updated 06/13/2014 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 06/14/2014 AT 9:15 PM ET
Two decades after one of the most polarizing trials in American history, our nation has generally settled on a consensus about the O.J. Simpson trial: 1) He probably did it, and, 2) The LAPD blew the case by mishandling forensic evidence.
But as with other news events where objective truth has become buried under years of gossip and rumor, the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman have attracted a fair share of experts who are convinced they’ve figured out what really happened June 12, 1994. Perhaps that’s a consequence of a cultural flashpoint where nobody on either side of the debate got any semblance of closure.
No matter if they’re serious journalists or Internet crackpots, all Simpson conspiracy theorists are convinced they can do what a year of courtroom drama could not: Crack the case, once and for all.
Below, the four most popular O.J. Simpson conspiracy theories.
O.J. Didn’t Do It – His Son Did
Dear’s evidence is largely circumstantial: Jason Simpson’s alleged history of violent mental illness – obtained, Dear’s critics say, illegally – as well as holes in Jason’s official alibi. His theory has received favorable, or at least not entirely incredulous, coverage from The Independent and the Huffington Post, but former Village Voice editor Tony Ortega says the detective is “full of it”: “Dear’s timeline for that night is a complete farce … and his ideas for how O.J. Simpson’s blood ended up at the scene are beyond preposterous.”
O.J. Didn’t Do It – He Hired a Serial Killer to Do It for Him
In 2012, a second conspiracy theory made the media rounds, positing that the murders were actually the work of a prolific serial killer. As first shown in the the Investigation Discovery documentary My Brother the Serial Killer, Clay Rogers, brother of serial killer Glen Rogers, maintains that Glen confessed to killing Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman while on death row in Florida.
The Rogers family claims that Glen called home a few weeks before the murder to say that he was “partying” with Nicole; receipts prove he was working in Los Angeles at the time. They also say that, after being found guilty of the murder of Tina Marie Cribbs, Rogers told them he’d been hired by O.J. to steal an expensive pair of earrings from Brown’s condo and to kill her if she got in the way.
There are multiple reasons to be skeptical of Rogers’s claims. After his arrest, he claimed to have murdered as many as 70 people, a boast he later recanted. And again, the timing doesn’t work; according to a contemporary report in the Cincinnati Post, Rogers was serving a six-week jail sentence at the time of the murders.
O.J. Did It – But Only Because He Was Being Mind-Controlled by the Illuminati
Nothing has ever happened in American history without somebody on the Internet thinking the Illuminati were involved. In the Simpson case, conspiracy theorists say that the football star had been a subject of the CIA’s MKUltra mind-control experiment, a frequent topic of discussion among those who believe that the world is secretly under the control of a shadowy group of elites, known alternately as the Illuminati and the New World Order.
Adherents of this theory say that, at the time of the murders, O.J. was being mind-controlled by the Illuminati, who hoped that his trial would ignite a race war in the U.S. If you’re thinking this sounds eerily similar to the Manson murders, well, the conspiracy-minded say that that is just more proof they’re right.
O.J. Didn’t Do It – the Murders Were a Case of Mistaken Identity
In 2011, Simpson’s lawyer F. Lee Bailey put forward a fourth, less-dramatic theory for who was really responsible for the murders. As he wrote in a 20,000-word essay on his website, Bailey and the rest of Simpson’s defense team scrapped a number of potential witnesses who could have testified in Simpson’s defense at the trial. (According to Bailey, the defense feared that calling more witnesses would lead to a mistrial through jury attrition.) One such witness was a neighbor named Tom Lang, who would have testified that he saw Nicole Brown Simpson talking to two strange men outside her condo the night of the murders.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Bailey said that he suspects the two men were drug dealers who killed Brown in a case of mistaken identity. He swears that he will go to his grave defending Simpson of the charges against him.
“So long as I am alive,” Bailey writes, “there will be one person – aside from Simpson himself – who ‘knows’ from the evidence that he did not kill Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.”
Gloria Allred, lawyer for the Goldman family’s civil suit against Simpson, took issue with his allegations.
“If Mr. Bailey can’t think of anything better than trying to help the public reputation of O.J. Simpson,” she told the AP, “that’s really sad.”
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