The Los Angeles Police Department is conducting an investigation into a knife reportedly found buried on the former estate of O.J. Simpson.
TMZ reported that a construction worker found the folding buck knife and turned it over to an LAPD cop, though the timeline of the exchange is unclear. The officer reportedly maintained possession of it until earlier this year, when it was turned over and is now being tested for hair and fingerprints, according to TMZ.
The LAPD confirmed the report later in the morning, via Jonathan Lloyd and Nyree Arabian of NBC 4 in Los Angeles.
In 1995, Simpson was found not guilty in a criminal murder trial regarding the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman. The TMZ report stated that those who have seen the knife believe it could contain blood residue, but further testing is necessary to see if there's any connection.
“I was really surprised,” Capt. Andrew Neiman said, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “I would think that an LAPD officer would know that any time you come into contact with evidence, you should and shall submit that to investigators.”
Simpson cannot be prosecuted again in the case due to double jeopardy, as TMZ noted.
The LAPD has reportedly been logging all of the information regarding the investigation into the knife outside of the case file in the hope of maintaining the secrecy of the details. The item is scheduled to get tested for DNA and other biological evidence next week, according to TMZ.
Andrew Blankstein of NBC News reported "the sources would not elaborate on specifics, but they said that the characteristics and condition of the knife were not consistent with the weapon."
It's noted that the knife came to the attention of police only after the cop who held it retired and contacted a friend in the department in search of the murder case's number. TMZ stated he was planning to get it framed with an engraving of the number before being asked to turn it over.
Neiman added, per Florio, that the retired officer, who wasn’t named, has said he didn’t surrender the item earlier because he believed the case was closed. Neiman clarified that the case remains open.
Florio added "efforts are underway to find the person who gave the knife to the retired officer."
Simpson, who was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is currently serving time in Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada after being found guilty in a separate case.
Steve Friess of the New York Times reported that the former running back is serving a maximum total sentence of 33 years after being convicted of 12 felonies in late 2008 for an armed robbery at a casino hotel in Nevada. Simpson, now 68, stated the items he was attempting to retrieve were rightfully his and had been previously stolen.
"I didn't want to hurt anybody," Simpson said at the time. "I didn't know I was doing anything wrong."
The prior murder case has received renewed attention in recent months with the release of The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, a show that premiered on the FX network in February. The first episode set the FX ratings record for a drama premiere, according to Rick Kissell of Variety.
It remains unclear whether the knife found on Simpson's former property has any link to the case. Only further testing will reveal those details, and there's no timetable for the results of the investigation, which the LAPD had hoped to keep out of the spotlight.
The TMZ report was just the latest twist in a case that's held the attention of the American public for more than two decades.
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