The blood-soaked bodies were discovered on a Spanish-tile walkway outside an exclusive Brentwood home just a few minutes past midnight on June 13, 1994.
The gruesome sight in the exclusive neighborhood near Beverly Hills, California, turned out to be Nicole Brown Simpson, the ex-wife of Hall of Fame football player O.J. Simpson, and Ron Goldman, a 25-year-old waiter from a local Brentwood restaurant.
The two had been stabbed to death sometime after 10 p.m. as Simpson's two children slept inside the home. Their throats had been slit. The corpses bore multiple stab wounds.
Police immediately tried contacting Simpson. The police soon learned that he had taken an 11:45 p.m. flight to Chicago. He was notified of his ex-wife's death, and returned to Los Angeles, arriving shortly before noon the following day. Upon returning to his home, he was immediately handcuffed and taken to police headquarters for questioning. He was later released.
The next day, he hired attorney Robert Shapiro. Police do not label Simpson a suspect ... until bloodstains on the walkway where the bodies were found matched Simpson's blood type. Two bloodstained gloves were also recovered by police, one at the scene, the other outside Simpson's Brentwood home.
Police said that a trail of blood drops stretched across Simpson's cobblestone driveway. Then they said that bloodstains inside his home matched Nicole Simpson's blood type. Simpson becomes the focus of the LAPD's investigation as evidence mounts against him, minute by minute. Simpson grows increasingly distraught and begins to undergo treatment for depression.
Four days after the bodies were discovered, Simpson attended his ex-wife's funeral. Later, he goes into a deep depression. His emotional state is so fragile that Shapiro dispatched several doctors to the San Fernando Valley home of Simpson's friend Robert Kardashian. Heavily sedated, Simpson spent the night at Kardashian's.
Late that evening, investigators conclude their case on blood found at the crime scene. They recommend that Simpson be charged with two counts of first-degree murder. The charges of multiple killings could bring him the death penalty if he is convicted.
It's June 17, 1994, Friday, in Los Angeles. Police authorities telephone Shapiro at 8:30 a.m. and inform him that Simpson must surrender. They give him until 11 a.m. Arraignment is scheduled for that afternoon in Los Angeles Municipal Court.
Shapiro leaves his home and arrives at Kardashian's house at 9:30. Simpson is just waking up. Shapiro informs Simson that he must turn himself in. An hour passes.
"O.J., we gotta get going," Shapiro tells Simpson at 10:30 a.m. Simpson is on the phone, talking to his children, his mother and then his personal lawyer. He orally dictates changes to his will, and later signs a codicil to the will. He also writes several letters.
If Simpson does not turn himself in by 11 a.m., he becomes a fugitive. At 10:45 a.m., a police commander telephones Shapiro and says: "Where is Mr. Simpson? We will need to come over to arrest him."
"He's being examined by doctors; that's the delay," Shapiro says.
A police cruiser is dispatched to Kardashian's house. Police arrive 15 minutes later. "We're going to follow normal procedure, handcuff Mr. Simpson and take him to the police station, and you will be able to accompany us," one of the officers tells Shapiro, Kardashian, Simpson's friend Al Cowlings, and several doctors.
A psychiatrist goes into Simpson's room to tell him that the police had arrived, but he's not there. Neither is Cowlings. Simpson and Cowlings, a former teammate at USC and with the Buffalo Bills, had slipped out a backdoor and into a white Ford Bronco.
Shapiro hastily calls a press conference, and informs the world that Simpson is very distraught, that he fears Simpson might attempt suicide. Shapiro is joined at the news conference by Kardashian, who reads a handwritten letter that Simpson left behind.
"I think of my life and feel I've done most of the right things," Kardashian says, reading the note to a nationally televised audience. "So why do I end up like this? I can't go on. No matter what the outcome, people will look and point. I can't take that. I can't subject my children to that ... I have nothing to do with the murder. I love her ... Don't feel sorry for me. I've had a great life. Please think of the real O. J. and not this lost person. Thanks for making my life special. I hope I helped yours. Peace and love, O. J."
At 2 p.m., police hold a news conference announcing that Simpson has officially become a fugitive. "He is a wanted murder suspect," angry police spokesman, Comdr. David Gascon, tells the the media.
Soon, word arrives that Simpson is on the freeway in the white Bronco, heading toward Orange County. Simpson calls his ex-wife's family at their Orange County home. Later, Brown family members tells Police Sgt. Doug Abney that Simpson had sounded suicidal.
Simpson's escape turns into a public relations nightmare for the LAPD and the district attorney's office. The decision not to arrest Simpson is now being second-guessed, especially since police sources told media members that the evidence against Simpson was strong enough to warrant an arrest. But police held off, hoping to build a stronger case before taking Simpson into custody.
As the Bronco winds along the freeway, a fleet of 20 black-and-white squad cars follow closely behind. Traffic comes to a halt along the freeways from Disneyland to Los Angeles. People jam the overpasses. TV news choppers fly overhead, broadcasting the astonishing spectacle live. Radio listeners from across the country call local station KNX and plead with Simpson to pull over and surrender.
LAPD Detective Fred Lange, the lead investigator on the case, calls Cowlings on the phone in the car. "O.J. is in the back seat holding a gun to his head," Cowlings tells Lange. "He says he'll never surrender."
Throughout the country, people are glued to television sets. Bars and stores are packed with people watching the chase, ignoring appointments and work. Business comes to a screeching halt; customers are just standing, watching TV.
Every foot the Bronco moves is chronicled live on television, the demise of a sports legend documented. With a convoy of police vehicles in pursuit, blocking traffic on the freeway and entrance ramps, Simpson and Cowlings wind their way through Orange County and all the back to Simpson's Brentwood home, ending the chase.
As the Bronco pulls into the cobblestone driveway of Simpson's Tudor-style mansion, police officers in bulletproof vests converge on the car. As the SUV sits parked, its hazard lights blinking on the gentle June night, Cowlings emerges from the driver's seat and walks into the house. Simpson remains in the Ford, for nearly an hour, distraught and suicidal, cradling a revolver.
With hundreds of people having converged in the neighborhood, the LAPD Special Weapons and Tactics team and negotiators surround the house. At 8:50 p.m., they finally coax Simpson out of the vehicle. He emerges from the vehicle, minus his gun, carrying a framed family photo.
Simpson is allowed to go into the house, use the bathroom and call his mother. He is then transported by police motorcade to Parker Center and booked ... for murder.