20 years later, images still vivid

As the coroner’s van took away one of the bodies, I walked toward the bloodied sidewalk outside Nicole Brown Simpson’s condo. I’ll never forget what I saw that day. Law enforcement had come and gone and left behind only some strips of yellow police tape.

It might have been 20 years ago, but I can still see the rivulets of blood between the pavers at the condo’s entryway.

Later I would learn that the paw prints and feathery marks punctuating the bloodbath were made by Nicole’s dog. In his confused state, the Akita had obviously circled the bloody scene, its leash traversing through the red and leaving a swoosh of stain all the way down to the corner stop sign.

With the evidence gathering, I remember thinking, “Why didn’t someone wash away all this blood?”

Now that the glut of television remembrances is behind us and the 20th anniversary newspaper and magazine articles have been digested, let’s take a deep breath.

Forget about the slow-speed Bronco chase, O.J.’s courtroom antic with the gloves or his hollow vow to find “the real killer.”

Let me tell you what it was like to be at that crime scene only hours after Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman were slaughtered.

Back then I worked as a crime reporter for the syndicated television program “Hard Copy,” so I was the one who got the call early on the morning of June 13, 1994. My cameraman, Chad Moulinex, and I drove to Nicole’s Brentwood address just in time to see the last of the action. When the coroner’s team drove away, we were stunned to find ourselves

absolutely alone.

I lifted the police tape to duck underneath, and Chad followed as he hoisted his camera to his shoulder.

We were careful to step on the pavers and not on the blood-filled grout seams. As we zigged and zagged on tip-toe toward Simpson’s arched front gate, I noticed stands of stately blue agapanthus growing along both sides of the walkway. A closer look revealed drops of blood on some of the petals.

And then I opened the gate to find the puddle of blood that was the source of all the rest. This is where Nicole Brown Simpson, age 35, had fallen – stabbed to death and nearly decapitated.

Directly inside the gate there was a space of about five feet before a few steps up to a small, bricked courtyard and the front door of the condo. Since the curtains on the massive front windows were fully opened, we were able to look directly into the dead woman’s living room.

I saw the backs of plush upholstered white couches and chairs. Candles, some on tall stands, were still burning on the square coffee table. I remember seeing a picture of Nicole and O.J., but I can’t recall if it was on the mantelpiece or the table.

As a mother, I immediately realized the Simpson’s two small children could have easily seen the carnage below if they had wandered from their beds. I wondered how police had gotten young Sydney, 8, and Justin, 5, out of the home without seeing all that blood.

As I took careful and calculated steps into the courtyard, my eye was drawn to the right, to an alcove of sorts and a bloody section of matted foliage in a small flowerbed. There were dried red blood smears on the white wrought-iron boundary fence, and I realized this had to have been where Ron Goldman was found.

It looked to me like he was looking for a way out of the place when he was trapped by the fence.

Over the next many months I would develop investigative stories to expand the O.J. saga. I found a scruffy drug dealer who swore he sold drugs to O.J. in the parking lot of a nearby Burger King in the hours right before the murders. After he passed not one but two lie-detector tests, we aired his story.

Through a trusted law enforcement source I also got my hands on the 28-minute LAPD “interrogation tape” of O.J. This first conversation between detectives and the former football great sounded more like a gab-fest than a police examination.

Week after week our TV program and scores of other media outlets followed developments in the Simpson/Goldman murder case, but it was always “the O.J. Simpson story.”

Somewhere along the line we forgot about the victims and the terrible violence that took their lives.

To this day, no one has been held accountable for the deeds that took a loving brother and son, and a doting and beautiful mother. The court of public opinion may have decided who the murderer was, but that is cold comfort to the families who are still left wanting.

In the end, this is a story of two people found dead, bathed in their own blood, who got no justice.

And 20 years later, while theories swirl about Columbian necktie throat-slashings administered by phantom drug dealers or O.J.’s oldest son, Jason (a professional chef with sharp knives in his collection), being to blame – I believe it is more simple than that.

Someone got away with murder. Two murders.