By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
While the self-assuredness and the sizable ego remain, today's Bill Dear says he is no longer chasing fame and fortune. Members of the staff who once worked for him have gone off to set up their own investigative agencies. He now takes only those cases that interest him, enjoying the simple pleasures of being a grandfather. He even occasionally ventures out in public without a suit and tie. It's his version of semiretirement.
Now, however, the unanswered questions surrounding the Simpson-Goldman murders have his motor running. The Los Angeles police, he says, "screwed up." And, since O.J. Simpson was acquitted of criminal charges, the murder cases officially remain open.
"It needs to be resolved," Dear says.
The portrait of Jason Simpson drawn from Dear's investigation is one of a young man battling myriad problems. The files assembled from the investigator's research suggest as much:
In 1990, police records show, Jason Simpson was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs and placed on summary probation. Two years later, assault charges were filed after Jason Simpson attacked the owner of a restaurant where he worked as the prep chef. Pleading no contest to a reduced charge of disturbing the peace, he was again placed on probation, this time for 24 months. The only other brush with the law Dear was able to find occurred in 1994, when he rammed his Jeep into the back of a pickup in the wee hours of the morning and fled the scene. A witness had taken down his license plate number, and Simpson was later charged with leaving the scene of an accident and driving with a suspended license.
The medical and psychological records obtained by Dear document a series of suicide attempts, drug use, brief stays in psychiatric hospitals and ongoing visits with a counselor. Dear traced Jason's erratic behavior back to the age of 14, when he was first admitted to the hospital following a cocaine-induced seizure. An enraged Simpson once took a baseball bat to a bronze statue of his father that was located on the grounds of the Rockingham home. There was, according to family friends Dear quotes in his book, an ongoing battle, both verbal and physical, between O.J. Simpson and his son.
On at least three occasions, Jason had attempted to take his own life. There was the incident when he had cut his wrists with the glass from a broken window after the argument with his girlfriend, another occasion during which he had stabbed himself in the abdomen and yet another when, after a night of drinking tequila and beer, he swallowed 30 Depakote tablets, more than 10 times the recommended dosage prescribed to prevent epileptic seizures.
Dear quotes Dr. Burton Kittay, the psychologist who treated Jason Simpson on numerous occasions, saying that his patient did have mental problems. Dr. Kittay did not, however, believe Jason could have committed the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman. As he tells Dear in his book, "And besides, I don't think Jason is smart enough to have pulled off the murders and not gotten caught."
Los Angeles Police Department homicide Detective Vic Pietrantoni, now assigned to the Simpson-Goldman case, says he's received a copy of Dear's book but has not yet read it. "A lot of folks around the country have opinions about what happened that night," he says, "but we feel we did a thorough investigation and that we have the right suspect. But, yes, my mind's always open."
Dear's foremost question focuses on motive. Why should Jason Simpson be considered a suspect in the murder of a former stepmother he cared for and a waiter whose only apparent reason for being at her home that Sunday night was to deliver a pair of eyeglasses left behind by Nicole's mother?
The young Simpson apparently had been close to Nicole. It was, Dear writes, Jason who often volunteered to take Nicole, who loved to dance, to local clubs when his father begged off. According to Dear, Jason and Nicole had remained good friends even after her breakup with O.J.
But, Dear says, she had embarrassed him on the day before she died.
"You'll remember that the family was to attend a school dance recital that afternoon," Dear says. "Jason wasn't going to be able to attend because he was scheduled to work. He'd talked to Nicole about it, suggesting they all come to Jackson's Restaurant for dinner afterwards. She'd agreed that it was a good idea."
Jason, Dear says, was excited about the prospect of demonstrating his cooking talents for Nicole and her family. He'd made reservations and even bragged to fellow employees that they would be stopping in for dinner, according to fellow workers who spoke to Dear. At the last minute, however, Nicole had phoned to say they had decided to go to Mezzaluna, a less expensive neighborhood restaurant, instead.
In the book, Dear suggests the possibility that Jason, angered and embarrassed over being stood up, drove to Nicole's condo after dropping his girlfriend off at her apartment. Perhaps, he writes, there was a confrontation during which the young Simpson's rage boiled over. Maybe Goldman arrived just as that rage, no longer held in check by doses of Depakote, peaked. End result: two people dead.