WHO HEARD THE DOG?

In previous articles, ("The Pilnak/Fenjves Contradiction" and "Aaronson's Experience") I advanced the idea that it is possible to set certain otherwise unspecified factors in such a way that the apparently contradictory testimony of the barking dog witnesses was not contradictory at all. Specifically, I pointed out that the location from which the dog barked was not defined in the trial, but that this was critical to the ability of the witnesses to hear, or not hear, the dog. If the dog went silently from the location of the bodies to the alley behind the condo (an alley west of Bundy), and first began barking there, all witnesses could be believed. I further explore the idea here, illustrate it with photographs of Nicole's neighborhood, and at the end leave little doubt that that is exactly what happened. [AKITA.JPG]akita.jpg (16771 bytes)

THE WITNESSES: There appears to have been two episodes of barking, "early" (10:15 to 10:25 or so) and "late" (10:30 to 10:50 or so). The witnesses to the early barking were:

    Pablo Fenjves -- lived across the alley and up two buildings from Nicole's condo. Was watching television in his second floor alley-overlook bedroom after 10:00 when he heard a dog began to bark in a mournful way (among several descriptions, he said it had a "plaintive wail.") He judged the direction of the sound coming in his east-facing window as being from the corner of Dorothy and Bundy; he went out on his balcony and looked but did not see the dog. (It is an unlighted alley.) As is his habit, after a particular segment of the news, he went down to his study to work. Upon leaving the bedroom, he can no longer hear outside sounds. On the basis of these considerations, he believes the dog first began to bark "between 10:15 and 10:20," and continued for at least 5 to 7 minutes before he left the bedroom. When he came back at 11:00 o'clock he continued to hear the dog, but paid less attention to it, and went to bed.

    Eva Stein -- This woman is Nicole's neighbor to the immediate north. At 10:00 she went to bed and to sleep in her second floor alley-overlook bedroom. She was awakened at some later time by the sound of a dog barking in an unusual and distressed way. She said the barking came from "down the alley, toward Dorothy." Her windows face both west and south. She estimates that this happened "about half an hour" before her boyfriend, Luis Karpf, came home at "about 10:45." There is a compound uncertainty in this, then, and I have estimated that she was awakened by the dog between 10:10 and 10:20.

    Marc Storfer -- This neighbor lives on the southwest corner of Dorothy and Bundy and was in his second floor bedroom when he first heard the dog. His child was sleeping with him and his wife, and he feared that the sound of the dog would awaken the child, so he took it downstairs and returned, and errand that he estimates took two minutes. At that time, the clock on his VCR registered 10:28, meaning that it would have shown 10:26 when he first heard the dog. But that clock is deliberately kept five minutes fast, so the actual time was 10:21. I consider this to be accurate to within a minute or so. Like the other two witnesses, he described the dog's sound as agitated and insistent.

    Then, there are witnesses to the late barking of the dog:

    Elsie Tistaert -- lives across the street from Nicole, and both saw and heard the dog barking and running in the street and in the vicinity of Nicole's front walk. She can not estimate what time this was.

    Robert Heidsta -- walking his dogs; he never did see the dog, but recognized it from its bark, which on this occasion was "crazy" and "hysterical". His initial awareness was near the corner of Bundy and Gorham at about 10:32, according to my re-creation of the time (see "Heidstra's Testimony"). He took his dogs down an alley parallel to and east of Bundy and continued to hear to dog from beyond the houses. At about 10:35 he heard some men's voices, also.

    Steven Schwab -- walking his own dog, encountered the Akita lose in the street on Bundy near Dorothy at about 10:50. The dog was acting very agitated, and barking a lot, and followed Schwab and his dog. Eventually, Schwab took the dog in tow, turned him over to Sukru Boztepi, and that led later to the discovery of the crime.

    And, there were witnesses that did not hear or see the dog.

    Denise Pilnak -- lived "about 70 yards south of Dorothy on the east side of Bundy." She was on her porch talking to her friend, Judy Telander from 10:21 to 10:24 and neither of them heard a dog barking. However, later -- about 10:35 -- Pilnak was inside her house and did hear a dog barking somewhere.

    Judy Telander -- was with Pilnak at 10:21 to 10:24 when they did not hear the dog. Telander got into her car, which was parked northbound on Bundy in front of Pilnak's house, and drove up to the intersection of Dorothy and made a U-turn, then proceeded south past Pilnak's house on her route to go home. She also did not see or hear a dog during the U-turn.

    Aaronson/Mandel -- this couple was on a date, and walking home from dinner. Their route brought them past the condo and through the intersection of Bundy and Dorothy at a time they calculate to be 10:26, though this depends on factors that may have a few minutes error. (They did not see Pilnak/Telander on the porch, and neither Pilnak nor Telander saw them.) The couple did not see or hear a dog, and did not see a dog's bloody paw prints on the sidewalk; they did not see a body at the foot of Nicole's steps. (The explanation for their possible failure to see the body or the paw prints is considered in detail in "Aaronson's Experience.")

    Fransesca Harmon -- A woman who left a party on Dorothy and drove past Nicole's condo at 10:25 did not see or hear the dog, or anything else suspicious. Because a person driving past in a car is not in a good position to see any of the indications -- except the dog, if he had happened to be running in the street when she was there -- her contribution was generally not considered to be of much value.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD: In April, 1999 I visited the neighborhood, took some photographs, and made some measurements that would allow me to construct a more accurate portrayal of the physical layout than has been generally seen before. Figure 1 [STORFER0.JPG] storfer0.jpg (60890 bytes)shows the situation, the location of the primary witnesses, and the location and directions from which photographs in this article were made. If one relies on the popular street guide for Los Angeles, it appears that if a person stood on the corner of Dorothy and Bundy and looked down Bundy he would be able to see down about two blocks before the curvature of the street obscured his vision farther. As will be seen in the photographs, however, one can not see one whole block in that direction. The analysis of this article would have been impossible without making a more detailed and accurate map.

    First we look at Storfer's house. In Figure 2 [STORFER2.JPG] we are looking west down the storfer2.jpg (27661 bytes)hill of Dorothy from about the alley that Heidstra came out of. The intersection of Bundy and Dorothy is in the middle of the picture, and Storfer's house is at the upper left. Notice that the house is set back from Bundy, and that the second floor is on the west end of the building. So, when Storfer was in his second floor bedroom (even if he was at the east end of the second floor) and heard the dog, he was not near the corner of Bundy and Dorothy, he was at about the middle of the lot between Bundy and the alley. Notice also the tall hedge around his property, the parkway trees, and the vegetation in his yard that block street-level sound from going much farther south than his house. (Only the parkway trees are an interference from his second floor vantage, however.)

    In Figure 3 [BUNDY_S.JPG] bundy_s.jpg (25527 bytes)we are on the north-west corner of Bundy and Dorothy looking down Bundy. An arrow marks the presumed location of Pilnak's house. (It was described as 70 yards south of Dorothy, or 210 feet. These are 50 foot wide lots, which would make Pilnak's the fifth house down the street; to be conservative, we have taken her house to be at 918 S. Bundy, the fourth house.) Also, notice the conspicuous curvature in Bundy south of Dorothy; this does not show up on city maps. There is a black car parked on the east side of the street at the north side of 918; this is probably about where Telander had parked.

   pilnak.jpg (31390 bytes) Figure 4 [PILNAK.JPG] shows the presumed Pilnak house more clearly. The porch on which Pilnak and Telander talked is clear, and the black car can also be seen. Notice that the porch is raised above the street somewhat, and this more than compensates for the gentle fall in Bundy as it comes south from Dorothy. The porch is probably three feet or so above the Dorothy intersection, but not nearly high enough to be above the houses and vegetation between there and the alley behind the condo. Also, there seems to be a nearly clear path from the porch all the way up to Nicole's front walk.

    Then, we move to the alley behind Nicole's condo. Figure 5 [STEIN.JPG]stein.jpg (29077 bytes) shows the south-west corner of Stein's condo and the relationship to Nicole's driveway. Notice that on the second floor rear there are windows on both the west (alley) and south (over Nicole's driveway). Since Stein described her bedroom as being on the second floor in this area, we presume that she could have heard the dog from both the south and the west, and it was because of this that she said the barking was coming from "down the alley" (south).

    Figure 6 [DOGSEYES.JPG] is a "dog's eye view," taken from the height of the dog's head above dogseyes.jpg (34642 bytes)the ground (about 2 feet) and looking south from the west side of the alley behind Nicole's condo. From this position, Storfer (beyond the picture to the left) is blocked from the dog by the building south of Nicole's and by vegetation. Only the second floor back apartments on Gretna Green at Dorothy have a clear shot. Because of the curve in the streets, there also appears to be a building in the next block (tile roof) with a second story and directly south of the alley that is in a direct line with this location.

    Turning around 180-degrees produces Figure 7 [DOGSEYEN.JPG],dogseyen.jpg (25981 bytes) another "dog's eye view," but looking north. The only windows that are visible are those on Stein's building at the right edge of the picture. However, this picture was taken from the west side of the alley, and as we will see immediately, if we move closer to the back of Nicole's condo we will come out from behind the obscuration of the trees on the left side of this picture, and see more candidate locations that could have heard a dog from here.

    In Figure 8, [FENJVES.JPG] we have done that, and are at fenjves.jpg (31225 bytes)the edge of Nicole's driveway, where it meets the alley, looking north up the alley. The arrow points to Fenjves' condo, two buildings up, with its balcony from which he looked for the source of the sound. Notice that there are also condos on either side of Fenjves' where people could have heard the dog if they were near the window. From a comparison of Figures 7 and 8 it seems most likely that the dog was near the back of Nicole's condo when Fenjves first heard it. From such a location, there is an unimpeded line to Fenjves' window.

    Figure 9 [REAR.JPG]rear.jpg (37710 bytes) is of the back of Nicole's condo today. The arrow points to the back walkway down which Simpson fled. At the time of the crime, there was an opening here which has been later blocked by a wooden gate. Originally, one went down the passageway on the north side of the condo for 12 feet before encountering the locked back gate, but the new owners apparently do not want the uninvited to approach that close.

    Moving down the alley to where it emerges onto Dorothy Street, we see the view from Figure 10 [ALLEY_S.JPG]. Here, we are on the west side of the alley a couple of yards north of the Dorothy sidewalk. Notice alley_s.jpg (36366 bytes)that Storfer's second floor is visible from here, so it is likely that Storfer would be able to hear the dog clearly if it were barking from this location. However, even though Storfer could see the mouth of the alley, he could not see more than a few yards up it, and even at the mouth, an object, like a dog, that was close to the ground, would be obscured by the hedge on the extreme left of the photograph.

    The last photograph is Figure 11 [ALLEY_N.JPG] which has been annotated to show points of interest and the likely location of the dog when witnessesalley_n.jpg (37519 bytes) heard it. Arrows show Nicole's condo, Stein's south window, Fenjves east window, and the direction to Storfer's bedroom. Also shown is the dog's presumed path when he came into the alley, his location when he first started barking behind the condo (the place where Fenjves and Stein first heard him), and the later location when he moved to the mouth of the alley and Storfer began to hear him, too. (Ron Goldman's car was found parked at the curb at about the place where the words "Dog's Path" are shown.)

    PHYSICAL EVIDENCE: There are bloody paw prints that are first seen in the vicinity of the bodies, wander around without out any apparent purpose, do not appear to interact with a person, do not show any interest in, or even recognition of, the bloody, Bruno Magli footprints, then leave the scene. This they do by proceeding east on the front walk to the sidewalk, and there turning right. They go down about eighty feet and turn right at the corner. Then they continue west on Bundy, going toward the alley, until they fade out.

    It had always been my intuitive understanding that the dog first barked in the vicinity of the bodies, then followed this path toward Dorothy and the alley where Goldman's car was parked, as though following his scent. But, there is, in fact, no indication in the physical evidence as to where in this path the barking started. And by assuming it was near the bodies, I was making a mistake.

    EXPLANATION: In Figure 12 [STORFER.JPG] I have shown a map of the situation, and constructed an explanation that is consistent with all evidence and testimony. This is what happened:
storfer5A.jpg (45439 bytes)
    [First, the speculative part. The dog had been sleeping in the children's second floor bedroom, as was its habit, but sleeping with "one ear open," as dogs are known to do. At 10:09, he heard the sound of the front gate intercom being answered in the kitchen, heard footsteps go to the front door, and heard that open. Then there was silence. As a person who hears one shoe drop on the apartment floor above him expects to hear the other shoe drop, the dog expected to hear Nicole return, the front door close, and the normal sounds of household activity resume. When that did not happen in five minutes, he awoke at 10:14 and went to investigate. Immediately when he got downstairs he discovered the front door was open and went through that and toward the front gate.]

    At 10:15 the dog discovered Nicole's body, and very shortly after that discovered Goldman's, too. He sniffed around the scene until 10:17, then left to silently follow Goldman's scent to his car at Dorothy and the alley. There was nothing at the car that relieved the distress of what the dog saw at the bodies, and he went up the alley to the back of the condo (from Goldman's car, it was the shortest way to get back to his own property.) Once the dog got to the back gate, he found it was closed, and he could not get back into the house by that way; he had a very great aversion to returning the the bloody bodies to enter by the front, and he was fast being overcome by his anguish. At 10:18 he began to bark from the Location #1 in Figure 12. He was right under Stein's window, and she was awakened. She correctly perceived that he was "down the alley." Fenjves also heard, and the dog's location was nearly on a line from Fenjves window to the intersection of Bundy and Dorothy, so Fenjves said he was "in that direction" (but not "at that place.")

    After three minutes the dog, continuing to bark, wandered down to the mouth of the alley (Location #2). Since this was only about 70 feet south of where he had originally been, Fenjves and Stein did not notice much change, but the geometry of intervening buildings changed greatly for Storfer, and at 10:21 he began to hear the dog, too. The dog continued to bark from there until 10:25 when he fell temporarily silent from the exhaustion of barking frantically and constantly for seven minutes. It was then that Telander made her U-turn, when the dog was not barking, and so Telander did not hear. A minute later, Aaronson and Mandel walked by a half block away. In the dark they did not see the dog, and because he was not barking they did not hear him.

    Pilnak and Telander had been on Pilnak's porch, but there were several houses, many trees, much other vegetation, and four 8-foot high hedges between them and the barking dog. And, unlike the witnesses that did hear the dog, they were not up high on a second floor where they had a direct line to the animal. They simply were not in a position where the dog's barking went.

    At about 10:30 the dog went back to the front of the condo and began barking in the street, and around Nicole's front walk (Locations #3). That is when Tistaert became aware of him. Somewhere in this second phase, Pilnak noticed him, too. Apparently trying now to attract human attention, the dog went barking up toward Gorham, and Heidstra heard him, and changed course to go down the alley. The dog, as Heidstra said, was acting "crazy" and "hysterical," and in the course of that was running erratically in the trafficway, and brought passing cars to a stop. The driver of one of these shouted "Hey, hey, hey," to get the dog to move, and another one made comments to the first when the dog was not quick to get out of the way. Heidstra heard these motorists' voices. A householder concerned about the dog barking in the street (and another one in the yard that Heidstra stopped behind) and the sound of men's voices, checked his gate and slammed it shut. Heidstra heard that, too. Eventually, Steven Schwab came on the scene, found the dog, and corralled it.

    By this explanation, all witnesses and the physical evidence can be believed at face value. A consequence is that it is believed that the crimes occured before 10:18 when the dog was first heard. In fact, if the explanation for the relationship between the murders and the barking dog offered earlier is believed, the murders occurred at 10:09. (This is also the time that a reconstruction of Goldman's known activities after he left the restaurant show that he would have arrived at Nicole's front gate.)

 

PS to BOB AUGUST: You recently posted, "No one said the Akita was in the alley when the loud unusual barking was going on."

es_on_tv.jpg (64214 bytes)The adjoining figure [ES_ON_TV.JPG] shows Eva Stein in court and the exhibit she was addressing in her testimony. It is a nighttime image of the alley behind Nicole's condo, and Stein was asked to identify the location from which the dog she heard was barking. The pointer was initially put up near the back of Nicole's condo and Stein directed that it be moved lower, until it was close to the place where the alley ends at Dorothy Street. The frame here shows the time when she was satisfied with the pointer's location, and a hand drawn circle was made around that position (partly eclipsed by the "Channel 5" logo).

Any suggestion that "the attorneys made her do it," and the barking was really coming from the street of Bundy is ridiculous, insofar as the exhibit only shows the alley behind the condo, not the street in front of the condo. There is no location for a pointer on the exhibit shown to Stein that would depict anything on the Bundy side of the row of condos that included Nicole’s.

Furthermore, all three witnesses who heard the dog had exposures on the alley, and two of them did not also have exposures on the street of Bundy. That is a simple fact that all your rationalizations and re-interpretations can not overcome. Also, all of the witnesses that did not hear the dog had exposures on the street, not on the alley.  And, the specific testimony of the three "barking dog witnesses" allows for the interpretation that the dog in the alley that attracted all the attention ceased barking by 10:20 or slightly after, whereas the witnesses who did not hear that dog were in their "non-hearing" locations at 10:23 and after.

The conclusion is inescapable: The dog's early barking was from the alley behind Nicole's condo from about 10:15 to 10:20. Shortly after 10:20 he stopped barking, but other dogs in yards that abutted the alley were set off by the Akita and began barking from locations that Stein could hear, but those on Bundy could not (as because these dogs were behind fences and walls on the west side of the alley; Fenjves commented that there were many dogs that lived at houses on the alley, and it was not unusual to hear dogs at his condo). Witnesses that did not hear the early barking were in other locations at other times than those that heard the "plaintive wail" -- of course they did not hear the same thing. With this understanding all witnesses can be accepted as accurately recounting their experiences, and it is not necessary to engage (as you do) in convoluted exercises of "explaining" their supposed mistakes. (Only "mistakes" because they do not conform to your preconceived conclusion that "Simpson Did It," and did it in the way that Petrocelli deceptively implied in presenting Heidstra.)

Finally, there is the matter of the bloody paw prints. These lead directly from the crime scene, down Bundy, then west on Dorothy almost to the alley before fading out. Yet none of the witnesses to the Akita’s "late barking" (after 10:33) knew of the dog in any other place than the street of Bundy, and they say that once the dog started barking he barked continuously until Schwab led him away from the area.   Thereby, when was the Akita supposed to have gone down to the alley?  The only answer that matches all of the witness statements without ridiculous "adjustment" and denunciation is that the dog went immediately and silently from the murder scene at or shortly before 10:15 and started a 5-minute session of noise-making from the alley behind Nicole’s condo. This began as a "plaintive wail" as Fenjves heard and ended as "whining and yelping" as Storfer reported. It is likely that the dog began his noise-making behind the condo and migrated south to end at Dorothy Street before stopping under circumstances that caused him to "yelp and whine," before beginning his session of "late barking" at 10:33 at the south end of the Bundy/Gorham curve, when he was then "very close" to Heidstra.


Dick Wagner • Van Nuys, CA (5/14/99) NG_548 rev. 11/18/02


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