Here’s the big difference between 2012 and 2001.
Back in 2001, a private eye with a history of inserting himself into high-profile cases put out a self-published book with the really strange title of O.J. Is Guilty But Not of Murder. I read the book, interviewed the author, spent some time observing his methods, and then, in a 7,000-word story, tore him a new asshole over his reprehensible way of gathering information to make pure fantasy sound plausible.
Few people took note of either his lame book or my takedown.
But now it’s 2012, and Bill Dear has repackaged the same horseshit he was peddling eleven years ago.
The big difference? Well, now there’s the Huffington Post.
HuffPo bit hard not only on Dear’s repackaging of the same old malarkey, O.J. Is Innocent And I Can Prove It, but also on the man himself, buying his tall tales about how he’s the best private investigator who ever lived, and has the only plausible explanation for who killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.
I beg to differ.
In 2001 I was a staff writer at New Times Los Angeles, a newspaper that no longer exists, and whose archives are no longer online. That no doubt benefited Dear, since today’s journalists jumping on his story were unaware that he had already tried to sell this bogus story eleven years ago.
In my story, I actually praised the man for how well he had spun his tale, and showed some respect for his outsized character. But then I showed, step by step, how his theory is the worst kind of snow job that foregrounds coincidental information while ignoring or hiding the only evidence that really matters.
I’m going to reproduce my entire 2001 story, but first, here are the highlights for HuffPo readers who need bullet points.
First, the highlights of Bill Dear’s theory for why Jason Simpson, O.J.’s son, committed the crime…
— At the time of the killings, Jason was on probation for assault with a deadly weapon — he’d attacked a former employer with a knife.
— Hospital records showed that Jason had been treated for a mental disorder that had triggered three suicide attempts as well as sudden, fierce and irrational attacks on other people.
— Jason may have left his chef job the night of the murders earlier than he indicated to police, and would have been carrying his set of chef knives with him.
— Nicole had changed her plans and had not brought the family to eat at Jason’s restaurant the night of the murders, which Dear theorizes was a blow to Jason’s ego.
— Dear believes that Jason went to see her that night to confront her about ruining his big night, and his mental state caused him to go into a rage and kill her (with Goldman just in the wrong place at the wrong time).
— OJ then did what he could to help cover up for his son.
As I said in my original story, there are some interesting points made in Dear’s book, and he tells it in a way that makes it sound compelling. But the holes in his theory are more numerous than the holes in the two victims.
— Dear almost completely avoids any discussion of the actual blood evidence at the scene, the single most important piece of evidence to consider. And his ideas for how OJ Simpson’s blood ended up at the scene are beyond preposterous.
— Dear’s timeline for that night is a complete farce. In 12 minutes, he has Jason committing the murders, calling his father, and then OJ coming down and observing the scene and returning home.
— Dear discounts evidence of OJ’s violent history, while overplaying and misdiagnosing Jason’s own mental health history, according to an expert we consulted.
— Ron Shipp, O.J.’s friend and a former cop, told me that Dear had misrepresented what he said after being interviewed in ways that favored Dear’s theory.
— And despite the tenuous nature of his theories, Dear put Jason under years of unwanted surveillance that smacks more of Dear’s attempt at fame than any rational search for the truth.
With Huffington Post’s help, Bill Dear will now get his moment in the sun that was denied to him back in 2001 — when the 1994 murders weren’t so remote and when journalists still had a better grasp of the facts.
He’ll enjoy every minute of it, I have no doubt.
What follows is my entire 2001 story. I can only hope that now other journalists will take the time to check out Dear before celebrating him.
New Times Los Angeles May 24, 2001, Thursday
O.J. Confidential Texas private eye Bill Dear spent nearly six years and $1 million trying to pin the Bundy murders on O.J.’s son Jason. But his theories stretch credibility and his tactics stretch the law.
By Tony Ortega
It’s a Thursday morning, and Bill Dear is starting the day’s surveillance of O.J. Simpson’s grown son Jason by parking his rental car across the street from Jason’s Venice bungalow.
The night before, Dear had flown in from Dallas, where he’s a private eye known for inserting himself in high-profile, unsolved crime investigations. Over the years he’s succeeded several times when local police failed to find a killer or a missing person, and people who know him attribute that to Dear’s extraordinary perseverance and attention to detail. When Dear sets his mind to solve a mystery, friends say, he doesn’t let go.
After landing at LAX, Dear rented a dark passenger car — the better to blend in, he says — and drove to Venice to case the joint until the wee hours, hoping in vain to catch a glimpse of Jason returning home. Dear eventually gave up and went to his West L.A. hotel at 3 a.m. Back after a few hours of sleep, he’s agreed to let a New Times writer and a photographer tag along. At 63, the tall ex-cop looks dapper in a black suit and alligator boots. His longish graying hair, mustache and small beard are neatly groomed. Between frequent interruptions by his cell phone he reels off diverting anecdotes in a richly accented voice. There was the time, for example, when he was summoned by Robert De Niro to a seedy bar. As he was led through an alley to the appointment, Dear began to suspect he’d been set up. Assuming he was about to get whacked, the investigator placed his hand on a concealed gun and got ready to shoot if his guide made any false moves. But the man indeed delivered him to De Niro, who wanted tips about the private eye game to help him portray a gumshoe in an upcoming movie.
Dear sometimes hires other people to keep an eye on Jason Simpson’s residence, but he also makes regular trips to L.A. himself. Dear and associates have shadowed Jason for nearly six years, rooting through his trash, checking his mailbox to see who’s communicating with him, and talking to neighbors and employers to keep tabs on the 31-year-old chef.
This morning, Dear notices right away that something is not right. Jason’s car is missing.
“Where’s the Jeep? Did he get rid of the Jeep?” Dear says excitedly.
Jason lives on a narrow but busy Venice lane that’s lined with parked cars. But none of them is a Jeep. Dear immediately concludes that the vehicle’s absence is linked to his presence. Feeling the heat of Dear’s investigation and afraid the Jeep will prove to be incriminating, Jason has ditched it. Or so Dear theorizes.
“I have to get my hands on that Jeep!” he exclaims.
Within a day, Dear finds that Jason’s vehicle has in fact been sold. He begins to make inquiries about buying it himself from the new owner. If he can do that, he says, he can then submit the Jeep to state-of-the-art, scientific retrieval techniques in the hope that maybe, just maybe, after all these years, there’s still something in it that Dear says should be there:
The blood of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.
Bill Dear is not the first to suggest that Jason Lamar Simpson, O.J’s son by his first wife, might have committed the famous murders of June 12, 1994. But no one has taken that notion to such lengths.Dear has worked to put together a case against Jason since shortly after the slayings took place. The gumshoe estimates he’s spent more than $1 million of his own money in his quest to finger a murderer whose identity is already a foregone conclusion among most thinking people.
But Dear says many people who were completely convinced of O.J. Simpson’s guilt have undergone dramatic conversion experiences after reading his recently published, 324-page book, O.J. Is Guilty But Not of Murder.
Admitting that he, too, assumed early on that physical evidence pointed unequivocally to O.J., Dear says he soon had doubts. He found it incredible, for example, that O.J. would have killed his ex-wife knowing that their two young children, Sydney and Justin, were upstairs and possibly still awake.
That just didn’t fit Dear’s concept of a father.
Neither did it sit well with the Texan that O.J. was accused of such a terrifyingly brutal crime. Whoever had killed Brown and Goldman had obviously done so in a maniacal rage. O.J. had been accused of abusing his former wife, but nothing, Dear claimed, suggested he might be capable of viciously carving up two human beings.
And it bothered him that the LAPD believed that O.J., after knifing the victims and spilling massive amounts of their blood, had somehow tracked only small amounts of it into his Bronco and his Rockingham estate. If O.J. had committed the murders, Dear believed, copious amounts of blood should have been smeared on the Bronco’s brake and accelerator pedals and elsewhere in its interior.
But, he says, it wasn’t.
Dear is convinced that O.J. visited the crime scene, accounting for the drops of Brown’s and Goldman’s blood that did show up in his car and at his home. But by the time O.J. arrived, the killer had already gone, Dear believes.
Dear theorizes that the killings were committed by someone Brown knew and would have opened her door to, someone capable of pathological brutality, someone who would have alerted O.J. Simpson to the crime, and someone O.J. would protect from prosecution by risking his own freedom.
He thinks that person is Jason Simpson. And he has found some remarkable circumstantial evidence to back up his story.
Jason testified in a civil deposition — not made public but obtained by Dear, who provided a copy to New Times — that he was never interviewed by either the LAPD or the D.A.’s office in the wake of the killings. And post-trial statements by police and prosecutors suggest that Jason was never considered a suspect.
But Dear says law enforcement officials should have known that at the time of the killings, Jason was on probation for assault with a deadly weapon — he’d attacked a former employer with a knife.
Dear also obtained, by possibly illegal means, confidential hospital records showing that Jason has been treated for a mental disorder that had triggered three suicide attempts as well as sudden, fierce and irrational attacks on other people. Dear writes that Jason attacked two former girlfriends, choking one until friends pulled him away and angrily cutting off the other’s hair with a knife.
Jason was said to have an “airtight alibi” for June 12, a statement that was repeated as gospel by prosecutors and the media: the sous-chef had been filling in for his boss, the executive chef at a Westwood restaurant, until after 11 p.m. that night. (The murders probably occurred sometime between 10:15 and 10:40.) Dear has been unable to find the original source of this story. And Jason testified in his deposition that the restaurant, Jackson’s, closed early that night, and that he left between 10 and 10:30, when he was picked up by his girlfriend. He said that after dropping his girlfriend off at her home, he went to his apartment alone and watched TV until 3 a.m.
Dear writes that the girlfriend told him she picked Jason up earlier, before 10 p.m. And other Jackson’s employees Dear tracked down said Jason left as early as 9:30 p.m.
Jason also testified that he departed from work that night just as he always did, carrying his personal set of chef’s knives.
Autopsies showed that Brown and Goldman were killed by a thin, single-edged blade, and Dear solicited help from forensic experts who assured him that a chef’s boning knife, for example, would be consistent with the murder weapon — which has never been found.
And Dear says that Jason, who was 24 at the time, had a reason for being unhappy with his ex-stepmother that night. In his deposition, Jason said he had asked Nicole to bring her family to his restaurant on June 12 following his half sister Sydney’s dance recital, an event he was unable to attend because of his job. Nicole agreed, and Jason testified that this pleased him greatly. Dear paints a portrait of Jason as a son who had been only a disappointment to his football-legend father, and who desperately wanted recognition for his own talents as a cook. Jason, according to Dear, looked forward to showing off for Brown and her relatives, and he’d bought special foods to prepare for the night.
But on June 11, Brown changed her plans, telling Jason his restaurant was too far away and too expensive, he testified.
Dear theorizes that after dropping off his girlfriend, Jason went to Brown’s Bundy Drive condo to confront her about ruining his big night. Brown’s response may have angered Jason — a man with such a short fuse that he once sliced off a girlfriend’s hair with a knife in a jealous rage, according to Dear.
After killing Brown and Goldman — who had simply walked up at the wrong time — Jason would have called his father in a state of hysteria, Dear writes. O.J. Simpson, unsure if his troubled son had committed such a horrible crime or merely hallucinated it, decided to investigate. Donning gloves and a knit cap in a hurried attempt at a disguise, he arrived at the scene and, shocked at the carnage, dropped his left glove and cap. O.J. then rushed back to Rockingham, dropped the right glove, and was seen hurrying into the house by limousine driver Allan Park.
Such a scenario, Dear writes, would explain some of O.J.’s strange responses in the wake of the crime — for example, why he didn’t ask police officers informing him of Brown’s death how she died (since he knew very well she had been knifed) and why he failed a polygraph examination conducted by his own attorneys. Why his escape attempt seemed so confused.
And why he hired a prominent criminal defense attorney for Jason the day after the murders.
Despite the interesting new information Dear unearthed, he says, no publisher was willing to touch his project. “They didn’t want to get sued,” he says. So Dear self-published his book, and it has only gradually gained steam since it became available in November. It’s still not in bookstores — available only through Amazon.com and from Dear directly — but in recent days Dear’s cell phone has been ringing nonstop.Major media organizations are calling. During his recent stakeout, Dear was weighing offers by both 48 Hours and 60 Minutes, each of which wanted exclusive access to his story.
So Dear’s theory is about to go big time. But he hasn’t stopped working the case, and he’s hoping to convince state attorney general Bill Lockyer to open a criminal investigation of Jason. Dear won’t rest, he says, until there is a confession from either Jason or O.J. about what happened that night.
So is Bill Dear a brilliant and dogged investigator with a real shot at solving one of the last century’s most notorious crimes? Or is he just another fast-talking, publicity-loving gumshoe with a flawed theory and questionable tactics who has put an innocent man through hell for years?
Bill Dear has made his living generating notoriety — and headlines — for his unorthodox investigative techniques.He once moved into a murder victim’s house, wore his clothes and even slept in his bed, hoping it would help him understand who had wanted the man dead. His work in that case, a 1980s Ohio killing, resulted in the convictions of 11 people. He wrote a book about it, Please…Don’t Kill Me, published by Houghton Mifflin.
Dear began his crime-solving career early, bagging his first quarry when he was just a teenager. Riding his bicycle on a paper route, he witnessed a robbery. Pedaling wildly after the perpetrator as he left in a car, Dear followed the man to an address that he then phoned in to the police. Dear’s exploits made the local newspaper, and police subsequently protected the boy-hero from intimidation as he continued his paper route while waiting to testify in the ensuing trial.
Dear later became a cop in Florida but left after nine years, in 1965, to become a private investigator. Besides solving murders, Dear has also made news tracking down missing people, including a Michigan State student heavily into Dungeons & Dragons who disappeared into tunnels under the college in 1979. Dear tracked him down in Louisiana and wrote a book about the case, The Dungeon Master.
Like his previous books, OJ Is Guilty But Not of Murder is well written, despite its awkward title. In fact, for a self-published tome, it’s downright gripping.
Dear takes readers through his investigation from the beginning, describing how he watched the Simpson saga unfold on television and began having doubts about the prosecution’s case. He then describes, step by step, how he took on the case himself and eliminated suspects by examining evidence. And how he eventually settled on Jason as his primary suspect, and then made him the focus of intensive surveillance.
Dear launched his most cinematic — and questionable — caper in 1997 when he tried to obtain Jason’s confidential medical records from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He knew Jason had been a patient there because the hospital had been trying to collect on some overdue bills. So for two weeks, Dear dressed as a doctor and wandered the halls of one of the western United States’ most prestigious medical institutions, trying to find a clerk gullible enough to give him a copy of Jason’s medical history.
“Each morning I carefully dressed in my white jacket, took my clipboard and punctually made my rounds up and down the halls on the plaza level of the South Tower,” writes Dear in his book. “I greeted the security officers at the desk with a smile, bought coffee for the nurses at the commissary and, most importantly, smiled at the file clerks who came and left from the records department.”
He didn’t wear a name tag or verbally identify himself as a physician. But he ingratiated himself with a thirtysomething records clerk by bringing her flowers and offering to hire her “in my office.” A few days later, he got to his bottom line, asking her for copies of “all the records you have on a patient, J. Lamar Simpson.”
The woman complied, telling “Doctor” Dear to return the next day when the copies would be ready. But when Dear did so, he got cold feet, worried that he might be arrested. It’s illegal in California to impersonate a doctor and to obtain medical records by fraud. (Both crimes are misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and fines.) Dear says he left the hospital empty-handed.
Prior to Dear’s arrival at Cedars-Sinai, he writes, he had dispatched an assistant to case the hospital and try and get hold of Jason’s records. The operative apparently put out word that he was willing to pay handsomely for the records but left L.A. without getting them.
The agent’s efforts evidently bore fruit, however. After Dear fled Cedars-Sinai, he writes, he returned to his hotel room to discover that a mysterious, unidentified black man had left a “large brown package” for him at the front desk. Inside were Jason’s medical papers.
New Times wanted to ask Cedars-Sinai officials about Dear’s activities, what measures the hospital may have in place for preventing theft of patients’ confidential records and how secure it is against incursions by medical impersonators. A hospital spokeswoman said officials would not discuss Dear, and Cedars-Sinai vice president Grace Cheng later said in a prepared statement that if the hospital determined that patient records had been stolen, it would ask police to investigate.
In the records he obtained, Dear found that besides his behavioral troubles, Jason is an epileptic and takes an anticonvulsant called Depakote for his condition. But that wasn’t enough for Dear.
He foraged through Jason’s trash for empty Depakote containers he could photograph for his book. He also pulled out various bills and receipts so he could piece together what Jason spent his money on, and retrieved empty tequila bottles hoping he could lift Jason’s fingerprints from them. He succeeded in getting some prints, and writes that he planned to ask a Texas forensic specialist, James Cron, to compare the prints from the tequila bottles with those that the LAPD found at the Bundy crime scene.
New Times spoke to Cron, who says that the fingerprints taken from the bottles were of good quality. But, he says, he hasn’t been able to match them with any prints from the Bundy scene.
But Cron cautions against making too much of the negative results. The fingerprints from the liquor bottles don’t make up a complete set, and even if there had been a match, Cron points out, it could simply mean Jason had left prints at Bundy prior to June 12.
Undaunted, Dear has pressed on, continuing to spy on Jason even though his book has been in print for six months. Dear claims he’s so concerned about Jason and his mental state, given the dangerous combination of Depakote and alcohol, that he feels compelled to watch the chef carefully. It’s as if Dear thinks he’s doing Jason a favor by rifling through his mail, tailing him to various jobs and rooting through his garbage to retrieve such personal items as tortured pages of introspective writing. “I don’t mind telling you I have some compassion for this kid,” says the private eye.
And he keeps up his pursuit of Jason despite warnings from the investigator’s friends that Jason may try to kill him.
Dear isn’t worried. “I’ve had better men than him try,” he says.
The stakeout has commenced with considerable excitement. Not only has Jason’s Jeep vanished, but Dear recognizes a black Ford Expedition parked in front of Jason’s address as one he’s seen O.J. driving. The private eye discovered through an earlier DMV check that the vehicle was registered to O.J.’s mother, Eunice.
Dear calls a retired cop friend to ask him to run the plates for him. He also peers inside the vehicle. In the back lies what looks like a chef’s smock. The cop soon calls back: It’s a match. The Expedition is still registered to Eunice Simpson.
The plate check further confirms something Dear already knows: Jason has not moved away. The detective had looked in Jason’s mailbox the night before and seen letters addressed to him. Today they are gone.
With the car there and the mail taken, Dear can be pretty sure Jason is inside the small cottage. But from experience, Dear knows it may be a long wait before he actually sees his reclusive quarry.
And once again, Dear’s tactics may have slid across the line of legality. Asked to identify his ex-cop buddy or say where he lives, the private eye angrily refuses. But if the plate check was performed in California, the ex-cop could be charged with a misdemeanor for unauthorized use of a computer, according to district attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.
Dear and his associates have spent entire days watching Jason’s place only to see the young man make a single trip from home, usually to a local Blockbuster Video store.”He rents crime movies, mostly,” Dear says.
A reporter asks him how he knows this. From receipts in Jason’s trash, Dear responds.
Jason, however, seems to have caught on to Dear’s methods. Dear was somewhat exasperated to find that Jason hadn’t put his trash barrels out on the street the night before with his neighbors’.
“God bless it! The trash barrels were gone,” says Dear.
But this morning Dear’s luck is improving. As he approaches Jason’s house on foot, he notices that an adjacent bungalow is being painted by workmen.
Dear sees his chance. He shifts easily into the role of a man looking for a place for his daughter to live (he’s actually a single father of two boys). Is the vacant unit for rent? What’s the rate? Who can he call to lease it?
The painters, not suspicious that the man probing them for information is dressed to the nines and has two scruffier looking fellows along, one scribbling in a notebook and the other carrying a camera, confirm that the unit is for rent and give him a phone number to call. Dear writes the number in a small notebook and then poses in front of the dwelling for photographs. Dear whispers excitedly that this could be a big break. He’ll see if he can rent the cottage and plant an associate in it.
The thought clearly thrills him — he may soon be able to spy on Jason nearly 24 hours a day.
After this victory of sorts, Dear waits in vain for Jason to make an appearance. But later, after his New Times escorts have gone, Dear scores again. This time, actor Charlie Sheen comes along for the ride as Dear talks his way into the condo next to Nicole Brown’s old place on Bundy. Purely by accident, Dear says, he and Sheen, a new friend, ran into the woman who lives there now, and she had invited them in to meet her daughter, a fan of the actor. Dear had used the opportunity to learn a few things about the woman, who told him she’d never talked to the press about what she knew (which wasn’t much, Dear admitted).
Dear says Sheen has read his book and is fascinated by the private eye’s theories about the case. Dear relayed a New Times request to speak with Sheen about his escapade with Dear, but Sheen did not call.
So far, most readers — including journalists — have gushed about how convincing Dear’s book is, he says. “I’m really surprised. I thought I’d take more abuse,” he says.Instead, he hears again and again that his book has made believers of people who previously couldn’t imagine that anyone but O.J. had committed the murders. Dear made sure he’d hear back from such folks. In the back of the book he encloses something akin to a jury verdict form, and asks readers to send in their decision. Has he convinced them that Jason committed the crime?
Dear says he’s getting back a resounding “yes.”
But maybe that’s because his readers, seven years after the murders and with memories fading, don’t realize that Dear’s left a few things out of his book. Such as the single strongest piece of evidence suggesting O.J.’s guilt.
Incredible as it may seem, Dear’s book ignores the presence of O.J.’s blood at the scene of the crime, in the Bronco and at the Rockingham estate.
Dear mentions only obliquely that blood evidence was involved in the case, and goes into none of the details that so strongly point to O.J. as the murderer.
Lying on the ground near Brown and Goldman’s corpses were a left-hand glove and a knit cap. Leading away from the bodies was the famous series of footprints left by size 12 Bruno Magli shoes. And along the left side of those footprints were five drops of blood. The implication seems clear: The murderer lost his left glove during his attack on Goldman and had been cut either on the left hand or on the left side and had bled as he departed. (Analysis of the distance between footprints showed the attacker departed the scene at a walk rather than a run, which was consistent with the blood drops being nearly round and not stretched out in a long teardrop shape.) The blood drops, along with the other evidence at the scene, was photographed at about 1 a.m. on June 13, soon after the discovery of the bodies. The blood was collected by LAPD criminologist Dennis Fung later that morning.
Later that day, police detectives met with O.J. and found him wearing a bandage on one of the fingers of his left hand. When they asked how he got cut, he answered that he didn’t remember. He then gave contradictory information about when he had been cut, saying initially that he had nicked himself in his Chicago hotel room early that morning. Then he admitted he had been bleeding the night before when he was packing at Rockingham to leave. (The jury in O.J.’s criminal trial, however, heard nothing about this conversation with detectives.)
It wasn’t until 1:30 p.m. on June 13 that a vial of blood was drawn from O.J. by an LAPD technician at Parker Center. It would have been impossible, therefore, for detectives Philip Vannatter or Tom Lange to return to Bundy Drive and sprinkle that blood on the crime scene — a crime scene that had already been photographed and examined by dozens of police officers, criminologists and medical examiners and would later be analyzed by dozens more lab workers.
To suggest that the detectives — even those employed by a police department that produced such rogue cops as Rafael Perez — could have orchestrated a mass, spur-of-the-moment conspiracy to plant O.J.’s blood in three different locations (Bundy, the Bronco and Rockingham) involving so many different officials from different agencies stretches credulity beyond the breaking point. For one thing, the cops would have subjected themselves to possible death-penalty convictions for framing someone for a capital crime.
One of the five blood drops leading from the bodies was large enough that the most sophisticated kind of DNA analysis — restriction fragment length polymorphism, or RFLP testing — could be performed on it, narrowing its genetic type to one that would be found only in 1 in 170 million people. And it matched the type in the blood taken from O.J. Another blood sample, taken from Brown’s back gate, yielded an even more exacting result, a genetic type that would be found only in 1 in 57 billion people, nearly 10 times more than actually exist on the planet. It, too, matched O.J.’s DNA. (And notwithstanding the defense team’s unsubstantiated complaints of contamination of blood samples, it’s not possible for one person’s blood, no matter how deteriorated, to turn into someone else’s.) Only one other person could share that DNA with O.J., and that would be a twin, if one existed. But not a son.
There’s simply no question that O.J. Simpson was at the scene of the crime and had bled there.
Asked initially why he had left out any discussion of these crucial facts, Dear is uncharacteristically at a loss of words. Sounding abashed, he mumbles that as a former police officer he doesn’t like to say uncomplimentary things about other cops.
The implication is clear: Dear subscribes to the planted-blood theory advanced by O.J.’s defense lawyers. If that’s the case, how could it not be a central part of the book and something he had checked out as fully as he had other elements of his theory?
Dear lamely responds that he didn’t have an obligation to explain how officers had allegedly planted evidence since it was something he knew full well he could never prove.
Later, Dear admits there’s really no question that O.J.’s blood was at the scene, but he says he can explain what it was doing there.
He then spins a fantasy that should make his fans think twice about his analytical powers.
Here’s what Dear suggests: O.J., leaving Rockingham, nicked his left hand while jumping over a chain-link fence, but not severely enough to make it bleed. He then put on the gloves (which had no blood on their linings) and went to Brown’s condo after getting his call from Jason.
When he arrived, he was horrified to see Brown lying in a pool of blood. Instinctively, he ripped off the left glove to reach for her. That action opened a cut on his left finger, which began bleeding, Dear suggests.
It’s no mystery why Dear didn’t include such a tall tale in his book. Such a scenario is too coincidental and unlikely to convince even the most credulous reader.
Another gaping hole in Dear’s book is the lack of analysis of the timeline involved in the murders. Maybe that’s because a discussion of timing also badly damages Dear’s hypothesis.
O.J.’s defense team made much of the short time between the killings and the sighting of O.J. at his Rockingham estate by limo driver Allan Park. Prosecutors used the barking of a dog heard at 10:15 p.m. to fix the time of the murders, and said O.J. had enough time to go back the two and a half miles to his estate, bump into the air conditioner outside Kato Kaelin’s room at about 10:52 and be seen by Park about three minutes later. But the defense suggested that something heard at about 10:40 — a “Hey, hey, hey” that defense witness Robert Heidstra testified he heard coming from the direction of Brown’s condo while he was out walking a dog — more accurately fit the time of the murders and made it difficult to believe that O.J. could have gotten back to his house so quickly. Dear concludes that Heidstra’s “Hey, hey, hey” came from Goldman as he arrived at the scene and found Jason attacking Brown.
There’s good reason to doubt that Heidstra, if he indeed heard something, heard it coming from Brown’s place. With Dear, New Times recently visited the alley, a full block from Bundy, where Heidstra claimed to have heard the 10:40 exclamation. It seems implausible that Heidstra could have heard anything from Brown’s condo at that distance.
But Dear believes Heidstra is credible, and suggests that for some unknown reason the witness was covering up the fact that he had actually been closer and had witnessed even more than he was willing to say. But in supporting Heidstra’s testimony, Dear seems oblivious that he’s all but made his Jason hunch impossible.
In the 12 minutes between 10:40 and 10:52, if Dear is correct, an unlikely frenzy of activity had to have happened: Jason offed two people, left the scene, called his father and explained that he’d killed his stepmother and some guy. Dad then ran around and grabbed gloves and a knit cap, drove to Bundy, examined the scene, freaked out and dropped a glove, got some blood on himself and left a few drops of his own, departed without leaving any footprints, jumped in his Bronco, drove back to Rockingham and ran into Kato’s air conditioner.
Even the Buffalo Bills star who ran for 2,003 yards in 1973 and later leaped airport counters at a single bound never had that kind of speed.
Tom Lange says he’s very unhappy to be talking about Dear’s book at all. The former LAPD detective, who led the investigation of the Brown and Goldman murders, says he prefers not to speak to reporters anymore about the case and recently had a very bad experience with the BBC over Dear’s work. But he relents when New Times asks him to address the major points of Dear’s theory.Dear says O.J. cannot be the murderer because the killer would have been drenched in blood, and only small amounts of blood were found in O.J.’s Bronco.
Lange responds that forensic evidence showed that except for two cuts on Goldman, the lethal slashes to the two victims were dealt by an attacker who was behind them. The blood from those wounds sprayed on the ground, not on the perpetrator. And anyway, Lange says, it’s a misconception that little blood was found in the Bronco. “There was a lot of blood in the Bronco. It wasn’t pools of blood. But there was tremendous amounts there. And only three people’s blood was found — the two victims’ and O.J. Simpson’s,” he says.
Dear claims O.J. didn’t have the psychological profile of a killer. “Simpson’s alleged history of abuse, by doctors’ standards, did not fit a pattern that would culminate in murder,” he writes.
Dear plays down O.J.’s abuse history, never mentioning, for example, the injuries Brown documented in the 1989 New Year’s incident when she called the LAPD to Rockingham and emerged, terrified, from the bushes. Lange says much of O.J.’s history of terrorizing women — which the LAPD was able to document all the way back to his USC days — was never brought out in his criminal trial.
Dear says the LAPD focused on the wrong man because it failed to interview Jason Simpson and check out his alibi. Because of that, Jason was never considered a suspect.
Lange says detectives wanted very much to speak with Jason, as well as several other people close to O.J., such as Paula Barbieri and Cathy Randa, his assistant. But all of them “lawyered up” soon after the murders, Lange says, and made it clear they would not be interviewed. The LAPD did consider Jason a suspect, Lange says, and he was one of about 50 people checked out by the department. But the lack of evidence placing Jason at the scene, the lack of a motive, and Jason’s alibi that he’d been working at the time of the murders all made it plain that he was a dead end, Lange says. “I understand that since that time he has softened about the time he left the restaurant,” Lange adds. “But that doesn’t change the fact that the evidence at the scene all pointed to one man: O.J. Simpson.”
As for Jason’s mental history, on which Dear places so much emphasis, New Times sought the help of an expert in the field.
Dear provided New Times with copies of Jason’s medical records, which the paper then submitted to a prominent local professor of psychology for help in deciphering.
But the professor balked, saying he wanted nothing to do with records that apparently had been obtained illegally. Only after he had seen chapters from Dear’s book describing the documents and had consulted a medical ethicist did the professor agree to interpret them. He did so, he said, only because Dear had already placed the documents in the public domain through his book. But the professor was still so uncomfortable with how Dear had obtained them that he requested anonymity.
The professor said Jason’s psychiatrist at Cedars-Sinai did a thorough job and arrived at the correct diagnosis. Jason was an alcoholic with a borderline personality, a disorder characterized by symptoms that can include impulsiveness, an inability to create stable relationships, recurrent suicidal behavior, and difficulty controlling anger.
“The psychiatrist was right on,” the professor says, but he disagrees with how Dear interprets the diagnosis in his book. “Borderline people usually make dramatic gestures, which Jason did with those suicide attempts. But they very rarely act out by committing double murders. Anybody can murder somebody. I suppose a borderline personality, since he’s more impulsive, might be slightly more likely to commit a murder compared to a healthy person. But that increased chance is nothing in comparison to people with antisocial personality disorders.”
The professor, who specializes in criminal psychology, says prisons are filled with men and women exhibiting antisocial, not borderline, personalities. And, he points out, Jason’s medical records do not indicate that he was diagnosed with Intermittent Explosive Disorder — which Dear calls “rage disorder” and points to as the number-one reason to believe Jason had the mind-set to commit such a heinous crime.
“The rage disorder is Dear’s diagnosis, not the doctor’s diagnosis,” the professor says.
He adds that if a borderline person were to commit such a crime, one would expect the attacker to have an intense relationship with his victim, and there’s little evidence that Jason had such a close, ongoing link with Nicole Brown. (Dear’s only evidence of it, comments ascribed to former Simpson family friend Ron Shipp about Jason’s stalking Brown, were mischaracterized, Shipp tells New Times. More on that later.)
The professor isn’t impressed that Dear consulted other psychological “profilers” who told the private eye that Jason is a better suspect than O.J., whose history, they claim, didn’t fit the pattern of a murderer’s.
In fact, the professor says, O.J. is actually a very good candidate for a man who might murder his ex-wife. The former NFL star is clearly deeply narcissistic: “Some scientists look at the antisocial personality and the narcissistic personality and see a link. The only difference is that the antisocial person lacks a conscience.
“The narcissistic person has an impaired ability to understand other people’s feelings and point of view. And if you look at O.J.’s history, that describes him perfectly…. If you look at his combination of narcissism and spousal abuse, which we know he was involved in, then I would say that’s a dangerous combination.”
He dismisses claims by Dear and his experts that O.J. was not capable of wielding a knife so savagely: “I think that is a false premise. I can certainly imagine O.J. committing such a crime.” But he says the biggest howler in Dear’s book is that O.J. would risk his own freedom for Jason’s sake. As a deeply narcissistic person, O.J. would never take the rap for someone else.
The professor says he doesn’t think much of Dear’s sleuthing. “So Jason’s very fucked up. That doesn’t mean he killed anybody. I found Dear’s analysis very unconvincing,” he says. “All of his theorizing is so speculative. I’m a scientist, and I work from evidence. This shit isn’t evidence.”
Ron Shipp says he’s sick to death of the Simpson case and wishes it would go away. A retired LAPD officer and former O.J. friend, Shipp became a bit player in the drama when it was revealed that O.J. admitted to him the day after the murders that he had fantasized about killing his ex-wife. Amateur investigators have accused Shipp of having had something to do with the murders. But even Dear says Shipp has an airtight alibi for the night of June 12 (he was at home with his wife and children). Shipp no longer talks to the press unless he’s paid substantial amounts, he says. But he agreed to talk to New Times without charge when he heard the subject was Bill Dear.”Dear is supposedly a renowned detective,” Shipp says. “But I was really surprised that a guy with his reputation seemed so gullible.”
Shipp says he’s incensed that he has such a big role in Dear’s book — the investigator devotes a key chapter to him — and adds that he’s consulted an attorney about possible legal action. Shipp says Dear badly mischaracterized his words, and gave the false impression that Shipp was impressed by Dear’s theory. “I think it’s crap,” Shipp says.
He’s especially angry about Dear’s mischaracterizing of his conversations with Brown regarding Jason. In his book Dear relates the startling information that shortly before the murders, Brown confided to Shipp that she believed Jason was spying on her.
Shipp says that’s a serious distortion. During their conversation, Shipp says, Brown told him she believed O.J. was watching her to garner information about who she might be dating. She had spotted someone outside her apartment, she told Shipp, and guessed O.J. had been lurking. Later in the conversation, Shipp says, Brown admitted she hadn’t clearly seen whoever was outside her apartment. She then said it could have been Jason.
It was clear, Shipp says, that Brown wasn’t sure who she’d seen. And she certainly didn’t claim that because the figure might have been Jason he had been stalking her. Shipp made this clear to Dear, he says, but it didn’t prevent Dear from seizing on it in his book as a crucial piece of “evidence” against Jason. “This turned out to be extremely important to me,” Dear writes. “Jason wanted to know who Nicole was seeing. He was jealous, just like his dad.”
Shipp says he doesn’t think much of Dear’s analysis. “Jason has had his problems. But could he kill people? I don’t think so.”
Shipp was also unhappy with the way Dear used Shipp’s words to exonerate O.J. The day after the murders, Shipp had been alone with O.J. in the former footballer’s Rockingham bedroom. It was there that O.J., wearing only boxer shorts, admitted he was afraid of taking a polygraph exam because he had had thoughts of killing Brown in the past. O.J. believed such thoughts might confuse the results of such a test. Shipp says it was at that point that he began to think his old friend had committed the murders. Why else would someone really be afraid of taking a lie-detector test?
But what Dear finds more significant is that Shipp, in describing O.J., says he didn’t seem to have any cuts or bruises on his body (other than the bandaged finger on his left hand). Dear says whoever killed Goldman would have been bloodied and bruised from the young waiter’s desperate attempts at self-defense, and O.J.’s lack of marks proved he hadn’t committed that slaying.
But Shipp, who is African-American, says he explained to Dear that this wasn’t necessarily so. “I played a lot of football, and I’m a little bit lighter skinned than O.J. But I seldom bruised so that you could see it. It’s just not going to show. I explained that to him. But of course he left that out of his book.”
Dear also left out another significant fact. Shipp told him that on that same day, June 13, Shipp had also seen Jason at the Rockingham estate. And the young man, Shipp says, also showed no signs of cuts or bruises: “Jason looked fine to me.”
New Times left a letter in Jason’s mailbox seeking an interview, but he did not respond to the request. His attorney did not respond to several phone calls.Lawyers consulted by New Times say there’s little chance Jason will attempt to sue Dear for publicly accusing him of murder. That would only open the Simpson family to further prying by the detective, who would no doubt use a lawsuit as an opportunity to compel Jason and others to testify and turn over records.
But that doesn’t mean Dear couldn’t find himself in hot water over his pursuit of Jason.
“Dear’s been stalking him,” says Tom Lange, who thinks Dear could face criminal prosecution under a California law that prohibits such activity.
But an L.A. County assistant district attorney who specializes in stalking cases, Rhonda Saunders, says that’s not likely. Stalking, she says, requires that a victim know he or she is being targeted. “You can’t stalk someone if they’re not aware of it,” she says. “The whole purpose of the stalking law is that the suspect is terrorizing the person. Private investigators or bill collectors don’t count because they’re doing what they can not to be seen.” Saunders says Jason’s more likely course of action, if he believes he’s being harassed by Dear, would be to sue for invasion of privacy. Also, Jason presumably could sue Dear for publishing his medical records.
Dear shows no signs of stopping his surveillance. He says he’s determined to force Jason or O.J. to act on his findings. He won’t stop until he gets a confession, he says. In the meantime, he’s trying to get some law enforcement agency interested in trying to build a case against Jason.
Dear assumes that the LAPD and the district attorney won’t be interested in looking at anyone other than O.J. after their attempts to convict him. And that’s why he’s asking state attorney general Bill Lockyer for help. He says Lockyer takes his book seriously, and as proof mentions that Lockyer sent Dear a handwritten note thanking him for sending it. Dear says Lockyer also wrote that he’d given the book to a lead investigator in his office.
But Lockyer spokesman Nathan Barankin laughs when told about Dear’s comments. Lockyer, Barankin says, hands out books to subordinates in his office like other people give out handshakes. “He’s the Phil Jackson of attorney generals,” Barankin says.
Barankin confirms that Lockyer did pass on a copy to his chief assistant, David Druliner. “I haven’t read the book,” Barankin says, “I know Lockyer thought it was interesting. But he never expressed any direct interest in pursuing some sort of case.”
Dear admits he could be wrong about his theories, but suggests his close watch of Jason has been for the young man’s own good. Doctors, Dear claims, have told him he has an obligation to watch Jason, to make sure he doesn’t kill again. And the growing interest from media organizations, no doubt, will keep Dear dropping in on Jason for some time.
But soon, he admits, he’ll have less time to follow the Venice chef.
After all, he’s about to insert himself into another high-profile case that should keep him occupied for some time.
“I’m going to do the JonBenet Ramsey case next,” he says.