THE BODZIAK DIAGRAM: During the criminal trial the prosecution presented an exhibit prepared by FBI shoeprint expert Bill Bodziak which showed the layout of the walks, gates, and steps on Nicole's property, and also showed an outline of the condo building. The main purpose of this diagram was to depict the location and direction (as well as could be determined) of each bloody footstep in the infamous Bruno Magli footprint trail. I have accepted that the features shown in that diagram are substantially correct, and I have not encountered any indications that led me to think otherwise.
However, it is obvious that there is much that the diagram does not show. In particular, the only exterior door shown is some distance from the front wall of the condo and around a corner. Bodziak shows this as being open, but the standard architectural symbol for a door is in the open position, so there may not be much significance to this. And, no windows are shown in the diagram, although many windows in the front of the condo are revealed by photographs. So, the Bodziak diagram is at least incomplete in its depiction of the condo building. A simplified version of the Bodziak diagram is shown in Figure 1 (OTHR_DR.JPG). Not seen there is the alley to the left and a rather long walkway leading to it, and a shorter piece of the front walk leading off the right to the Bundy sidewalk 15 feet away. The front door I have believed Nicole used is marked "Wood Door" on Figure 1.
THE "FRONT DOOR": Accepting the Bodziak diagram as depicting the crime situation led me to believe that the "half open front door" through which Nicole came to meet her doom was the front door up the second set of steps and around a corner. But, there have been those with a different idea. In particular, Chicago resident Edward Bill visited Brentwood in November 1996 and took pictures of the condo, presumably in the condition it was in at the time of the murders, and before a new owner made extensive revisions to the walks, steps, gates, and walls. (Immediately after the murders, Nicole's family moved her possessions out of the condo and put the condo on the market. It did not sell until after Bill's pictures were taken, and it is not believed that any renovations were done while it was up for sale.) It was Bill's impression that the "front door" was a glass covered inset at the north end of the east condo wall.
Bill showed this feature in his photograph 'b4' which I show here as Figure 2 (FRNTDOOR.JPG). He considered that the glass paned object facing the camera and to the left of a downspout was a front door. I doubted this interpretation for several reasons. There is another, identical appearing object just around the corner to the right, and there would not be two doors immediately beside one another on adjacent walls of a corner. But, there could be two windows situated this way. I considered that both objects in Bill's picture were windows. Then I noticed that immediately outside of Bill's door, there appears to be an unpaved surface, perhaps with a rock or a small piece of concrete about the size of a door mat against the building wall. Ordinarily, a door will open onto a paved surface, but windows most often do not. Finally, there is no step outside this "door," and that is extremely unusual (probably illegal in the L.A. jurisdiction where this was built.) Ordinarily a door is designed in such a way that a person stepping through it encounters a surface at about the same height on his first footfall outside as inside. For all of these reasons, I considered that Bill was looking at a window, not a door.
Then I noticed that at the extreme right side of Figure 2 there is a windowless feature that I took to be part of the condo building not quite up to the corner. With this interpretation, Bill's door became a window in an indentation in the north condo wall, and I called this feature the "atrium recess." which I guessed was a place to put plants to be viewed from inside the living room. I adopted this understanding, but was bothered by the fact that Figure 2 also appears to show, at the lower left corner, a step, and I could not place that. Also, the walk surface from this step to the recess is not marked with the tile pattern, and I couldn't understand that either. Nonetheless, for six months I continued to talk about an "atrium recess," and that was my best understanding of Bill's picture.
OTHER FEATURES: It is well established, and I have never heard any dispute, that Nicole's body was found at the base of a flight of four steps leading up from the lower walk and the front gate to the upper walk and the condo building. However, there also occurs a second flight of three steps farther up, and there has been some question as to whether these go up (as one walks west, away from Bundy) or down. A photograph of these steps is shown in Goldberg at p. 242+2, top, and I show it here as Figure 3 (UPRWALK2.JPG). Since it is a view looking west, the steps clearly go up toward the west. And, this makes sense in connection with Bodziak's door; that door would enter in the middle between the dining room/kitchen area (to the west) and the living room (to the east.) Since the windows of Bill's picture indicate that the level of the living room is three steps lower than the level of Bodziak's door, this agrees with Lange&Vannatter's statement (p. 38) "Walking through the brightly lit condominium, toward the front door, Lange notices candles still lit in the sunken living room..." Of course the living room is "sunken." Its floor must be three steps below Bodizaik's front door, according to exterior indications.
(Notice also that the drainpipe at the corner of the condo building in Figure 2 appears to be identical to the drainpipe in Figure 3. If these two are the same object, then we can place Bills's picture in context with the rest of the upper walk layout.)
THE CONDO TODAY: As I have mentioned elsewhere, newsgroup contributor Marla and I made a tour of Brentwood on July 9, 1999, and during the course of that took pictures over the north fence, a few feet from where Goldman's body was found. In view of the fact that the new owner has made radical changes in the walks, front wall, and other garden features, there is no assurance that he has not also made changes in the building itself. But, it appears superficially to be the same as pictures at the time of the murder showed, so we proceed on the assumption that pictures of the building today show the original situation.
Figure 4 (FRONTDR2.JPG) shows our picture looking west, up toward Bodiak's door; an inset in the lower left is a crime scene picture taken from the sidewalk, showing Nicole's body at the base of the four steps between the lower and upper walks. I have annotated this to show: A, a window in the north condo wall; B, the diagonal wall at the head of the upper steps; C, an ornate wooden door in that wall; D, the back walk going to the alley, but here obstructed by foreground foliage; E, the steps between the upper walk and the porch; and F, the upper walk. The blue "E" in the inset points to the same place as the red "E" in the main picture, the steps between the upper walk and the porch. (Notice that in the exterior remodeling, the original four bare steps where Nicole's body was found have been replaced with five tiled steps. Similarly, the three bare steps between the upper walk and the porch have been replaced with five tiled steps.)
From this, it is quite apparent that there really is a wood door in a diagonal wall at the porch, as Bodziak depicts.
Figure 5 (OTHERDR.JPG) shows our picture looking south, across the upper walk, toward the north east corner of the condo. I realize it is confusing because we were looking through foliage, but having been there I can give a verbal explanation. I show an arrow marked "A" which points toward the front yard. "B" appears to be the same feature that Bill calls the "front door," and the arrowhead here points to a brass dead bolt and doorknob indicating it really is a door, and not a window as I had thought. "C" is the white blossomed vines on the north condo wall; "D" is a potted plant that blocks the glass door from being used; and ":E" is a new tile landing and step outside the glass door to connect it to the upper walk.
Most interesting, I notice the foreground object in the lower left which is similar to the windowless object in Bill's picture that I took to be a part of the condo building. Here I see it is a separate wall, not connected to the building, and I also notice that in Figure 1, Bodziak also shows such a wall that continues east nearly to the front gate, then runs south across the front of the property. Realizing that there is an unattached wall here, I reconsider my idea that Bill showed an "atrium recess" and now believe his picture shows the north east corner of the building, and on the basis of the pictures we took, believe that today that feature is a "glass door."
THE "OTHER" FRONT DOOR: To give a more vivid idea of where the structures are that we have been discussing, I show as Figure 6 (CONDOAIR.JPG), an aerial view of the situation from Lange & Vannatter at p. 178+1 (top). This panorama is taken from south of the condo, and it shows quite well the twin to Nicole's place, which is on the south half of the same building with hers. I have called this twin, the "South Condo." (It appears that there is crime scene tape across the front of Nicole's unit, just back from the sidewalk. Notice also that a small front yard can be seen between the front of the south condo and the front wall where the heavy vegetation begins.) Notice that at the very front corner of the south condo there is the same kind of cut-out as seen at Nicole's. There is a tall narrow window facing perpendicular to the street, and beside that, at the corner, a window or door facing the street that I have called "'Other' Front Door" (glass door). Around the corner there is still another window. A walkway proceeds west along the south wall, and comes to a diagonal wall and a dark door, which I have labeled, "True Front Door" (wood door). This corresponds to the front door that I claim Nicole came out of.
Two months after the crimes, the supermarket tabloid, "The Globe" published a picture from a helicopter of the north side of Nicole's condo; I am indebted to Marla for preserving, scanning, and providing it. I show it here as Figure 7 (NRTHSID2.JPG). Because of the questionable source, I have compared this picture with several detailed pictures of parts of the condo from different perspectives, and I see no discrepancy; I think it is a genuine photograph of the north side of the condo. The location of the "glass door" is indicated by "A," and the location of the "wood door" is indicted by "B." I have also shown the (Nicole's) master bedroom as "C," the kitchen as "D," and the children's bedrooms as "E." This was somewhat surprising to me since I had thought the children's rooms were near the front of the condo, and Nicole's was at the back. I also see that there is only one window in the vicinity of the children's rooms and that appears to be a kind that might not be openable. So, the children (and the dog, if he were sleeping with them, as was his custom) would be very isolated from sounds on the front walk, a story below, and hundred feet away, and around several corners.
Also from Marla, and from the same issue of "The Globe," is a picture of the interior of the living room, taken from the vicinity of the "glass door," looking back across the living room toward the dining room and kitchen. I have shown this as Figure 8 (SALON3.JPG). The three steps leading down from the foyer into the "sunken" living room are indicated at "A." Behind the couch on the right wall is a window, indicated at "B," and it is possible to look through that to the outdoors. A few feet after this line of sight passes outdoors, it encounters the (closed) front door, which is marked as "C"; this is the "wooden door," described above, and from the condo opens onto a tiled area I have called the "porch."
WHICH DOOR? From the foregoing, it is pretty well established that at the current time there is both a "glass door" at the north east corner of the building, and a "wood door" 17 feet farther up the front walk. (The "glass door" is 12 feet from Nicole's body, the "wood door" is 29 feet.) Furthermore (Figure 8) the wood door existed at the time of the crime, and some similar feature to the glass door existed (Figure 2) at that time. If the feature at the corner of the building is a door, then there is uncertainty as to which door Nicole came out of on her fatal encounter. As Ron Egan has pointed out quite thoroughly, there is abundant indication in verbal descriptions from police and detectives that identify the "open front door" that Riske saw as being close to Nicole's body and visible from the intercom. This would have to be the "glass door," since the "wood door" is farther away, up three steps more, and around a corner; it is not visible from the intercom.
There are perhaps a dozen such descriptions in the transcript and in books written on the subject, they all convey the impression that the glass door was Nicole's exit, and none are explicitly to the contrary. Riske's criminal trial testimony is perhaps the most explicit, in describing that he was "at the intercom," saw the bloody footprints leading up to the "open front door," THEN stepped over Nicole's body to follow the prints. In his book, Fuhrman says (p. 14), "Riske led Ron [Phillips, his detective partner] and me through the open front door, which showed no obvious signs of forced entry. From the front porch landing, Riske pointed to a bloody shoeprint heading west down the walkway. We could easily see the victims from the landing."
The problem with these verbal descriptions is that the implication about the front door is incidental to some other purpose of the descriptions. Riske is not asked explicitly, "Could you see the open front door from the intercom?" and so it is possible that he is incorporating later knowledge (that the door was open) into an earlier point of the account, just to make the narration more efficient. Similarly, Fuhrman says he went out the front door and saw the footprints from "the front porch landing," then says he could easily see the victims "from the landing." There are two sets of steps, and hence two "landings." Is the landing from which he saw the victims the same one he came out onto from the front door? He implies it was, but he is not explicit about it. There is a slight reason to think not, because if he came out the "glass door," he would not quite find himself on a "landing" but on the "walk," yet seven feet from the top of the steps leading down to the bodies, and seven feet is a bit of a stretch to consider part of the "landing" under the circumstances of the length and width of the walk.
As to Riske's description, there is a wall on the south side of the four steps above Nicole's body, and the wall blocks the view of the corner of the building (and the "glass door") from a person at the intercom. One has to move a foot to the right to even see the hinge edge of this "door" (from which he could still not tell if the door were open or closed.) In order to see the entire glass door from the gate threshold, one needs to move to the extreme right side -- where all the blood is covering the walk -- and it seems unlikely that Riske would have done such a thing casually. So, it seems that from the vicinity of the intercom Riske could not have seen EITHER the wood door or the glass door, and determined that it was open. (The issue is depicted more explicitly in Figure 11 where thin white threads show the lines of sight from the gate threshold to the glass door, and what parts of the door would be visible from different locations.)
I assert that the verbal descriptions are ambiguous and inconclusive. But, I quickly admit that they are strongly suggestive that the "open front door" through which Nicole came was the "glass door."
CONTRARY TESTIMONY: In his criminal trial testimony late on the afternoon of February 17, Detective Lange describes to prosecutor Clark his initial experience in examining the place. He follows Detective Phillips from the alley through the garage, upstairs to the kitchen through that and the dining room to the front door, where he observes the interior of the living room. Then he and Phillips go out on the porch, look at bloody footprints, and proceed east on the walk to the vicinity of the victims. In that walk, they see more shoeprints and two blood drops. Clark asks Lange to describe the relative location of the front porch, the two blood drops, and the victims. He says,
AS ONE PROCEEDS EAST ALONG THE WALKWAY, THERE ARE I BELIEVE TWO STEPS GOING DOWN UH, JUST EAST OF THE DOORWAY, AND THERE WAS UH, A DROPLET MORE OR LESS IN THE CENTER OF THE WALKWAY JUST EAST OF THOSE TWO STEPS, AND AS ONE WOULD PROCEED EAST, THERE WAS AN ADDITIONAL DROPLET THAT APPEARED ON THE WALKWAY JUST NORTH OF THE -- NORTHEAST CORNER OF THE RESIDENCE. UNDERSTAND?
From this, Lange says that as you go from the front door east to the victims, you first go down two steps (actually it's three), then you encounter a blood drop. You walk a little farther, and you encounter another one JUST NORTH OF THE NORTH EAST CORNER OF THE RESIDENCE. That is, in going from the "open front door" to the north east corner of the building (the place of the "glass door"), you go down steps, and along the walk past two blood drops. From this, Lange very explicitly did not go out a front door at the north east corner of the building but at some point farther west, and up steps.
In other testimony, Lange describes the appearance of the bloody shoeprints as proceeding directly west to a point where they "appear to turn sideways," then proceed farther west to a point where they appear to "turn toward the front door," before continuing to the alley. Both of these events can be identified in the Bodziak diagram; the "turning sideways" is at footprints "L," "M," "N," and "O," the "turn toward the front door" is at "S," which is opposite the wood door. This trail passes the north-east corner of the building (and the "glass door") near shoeprints "G" and "H," and there is no indication of turning there.
WAS IT A "DOOR" OR A "WINDOW"? Finally, consider the question of what the object is that I have been calling a "glass door." From the appearance in July 1999, when it contains a brass door knob and deadbolt, it certainly is a glass-paned door, even though it was blocked then with a potted plant. But, in November 1996, Edward Bill showed (Figure 2) that it did not have the appearance of a door, but of a window. I have given several reasons, based on Figure 2 to believe this.
Now comes Marla again, with one of the prosecution exhibits, a photograph presumably taken to illustrate the bloody shoeprint trail. I show this as Figure 9 (FRNTWNDW.JPG), and thank Marla for supplying it. From the way in which the lighting falls off in the distance, it apparently was taken with a flash, when there was no sunlight. It clearly shows a bloody footprint on the upper walk near the corner of the building, and Rokar's ruler is beside it. Since the footprints (and all other evidence) was washed away late on the afternoon of June 13th, we can conclude that this photograph was taken in the pre-dawn hours of that day. We presume that this picture shows the situation at the time of the murders. The familiar downspout reference is shown, and just the corner of the "glass door." The appearance of that feature looks the same as Bill showed more extensively two years later: there is about a five inch step down onto an unpaved surface, and the molding does not show a threshold or the kind of sill used on doors. From all indications, this was a window, not a door, on the night of the murders.
Furthermore, we see that there is a tub containing a fern and taller plants immediately outside the "door," blocking it from use, even if it is a door. Under all of these circumstances, it is not possible that the door Nicole came out of was this feature at the north-east corner of the building.
CONSOLIDATING THE INDICATIONS: In Figure 1, I am now able to show the locations from which Bill took his pictures and I took mine. From that, it is clear that Bill would not have been able to see the wood door, and that I was able to see only the right hand portion of it. Bill knew that there was a front door somewhere, he was not able to see the wood door from his location, and he mistakenly identified the glass feature at the corner as being a "door." To show the "glass door" in perspective, I have included Figure 10 (GLASS_DR.JPG), which is a photo of the front of the condo in 1999, taken from the steps of the house across the street, with an arrow pointing to the location of the disputed door.
I have consolidated all of the foregoing indications about the condo layout into Figure 11 (BODZ5A.JPG) which is an annotated (and slightly revised) version of the original Bodziak diagram. The broken line over the porch indicates the extent of the porch roof, and the location of the porch light in that roof is a guess. Lange said that upon walking out the front door the porch light was bright enough that he did not need his flashlight to clearly see the bloody shoeprints near there. The black object at the west side of the porch is a structural porch holding up the roof, and is seen in both Bill's picture "b8" from over the back gate, and Marla's Figure 7. The detail of the building corner right there has been modified slightly from Bodziak. A suggestion of three steps in the living room near the front door shows where the interior levels change, and the living room becomes "sunken." I also show a "glass door," even though I think it was actually a window at the time of the murders.
CONCLUSION: The door through which Nicole passed for the last time is the only feature shown as an exterior door in Bodziak's diagram, and is 29 feet from where Nicole's body was finally found, west along the walk, up three steps, and around a corner to the left. There is an architectural feature at the north-east corner of the building which is today a "glass door," but at the time of the murders it appears to have been a window. But, even if it was a door then, it was not used that night, because a crime scene photo shows it to be blocked by potted plants at that time. My earlier understanding about an "atrium recess" was incorrect.
Dick Wagner Van Nuys, CA (7/31/99) NG_569