Fact Check

O.J. Simpson Case Knife Claim

Los Angeles police are looking into whether a knife purportedly found on the grounds of O.J. Simpson's former home was connected to the 1994 murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.

Published Mar 4, 2016

A bloody knife was recently uncovered on the grounds of O.J. Simpson's former home.
What's True

An individual stepped forward with a knife purportedly located on Simpson property between 1998 and sometime around 1996; the LAPD is skeptical of the claim.

What's False

The knife was definitively linked with the murders, bloody, or recently discovered.

What's Undetermined

Whether the claim is accurate as presented.

On 4 March 2016, entertainment gossip web site TMZ reported that the Los Angeles Police Department was conducting an investigation based on the recent acquisition of a knife possibly linked to the 1994 murder of O.J. Simpson's ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Lyle Goldman.  O.J. Simpson was famously acquitted of all charges, and the case remains unsolved.

The chain of events originally reported by TMZ prompted nearly as much incredulity as the Simpson knife claim itself.  According to the article, a knife was discovered at some point between 1998 and approximately 2006 (the murders occurred in 1994):

The story is incredible. We're told a construction worker found the knife years ago -- we have heard several different stories, ranging from "several years ago" to 1998, when the house was demolished.

The weapon is a folding buck knife.

Our law enforcement sources say the construction worker took the knife to the street, where he saw an LAPD cop. He told the officer where he found the knife and the cop took it.

Turns out the cop -- who worked in the traffic division -- was off duty at the time, working security for a movie shoot at a house across the street on Rockingham. Our sources say the officer took the knife home and kept it ... kept it for years.

Not long after TMZ broke the story, the Los Angeles Times looked into what was originally described as a "top secret investigation," reporting that a knife apparently was recovered on the property at some point:

In another twist in the long-running O.J. Simpson saga, Los Angeles police are investigating and testing a knife that was reportedly recovered on property once owned by the former football star.

The elite Robbery-Homicide Division is investigating a buck knife now in the department's possession ... When the new owners of Simpson's Brentwood estate decided to raze it in 1998, a man involved in the construction joked in an interview with the Los Angeles Times: "We haven't found the knife yet."

The existence of the latest knife was first reported by TMZ.

Los Angeles outlet KNBC interviewed Los Angeles police captain Andrew Neiman, who expressed skepticism at the chain of events leading up to the purported discovery of the knife:

Los Angeles police confirmed Friday morning that a knife was found on the former Brentwood property of O.J. Simpson and that they are investigating a report that it was discovered years ago by a construction worker who handed it over to authorities

"We still don't know if that's an accurate account," Neiman said.

Neiman confirmed at a Friday morning news conference that a "citizen" gave the knife to an officer who was working security at a film shoot near the former Simpson estate. The officer retired in the late 1990s, but it was not clear whether the officer was retired at the time the knife was found, Neiman said.

"If this story is accurate, I would think an LAPD officer would know that anytime you come into contact with evidence you should submit that to investigators," Neiman said.

While it's true the Los Angeles Police Department is investigating a knife reportedly found on the grounds of what was once O.J. Simpson's Brentwood home, the circumstances under which the knife emerged remains questionable. As yet, there is no evidence that the knife was linked to the murders.

Finally, the timing of the revelation (in close proximity to renewed interest due to the airing of the miniseries The People Vs. O.J. Simpson) made such a coincidental finding further suspect.

On 1 April 2016, the Los Angeles Times reported that the knife had nothing to do with the O.J. Simpson case:

The small size of the blade was among many issues undermining its potential as the murder weapon. During the criminal trial, the Los Angeles County coroner testified the weapon that killed the pair had at least a 6 1/2 -inch blade, in his opinion. The murder weapon used in the June 12, 1994, slayings was never found.

“Any suggestions that this knife that was found was in any way involved in the case was pure fantasy,” Carl Douglas, one of Simpson’s lawyers during the 1995 trial, said Friday after the LAPD findings.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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