After more than 20 years, countless stories, a popular TV miniseries, countless bizarro theories and, now, a lengthy documentary, the truth about who murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman remains elusive.
Although O.J. Simpson, the former NFL player, was found not guilty by a jury in the trial of the century, a civil jury ordered him to pay $33.5 million in punitive and compensatory damages in finding him liable for the 1994 double murders. Now, a former Los Angeles police officer and part-time actor who has been a friend of The Juice for years thinks he might be ready to confess to killing his ex-wife and Goldman.
"The guy is in total torment today," Ron Shipp told The New York Daily News at the Los Angeles premiere of ESPN's "O.J. Simpson: Made in America" documentary, which begins June 11. "Someone told me he is 300 pounds and he looks horrible. O.J. has always felt his appearance meant everything and now, deep down inside, he is starting to live with himself."
Simpson, who is serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in Nevada on an armed-robbery conviction, is eligible for parole when he turns 70 in 2017 and Shipp says Simpson wouldn't settle the matter of the double murders until he was released.
Shipp testified during the 1995 trial that Simpson had told him he had had dreams of killing Brown Simpson, his ex-wife.
"I hope one day he actually will rid us of all the doubt and all the conspiracy theories and say, 'Sorry I cannot go to prison [because of double jeopardy laws], but I am sorry I did it.' "
Shipp actually believes that day will come.
"I do," he said. "I got a call about a conspiracy theory about Jason [Simpson's son from his first marriage] being the killer and I thought, man, come on Juice, just say, 'my son didn't do it.'"
The theory involving Jason Simpson, who was 24 at the time of the murders, is the subject of a documentary being produced by actor Martin Sheen. According to the Hollywood Reporter, "Hard Evidence: O.J. Is Innocent" will span six episodes and will debut in early 2017 on Investigation Discovery. The series will focus on the work of William C. Dear, a Texas private investigator who has written two books on O.J. Simpson's innocence, the latest a 2012 work entitled "O.J. Is Innocent and I Can Prove It."
The Washington Post's Matt Bonesteel writes of Dear and the theory:
As evidence for this theory, Dear points out that Jason Simpson was on probation at the time of the killings after he had attacked a former employer with a knife; that he had been treated for a mental disorder and had tried to commit suicide three times; and that he killed Nicole Brown Simpson on the night of June 12, 1994, after she reneged on a promise to bring the family to the restaurant at which Jason Simpson was a chef, enraging him (Goldman was an innocent bystander).
Shipp says he couldn't believe his friend could have done the murders, which occurred June 12, 1994.
"I should have known," he told the New York Daily News. "I didn't really see him at the time doing that because of my love for him. I didn't want to believe the things I saw."
All these years later, the story remains a consuming cottage industry. FX's "People vs. O.J. Simpson" miniseries offered a riveting biopic version of events and perhaps ESPN's 7 1/2-hour documentary -- shown in five parts on ESPN and ABC -- will provide real clarity. It certainly will provide context as it deals with the trial, the social history of race relations in L.A. and a biography of Simpson himself.