O.J. Simpson's Private Goodbye, a Buried Knife and More Secrets Spilled From the Ghost of 360 North Rockingham

Insiders tell E! News the true story of the 1998 demolition—and the likelihood of whether the knife now in police custody had anything to do with the murders of Nicole Brown & Ron Goldman

By Senta Scarborough Mar 15, 2016 12:00 PMTags
O.J. Simpson, HouseVinnie Zuffante/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Whether you remember watching the slow-mo Bronco chase and the subsequent criminal trial on TV two decades ago or have been watching the saga re-unfold now on American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson every week, the Brentwood estate that once belong to O.J. Simpson remains a focal point of fascination and is still shrouded in mystery.

And even though the property was razed in 1998, 360 N. Rockingham Avenue is still making news.

The notorious address anachronistically took center stage last week when the LAPD announced that a knife had, as far as they'd been told, been found buried on what used to be Simpson's property and was being tested for traces of evidence that could possibly connect it the 1994 double murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

Whether or not any trace of anything pops up, Simpson has been found not guilty of murder and, due to double jeopardy, it's impossible to try him for the same crime again. (The onetime football great is currently serving a nine-to-33-year prison sentence in Nevada for armed robbery and other offenses for his involvement in a heist to retrieve memorabilia he claimed belonged to him. He's up for parole in 2017.) 

But 22 years ago, he was living in his mansion on Rockingham when his ex-wife and her friend were murdered 2 miles away, on Bundy Drive.

E! Illustration by Lindsay Scheinberg. Map not to scale.

Simpson bought the house in 1977 for $650,000 and lost the estate to foreclosure 20 years later. A bank bought the house at auction for $2.6 million in July 1997, five months after a jury awarded the Goldman and Brown families a $33.5 million wrongful death judgment against Simpson—the majority of which they've never seen. Even most of the $2.6 million went to pay O.J.'s lawyers, lenders and mortgage debt.

In a city that hosts such attractions as The Tragical History Tour, of course 360 N. Rockingham became a tourist (and locals) magnet after the grisly murders.

But even with the case being combed through and analyzed and talked about every year for the past 22 years, there still remained stones previously left unturned.

Here are the five things you didn't know:


1. O.J. Simpson's Final Goodbye: Simpson told reporters in 1998, around the time his former home was scheduled to be razed, "It's not my house, and I could care less. I walked out of that door, and I've never been back...Rockingham is history."

But the onetime USC hero and Buffalo Bills star actually made sure to have one last look at Rockingham the day before the house was demolished, by then one of a throng of people trying to get a final glimpse of the infamous address.

O.J. was spotted doing a "drive-by" the day before the demolition, a source tells E! News. "I saw him come by. I thought it was odd. He looked sad, like he was bummed," the insider said.

2. The Mystery Knife: Last week the news of a possible twist came to light. A knife was supposedly found buried on the Rockingham property by a construction worker in 2002, after the estate had been razed at the behest of its new owner. 

Police were told that the worker gave it to an off-duty traffic cop, who then took it home with him. Only recently did he give it to authorities, and only after he tried to obtain the case number so he could properly preserve the knife in an engraved frame. (The now-retired cop in question told TMZ he informed the LAPD of the knife's existence when he first got it and they told him the case was closed.)

A source who has seen the knife in question told E! this week that it was "totally rusted" and looked "decades old." With police already skeptical as well, the insider highly doubts that the the knife has anything to do with the murders. "It looked more like a toy knife or a Boy Scout knife—like something a kid would bury."

Still, the source added, no stone was left unturned on the property. Before the demolition, in the back of the main house there were traces near the guest quarters—where Kato Kaelin once lived—where you could see that "police had dug up the ground" looking for the murder weapon and other evidence, the source said.

Eugene Gologursky/WireImage for Niche Media, LLC

3. Demolition Man: Billionaire investor Ron Burkle—whose celeb pals past and present have included Bill Clinton, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bono and Sean "Diddy" Combs—hopped aboard a bulldozer and was one of the first to take a swipe at the former Simpson house in 1998.

The supermarket magnate was the close friend and business partner of financier Kenneth Abdalla, who bought the Brentwood property for close to $4 million in 1997 and had the 6,000-square-foot house razed the following year in order to build a new house on the spot.

"[Burkle] wanted to take the first pass at the house," a source tells us. "The crew showed him how to drive the bulldozer first and then he got on the bulldozer"--wearing his trademark black Polo shirt—"and knocked down the entrance."

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

4. Nothing Sacred: Pretty much nothing remains of the original structure, Abdalla wanting everything destroyed.

We're told that the new owner didn't want a single part of the mansion left. With a house as famous as Rockingham, the insider said, mementos from the original house could have easily been sold off for a hefty price. Instead, the owner declared it all "unusable."  

"He wanted a blank slate. It was pulverized and totally destroyed," our source said. "All that were left were scraps and everything went to the landfill."

5. The Circus Stays in Town: Just as it was in the wake of the murders in 1994, 360 N. Rockingham was a circus during demolition in 1998 and private security was hired to keep out "all of the lookers trying to jump over the fence" to get a peep, the source said. Police blocked off the entire area. Even though the owner built a new house, morbid curiosity still had people flocking to the site. Extra security was ultimately a necessity for years after the demolition.