I have believed for a considerable time that Simpson entered Nicole's property by clambering over the back gate, and in the process injured his finger, creating the wound that later left the five drop trial and other indications. When I expressed that idea here, a poster claimed that Simpson had in his possession a key to Nicole's back gate, and thus it was unlikely that he would have scaled the gate when he could have simply opened it and walked through. This, of course, was unwelcome news, and my initial instinct was to disbelieve it. (Is that not the typical way in this newsgroup -- to simply fight against any indication that is contrary to one's preconception?) But, the poster cited Petrocelli's book as a source for believing this, and I could not, with any spirit of objectivity, ignore that. So, I looked into it, my understanding has changed, and below I lay out the details I discovered as well as my understanding of its significance.

THE KEY ITSELF: Both Lange & Vannatter and Petrocelli tell essentially the same story. During the day on June 17th, Lou Brown, as one of the last acts of cleaning out Nicole's condo, called a locksmith to change the locks to the gates and house. After that, it was not possible to compare any suspect key to Nicole's condo directly. Later that same day, of course, the famous "low speed chase" occurred, and when that was done the police discovered in the Bronco, in Simpson's bag, a key that they had apparently not previously seen, and which they suspected might match Nicole's condo.

Lange and Vannatter obtained a key from Cora Fischman, Nicole's neighborhood friend who kept a key for emergencies. It was one key that fit "all of the residential doors at Nicole Brown's home, as well as her front gate," according to Lange and Vannatter. We will presume that it would fit her back gate, too, but there is no explicit statement of this in the references. Using Fischman's key, the detectives commissioned a locksmith to construct an exemplar lock that key would open. Then, they tried Simpson's key in that lock, and it opened. From this, the detectives concluded that the keys recovered from Cowlings Bronco on the 17th contained one to Nicole's place. Ron Egan assures me that he is familiar with the process of making an exemplar lock, and it is a reliable way to compare keys.

So, on June 17th Simpson had a key that would open Nicole's gates and one presumes that he also had that key on the 12th, since one can only think of the most bizarre ways in which he would have acquired it between the 12th and the 17th. (According to Petrocelli, Simpson himself (sort of) claimed that he got it from Cowlings, who had helped Lou Brown clean out the condo after the murders. That is, I think an example of a bizarre explanation.) If he executed a deliberate plan to murder Nicole on the night of the 12th, I can not imagine that he would not have used the key, and entered her property by unlocking and walking through the back gate.

On the other hand, if as I believe, Simpson was lured to the Bundy location by an unexpected but urgent phone call at 10:20 on the night of the 12th, he would have gone without any pre-planning. He would have grabbed what he thought he needed and flown. If the key was already in his pocket when he arrived at Bundy -- and if he realized he had it -- he would
have used it.

But, the details of the missing key story are weird. The tale on pps 210 and 211 of Lange and Vannatter's book and footnote #106 say: According to her housekeeper, Nicole kept her keys -- house keys and car keys -- on a peg in the kitchen, and found them missing from there on the 4th or 5th. (Simpson's last visit that we know of, and at which time he did not enter the house, was on the 5th. Resnick started living there on the 3rd, although this is misstated in L&V.) Those keys were apparently still missing on the night of the 8th when Nicole searched Faye's purse at the intervention session on Mulholland. Juditha Brown (according to L&V) says that Nicole told her "an extra set of two keys" was missing. This is somewhat different than the set of all of Nicole's personal keys. Then Vannatter and Lange tell us that what they found in the recovered items from the Bronco after the low speed chase was "a second set of two keys," which is similar to the description given by Juditha Brown, and different from the description given by Nicole's housekeeper ("keys on a peg in the kitchen.") Petrocelli's description (p. 537) is slightly different, the police recovered "[the key, singular] on its Smokey the Bear key ring, in his bag.) Finally, in her book, Resnick tells a somewhat different story yet (from a drug hazed recollection, I am sure) that there were four keys to the condo; she accounts for three of them, and says that the spare was kept in the drawer of a front hall table, and that was missing when Nicole wanted to give it to her during her stay.

I do not go through all of this detail to claim that anybody is lying or there is any doubt that Simpson had the key, but only to show that I have an understandable reason for being confused on just what key disappeared, and when. I know this does not matter to most people, ("He had the key, who cares where it came from?") but it does to me.

On the "possession" end of the story, Simpson was found in one version with "a set of two keys to her house." Is this not odd? One would seem to be enough. And I also get from this wording the idea that these two keys ("set of two") were separate and apart from the keys that Simpson regularly used (his house and car keys.) (I myself have several key rings, containing keys that I use under different circumstances, and they are not all in my pocket at the same time, as a rule.) In the alternate version, there is "a key on a Smokey the Bear key ring." Either way, I believe that although the key or keys were in Simpson's constellation of possessions on the night of the 12th, there is good reason to wonder whether they were actually in his pocket. (There is no indication that the police had or had not examined Simpson's keys before the 17th, but one would have expected that they might have, and this key was not seen then.)

It also can be remembered that at the time of the "low speed chase" Simpson was in a pathological frame of mind. The "suicide note" he had written earlier in the day was sentimental and reminiscing. His telephone conversations with Lange show an inwardly turned preoccupation, and his holding a gun to his head also indicate despondency and irrationality. When he finally surrendered, he was in the back of the Bronco surrounded by photographs and other memorabilia, and when he came into the house he was clutching two of those photographs. None of this is recalled to show a particularly innocent frame of mind, but only to say it was strange. Among the sentimental items he chose to surround himself with at that time was not only a collection of photographs, but "a key to Nicole's condo on a Smokey the Bear key ring," bearing a now useless key. So, whether Simpson killed those people or not, the key and key ring appear to have had sentimental significance to him. This is an answer to those who claim that continued possession of the key after he had broken up with Nicole must have a sinister meaning.

From what we know up to here, we come to the idea that if Simpson was the killer, he probably used the key and walked through the gate. If he came after the fact on an unexpected errand, he might have used the key, or he might have had to clamber over the gate. At this point, I look at the indications on the gate itself for a clue as to which of these things

BACK GATE INDICATIONS: I notice that there are at least two blood stains on the inside of Nicole's back gate, and these are both in Simpson's blood. They are both puzzling, but the one at #117 most of all. It is at the top of the gate, on the inside, and at the north side, which is the hinge side of the gate. I notice that the last of the drops in the "five drop blood trail" is in the alley, and that the spacing of the entire group of five is consistent with a uniform and uninterrupted rate of travel. This leads me to think that Simpson went directly down the back walk, through the gate, and to the Bronco (though by coincidence other scenarios are possible, but this is the most obvious.) So, why the blood on the inside of the back gate? In particular, why the one at #117? As Simpson is facing the gate from the inside, it is on his right side, and so he would have to reach across his body
with his left hand (which we have reason to believe held the right hand glove at that moment) and we can not think of why he would do that. #117 is on the hinge side of the gate, not the latch side, so it is not the side you would push on to open the gate. And, Fuhrman's "phantom bloody fingerprint" (which I believe existed) is on the back gate knob, which is where we would expect Simpson to have touched the gate as he left. So, #117 is unexplained. (Marcia Clark's "It's his blood, he was there, thus he is the killer," leaves a little unexplained.)

(I also note that there was a news report -- but no court testimony -- that a person who lived in a place along that alley heard a crashing noise at some time after 10:00 as "a person trying to break into one of the (metal) garage doors on the alley." I think that the sound of a man trying to get over Nicole's gate could be mistaken for this.)

However, if Simpson climbed over the gate as he entered, and scuffed his shoe across the left hand that was at that moment holding the top rail, this north side of the gate is where the resulting wound would begin bleeding. Since a wound bleeds most, and is richest in DNA, when it first is sustained, this explanation answers Sheck's accurate observation in support of a foolish explanation as to why this blood stain had those characteristics. I take the stain at #117 as a good indication that Simpson came in over the back gate. And now that we know he had access to a key, we have to wonder why he would have entered Nicole's property over the back gate if he set out for Bundy to kill her. He surely would have taken the time to find and later use that key. At the end, I believe that the fact that Simpson had the key among his possessions more supports my version than a guilty version.

CONCLUSION: It is known that Simpson had, among his possessions, a key to Nicole's place on the 17th; it is reasonable to believe that he also had it available to him at the time of the murder, five days earlier. It is not known when or where he got it, but it appears that Nicole did not give it to him knowingly. When asked in Petrocelli's deposition where he got it, he gave nonsensical and evasive answer, suggesting the possibility that his possession of the key might have been connected with the murders. His blood on the back gate can be explained by his injuring his finger as he clambered over the gate, entering Nicole's property on the night of the 12th. However, if that entry was part of a plan to murder Nicole, he would more likely have used the key he had to walk through her back gate, and so there would have been no blood on the back gate.

Dick Wagner • Van Nuys, CA (8/09/98) NG357