Even in a city that saw 421 murders last year, these were startling.
Near midnight on Sunday, June 12, police responding to a 911 call arrived to find two bodies sprawled alongside the blood-washed walkway in front of a $600,000 condo in the exclusive Brentwood section of Los Angeles.
The young man was found lying in the bushes.
Nearby was the body of a statuesque blonde woman, her beautiful face bruised and abraded.
Inside the four-bedroom condo, police found the woman’s two young children, asleep and oblivious to the carnage outside.
Neighbors later retrieved the woman’s prize Akita dog, which, after leaving bloody paw prints on the walkway, was found wandering loose in the area, still trailing its leash.
The second shock came when police identified the victims: Nicole Brown Simpson, 35, ex-wife of onetime football star O.J. Simpson, and Ronald Goldman, 25, a waiter and part-time model.
Then came the almost incomprehensible news that the prime suspect in the case was none other than Simpson himself.
And on Wednesday afternoon the Associated Press, quoting an anonymous police source, reported that he was the only suspect and would be arrested within days.
Stunned friends of O.J.’s and Nicole’s reacted with shock and disbelief not only to Nicole’s death but to the chilling implication that her ex-husband might have been involved.
“The only thing we heard from O.J. is how much he loved Nicole,” says a woman who lived next to the couple at the Laguna Beach oceanfront home they sold after their 1992 divorce. “Sometimes I’d look at the two of them up on their deck and I’d say to myself, ‘Wow, what a lucky couple.'”
True, there had been at least one significant blemish on Simpson’s record.
In 1989 he pleased no contest to wife-beating charges; he was fined and underwent court-ordered psychiatric counseling. An even darker portrait of the football hero began to emerge in the days after Nicole’s murder, as friends talked about the couple’s life together.
In the aftermath, friends of the Simpsons’ are still trying to comprehend the tragedy that has occurred, mindful that a horrifying turn may yet be coming.
“Maybe it was a fantasy of Nicole’s to think that she could ever leave O.J.,” says her friend. “They were both crazy about each other. It was like they were in each other’s blood.”
People Magazine (June 27 1994)