With the past week marking the 20th anniversary of the infamous O.J. Simpson case, Brentwood is reminded of the relevance of its location to the most publicized trials and lawsuits of the 1990s.
On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson, O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife, and her friend Ronald Goldman were found murdered at her condo in the 800 block of S. Bundy Drive. Five days later on June 17, Simpson was the object of slow-moving pursuit after failing to turn himself in.
TV stations interrupted normal programming to air two hours of the famous car chase of O.J. Simpson in a white Ford Bronco.
The murder scene, and randomly enough, Monica Lewinsky’s father’s residence were located in the town of Brentwood and within close proximity of each other, among other crime scenes that pertained to the controversial events.
“It’s a geographic coincidence,” said long-time Brentwood resident David Holtzman, a Hearing Board Member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
Since moving to Brentwood in 1997 and attending law school in the area, Holtzman naturally has knowledge of the locations relevant to the Simpson case as well as recollection of the events that followed the 1995 controversies of both Simpson and Lewinsky.
His wife is a representative of the South Brentwood Resident Association (SBRA) and is therefore also aware of the relevance of certain residences and buildings.
Within Brentwood, there are four key locations relevant to the OJ Simpson case.
On San Vicente Boulevard just west of Gorham, what is now Peet’s Coffee and Tea used to be a Mezzaluna restaurant that Nicole Brown Simpson had dined at on the night of the murder.
The restaurant has since been renovated, but one-time customers would swarm in and frequent the eatery because of the hype surrounding the Simpson controversy.
The unfortunate murder scene occurred on Bundy Drive, near the intersection of Dorothy Street. The two-unit building has since been renovated, and in an attempt to dodge the almost-inevitable stigma that would surround the residence, its street number has been altered as well.
Monica Lewinsky’s father’s residence was located a couple blocks down on Darlington.
As the Lewinsky scandal occurred within the same time span of the Simpson case, the neighborhood became one of notoriety and public attention during this season.
“There were news trucks camped out for a while,” Holtzman said. “There were even speed bumps and parking restriction signs installed into the neighborhoods to discourage the paparazzi.”
On the other end of Sunset Boulevard is O.J. Simpson’s former residence on Rockingham Avenue. The house has unsurprisingly been renovated.
“It became a common sport to drive to OJ’s house from the murder scene,” Holtzman said. “People wanted to know: ‘could he have gotten back to his house in a timely manner?’”
Though it has been 20 years since both controversies occurred, it is interesting to keep in mind this “geographic coincidence,” which seems out-of-place in an unsuspecting area like Brentwood.
“This town seems to hold all sorts of weird stories and quirky characters from that time period,” Holtzman said. “Visitors are always wondering about what happened. It’s not far from people’s minds.”