late ‘90s, not more recently, as TMZ’s story implied. “It was brought to our attention that this retired officer had an item that was believed to or alleged to be possibly taken or recovered from the Rockingham estate back in the ’90s. Once we learned about that, we followed up.”
“I don’t know how the contact was made,” he added.
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