THE "OTHER" FRONT DOOR
FROM THE INSTITUTE: In my recent sojourn to the Institute where pro-J's gather, it was pointed out that among the Simpson resources on the net, there is a site by Edward J. Bill, called "...Brentwood96..." (a complete URL is available at our site.) Bill is in Chicago, but visited LA in November of '96 and took photos of the Bundy and Rockingham locations, which he shows. (I commend the photos; he also describes an interesting chance encounter with Robert Heidstra and dogs.) Among these pictures is his photograph number "b4" which he purports to be the front door where Nicole came out onto the walk, and to her doom. Bill says of this picture, "The photo above shows the front entrance to the home." He then goes on to speculate about Nicole's actions after she came out on the porch.
In the discussion at the Institute, one woman who had seen a video of Nicole's condo opined that Bill's photo was not actually a picture of the door Nicole used to go from the condo to the porch. She said it was a picture of the "other front door." I had never heard of this door, and so went to look again at Bill's "b4." The reason I had passed over it when I had seen his pictures the previous summer is that on his site it is little more than a dark brown square. There is nothing resembling a door or any other architectural feature that shows up on my screen from it. But, I recovered it, reprocessed it with Photoshop, and got an image to appear (Figure 1).
Bill was no more than a looky-loo, as I would have been, and so was not able to go farther than Nicole's front fence. The picture is presumably taken from there. Therefore, what is seen in Figure 1 must be interpreted as the north wall of the condo, as viewed from the east. It appears that there is a rectangular recess in this wall, at right angles to the wall. Judging from the 11" tiles on the walk beside it, this recess seems to be two and a half to three feet square, and there is a door -- or something -- entering the recess from the condo on the west. The woman at the Institute identified this as "the other front door," and pointed out the photograph in Lange and Vannatter at p. 178+1 (top) which shows an aerial view of Nicole's condo (the lowest building in the photograph showing the entire width of the building.) That photograph is taken from south of the condo, and so does not show the north wall on Nicole's side. But there is a shadow on the south wall just west of the beginning of the south wall which is claimed to be a mirror image of the north wall at Nicole's. It is also claimed that this shadow is the "other front door" for the south side condo in Nicole's building. (That building is really a "duplex condo" and contains two individual living spaces, Nicole's on the north, and another on the south.) I have scanned, enhanced, cropped, and annotated that photo, and show it as Figure 2.
ANALYSIS: In order to try to understand the situation Bill was depicting, I created a map of the front of Nicole's condo according to the scaling in the Bodziac diagram (which does not show this "other front door".) My map is Figure 3. Since the recess is not shown in Bodziac's diagram, I have added a 3' by 3' white square in the north condo wall at an arbitrary location near the front. I was guided in this by Figure 2, in which the shadow is almost at the front, and Figure 1, in which a portion of wall probably at least 18" wide is shown, which does not yet come to the front of the condo.
Then, I drew a ray diagonally across this recess so that a person looking down that would see the west wall of the recess all the way to the south edge, as Bill apparently has done in Figure 1. By projecting that ray back to the fence, I see that Bill was slightly north of Nicole's property line when he took this picture. The interesting thing is that the ray passes through the alcove where Goldman's body was found, and that is a relatively vegetated place. One would not think that a picture of the north condo wall could be taken along that line. But, we notice a few other things that might explain this. For one thing, Bill's photograph is not of the proportions of a usual 35 millimeter picture, but appears to have been cropped at the top or bottom; this could have occurred to remove offending branches. Also, we notice that this is a rather tight view; it is less than 6 feet wide at a distance of about 22 feet. In the foreground, where the densest vegetation is, Bill would only have to find a clear space a foot or two wide to permit the picture.
We notice that the picture is dark, and of low contrast; thereby we wonder if it was not necessary to use a wide aperture to take this picture at all. Such a measure would give a small depth of focus, and if Bill focused on the "door," the foreground vegetation would be out of focus (which would be helpful to his purpose of showing the "door.") We see in Figure 1 that there are out-of-focus splotches, particularly in the upper right corner, but also here and there across the picture. (This is more readily seen in a black-and-white version of Figure 1.) These are very possibly due to out of focus foreground leaves. Finally, we see that although Bill's other pictures are well composed, this one is so tightly cropped it is hard to get a sense of position. All we see is the bottom two feet of the "door," a drainpipe, a piece of walk, and a piece of blank wall. This also could be an indication of the limited opportunity that Bill had of taking his picture through the foliage of the alcove. All of these considerations taken together, I consider as confirmation that the place I have labeled "Presumed Vantage Point" is close to where the picture was shot.
From the presumed vantage point, I project a ray to the real front door, and I see that door is completely blocked from view by the knee in the north condo wall. This means that Bill was not able to see any other plausible feature in the north wall than the "Other Door," and was forced to assume that the only thing he saw was the place where Nicole came out. Reasonable enough under the circumstances, but false when more is known.
Having determined that this is not the main front door, I now wonder if it is a door at all. I notice in Figure 1 that there is another feature in the north wall that looks just like the "other door," and I think that there would not be two doors so close together. I also see that these features have a large dark panel covering most of the area (unusual for a door), and that "door" does not reach all the way to the ground. There is also no sill or step that would be appropriate for a door. I consider that the "other door" is really a floor-to-ceiling window. (The molding also looks to me more typical of a window than a door.) Finally, Bodziac showed the real front door in his diagram, but no other doors, and he did not show windows. As a matter of consistency, I think he would have shown this feature if it were really a door. (I am disappointed in Bodziac that he did not show the recess.)
SIGNIFICANCE: Door, window... Who the hell cares? Well, there is a recess in the north wall that is not usually realized. It is large enough for a man to hide in and it is halfway between the front door and the gate. The nature of Nicole's wounds indicate that she may have first been contacted by a stunning blow to the right temple as she was going to the gate. Judging by the porch roof on the south condo in Figure 2, if the porch light were on the east end of that, it would be west of the recess (at about footstep #M), and so a person lurking on the west wall of the recess would be in shadows. I had previously speculated that the killer had hidden at the knee in the north condo wall (at the "X" in Figure 3; see also "Waylaid" at our site.) But, I now think it is more likely that he waited for Nicole in this recess. In that place, he could not be seen until Nicole was abreast of him, and then only if she was looking to her right. She never knew what hit her.
This also shows that the Institute does produce some valuable information from time to time. But one has to go through a lot else to find it, and sometimes to understand it. (Considering the usual suspicion in the Institute, I am surprised that the people there did not follow this all the way through so that they could be alarmed that the prosecution had deliberately presented an exhibit that omitted the most likely place where a killer could lie in wait for Nicole, and take her by surprise.)
ATRIUM RECESS: I have redrawn the Bodziac diagram to show this feature. Insofar as I think it is intended to be a place for plants which can be seen through the living room window, I have identified it as the "Atrium Recess."
Dick Wagner Van Nuys, CA (2/25/99) NG_521