November comes toward the end of the year in Brentwood and yet another fog of the OJ Simpson case loomed over the affluent town like a Portobelo mushroom cloud. Trying to keep focused, Litton Wynn, Jr., LA P.D. Cold Case Detective/ Music Consultant, puzzled over a six-year old littering case. His only physical evidence was a crumpled paper which, on a hunch, he un-crumpled. With the aid of a forensic stationer, he ID-ed the item as a self-addressed envelope. Then he glanced at the return address: 771 Bundy.
Wynn's blood ran cold. He put on earmuffs and let his memory drift back.... first to the summer of '94 when the Simpson case broke, and then to the autumn of '88 when nothing much really happened.
Wynn had wanted to reopen the Simpson investigation in '97, but sensed some resistance when his CO suspended him for half an hour without pay. The boss was playing hardball, but it didn't scare Wynn as he'd once been a catcher in the White Sox organization. He considered re-opening the case again in '04, but took a bike ride instead.
Now Simpson was opening his mouth again and, along with the envelope from Bundy, Wynn took it as a sign. Needing a stiff one, he got a baguette at the Bellwood Bakery, then rapped on his CO's door. The boss was all smiles as Brentwood had been named "Best American Town to Kill Someone" by The Ladies Home Journal. Wynn said he wanted to re-open the Simpson investigation. This time, he got the answer he wanted: "Go ahead. Who gives a crap?"
Wynn was pumped. At the time of the murders on June 12, 1994, he'd been working an unsolved murder/jaywalking case. He was finally moved to the Simpson investigation on July Fourth, but had to attend a cook-out and couldn't start until the ninth. By then, all the good clues were taken.
Now, he got right to work, paying a visit to the home of ex-DA, Gil Garcetti. But Garcetti shook his head and said it was no use: he'd gone over the Simpson case in his mind a million times, then lent it to his niece who misplaced it.
Luckily, as Wynn walked out, Garcetti's family geologist stopped him: "I hear there's evidence at Toscana."
Toscana was an industry haunt on San Vicente. Wynn drove over and strong-armed the chef who nervously spilled some Chianti, then his guts. Turns out, a day after the murders, the chef tipped off Mark Fuhrman about a blood-stained knife he'd found in his oven mitt, but the detective couldn't get a reservation and never followed up.
The chef handed Wynn the knife and asked C.S.I. to run tests on it but the show was on hiatus. Ultimately, the knife was filched from the evidence room and returned to Toscana where it's still used to mince salmon.
But Wynn noticed something odd on Toscana's menu: "Ahi salad with bib lettuce and a woman at 362 Rockingham who can blow the Simpson case wide open; served as appetizer or entree."
Next door to Simpson's former home, Wynn found Alma Larch, an 82 year-old actress who starred in both A and B movies, compiling an overall GPA of 3.2. She told him a story.
"Two days after the murders, I found a bloody glove under my mentholyptus tree. I assumed it was OJ's because he was a Negro. I called the police but they said, 'Who cares about one glove? If you don't have a matching set, it's just stupid.'"
Alma removed the blood-caked glove from its Lucite display case. Wynn sent it to the crime lab which found some of the blood to match Simpson's DNA, some matched Nicole Brown, and a few drops matched Harry Truman. But when Wynn asked for the glove back, the lab tech said he'd given it to Chris Darden. "He already had the other glove so I figured..."
Wynn traced the ex-prosecutor to the Coffee Bean on Barrington where Darden was preparing for a guest shot on the CBS hit, "Two and a Half Men." Wynn grabbed Darden, roughed him up, ran some lines with him and asked for the glove.
"Okay, I'll level with you," Darden said. "The night before I introduced the glove in court, I wanted to make a good impression so I washed it. Later, I remember thinking, 'Since when does leather shrink?'"
Wynn asked for both gloves but Darden said he'd returned them to Fred Segal's for a store credit. Wynn sped over but the check-out girl had just sold the gloves to a lapsed vegan.
Wynn groaned, but the check-out girl smiled and said, "My friend Betsy saw OJ driving like a maniac on Bundy the night of the murders."
Wynn found Betsy Lee at Maha Yoga on 26th. She was the all-American girl: Asian, with a body that didn't take coffee breaks. She said while driving on Bundy on the night of the murders. a white Bronco tore off the curb. Betsy was sure it was OJ and wrote down his license number because there was blood allover him and he didn't use his turn signal. The next day, she told her story to Detective Vannatter. But when she mentioned she had a boyfriend, he threatened to report her to the INS. Betsy told him she was born in Westwood but Vannater didn't care and had her deported to San Diego. It took six years for her to get back to LA and another three hours to get her life back together.
Betsy shrugged: "Hey, my story's nothing next to that Millstone guy who video-taped the whole murder."
For a Baptist Minister, Hugh Millstone was a decent amateur cinematographer. His shots of OJ stabbing his victims wouldn't threaten Hitchcock, but then, Hitch was a genius. Screening the murders on a 56-inch plasma, Millstone recounted how he'd brought the tape to the police but they wouldn't accept it because it wasn't rewound to the beginning.
Wynn snapped, then booked a flight to Miami.
He found OJ Simpson on the fifteenth hole of Doral. Wynn had attended some of the Simpson trial, once getting close enough to the defendant to tell him his shirt was inside out, so now Simpson recognized him: "Detective," Simpson said, "you look kinohoura good." Wynn blushed then told Simpson about the knife, the glove, the tape, everything. Simpson took a gimme from the green side bunker and said his research for his book had turned up the same clues. "As far I can tell," Simpson said, "all the evidence points to me."
Flying back to LA, Wynn had time to reflect. Born to do cold case work, he'd spent his youth investigating why his parents affixed "Jr." to his name even though his father's name was Ricky. At 14, when he confronted his father with a latex fiber from a Persian Rug, his old man quickly confessed to being an asshole. Even then, Wynn had instincts that couldn't be learned. That's why he called them "instincts." But now, the Simpson case made Wynn question the meaning of his life.
(Not his whole life, just his work.)
(Not that his home life was so hot either.)
Back in LA, Wynn drove to Bundy and gazed at the crime scene for what seemed like 45 minutes but was actually 45 minutes on the button. He decided to drop the Simpson case because he was double-parked. Besides, there another case was eating at him.
He went to his CO to re-open the Yasir Arafat case. His CO said, "Could you be any more predictable?"
Wynn said "Thanks" and went home. He drew a bath which came out looking more like a sketch, but no matter. There was work to do: Arafat lived in a bombed out office in the occupied territories for years, then finally takes a vacation in Paris and turns up dead within a week?
No way, thought Wynn. No way.