TOM LANGE, NICOLE'S NEIGHBOR
DOUBTFUL WITNESSES: In the weeks after the preliminary hearing witnesses to the circumstances on Bundy on the night of the murders were coming out of the woodwork. Most enduring was Mary Ann Gerches who claimed to have seen four Mexicans running away from the scene down Bundy some time after ten o'clock. The implication was that these were the "real killers," and since none of them were black, Simpson was off the hook. The trouble was, she herself was at the time being investigated by the DA on charges of fraud that she had committed in the spring of 1994, and among else there was the possibility that she was inserting herself in the Simpson case in order to put the DA in an awkward spot with regard to the prosecution against her. (If that was her plan, it didn't work; she was never called as a Simpson-case witness, and she was convicted of several fraud-related charges.) Her claim always seemed doubtful to me, and most people didn't believe it.
Then there was a professional burglar from Northern California who claimed that he saw "two white guys in suits, carrying something, and running out the alley." There was no real reason why he should have been in a position to see this, and his felon status made him an unreliable witness. I didn't believe him. There was Brian McMorron who saw a fat white guy in a ski mask. He didn't stay around long enough for us to evaluate his bone fides, and I have never paid any attention to him.
There was Tom Talerino and his friend who had been roller blading in the dark on Bundy at 9 o'clock that night, who saw a Hispanic or a white guy with slicked-back hair crouching in a menacing position by Nicole's wall and a woman by a bicycle who wouldn't look at them. The roller bladers at least had enough staying power that Baker mentioned them in his opening statement in the civil trial, but they were never produced. The circumstances of the time of their observation make them doubtful for me, though I don't know of any reason that they should be impeached out of hand; roller blading is not a disreputable pastime as far as I know.
WHAT WE HAVE CONFIDENCE IN: Nicole and the kids went to Ben & Jerry's ice cream parlor about 8:30 and probably arrived home (3 blocks away) shortly before 9:00 o'clock. At about 9:00 Simpson called and spoke briefly to Sydney. Shortly after 9:00 Robert Berman came to take his daughter, Rachel -- a friend of Sydney's who had planned to sleep over -- home after a change of plan. Berman stayed for about 15 minutes. Somewhere between 9:00 and 9:30 Faye Resnick called Nicole on the phone and had a conversation that she says lasted 25 minutes. Insofar as this conflicts with other times in the condo, Faye may be exaggerating the duration of the call somewhat. Nicole got a call from her mother about 9:40 and talked for a couple of minutes; during that call Nicole said she would pick up her mother's lost glasses the following day. Something happened in the next three minutes that caused Nicole to call the Mezzaluna restaurant and ask to speak to Ron Goldman. As a result of that conversation, Goldman agreed to deliver the glasses to Nicole at her condo that night, a change in plan from what Nicole had told her mother just a few minutes earlier. Goldman left the Mezzaluna at 10:50 and went home where he changed clothes from his waiter's uniform. All of that is established by transcript or other believable source, and little of the foregoing is seriously doubted by many people.
We also know the condition of the condo when Nicole went out the front door to her doom. Upstairs in the master bedroom the covers were thrown back on the bed and the TV was on. In the master bathroom a bath was drawn and there were candles lit around the tub. Downstairs the living room was set with lights off, but candles burning and soothing music on the radio. There were two odd things -- in the kitchen there was a butcher knife out on an otherwise immaculate counter, and there was a cup of ice cream on the banister of the stairs leading from the kitchen to the garage. The front door was standing half open.
TOM LANGE: Concerning the situation at and around the condo before the murders... Somewhere between the incredible stories and the iron-clad ones is that of Nicole's neighbor, Tom Lange (no relation to the same-named detective). He lived about a block south of Nicole, on the same side of Bundy, and had a thoroughly legitimate reason to be when and where he was when he made his observation. As far as I know, there has never been any allegation that he is not a reliable person who should be believed. Unfortunately, his story is not well documented (of the best known authors, only Freed mentions him, and only fleetingly.)
For several years I had heard rumors about Lange's story. Although I do not require a court appearance and a polygraph examination in order to believe a witness, a vague rumor is not enough. But, according to that rumor, Lange was walking his dog at 10:15 when he saw ahead of him, on the sidewalk of Bundy in front of Nicole's place, a blonde woman in a white robe (presumably Nicole), and there was a white Bronco at the curb. The woman was either embracing a black man or in an angry confrontation with him. There were several other men present. Lange took his dog and went another way, so he would not pass close to this group. As you will see, this rumor is "sort of like" what really happened.
BOSCO'S VERSION: I first took the Lange story seriously in October, 2000, when Rose and I met Joe Bosco for coffee. He said that he had interviewed Lange, and knew the true story. According to that, Lang was walking his dog northbound on the west side of Bundy at 10:05 (not 10:15), and when he got to the south-west corner of Bundy and Dorothy, he stopped because he saw some people on the sidewalk ahead. There was a blonde woman (not necessarily Nicole), and I inferred that she was on the sidewalk in front of the condo (that would be about 150 feet from Lange's position) and she was wearing a white robe or a white coat.
Lange had worked for Ford Motor Company, knew their products well, and what he actually identified was not "an SUV," but a "Ford vehicle" (presumably not an automobile). It could have been a van, such as the Windstar. Also, Lange saw three other men, arrayed some yards around the couple, "as a security detail," one on the near side of the sidewalk, one on the far side, and one in the street. Upon seeing this, Lange was too intimidated to continue, and turned west on Dorothy to take his dog in that originally unplanned direction.
LANGE'S STORY ON E!: Some time ago there was an overview of the Simpson case broadcast by E!, and it contained a brief segment giving more about Tom Lange. Even though the broadcast was some time ago, I had not seen this before, it contains some details new to me, and I present here a verbatim transcript of the E! broadcast about Lange.
ANNOUNCER: Tom Lange, no relation to the LAPD detective, lives in Brentwood at 975 Bundy just south of Nicole's condo. On June 12, 1994 he left his home at 10:00 pm to walk his dog. According to notes he shared with police, Lange was walking north on the west side of Bundy toward Nicole's condo when he heard loud noises. Lange gave his dog a signal to turn left and in his words, this is what he saw...
"There was a lady standing on the parkway by the tree. When I said the voice command she looked at me, then at the dog, then back toward Bundy at the tuck parked there. She was medium height, blonde, in dark clothing." Lange may have seen Nicole but he couldn't see who she was talking to on the passenger side of the truck. Lange did notice someone else standing nearby. "He was around my size, 5'-11", 175, white -- he had on dark clothing. He also had rigid posture with his fist clenched. He did not speak, but stood stooped."
Defense attorney, F. LEE BAILEY: "We thought this was powerful evidence. We thought it was the jury's only chance to get a look at people who might have done the killing as opposed to OJ because he easily eliminated OJ as being one of the people he saw that night."
ANNOUNCER: Were these men involved in the murders? Neither the prosecution nor the defense called Lange in the trial and his story remains uncontested. [And untested.]
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There was also an on-screen image of two sections of the note that Lange had provided to the LAPD...
FIRST EXCERPT: "...he was heading before my command toward a tree at the corner and there was a lady standing on the parkway by the tree. When I said..."
SECOND EXCERPT: "...walk along Bundy about 40-50 feet up was a man. (He was around my size, 5'-11" 175 - white.) He had on dark clothing. He also had a rigid posture with his fist clenched. He did not speak, but..."
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: First, there is a misunderstanding about the time this event took place. The folk story put it at 10:15, but Bosco's version says 10:05. Most important, the E! version says that Lange left his home about a block away at 10:00 o'clock, which would put him at the corner at about 10:05. I consider that 10:05 is the most reliable time for the observation.
Second, there is confusion about where the blonde woman was. I have always assumed that she was on the sidewalk at the end of Nicole's front walk. But, I show the situation in a daytime photo of Figure 1 [UP_BUNDY.JPG]. The end of Nicole's front walk is pretty well identified by the palm tree in the parkway there. But, notice that there is also a tree on the corner of Bundy and Dorothy. (Lange's point of observation was to the left, off the picture, and directly across Dorothy from that tree. Also, disregard the red-painted curb on Bundy; that is an after-the-crime artifact done for crowd control. There were no parking restrictions on Bundy on the night of the murders.) In the E! piece, Lange says that the woman was "standing on the parkway by the tree." In the first excerpt we see that was the tree "on the corner." We also see from the photo that the tree is much overhanging, and insofar as the source of illumination is a streetlight just up Dorothy from the north-east corner of Bundy and Dorothy, in order to be illuminated the woman must have been somewhat -- maybe ten or fifteen feet -- north of the trunk of that tree.
We also know that the woman, who was wearing dark clothing (not a "white robe"), was talking to somebody inside a "truck" on the passenger side. From the transcript there also was a man on the sidewalk, and from the second excerpt, that man was "40 or 50 feet" farther up the sidewalk than the woman. That would put the man at about the boundary between the corner property and Nicole's property. All of the foregoing has been combined into a map of the area shown in Figure 2 [STORFER4.JPG]. I have added a second vehicle, shown in cream-color and identified by a question mark, in the street at the foot of Nicole's walk; this is my own hypothetical creation, and is not mentioned by Lange. The E! segment does not rule out other vehicles or people, so it is also possible that Bosco's version with several men "as in a security detail" was true. Certainly, the description of the one man ("rigid posture with his fist clenched. He did not speak, but stood stooped") would make one think of that purpose.
The people that Lange saw were not furtive or trying to be inconspicuous. His first awareness of them was that "he heard loud noises."
MY CONCLUSION: I think that Lange got to the south-west corner of Bundy and Dorothy (by Storfer's house) and saw that across Dorothy, there was a blonde woman in dark clothing (not Nicole, I think) hanging around the passenger side of a truck that was parked there, near the tree on the corner. As Lange saw his dog was headed in that direction, he gave a verbal command that caused the dog to go left, instead, and the two of them departed the area of the intersection along the sidewalk on the north side of Dorothy, heading west. (There is no sidewalk on the south side of Dorothy just there.) In addition to the woman, Lange also saw a man in a threatening pose, and it was probably the man that intimidated Lange into changing his course from one that would otherwise have taken him past Nicole's front walk. There may have been other men and another vehicle in the scene, too.
WALKING INTO AN AMBUSH: If the premise is accepted (not everyone does) that the murders were a professional hit accomplished at 10:09, then this occurred just three minutes before Goldman would have parked and four minutes before Goldman arrived at Nicole's front gate, and so it represents the final situation just before the crime. In Figure 3 [STORFER5.JPG] I show Goldman's route at that time. I believe that the presence of these strangers was a measure to "sanitize" the area of Nicole's front walk, and insure that nobody but Goldman would be near there when the action started. The man who had been blocking the sidewalk when Lange approached stepped onto the parkway and turned his back as Goldman came, and thereby would not also have discouraged Goldman from passing. After Ron went by, the man stepped back on the sidewalk, and barred further pedestrians from approaching, as he had barred Lange. There was probably another man on the sidewalk at the far side of the condo, protecting against southbound pedestrians. Such a pair of men would then appear to Lange as a "security detail." I think there was also a vehicle (which I show in cream and marked with "?") at the foot of Nicole's walk, blocking a view of the walk from the street and beyond.
According to this, the woman was present to identify Goldman to the others. (I expect that the killer and his helpers had come to LA specifically to execute this project and the woman was the local contact/operative. Some such person, who knew Goldman, Simpson himself, and others in that circle, was needed to steal the cap and gloves in May, and also to deliver the luring phone call a few minutes after the crime.)
I notice that with two vehicles parked in that small distance from Nicole's condo to the corner, Ron is induced to park around the corner. I don't know if this was part of the plotters' plan, and if it was, I don't see the point. But, I think that the sometimes asked question, "Why did Goldman not park in front of the condo, since Bundy is usually so free of parked cars?" is answered by the set-up that I portray.
This visualization is surprising: two men on the sidewalk, two men lurking in the shadows at the condo, waiting to pounce, and the woman and another person associated with the truck at the corner. That's a minimum of six people involved in this operation. But, three of them are unseen, and a couple of them (those at the truck) may have left as soon as Goldman was in the picture.
In my candidate scenario the woman and the person in the truck leave in the truck after Goldman walks past Two minutes later the other four get in the second vehicle and also leave. At that point, all that remains at 875 south Bundy Drive is two corpses in the dark, a pool of blood that is just beginning to flow, and an open gate through which a disconsolate Akita dog will pass five minutes later.
Dick Wagner Van Nuys, CA (3/07/02) Lange.txt
(Nicole's neighbor makes an odd observation on Bundy just before the murders.)