As we turned down the hall toward O.J.’s suite, three more surveillance detectives stood behind a pillar, visiting with each other while waiting for the two surveillance detectives who were closer to the room to signal that the target was moving. They were working with the Palms security and had a room in the same hall as Simpson’s, so the hall could be monitored without a detective just waiting for Simpson to come out of his room.
As Rod, Linda and I approached Simpson’s suite, Eddie stayed back in the hall. Rod knocked on the door, and within a few moments, the door swung open and there was O.J. Simpson. This was and is a moment that is hard to reconcile in my mind. As I stood there—a detective tasked with investigating a crime and thinking I was going to conduct this interview just like any other—I was a little star struck. O.J. is not a big, imposing figure. In fact, he was smaller than I would have ever imagined a former NFL player to be. His charismatic personality came shining through the moment he opened the door.
With a great big smile and animated arm movements, he invited us into his suite. Here is where that flexibility in interviews became paramount; he leaned out into the hallway and waved Eddie in also. But that wasn’t all. The surveillance detectives who take pride in their ability to work undetected—Simpson had spotted them, too, and waved them into the room. As everyone piled into the suite, I had to laugh to myself as I thought I would probably come in, too, if I were in their position. As he waved everyone in, Simpson told me his lawyer was not there yet, but he should be there shortly, so we could wait inside for him.
As I walked past Simpson, I had a moment of realization that helped me to get over my feeling of being star struck. O.J. was wearing the same clothes as he was in the surveillance video from the robbery the night before: a light blue, disheveled polo shirt and blue jeans.