John Eckberg is a valued contributor at American Crime Journal. He spent 30 years with The Cincinnati Enquirer as a reporter and currently is Director of Media Relations for The Cook Group. After years of extensive investigation; John along with Stephen Combs co-authored, OJ Simpson – Glen Rogers: The Juice, Road Dog and Murder on Bundy Drive. The first edition led to docudramas on ID Discovery and the Discovery Channel. The latest edition is available now at Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats.
When Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman lost their lives during a brutal Brentwood, CA, attack nearly three decades ago, I was a suburban newspaper reporter at The Cincinnati Enquirer, assigned to cover all things pertaining to the rust belt small town of Hamilton, OH. The last thing on my mind, as I made the daily police rounds and covered astonishingly dull city council meetings in this former factory town, was a pair of murders a continent away in those high rolling hills of Hollywood, CA. Little did I know at the time that I would be the one, years later, who would see through the lies, deception and planted clues from a small town felon and eventual serial killer, Glen Rogers, to connect the dots, cipher the consequences and offer up the most plausible scenario of what happened on that murderous night in 1994 at the homes of a football legend, OJ Simpson.
OJ Simpson – Glen Rogers: The Juice, Road Dog and Murder on Bundy Drive (Mesoscale Publishing – 2018) details that path, and, even more important, suggests that a pair of blood-stained sneakers confiscated when Rogers was arrested in remote Beattyville, KY, may hold DNA evidence that ties Rogers, hired by OJ, to the contract killing of Ron and Nicole. Written with co-author Steve Combs, a Florida-based investigative reporter, the book shows how Rogers, who is on death row in Florida for the murder of Tina Marie Cribbs, was hired by OJ to steal diamonds from his wife while she and the rest of the family was at a dance recital, and Nicole’s condo was empty. Instead, he ended up killing Nicole and Ron and leaving a trail of clues and a badly staged crime scene that would lead authorities to charge OJ – and only OJ – with the crime. The former football great thought he had hired a jewel thief. What he got, instead, was a serial killer who framed him.
In late August, Florida resumed capital punishment for those on death row with the lethal injection of murderer Gary Ray Bowles for the 1994 slayings of several gay men. Glen Roger’s crimes happened in 1996. His time to die is surely near. And when that happens, chances are, it will be difficult if not impossible to account for Roger’s role in the murders of Goldman and Brown Simpson.
All of the following is likely to challenge much of what you know or think you know about the murders of Nicole and Ron. It boils down to this: OJ figured he would humiliate his former wife by stealing her jewels – again. OJ himself did just that in the early morning hours of January 1, 1990. On that New Year’s Eve, he beat Nicole, left before the cops arrived, then later, sometime long after midnight, stormed back into his house, grabbed the diamonds and hid them under a neighbor’s garbage can. They were retrieved by his pal A.C. Cowlings three hours later. The long-lost motive for the 1994 attack by Rogers was that but instead of OJ stealing the gems, this time he’d get an actual thief to do it.
The book has a firecracker conclusion, too: OJ could be retried for Conspiracy to Murder with evidence used against him from the first trial because Conspiracy to Murder or Conspiracy to Grand Theft represents a separate and new charge.
Rogers, unbeknownst to OJ, was a serial killer who planned to murder Nicole all along and once he got the contract job from OJ, figured out how frame OJ for the crime. Two years ago, I decided to update a true crime book about Glen Rogers, which I co-wrote with Combs fully two decades ago. It was time to connect the dots.
a reporter is almost always about connecting dots at one level or another and
the dots pertaining to this Bundy Drive crime needed to be connected. The first
dot, of course, was this: OJ was such an arrogant dumb ass (nice to know some
things never change). He thought he could hire his painter/maintenance guy, who
was also a dime bag pot and coke dealer, to steal diamonds from an empty condo
while the family was at a dance recital and that there would be no consequences
for that crime – that he could simply give Glen Rogers a key to the condo, pay
him 20 grand and get away with the theft. As
the result of OJ’s arrogance, ignorance, malice and avarice, an untold number
of people are dead today because the “jewel thief” Rogers stole
enough items from OJ to frame him and then walked away from that night as a
free man able to kill over and over and over again. Nobody knows for certain
how many people Rogers murdered. For sure, anything he says is not going to be
close to the truth, particularly since he was at times a hired killer. Authorities
do not escape blame, either. Police and prosecutors treated the Bundy crime
scene as the work of one killer, when it was obvious then – and now – that two assailants were on the patio that night
and that one staged the crime scene to implicate the other.
So how does a former business, local news and investigatory journalist from The Cincinnati Enquirer end up focusing on this case? It’s crazy to think that a newspaper reporter a world away from the glamour of Tinseltown and thousands of miles away from a discreet condo in the Brentwood foothills could stumble upon a theory that few if any others have pieced together. How did it happen? What has to happen for something like that to occur? Temerity, tenacity and curiosity. There was a lot to read about the Crime of the Century. And all or at least all the important work had to be read. Reading everything is part of the code of being a newspaper reporter, at least it was for an Old School guy who started out in the business doing night rewrite reporting. Eventually I was given a beat: the county courthouse. During my career at the newspaper, I covered state and federal courthouses and made daily quests for true crime stories. The pressroom at the Hamilton County Courthouse was a tidy little room where sometimes judges and always assistant prosecutors stopped in to say hello – a euphemism that clouded their real intent … get a headline. Each day I would read the agate of the 12-page Court Index, the docket of cases before the dozen judges, to look for the most heinous thing that somebody did to somebody else. Murder trials were commonplace, so, too, arsons and attempted arsons, odd petty crimes and incidents of gut-wrenching tragedy, the sad faces of family members of both victim and perpetrator a daily parade. But at the heart of almost every trial was a box: the interviews, evidence, depositions and motions that would often fill a post office box. A good reporter read The Box. Everything in it.
Compartmentalizing was an important survival skill. The tragedy was too overt, too much and too often – daily. I still don’t know how cops, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges do it. Eventually, I would become a local reporter, assigned (rather, exiled) to Hamilton, Ohio, and then my career became that of a business reporter and business columnist. I would write on a daily basis about a few of Fortune 500 companies that had headquarters in Cincinnati, including Kroger, Macy’s and from time-to-time, P&G. I’d pore over SEC filings like 10Qs and 8Ks, detail proxy battles and try to stay awake reading annual reports. I’d chase phantom stock shares. I’d use voting records to find the homes of CEOs at global giants to get a “no comment” because that’s what reporters did. I’m not a nut, unless being a career journalist for 30+ years is a nutty thing to do…and it may well be. Crime stories written from that pressroom (which was also a smoking room, I declared, because the First Amendment, I figured, gave me that right…Congress shall not enact and all that) often had enough paperwork behind them to fill a box.
Likewise, at the heart of OJ Simpson & Glen Rogers: The Juice, Road Dog and Murder on Bundy Drive there was a box. This box on first blush seemed to be full of the minutiae of Glen Rogers’ last months and years as a free man. But sometimes, when the facts in the box were cross-referenced against the facts of the murder on Bundy Drive, questions arose. Even without the box, the most cursory look at the murders on Bundy Drive offers a veritable necklace of unanswered questions, questions that still resonate years later:
Swabbed footprints, unknown DNA under Nicole’s fingernails, her body mined for jewelry, Goldman’s beat up knuckles and OJ’s perfect face, a blood drop that was on both sides of a sock at Rockingham meaning no leg was in between when the blood was applied, a glove that was too easy to find, a knock on a cottage wall to make certain that glove was found…it’s a long list and it was all so pat and pointed over and over again to only one conclusion: staged crime scene. Rogers must have been shocked at how well it worked.OJ hired Rogers because he wanted to humiliate his former wife and make her destitute by stealing her gems – not murder her. Instead, OJ got set up for murder and the real killer got away. Here are some details to consider:
- Gloves and hat lifted from an OJ residence by handyman/painter Rogers were left at the Bundy and Rockingham crime scenes as canards or false clues, thereby setting OJ up to take the fall. Rogers consistently left false clues at robberies or breakings-and-enterings throughout Ohio and Kentucky along the Dixie Highway for most of his life. He did the same at Bundy.
- The DNA trail to OJ may not be cold, either, as a pair of tennis shoes with blood stains that were held in an unrelated murder by Rogers in Florida may be a missing puzzle piece, a clue to Rogers’ involvement. The shoes were found in his car at the time of his capture in Kentucky and raise an important question: since Rogers dumped evidence of other crimes on his last, desperate Road Dog run, why not dispose of those bloody shoes, too? He must have rolled past 10,000 garbage cans as he drove from Florida to Kentucky. Why not dump the shoes? He kept them because Glen kept souvenirs of his crimes. Were those shoes a souvenir of Bundy? Are they proof of what really happened on that night more than two decades before? They are still presumably held as exhibits in Tampa, Fla., where Rogers was convicted of the murder of Tina Marie Cribbs and awaits his capital punishment.
- OJ’s theft of diamonds from Nicole in 1989-90 early that New Year’s morning was replicated in 1994 but this time with fatal consequences. Nicole must have known that OJ would be coming for the jewels again, since the same thing happened just four years before when they last broke up. So she wore all the jewels to daughter Sydney’s dance recital. Apparently, the jewels were not there when Rogers entered the condo during the recital. He used a key that would later end up in O.J.’s overnight bag to Chicago – a key given to him by O.J., a key that Nicole reportedly knew was missing. This explains the key in OJ’s overnight bag that he took to Chicago.
- By not running from knife-wielding Rogers and standing and fighting (severely bruised and torn knuckles in autopsy photos) hero Ron Goldman did not show us who held the knife but he certainly showed who did NOT hold the knife: OJ, with a perfect face in mug shot photos taken just 24 hours later. Ron Goldman beat on somebody’s face before he died. But it was not OJ. It was Glen. An MRI less than two years later would show that Glen had broken bones in his face, several broken bones.
- OJ rushing to the fight from the get-away car gave Rogers, who would later swab up his own shoe-prints, which he always did at his crime scenes, a chance to slash OJ’s fingers and get OJ’s blood and shoe prints on the scene. That explains O.J.’s cut hand. It also explains the patio swabbed of most shoe prints but those belonging to OJ, as Rogers swabbed up shoe prints at his murders during the next 18 months and, it’s likely, murders from years beore.
- Half the money before the crime and half after meant Rogers had access to OJ’s Rockingham estate after the murders, where he easily framed OJ with a single drop of blood on a sock on the bedroom floor after OJ left for the airport and other drops on the inside and outside of the Bronco. Rogers also left a glove he’d stolen from Simpson – as a maintenance worker, he would have had access to Simpson’s gloves – behind a nearby guest house before banging on the wall to wake up Kato Kaelin, who was inside, to make certain the police would find it in a timely manner. Again, it was an obviously staged crime scene.
- How Conspiracy to Grand Theft for the jewel theft or Conspiracy to Murder represents a separate charge, and that is the biggest shocker of all. It enables evidence from the first OJ trial to be used in a second trial, as well as testimony from Rogers. But Rogers needs to be alive. Right now, his number and time is about up as Florida has resumed capital punishment.
Sooooo much has been written about the case – yet so much has been left out or is flat-out wrong. It’s clear that what authorities had – and chose to ignore – was a staged crime scene and two conspirators/killers. But it was Rogers’ hand and not OJ’s hand that held the knife. Nothing about this case added up until now. With Rogers in the picture, everything adds up. What’s more (and this is what separates this work from others’ efforts so it’s worth repeating) OJ could be retried with evidence from the first trial used against him in a second criminal trial because Conspiracy to Grand Theft or Conspiracy to Murder are separate charges from the previously tried murder charge so that means evidence and testimony from the first trial could be used against him in a new trial.
If you want to get somebody you have just met to look sideways at you, tell them you are writing a book that will show O.J. Simpson was not the one who actually stabbed Ms. Brown Simpson and Mr. Goldman on that terrible night so long ago. Somebody else was there on that patio with O.J., Nicole and Ron. Somebody else had to be there. Somebody else staged a crime scene. Somebody else planted clues at Rockingham and Bundy. Somebody else got off Scott free. It was clear that there were then and are still too many unanswered questions that remain from accounts derived from both the civil and criminal trials of O.J. Simpson of what happened on that night. And that’s why the criminal jury drank two pots of coffee before they concluded that it did not happen the way the prosecutors said it happened.
No, the official account of what happened at 875 South Bundy Drive has never added up – not for the jury, not for the nation, not for the world. Until now. Put killer Glen Rogers on that patio, a confirmed serial killer and enforcer for an Armenian Mafia out of Los Angeles and at times for the Dixie Mafia out of the Midwest, and it all adds up. My co-author and I had read and knew of family reports in 2003 when we wrote and published Road Dog, a book about the life and times of serial killer Glen Rogers, that he had somehow been involved with the crime on Bundy, that O.J. had hired Glen to steal jewelry that he had gifted to Nicole over the years. We did not have the wherewithal to go to LA to write about the crime. So, we left it all out of the book that emerged. The realization came last year that it was time to tell the world what we knew and what we believed. OJ was culpable because he set the wheels in motion with a contract to a hit man/jewelry thief who in turn framed him.
A serial killer and mob enforcer double-crossed and then framed O.J. with a couple of canards (gloves and ski hat). It all happened with just two or three planted clues, mopped up footprints and a killer-for-hire. So many questions have answers when Rogers is in the picture: How did the blood get onto the sock left in the middle of the bedroom upstairs? How did the glove get behind the cottage? How did DNA from somebody (but DNA not belonging to OJ or Goldman) get under Nicole’s fingernails? How did a drop of blood get on Nicole’s thigh and a heel print on her shirt back? Why do the knife wounds from Bundy so resemble Glen’s other crimes? Why does the blood trail across the Rockingham Driveway not include OJ’s blood? Why did OJ phone Kaelin from the airport to go into the house to set the burglar alarm, something he had never done before? Did he hope Kaelin would run into Rogers? That Rogers would still be in the house? Why was the condo key to Bundy in OJ’s overnight bag? Was that merely a convenient place to put it as OJ rushed out the door? Did a knife cut from assailant Rogers lead to OJ’s blood on the Bundy scene?
Put Glen on the scene that night with a handful of stolen items and these questions, these elements, make sense. Somebody set up OJ to take the fall for this gruesome crime. The hat, the gloves (both stolen from the O.J. estate by Glen, who painted houses for the Hollywood elite when he was not dealing drugs or working as a male prostitute) all strategically pointed to O.J. as the killer on that June night in Los Angeles. But Glen was the killer. And Glen double-crossed O.J. and did it with just a handful of false clues.
But why would O.J. have any dealings at all with Glen? He was a multimillionaire, lived in one of the toniest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, had a standing tee-time at Riviera, lived a cloistered life of a Hollywood star and had not dealt with riff-raff like Glen Rogers for decades or more? Why would he want his wife dead? That is exactly the point. He did not want her killed. Instead, he wanted her humiliated and dependent upon him. This was a crime that obscured the real reason O.J. brought Glen Rogers into his life: he wanted punishment for his Hollywood Trophy Bride. He wanted her embarrassed and he wanted her destitute. O.J. wanted the jewelry back, too, because in his eyes, it was worth a small fortune. But unlike the last time he stole his wife’s gems, after a fight on New Year’s Eve in 1989-90, O.J. would not be the one to go and get the jewels. Instead, he hired Glen to steal the jewelry and do it in the early evening time frame when the Bundy condo was empty because the entire family was at a dance recital. It would be a snap, OJ figured.
But when Glen showed up, having been given a key to the place by O.J. (which also explains the key in O.J.’s overnight bag from Chicago), Rogers either found that the diamonds were gone or he took them and told O.J. that the jewelry was gone and that’s why he returned to Rockingham empty-handed. O.J. would not be denied and he probably did not believe Glen, either, so O.J. drove Glen to Bundy for a traditional robbery. Once at the condo, and with Nicole already knocked out by Glen, the surprise visit by Ron Goldman meant both victims would now have to die at Glen’s hands. He was wanted for the murder of Hamilton’s Mark Peters already and could not risk another trip to jail. O.J. following Goldman onto the patio was convenient for Glen, as he could now slash O.J.’s hand and ensure that OJ would be dripping blood throughout the patio – a patio that Glen, who always swabbed his crime scenes to conceal clues, would soon clear of all shoe prints except for the shoes worn by O.J. The evidence that O.J.’s defense team said was planted by authorities was indeed planted, which explains the defense team focusing on the hat, gloves and bloody sock, but it was not planted by detectives. Instead, with two badly staged crime scenes, Glen set up O.J. to take the fall. Glen left the sock with a single drop of blood in the upstairs bedroom, the hat and glove at Bundy and another glove at Rockingham. He put the blood on the Bronco. Glen pounded on the wall of the cottage out back when he left the scene. Glen held the knife – not OJ.
And in the end, Glen walked away a free man, who was able to kill and kill again. Had authorities recognized the obvious – two assailants at Bundy, one a murderer and the other a conspirator – then Rogers might have been caught and stopped before any other victims, who apparently reminded him of his mother, would have lost their lives to a vicious and vengeful killer. Glen’s time is running out, as Florida is no longer delaying sentences of capital punishment. The Florida Supreme Court earlier this year refused to consider further appeals of serial killer Gary Ray Bowles, who was dubbed the I-95 serial killer and linked to the murder of gay men in three states. Bowles was executed in August in Florida for killing Walter Hinton in 1994.
Rogers, 57, remains on death row for the 1995 murder of Tina Marie Cribbs in Tampa. He’s been there for three decades now. When he receives his lethal injection – the Florida governor has already asked for statements from loved ones of his victims – that might end any chance of justice being served a continent away in Southern California. With Rogers gone, so, too, one of the best chances to get to the bottom of what really happened on that bloody night in 1994 on Bundy Drive in Brentwood, CA. Sure, there’s an all-but-forgotten blood-stained tennis shoe from Rogers’ stolen car that might hold DNA proving his presence on Bundy Drive and might still be in storage in Tampa.
Yes, there’s a knife confiscated from his belongings at the crime scene of the murder of Linda Price in Jackson, MS, also in 1995, that was not used to murder Price but was in Rogers’ possession at the time and could have been the knife used to kill Ron and Nicole. So, too, there are siblings of Rogers back in Ohio, who are still alive and knew, prior – not after – the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, that Rogers was going to taken down a rich former football player and his wife out in LA where drug-dealer Rogers lived at the time.
But it’s Rogers, himself, who knows intimate details of the Bundy crime scene, clues that would only be known by the killer but for now, and for the past three decades, Rogers isn’t talking. He’s been silent about what he knows, how the crime really went down and why Nicole and Ron lost their lives to his knife.
Rogers’ time is coming to an end. And when that happens, the truth of what happened that night on Bundy Drive might be lost forever, too.
Get you copy of O.J. Simpson & Glen Rogers: The Juice, Road Dog, & Murder on Bundy Drive by Stephen Combs and John Eckberg, today! Available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.