SYNOPSIS: Nicoles building was divided into two condominiums on the lot, and they were organized side-by-side, with Nicoles on the north and her neighbors on the south. The lot adjacent to the north also contained a double condominium, but it was organized front-to-back, with one residence overlooking Bundy, and the other with an alley exposure. The people in the back unit were an unmarried couple, Eva Stein and her fiancée, Louis Karpf. Karpf had been out of town that Sunday, and Stein had gone to bed about 10:00 oclock. She had just fallen asleep when she was awakened by a loud barking from down the alley (to the south). She did not check a clock at the time, but by way of estimation and reconstruction she estimates the time to have been about 10:15. (Other people who also heard a dog in about that time and place put the time between about 10:15 and 10:20.)
Figure 1 [KARPF_0A.JPG] shows the front of Karpfs complex; a roof-top arch connects the two buildings. Karpf and Stein lived in the back of the building on the south (left of the arch). Nicoles building is next door to the south. Her front walk came out to the street at the place of the leftmost palm tree trunk, just to the left of the streetlight. Notice the heavy vegetation separating Nicoles font yard from Karpfs.
Karpf had been visiting his parents in Northern California and flew back to LA that night, landing at LAX at 10:00 oclock, which was half an hour later than scheduled. Because he did not have luggage and his car was parked close, he estimates that he left the LAX parking lot at 10:15. Cochran, who cross-examined Karpf, had been an LA Airport Commissioner, and so knew the layout of LAX better than most, and he did not dispute Karpfs estimate of 15 minutes from landing to driving away, under the circumstances. Karpf estimated that the driving time from LAX to his Bundy condo was 20 to 30 minutes, and considering that it was fairly late on a Sunday night I would estimate the low side of the interval, myself. (That travel time estimate was likewise not disputed in court.) So, that would put Karpf as getting home between 10:35 and 10:45.
Immediately upon getting home, he dropped his briefcase in the kitchen and went out to the front yard to get his mail. He estimates three to five minutes from the time he got home to the time he was at the mailbox, but thinks that the short end of that range is the most accurate. That would put his time of reaching the mailbox at 10:38 to 10:48. When he got to the front yard he saw that there was a dog running loose in the middle of the street and barking constantly, in apparent distress or confusion. Although he had not seen this dog before, he identified it from news pictures later of Nicoles Akita as having been that dog. At some point, the dog approached Karpf and got to within 15 feet or so, and Karpf retreated within his fenced yard and closed the gate. (Presumably, the gate had been closed when Karpf first came to the front yard, and from the testimony the reason he opened it is unclear. Maybe he did that to go to a mailbox that was not accessible from within the fence, or maybe he did it in order to try to investigate the dog.)
There was a Caucasian man (whom Karpf did not recognize and did not further describe) walking another dog on the opposite side of Bundy, going north. It has generally been assumed that this was Steven Schwab who came upon the Akita, inspected it, and eventually tried to get refuge for it when it followed him. (Insofar as there is a chain of custody for the dog that Schwab encountered, it is definitely known to have been Nicoles Akita.) However, notice that Schwab makes a third documented case in that block of men walking dogs (or intending to) between 10:00 and 11:00 oclock -- Lange, Heidstra, and Schwab. Apparently this is a common activity, and a man walking a dog on Bundy should not automatically be presumed to be Schwab, just because he is known to be such a man.
After not more than two minutes in front of his building, Karpf went back indoors, and did not hear the barking dog more after the door closed behind him.
ATTORNEYS CONTRARY INDICATIONS: Upon cross-examination, Cochran confronts Karpf with his police statement of July 7, 1994 in which he estimated his time of getting home as being 10:50 to 11:00. Karpf concedes that it could have been as late as 10:50, but no later. However, there is never any inquiry (by defense or prosecution) as to where his earlier reconstruction -- event by event -- was wrong to account for a ten minute discrepancy. Later, in the civil trial, Karpf again begins with a 10:35 to 10:45 estimate for getting home, again is confronted with his police statement, and again concedes that it could have been as late at 10:50. In this second appearance (and probably also the criminal trial) he was certainly aware that he might be confronted with the original statement, and yet he begins with an earlier 10:35 to 10:45 estimate.
My interpretation of this is that 10:35 to 10:45 was the result of a careful reconstruction (probably at the prompting of the district attorney in a pre-appearance interview). The 10:50 to 11:00 oclock estimate was an off-the-top-of-the-head guess given to a detective before there was time for reflection. But, because Cochran frames all his questions in, Your memory was better at the time, or Let me refresh your memory by showing you the police report, the witness is cowed from disclaiming his earliest (police) statement. For these several reasons, I discount the police report, and fall back on Karpfs reconstruction that leads to getting home at 10:35 to 10:45.
In the civil trial there is the additional complication that defense attorney Leonard says, Q. Would it surprise you to learn that the flight [that brought Karpf back to LA] arrived at 10:12, sir? A. Yes, it would. Thereby, Leonard throws a hypothetical possibility -- without ANY foundation or justification -- into the air to cause a person to think that Karpfs arriving home might have been even later than he believed. Insofar as there is absolutely no reason in the record to believe that this is more than a red herring, I discount it completely. (The Leonard/Karpf interchange contains more that I will mention shortly.)
Another attorney-manipulated mis-cue occurs in the criminal trial when Marcia Clark constantly refers to Karpfs reconstructed time of getting home as 10:40 to 10:45, truncating away the first five minutes. Apparently, the reason she did this was to produce a close match of Steins estimate of the wailing dog time to Fenjves and Storfer (10:15 to 10:20). Stein had been lying in bed, did not refer to a clock, and estimated that the time from the dog sound until Karpf got home was half an hour. Therefore, to have Karpf come home at 10:40 to 10:45 produced a time for Steins observation of the barking dog closer to the other two witnesses than would have 10:35 to 10:45. The error in this logic, of course, is that a person lying in bed, without reference to a clock, would probably not estimate the interval very accurately, so Steins estimate of half an hour from the dog barking to Karfs homecoming could reasonably have been actually 20 minutes.
The rigorous interpretation of Karpfs reconstruction is that he would have arrived home between 10:35 and 10:45, and other factors developed here give confidence that the bottom end of this interval, 10:35, is closest to the truth.
A QUICK TRIP FROM THE AIRPORT: On the evening of Sunday, May 19, 2002, Rose and I were returning northbound on the 405 Freeway from our re-enactment of the Browns drive from the Mezzaluna to Dana Point. I got off at Century Blvd., drove down to LAX, went around the horseshoe, and passed by the exit for the parking structure (where a car parked at LAX would merge with auto traffic departing the airport) at 10:42pm -- 27 minutes later in the evening than Karpf left the airport on June 12, 1994. We started the stopwatch with the odometer at 3743.4.
There were stop lights at Avion, Airport, and Concourse Streets; we got on the freeway northbound, and exited at Wilshire Blvd. -- the street where Karpf says he exited. We went west on Wilshire and had brief delays at the signals at San Vicente and Westgate; at Bundy I was able to sneak into the curb lane and make a right turn while the Wilshire Blvd. traffic was stopped. We went north a few blocks on Bundy to Dorothy, made a left, went less than 200 feet and then right into Nicoles alley. We stopped the stopwatch when we were at the point where one would swing into Karpfs garage. The stopwatch showed an elapsed time from the LAX parking structure to Karpfs garage door of 17:11 minutes, the odometer showing 3756.9.
Based on this re-enactment -- on the same day of the week, the same season, the same route, and very nearly the exact time of day, I believe that Karpf actually made the trip from LAX to home in the minimum of the times he estimated, i.e., 20 minutes. Thereby, he got home at 10:35, and using his minimum estimated time (3 minutes) to get to his mailbox on Bundy, he was there on the street at 10:38.
Karpf says that he stayed out front for two minutes. At first he went out to his mailbox, but before he could open it the barking Akita in the street came toward him; the dog eventually charged, and Karpf retreated back inside his gate and closed the gate. Then, the Akita turned away and Karpf went back out the gate to complete the interrupted process of getting his mail. From this, Karpf probably slammed his gate between 10:38.5 and 10:39. But, Heidstra says that he heard a gate clang shortly after the Hey, hey, hey at 10:38.7, and an analysis (Red Tile Roofs) shows that the location of that sound was the front of Karpfs building. It is unmistakable now that what Heidstra heard was Karpfs gate, not Nicoles. Most likely, the Hey, hey, hey, that Heidstra heard preceding the sound of the gate was Karpf shouting at the frightening Akita. (Karpf was never asked whether he shouted at the aggressive dog, or whether the man with a dog across the street spoke.)
MINING THE TRANSCRIPTS: The civil trial interaction between Leonard and Karpf, mentioned earlier, contains other interesting material. Although there is every reason to believe that when Karpf got home, the Akita had already been barking from the street in Bundy for several minutes, Karpf is asked whether he heard it from the alley when he arrived home, and he said he did not. This is a first-hand indication that barking on Bundy was not noticeable in the alley -- and vice versa. (If Karpf had followed conventional procedures, he would have got out of his car while the garage door was open to the sounds of the alley, and then closed the garage door by a control within the garage.)
Also, Leonard pursues his 10:12 flight arrival hypothesis, and Karpf says, A. If it arrived at 10:12, I possibly would not have gotten home before 10:50. Leonard expresses doubt: Q. If the flight arrived at 10:12, would you agree with me that your time line gets moved up about ten minutes or so? A. If it arrived at 10:12, I possibly would not have gotten home before 10:50. Leonard tries to force the issue: Q. In fact, would it be much closer to 11:00 or after? A. No. Q. Excuse me. It certainly wouldn't --- Excuse me? A. No. Q. It certainly wouldn't be 10:40 to 10:45, would it? A. I would say 10:50, if it got at the gate 10:12. I've done this many times. Allowing 15 minutes to get from the airplane to the parking lot exit, Karpf here expresses confidence -- based on long experience -- that the MAXIMUM travel time to home would be 23 minutes. This, combined with our re-enactment which shows 17 minutes, gives a very solid reason for our use of a 20 minute time from the LAX parking structure to Karpfs garage.
Parks testimony in the criminal trial related to the time it took him to get Simpson from Rockingham to LAX is all over the lot. His explicit estimate is 10 [minutes], maybe a little bit longer. His implied estimated time, from the times ofvarious events is about 25 minutes. Park was more precise in the civil trial: Q. Now, any approximation of what time it was when you left [Simpsons Rockingham] property on your way to the airport? A. It was around 11:15. Q. And about what time did you get to the airport? A. Just right around 11:30. This gives an travel time to the airport of 15 minutes. But, even if we are generous with his estimates (20 minutes to get to LAX from Rockingham, say), when we consider that Rockingham is a couple of miles farther from LAX than Karpfs garage is, and involves a longer trip on (slower) surface streets, Parks testimony easily supports the idea that Karpf could have made it home from LAX in 20 minutes. (I.e., If you can make it from Rockingham to LAX in 20 minutes, you can certainly make it from LAX to Bundy in 20 minutes.)
Finally, Mapquest, which gives notoriously slow travel times, shows Karpfs travel time from LAX (1 World Way) to be 22 minutes. All indications -- from a variety of sources -- lead to the conclusion that Karpf got home at very close to 10:35.
SIMPSON/KARPF OVERLAP: The foregoing produces a situation in which Karpf arrived home when Simpson was already on Nicoles premises -- probably just starting down the back walk. In that event, Simpsons Bronco was on Nicoles parking pad, but Karpf does not mention seeing it. The seeming lapse was thoroughly explored in the earlier article, Simpsons Timeline at Bundy, and was illustrated there with Figures 1 and 3 which show the condition in the back of Nicoles condo at the time of the murders: There was a hedge there that would nearly obscure a Bronco, and beside that hedge was the only place on Nicoles parking pad to park, what with Nicoles Jeep already parked on the north side of the pad. Furthermore, Figure 4 of that article shows that the area illuminated by Karpfs headlights when he was positioning himself to go in his garage would skirt the Bronco.
See also Figure 2 here, [KARPF207.JPG] which is the back of Karpfs building in daytime. At the right is a blue trash barrel on Nicoles parking pad, left of that is a sliding vehicle gate for the occupant of the front condo, and left of that is a double garage with Karpfs address.
In the criminal trial Cochran specifically asked Karpf if he had seen any vehicles or any people behind Nicoles condo when he came home, and Karpf said that he did not. No mention was made of the fact that among the vehicles that Karpf did not see was Nicoles Jeep, which is believed to have been there since before 9:00 oclock Sunday night. So, the Jeep calibrates the insignificance of Karpfs failure to see a vehicle, considering the lighting, layout, and other factors of the situation. (A black Jeep against a white wall gives excellent contrast -- if only there is light to see, and interest to look.)
WAS IT SCHWAB? After the attorneys finished massaging Karpfs time of getting home, it was made to appear that Karpf was in front of his condo at about 10:55, which would have been about the time that Schwab was there, interacting with the Akita. Not only does Schwab himself believe that he first began interacting with the Akita at about 10:55, but that interaction produced an effect on the sound that Heidstra heard a block away (the dog ceased barking constantly, and began to bark intermittently.) Heidstra noted that event, as we have analyzed in the article Heidstras Timeline, and that can be related to the time that Heidstra saw the TV news begin at 11:00 oclock. From that line of analysis, the Schwab encounter of the Akita was 10:52, rather close to Schwabs own idea of 10:55. The comprehensive analysis of Schwabs time, Steven Schwab: Strange Encounter puts the time when Schwab was in front of Karpfs building at 10:55 -- seventeen minutes after Karpfs time estimate of when he himself was there.
Furthermore, the Akitas interaction with Schwab was of a different nature than the Akitas interaction with the man that Karpf saw. Karpf saw the dog running in the middle of the street, and not particularly paying attention to the man with the dog. But, Schwab says that the Akita tagged along with him and his dog, but stopped to bark up each walkway that they passed. Karpf did not see such peculiar behavior of the Akita.
Moreover, the dog ran toward Karpf in his yard, eventually causing him to close his gate in self-defense. Presumably the Akita was a very conspicuous object in the environment of the man with a dog, and he would have paid some attention. If he was watching the Akita, the man with a dog would have been aware that he was running toward a man (Karpf) by a gate on the other side of the street. But, Schwab did not see anybody else in this part of his trip, leading to further doubt that the man with the dog was Schwab.
Finally, although Karpf could not much describe the man with a dog, he was able to say that he was a Caucasian. If Karf got a good enough look to tell that he was a Caucasian, one would expect that he could have determined if the man had something so conspicuous as a full beard. But Karpf did not mention that the man with a dog wore a full and dark beard -- as Schwab did when he testified in the preliminary hearing, 19 days later. (Thanks, Jasper.) See Figure 3 [PSCHWAB4.JPG].
THE SLAMMING GATE: Having seen by a re-enactment that Karpf got home about 10:35, and having disconnected Karpf from the Schwab timeline for more reasons than the time alone, one can now feel comfortable about relying on Karpfs original reconstruction of the time he got home: 10:35 to 10:45. This then leads to an interesting coincidence. At about 10:39 (actually 10:38.7, according to the Heidstra Timeline analysis) Heidstra in an alley on the hill behind the houses across the street heard a man shout, Hey, hey, hey, heard a second man with a deeper voice fast talk back to the first, and a few seconds later heard a metal gate slam once. We also know that in Karpfs experience, the dog came at him at some point, and Karpf retreated into his yard and closed the gate. He says he was frightened of the dog. Could it be that Karpf more than closed the gate, but slammed it, and thereby produced the sound that Heidstra heard?
Look first at the times. The gate that Heidstra heard clanged at 10:39. For that to have been the gate that Karpf closed, Karpf would probably have come into the yard at 10:38. Since he came into the yard three minutes after he pulled into the garage, that implies that he got home at 10:35, which is just within his estimated range of his travel time, and is easily corroborated by our re-enactment. So, from a time standpoint, it is probable. Then there is the location of the clang. Heidstra thought he was directly across from Nicoles condo and the gate clanged there. But, as was shown in Red Tile Roofs Heidstra was directly across from Karpfs gate, so his sense that the clang came from directly opposite means it was Karpfs gate he heard. Then, there is the issue of the words that Heidstra heard, Hey, hey, hey. Is this not exactly the utterance of a man who is confronted with a crazy, hysterical dog?
There is the seeming discrepancy that Karpf closed the gate, but the gate that Heidstra heard must have been slammed. Well, there is scarcely any perjury in describing a forcefully closed gate by saying it was closed. And, we do not know Karpfs personal agenda; maybe he believes that it would be unseemly not to appear gentle in all things -- even escaping from a frightening dog.
WHAT KARPF SAW: Figure 4 [MAILBOX1.JPG] shows Karpfs front gate wrought iron with a usually fixed leaf on the south end and a moveable leaf on the north secured by a deadbolt to the other leaf. These gates are the opening in a stucco wall that otherwise completely encloses the private area of Karpfs buildings, and separates it from the public areas on the street. Insofar as the fixed gate leaf is held securely in place by a bolt into the paving, we expect that when the moveable leaf is slammed closed against it, the result will be a clang. On the north wall of the entry alcove, two yards or so from the gate, is an array of four mailboxes for the two buildings built into the wall. There is a small tile-roofed shelter over the mailboxes. From this it is clear that Karpf had to come through the gate to get to the mailboxes.
Figure 5 [KARPF114.JPG] is the view looking directly across Bundy from Karpfs front walk in the vicinity of the mailboxes. The house in the middle of the picture is Tistaerts at 874. Notice the utility pole rising above the left side of her house and behind it. This is the same pole that is seen in Figure 4 of Heidstras Timeline, which shows Heidstra near that pole in the alley describing what he heard on the murder night for E!. This photograph is further confirmation of the conclusion in Red Tile Roofs that Heidstra was opposite Karpfs front gate when he heard the Hey, hey, hey, not opposite Nicoles, as he thought.
Figure 5 also illustrates that there was no obstruction for Karpf to see the street from where the dog was running at him or the sidewalk across the street where the man with the dog was. Likewise, there is no obstruction to prevent Tistaert from seeing the front of Karpfs building or the sidewalk in front of Nicoles. (However, vegetation on Nicoles north lot line prevents Tistaert from looking up Nicoles walk.)
MICRO-TIMELINE: Now, I absolutely do not know the details of the interaction between Karpf, the man with the dog, and the Akita during the two minutes that Karpf was out in front of his building. But, there are several micro-scenarios that could satisfy Heidstra's observations and also conforms to Karpfs (and Schwabs) testimony, and I spin one out of thin air here.
10:38.5 --Karpf comes through his gate. The Akita, which has been barking for 5 minutes already, sees Karpf and approaches him, still barking.
10:38.7 --Karpf yells "Hey, hey, hey" at the Akita and the dog retreats to continue barking in the street. The man with the dog calls to Karpf, fast-talking for 15 seconds in which he says something like, "Better watch out for that wild dog, buddy. Somethin's spooked him. No telling what a dog like that could do. But he knows better' n to tangle with my dog. He's a real killer. A dog like that could tear a man to pieces in a minute, you know. You better go inside and call 911 about that dog that tried to kill you."
10:39.2 --Karpf approaches his mailbox warily, with one eye on the unpredictable Akita.
10:39.3 --The Akita turns back toward Karpf and moves a second time toward him, running now at Karpf.
10:39.4 --Karpf is frightened and wordlessly runs inside his gate and slams it. Across the street the man with the dog continues north. The Akita barks at Karpf behind the gate for a few seconds then turns to go back in the street, and drift north after the man with the other dog.
10:39.7 --Karpf waits for a bit, watching the Akita, before he ventures out through the gate again.
10:40.1 --Karpf has his mail and returns through the gate for a second time, and this time closes the gate without slamming it. The Akita is farther up the street, somewhat following the man with the dog.
10:40.5 --Karpf is back in his condo, looking at his mail.
I do not claim that this is what actually transpired, but only say that this is one plausible scenario that matches all accounts, including Heidstras. And, if there is this one there could be others, a similar one of which actually happened.
KARPF DIDNT MENTION: At first blush it seems impossible that Karpf was the man that Heidstra heard, because Karpf did not mention anything in his testimony about yelling at the dog or the other man saying something in reply. However, Karpf was never asked about these things.
A witness is largely controlled to talk only about the things that the attorneys want him to talk about, and since the attorneys have come to court to win their case, not to find the truth, the witness topics are very much circumscribed. Even when a witness is not limited by the attorneys, he will confine himself (we hope) to only those experiences which he believes are relevant to the proceedings. So, Karpf (or any other witness) did not tell us everything. For hypothetical examples, Karpf did not tell us that after he went back into the house with his mail he fixed himself a grilled cheese sandwich. Karpf did not tell us that the mail he retrieved consisted of a Thai restaurant advertising flyer, an unsolicited credit card, and a gas bill. Karpf did not tell us that while the man across the street was watching Karpf flee from the dog he assumed a bizarre posture and called out something derisive to Karpf. There were many details that Karpf did not volunteer because he did not consider them relevant or because they may have seemed inexplicable or bizarre to him.
Furthermore, in the criminal trial Karpf testified five months before Heidstra, and so he had absolutely no way to know that his experience with the Akita had been overheard, and would become an issue. If Heidstra had testified first, Karpf might have blurted out, Oh, it was me who called Hey, hey, hey at the dog. But, in February 1995 that utterance was not in the air. Later, in the civil trial, Karpf may have known that the Hey, hey, hey had some significance (and had been misinterpreted), but by then it would look as though he had concealed something material in the criminal trial if he admitted to it. Karpf could spare himself from embarrassment in the civil trial by just not mentioning the Hey, hey, hey unless asked -- and he never was asked.
THE LEASH: One mystery for which I do not have a ready answer is that in the criminal trial Karpf is asked whether the Akita had a leash on, and Karpf says he did. This seemed to surprise Cochran when he cross-examined Karpf on February 8, because the most plausible starting circumstance for this crime -- in any scenario that has been propounded -- is that the dog was asleep in the condo at the outset, or at least confined within the gated condo grounds, and would not have needed a leash. Furthermore, when Schwab found the Akita a few minutes after Karpf saw him, it did not have a leash. So, Cochran asked Karpf again if the Akita had a leash, and Karpf said he did.
It is generally believed that Karpf was mistaken in this detail and the Akita did not have a leash when Karpf saw him. But as I have often mentioned, I think it is a mistake to assume a witness is wrong just to make a simple scenario tidy. Furthermore, now we know that the person that Karpf saw was not Schwab, and so there is an unknown man (the man with the dog) in the picture and a fifteen minute interval without a trial witness (from 10:40 and Karpf to 10:55 and Schwab) in which some event involving the Akita and a leash could have transpired. I have no idea what event or why, but for the time being I leave the question of the leash open.
OVERALL CONTEXT: Karpf arrived at the garage to his Bundy condo at 10:35. Simpsons Bronco was at that time on the parking pad behind the condo but Karpf did not notice because it was behind a hedge, Karpfs headlights were pointing in another direction, and stray cars in a big city are not the subject of much notice. When Karpf passed, Simpson was just starting down Nicoles back path, soon to discover the bodies by Nicoles front walk that had been dead there since 10:10.
Karpf went directly to the mailbox in front of his condo on Bundy; to do that he had to go through a wrought iron gate, and he got to the mailbox at about 10:38. The Akita was running in the street and barking crazy and hysterical; there was a man with a dog across the street. The Akita barked at Karpf and approached, and Karpf momentarily discouraged the dogs further approach by yelling Hey, hey, hey at the dog, the man across the street called something to Karpf. A few seconds later the Akita made a serious charge at Karpf and Karpf retreated inside his gate and slammed it shut. Heidstra in the alley beyond Bundy heard all of this. After a minute the Akita had gone up the street, Karpf went back through the gate to the mailbox and got his mail. Then he went inside his condo, never aware that there were two fresh corpses and a man had been prowling silently around them just fifty feet to the south of his mailbox, and beyond dark and impenetrable foliage.
(Karpf was in front of his building dealing with the Akita when Heidstra heard Hey, hey, hey.)
Dick Wagner Van Nuys, CA (5/30/02) KARPF2.DOC