SIMPSONS TIMELINE AT BUNDY
PREMISE: It is my understanding of the actual evidence (as contrasted with what the attorneys would like you to believe is the meaning of the evidence) that the Bundy murders occurred at 10:09 to 10:10 pm, while Simpson was at his Rockingham estate, preparing to go to LAX later that evening for a trip to Chicago. Because it was the purpose of the killers to not only kill Nicole, but to also frame Simpson for the crime, they called him at 10:14, told him what they had done, and also told him that one of his own gloves, now bloody from the crime, had been left on her body to frame him; if he hurried, he could get the glove before the police found it and spare himself, they said. (Goldmans murder was part of the plan, but incidental. He simply had a facilitating role, and was murdered -- according to plan -- because he was a witness to the truth.)
Although you or I might think we would not bite at that lure, we do not know exactly what might have been said to Simpson, and we do not know the antecedent circumstances that might have persuaded him to go and recover the incriminating glove. (Maybe there were other incriminating facts known to the killers but never released, maybe there were threats all too credible after Nicoles murder. Maybe, maybe, maybe ) Anyway, he did go as we know from abundant indications: he left evidence of himself there, he took artifacts of that location away, and he was seen in the vicinity after the murders. But, probably in the course of that trip Simpson discovered why the killers/framers had been so generous as to give him a sporting chance. By making the trip, he created far more and more convincing evidence than the conspirators did themselves. By the time he got back to Rockingham he was frantic to escape from the web of circumstances that he himself was weaving.
The purpose of this article is to explore the timeline implications of that premise. Because of the observations of other witnesses, the specific times of some of Simpsons actions according to the premise can be determined, and that is done below.
BENCHMARK TIMES: Limo driver Alan Park arrived at the Rockingham estate at 10:23 and did not see a white Bronco in the place where the police discovered it the next morning. Neither did he report seeing such a vehicle in the vicinity as he approached. From this we consider that the latest time that Simpson could have left for Bundy was 10:22 (and, in fact, take that to be the actual time that he left). The LAPD did a reconstruction of driving the most direct route from Rockingham to Bundy, and determined that the trip took five to six minutes. Because of variables signals and details of traffic it is impossible to be precise about Simpsons time, but we will take an average: 5.5 minutes for the trip, which puts Simpson as pulling onto the parking pad behind Nicoles condo at 10:27.5.
At the other end, a reconstruction of Heidstras experience (see Heidstras Timeline) gives a time of 10:41.6 for his seeing a white SUV (presumably Simpson fleeing the scene) depart from Dorothy and Bundy. This agrees with the time (two minutes later) when Shively saw Simpson the person more than just his vehicle at San Vicente and Bundy, and also agrees with the time of the three thumps from Kato, and the time that Park saw the shadowy figure go into Simpsons Rockingham house. It is reasonable to assume that the lapsed time from starting the Bronco behind Nicoles condo to turning from Dorothy onto Bundy is 0.7 minutes, from which the time that Simpson began the vehicular trip was 10:40.9.
There is another benchmark time, a few minutes earlier. As Simpson was leaving the vicinity of the bodies he had blood on his Bruno Magli shoes, and he left a trail in which investigators later identified individual steps with letters. Around footstep M Simpson stopped, turned sideways, and backed into the bushes on the north side of the walk halfway to the front door. In this posture he was somewhat concealed from anybody looking from the street, and by turning his head to the left he himself could look back toward the street. At about this time (a few minutes before the fleeing white SUV) Heidstra heard a mans voice, more or less in the direction of Nicoles condo shout, Hey, hey, hey, and another mans voice reply. Although Heidstra claimed to be able to tell with a surveyors precision the location from which these unseen sounds came, a reconstruction (see Red Tile Roofs) from his testimony puts this as being from in front of the building next door to the north, Karpfs condo.
From Heidstras timeline the Hey, hey, hey occurred at 10:38.7. A careful analysis of the Bruno Magli trail (see One Man, One Trip) shows Simpsons first hesitation to be at footprint H, which in a normal stride would have gone all the way to K. Then he makes the maneuver that brings him to being sideways at M. Continuing with the premise that Simpson was on an after-the-fact errand, then the cause of his hesitation and turning was because he heard the same Hey, hey, hey that Heidstra did, and that must have alarmed him to think that he had been caught at the scene of the crime. He waited at M for a moment to see what would develop, then continued away at a slow pace, not appearing to be fleeing. (From the footprints, he later also turned and stopped at S, opposite the open front door to the condo.) From this, we can put Simpson at footprint H at 10:38.7.
SIMPSONS SLOW EXIT: In order to accurately estimate Simpsons time to leave, it is important to know just where he had to go. From the crime scene, he progressed along Nicoles back walk until he came to the Fuhrman depression where he had to descend steps of about one story, cross a few yards, and go back up steps. Then pass through the gate -- easy to open from the inside -- and a few yards farther and he was at the parking pad behind Nicoles condo. But, the Bronco is not quite just there. Figure 1 [BACKNITE.JPG] is an image from CourtTV of a crime scene photograph of the back of the condo that night. Two features are conspicuous of the parking pad. In the foreground there is seen to be a hedge that separates the parking areas for the two condos that share the building. On that night the hedge was about as high as a cars window sill, though in later pictures I have seen that planter bed completely empty or (as today) thinly planted in rose bushes.
Also notice that on the far side of the parking pad there is parked Nicoles black Jeep, close enough to the building that a person coming from the back walk would have to pass between it and the north wall almost to the alley paving before he could get to the unoccupied (in the picture of Figure 1) part of the pad. With the jeep in that position, the only place for Simpson to put his Bronco would be over by the hedge, and when he came from the condo he would have to walk all the way to the alley, around the Jeep, to get to it.
When the foregoing benchmarks are combined, we find that it took Simpson 2.2 minutes (10:38.7 to 10:40.9 0.7 min. before the white SUV) from the time he heard the Hey, hey, hey at footstep H until he got into the Bronco and started it. Now, we see from the plot plan of the condo in Figure 2 [BODZ_7A.JPG] that Simpsons route of egress must have taken him beside the Jeep that had been parked behind the condo when Simpson arrived, to the back and around that (his fifth blood drop near the drivers rear corner of the Jeep) and to the drivers door of his own Bronco, parked between the hedge and the jeep. From footprint H it is 106 feet to the back of the Jeep, and 16 feet farther to the Bronco: a total of 122 feet. At a slow pace (no tails on his blood drops) of 100 feet per minute (Heidstras average rate with his dogs) it would take Simpson 1.2 minutes to get from footstep H to his Bronco. Of the 1.0 minutes so far unaccounted for, ascribe 0.2 minutes for fumbling for his keys, getting in the car and starting it; then there is 0.8 minutes to explain. If the two points of hesitation are rated as S = 0.3 minutes (his last chance to throw himself at the mercy of the authorities, by going into the condo and dialing 911) and M = 0.5 minutes (make sure the voices in the street are not about him), Simpsons entire timeline from Hey, hey, hey to white SUV is reasonably explained.
SIMPSON NEAR THE BODIES: We can work backwards from Simpson leaving at footprint H at 10:38.7. From the last footstep in the vicinity of the bodies to footprint H is 19 feet, or 0.2 minutes. So, Simpson was leaving the front walk by the gate at 10:38.5. From the paucity of Bruno Magli footprints in the vicinity of the bodies, apparently Simpson spent very little time there I estimate 0.4 minutes just long enough to try to identify the second body (Goldmans) and pluck the right hand glove off Nicoles corpse. This, then, puts Simpson as stepping for the first time in the murder scene at 10:38.1. Its 32 feet from the bodies to footprint S, which is about the farthest point that Simpson could be seen from the street, and Simpson would be at that location just outside the condo front door at 10:37.8 on the way in.
SIMPSONS ARRIVAL: Simpsons timeline as he leaves the scene is clear, precise, and relatively unambiguous. But, things are not so tidy in following Simpsons inbound route there is an unaccounted for gap of five to ten minutes. We know this because 1) Simpson left Rockingham at 10:22 at the latest (or Park would have seen him) and driving direct to Bundy he would have arrived at (nominally) 10:27.5. 2) But, working back from Hey, hey, hey at footprint H at 10:38.7 Simpson could have got out of his Bronco as late as 10:35.3. Thats a 7.8 minute discrepancy from the time when he could have got to Bundy (driving direct from Rockingham) and the time when he had to have got to Bundy in order to be in position for the Hey, hey, hey.
It gets worse. This is based on what seems the most reasonable assumption of events at Rockingham: the luring phone call comes at 10:14 and lasts for three minutes; Simpson uses five minutes to prepare to go to Bundy. But, at a bare minimum, the call could have come as early as 10:11 and Simpson might have been in the Bronco in as little as four minutes after the phone call ended. In this extreme case, Simpson could have been under way at 10:18, could have arrived at Bundy at 10:23.5, and the unaccounted for time could have been as much as 11.8 minutes. But, at the other extreme the unaccounted time could not be less than 7.8 minutes because we are forced to believe that Simpson left Rockingham by 10:22 at the latest, one way or another.
A POSSIBLE ALTERNATE ROUTE: A longstanding mystery has been why the Akita first started barking on Bundy up at the Bundy/Gorham curve, a couple of hundred feet from the action. And, when he started barking he virtually went berserk, according to Heidstras account. Why? Here I offer a hypothesis that could explain
Up until now it has been assumed that when Simpson approached the condo he did so by going down Bundy to Montana, turning right, going down half a block, and turning left into the top end of Nicoles alley. In this way he arrives behind Nicoles condo without ever passing by the front of her place. But, suppose he is cautious, and wants to look the situation over before acting; he might go down Bundy to Dorothy and look at the front of the condo before parking behind in the alley. Depending on circumstances, he could in that way be going southbound on Bundy near Gorham at 10:33 and encounter his Akita (who had not yet barked on Bundy) in the street. Upon seeing Simpson in his Bronco, the dog who has apparently been anxious to get human involvement in the tragedy he has seen is galvanized to start barking. At first he is barking frantically at the Bronco, but after the Bronco passes, he just keeps barking. And, as the Bronco moves south on Bundy the Akita follows it as far as the condo.
If it happened in this way, then Simpson has another 763 feet to go from the Bundy/Gorham curve to the parking spot behind the condo; at 20 mph it takes about 0.4 minutes to traverse the distance. Add in an 0.4 minute delay to avoid running over the Akita, and 0.4 minutes to look over the front of the condo, and Simpson arrives behind the condo at 10:34.2, putting him over the back gate 1.1 minutes earlier than in the previous scenario. But, this small amount of time is just right for Simpson, on the way to the front gate to notice Nicoles front door open as he passes and detour to poke his head inside for a moment to see if there is anything that would influence his plan hopefully, to see a live Nicole glaring at him. (In this scenario there is at least 6 minutes and as much as 10 minutes -- of unaccounted for time from leaving Rockingham at 10:22 till encountering the Akita at 10:33.)
SIMPSONS TIMELINE AT BUNDY: Consolidating the foregoing
INBOUND, DRIVES DIRECTLY TO BACK OF CONDO
10:27.5 Simpson arrives at back of condo (if no detours)
10:35.3 alight from Bronco with 7.8 minutes unaccounted for
10:36.3 reconnoiter for 1 minute
10:36.5 Arrv. At back gate
10:37.2 Over back gate after 0.7 minute struggle
10:37.8 Inbound at footprint S (opposite open front door)
10:38.1 Just stepping down into murder scene.
10:38.5 Just leaving murder scene (with glove and after identifying Goldman)
10:38.7 Outbound at footprint H (hear Hey, hey, hey from street)
10:39.2 Lv. Footprint M after waiting 0.5 minute to be sure voices are not about him
10:39.7 Lv. Footprint S after 0.3 min. while deciding not to call police
10:40.9 Arrv back at Bronco, get in, start it
10:41.6 Drive down alley to Dorothy, east to Bundy, Heidstra sees as he turns south.
INBOUND IF HE TRIGGERS AKITA BARKING AT 10:33
10:33 Pass Bundy/Gorham curve with 6 minutes unaccounted for
10:34.2 Arrv behind condo (0.4 min @ 20mph, 0.4 min to avoid dog, 0.4 min look to gate)
10:35.4 At back gate after reconnoitering for 1 min., walking for 0.2 min.
10:36.1 Over back gate after 0.7 min. struggle
10:36.7 Arrv at footprint S
10:37.8 Continue at footprint S after 1.1 min. to stick head in open condo door
10:38.1 Just stepping down into murder scene.
* * *
THE HEDGE: While this article was in perpetration, a newsgroup poster raised the unrelated question: If Simpson was parked behind Nicoles condo would not Karpf have seen the Bronco when he arrived home, assuming that he arrived before Simpson left? There is nothing in this article to tell us if Karpfs time coincided with Simpsons, but the conditions at the back of Nicoles condo do also bear on the question. We presented Figure 1 (the back of the condo on the murder night) to illustrate that Simpson would have put the Bronco on the south side of Nicoles parking pad, and also noticed that there is a hedge that would have blocked a clear view of the Bronco by someone driving up the alley. In Figure 3 [HEDGE02.JPG] I show another image (this from E!) of the back of the condo in the days after the murders. (In a wider view of this scene, one of the temporary No Parking signs that the police put up for crowd control is seen on a utility pole.) Here the obscuring effect of the hedge on a white car parked just beyond it is obvious: only the roof and back end of the car can be seen. (The car does not appear to be pulled all the way up to the garage door, and if it was, only the cars roof would be visible.)
Furthermore, it is dark at night on that parking pad, no direct source of illumination on cars parked there, unless someone in the condo turns on the back lights. So, the only thing to illuminate the Bronco as Karpf approached would be his own headlights. I show the path of his approach schematically in Figure 4 [STORFERX.JPG]. Notice that at about Nicoles south property line Karpf would begin to swing to the left in order to be in position to make a hard right turn into his garage about 75 feet later. In that orientation, pointing left of center up the alley, Karpfs headlights do not directly illuminate the area where the Bronco is parked.
So, if the Bronco were parked behind Nicoles condo when Karpf came home, he would be unlikely to see it because
* Most of it was concealed by the hedge, and
* Karpfs headlights (the only source of illumination for the Bronco) were pointed away.
(There is also an issue that in the big city, cars come and go all the time, and a person will not often notice a stranger car unless it is parked in his own usual space.)
Dick Wagner Van Nuys, CA (5/01/02) SIM-TIME.doc
(If Simpson visited Bundy after the fact, there is a 5 to 10 minute front end gap in his time.)