WHAT IF JUDITHA HADN'T CALLED?
I have received some criticism lately for what appears to be the unreasonableness of the scenario that I advocate. Critics say that scenario too much depends on people doing as they were expected to do; real people are just too unpredictable. My short reply to that is that the killers were adaptable; they realized that things might not go just right, and for that reason they had contingency plans. The situation with Juditha's (Nicole's mother's) glasses is a good example.
THE FACTS: Juditha left the Mezzaluna restaurant worrying over the fact that she had lost her glasses earlier, and before she embarked the car for the drive home, she looked on the floor of the car for them. She brooded over the loss during the drive, and as soon as she got home (at 9:37) she called the restaurant to see if they had been found. Acting manager Karen Crawford looked in the area where the party had been, asked the busboys, and finally looked outside and found them in the street, directly out the front door, and a few inches beyond the two-foot wide gutter. She advised the mother on the phone, wiped the mud off the glasses, and put them in an envelope for later pick up. At 9:42, Juditha called her daughter and told her that the restaurant had the glasses; Nicole said she would pick them up the next day. At about 9:45 Nicole called the restaurant, asked to speak to waiter Ron Goldman (who was sitting, talking to managers Arbolino and DeBello, as they were having dinner when she called) and he agreed to deliver the glasses that night. For this reason, Ron Goldman went to Nicole's condo after work, and he was murdered along with her.
THE USUAL UNDERSTANDING: The mother lost her glasses as she disembarked from the car upon arrival at the restaurant, they lay where they fell in the street in front of the restaurant from 6:30 until about 9:30, and then Karen Crawford -- prompted by Juditha's call -- looked for and found them at 9:37. The change of Nicole's plan -- in a three minute span -- from "pick them up the next morning" to have Goldman deliver them that night is unexplained, but presumed innocent. As a result, Goldman was the victim of a random and cruel fate.
MY UNDERSTANDING: I believe that Manager DeBello was schmoozing up the dinner party, as is common in up-scale Brentwood restaurants, and stole the glasses from the table. In some way, he also caused the mother to realize that her glasses were missing. He reassured her that they were probably around the restaurant somewhere, and when the place was not so busy the glasses could be found. "Call later and we will find them for you; please take my card. Promise me that you'll call when you get home," he may have said to her. (See the article "THE HOST" on our site at http://wagnerandson.com for a fictional portrayal of this scene.) DeBello put the glasses in the street himself after 9:00 o'clock. Events then progress as in the usual version, culminating in Goldman's visit to the condo. But, not as a random act, rather it was an engineered part of the killer's plan. It was essential to the primary plan that someone on an innocent visit -- and preferably one initiated by Nicole -- page her from the gate, requiring her to come outside her condo, relaxed and unsuspecting, where she could be attacked by surprise.
OBJECTIONS TO MY UNDERSTANDING: There is on our site an article, "MEZZALUNA AND THE GLASSES" in which the situation is analyzed, and the improbability of the usual understanding is brought into serious question for several reasons (the vulnerability of the glasses in the street, the likelihood that someone would see them and recover them, the fact that Juditha -- the principle source of this story -- does not really know what happened, the "mud" on the glasses, Nicole's abrupt change of plan...) Nonetheless, my version is doubted because it is said that the whole success of the plan could not hinge on a distractible old woman doing exactly as she was needed to do, or her daughter obliging to do exactly what she was required to do, too. Even though these women's reactions were probable, they were far from certain, and no rational planner would depend on them. So goes the criticism.
THE PLAN vs THE RESULT: Such criticism comes from confusion between "the killers' plan" and "the result" seen in the evidence. It certainly is unreasonable to hang the whole success of the plan on the uncertain actions of people who don't even know there is a plan. But that is not what the killers' did. They had a "basic plan" that would get the job done, and which they controlled themselves, and they had variations in which they could "encourage" other people to do certain things, and if those people behaved as expected, there would result a "perfect plan." What happened in the Bundy murders was close to the perfect plan, but even so a few details did not go as the killers hoped.
Most of us have seen a magician or an expert in sleight of hand work, and we understand that there are people who could have purloined the glasses from the dining table where Juditha was. And, such a person could indulge in tableside banter so as to cause Juditha to be aware that she had lost her glasses. So, the concept that John DeBello could have been a person with such skills does not violate our own experience or intuition. And, what I allege he has done so far does not much depend on Juditha; he can steal her glasses without any cooperation by her, and he can cause her to know her glasses are gone without more cooperation than could be expected from any person. (E.g., "Please show me your daughter's name in the dance recital program," or "I recommend the rigatoni. Just look at the description in the menu," etc.) So, substantially, to get to the point of having the glasses in his possession, having Juditha concerned about them and of a frame of mind to call the restaurant later, and to put the glasses in the street after 9:00 o'clock depends only on things that DeBello did, not on Juditha.
The critical point comes when Juditha actually does as she is expected to do -- call the restaurant immediately when she gets home. On the hour's drive home, she might have considered that there was no point to inquire that night, she could not get the glasses herself until a few days later from Nicole. What difference did it make whether she called that night or in the morning? It could have happened that way, and the killers' knew it. It would be best for the killers if Juditha instigated the search for the glasses (that would isolate the conspirators from suspicion), but it could not be made essential to the plan.
FALLBACK TO THE BASIC PLAN: So, the basic plan was that the killer's would wait until 10:00 o'clock, and if Juditha had not called by then, they would move the plan forward themselves. They had already engineered that Goldman was in the restaurant, but off work (DeBello controlled the work schedule) and was chatting with the managers at their dinner table (a kid with ambitions to open a restaurant himself could be counted on to take, as a real privilege, an opportunity to hobnob with men who had succeeded, and who were encouraging him.) They would keep him at the table until 10:00 and then DeBello would slap his forehead in recollection, and call to Karen Crawford, "Oh. That woman -- the mother -- in the big party by the door. She lost her glasses when she was here. Would you look for them? Ron; do you know Nicole's phone number if we find them? Oh, maybe it is on the reservation sheet...." (But, it did not come to that; Juditha DID call.)
And so, even if Juditha does not call, the plan goes forward, but twenty minutes later (the murders at 10:30 instead of 10:10). And, there is latitude in the time for the actual murders. As long as the murders are done by 10:45, the killers can catch OJ before the limo leaves, and they can still induce him to run to Bundy to save himself from the frame. (It is not likely that Simpson would proceed with his trip in preference to saving himself from being framed for murder. And, if he has to cancel the trip upon receiving a mysterious phone call -- which could have been from Nicole, according to later theories -- then dash off into the night in the presence of witnesses, it makes the frame all the better.)
In the backup plan, Juditha could be a block of wood; nothing depends on her. But, the perfect plan is preferred, because in the backup plan a later investigation will reveal DeBello as the cause of the search for the glasses. That is only a small point, and would not turn around the idea that Simpson did the crime, but the killers are more comfortable if DeBello could be isolated from even this hint of suspicion.
We see in the result that the perfect plan worked (in the instance of Juditha's call). But we should not evaluate the reasonableness of the plot from the standpoint that it must have worked. The basic plan -- in all aspects -- was completely within the killers' hands. (See "CRITICAL PHASE" for how the killers influenced Nicole to a change of plan for getting the glasses in a three minute span, and how they influenced Goldman to be eager to accommodate Nicole's new idea.)
Finally, I should tell you that there were even deeper layers of contingency plans, as if, for example, Juditha's glasses were not on the table when DeBello came to chat with her. But, that is for another time.
Dick Wagner Van Nuys, CA (1/14/01) NG_707