LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) – Los Angeles police said Friday they are investigating and testing a knife that was allegedly recovered on a property once owned by former football star O.J. Simpson.
The elite robbery-homicide division will determine whether it has any connection with the 1994 murders of Simpson’s ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, LAPD spokesman Andrew Neiman told a news conference.
The knife was turned over to an LAPD police officer several years ago by a construction worker at the Rockingham residence, he added.
“Within the last month, LAPD became aware of an item that was allegedly recovered by a citizen at the Rockingham property, possibly during the demolition of the site,” Neiman said.
“We need to vet that. We still don’t know if that’s an accurate account of how this item came into our possession.”
Neiman refused to comment on what kind of knife was found, saying that its description “could be germane to determining whether or not this actual piece of evidence is, in fact, evidence or it’s just a facsimile or made-up story.”
Simpson, 68, endured one of the highest-profile trials in US legal history for allegedly murdering Brown and her friend Ron Goldman on June 13, 1994.
Detained four days later after an infamous car chase that was watched live by television viewers across America, he was eventually found not guilty after the so-called Trial of the Century the following year.
But a civil trial two years later found him responsible for the killings, ordering him to pay $33.5 million to the families of the victims.
Simpson was back in court in 2007 for an alleged armed robbery and kidnapping in Las Vegas. He was jailed for nine to 33 years, and remains behind bars.
Neiman confirmed that the double-murder is still an open case but added that under the “double-jeopardy” law, Simpson could not be tried again.
He said the officer, who has not been named, was working on a movie set — not uncommon among off-duty and retired LAPD officers — when the knife came into his possession.
It is possible that the officer, who retired in the late 1990s, will face criminal charges, he added.
“I would think that an LAPD officer, if this story is accurate, as we are being told, would know that any time… you come into contact with evidence, that you should and shall submit that to investigators,” Neiman told reporters.
“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 possible bogus from the get-go, involving a variety of people.”
Neiman said investigators would test the knife for DNA, hair samples and bodily fluids.
“I’m not a forensic expert, but it’s my understanding that, depending on where an item is kept and how it’s stored and maintained, that it’s possible to get DNA,” he told reporters.
The discovery is the latest twist in a rags-to-riches story that saw Simpson rise from humble origins to become a household name before his transformation into one of the most notorious figures in American life.
Born Orenthal James Simpson on July 9, 1947 in San Francisco, his father left at age five, leaving him in his mother’s care to grow up poor and suffering from rickets.
He recovered from ill health to become a talented athlete whose speed over 100 yards propelled him to fame and glory on the football field as a running back for the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers.
A brief flirtation with sports commentary was largely a failure but Simpson parlayed his larger-than-life personality into lucratie advertising contracts and eventually a career in Hollywood.
He met Nicole Brown, then an 18-year-old waitress in a Rodeo Drive disco, at the height of his fame in 1977, eventually marrying her eight years later.
The relationship hit the rocks, however, and the couple divorced in 1992. On June 12, 1994, Brown and Goldman were found murdered outside her apartment in Brentwood.
He failed to turn himself in and a manhunt began that led to Simpson being chased at slow speed down a freeway in a white Ford Bronco under the full glare of news helicopters.
Eventually charged with double murder, Simpson’s “dream-team” of lawyers persuaded the jury to acquit after a 10-month trial that split America along racial lines.
Simpson is the subject of the hit FX miniseries “People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” which looks at the trial from the lawyers’ point of view.