The Murder Weapons

Dr. Golden’s autopsy report on Ron Goldman showed stab wounds that he concluded could have come from one or two knives. By measuring the depth, width, gap and shape of the stab wounds, he determined that one knife was over 6” long with two sharp edges or one flat edge and a long tapered point. He determined that the other knife, if there was another knife, had a sharp edge and a flat edge. The size and coloration of a bruise on the back of Nicole Simpson’s head indicated that the killer struck her in the head several minutes before he cut her throat. 

These findings were not totally consistent with the prosecution’s argument that O.J. Simpson committed the murders by himself in a jealous rage. They needed one weapon that could have made all of the wounds on both bodies. The police could not find the murder weapon. However, working on a tip that O.J. purchased a German Stiletto a few weeks before the killings, Det. Vannatter purchased a German Stiletto that the man who sold the knife to O.J. said was similar to the one Vannatter bought.  Detective Bert Luper of the Robbery Homicide Division found O.J.’s German Stiletto in the first search of his home in the box and unused but the prosecution did not learn of his discovery until the murder trial. 

The prosecution used Vannatter’s Stiletto to make its case for one killer using one knife. The brass heel of that knife was consistent with the crushing blow to the back of Nicole’s head. The blade appeared to be consistent with three long stab wounds in Ron Goldman’s body measuring lengths of 4 and 5  inches in his torso and over six inches through the left side of his neck angling upward through his right ear. But to use the knife, the prosecution had to get rid of Dr. Golden and use his boss Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran to point out errors in Golden’s autopsy and make different interpretations of his findings.  

Dr. Lakshmanan (nobody could pronounce his last name) interpreted the different shapes of the wounds as being consistent with the German Stiletto. The defense countered that this was not true in all cases and some of the wounds had to have been made with a knife that could leave only a flat top-edge signature. They then argued that two knives meant two killers.  

Dr. Henry Johnson studied the autopsy reports independently and concluded that two knives were used. He also concluded that two knives meant two killers. In addition he saw a pattern in the angels of penetration that told him the killer with the short knife was left-handed and his knife had the flat edge. He felt that the other knife must have had two sharp edges. He made a tape showing the kinds of knifes he thought were used. Neither of them matched the dimensions in the autopsy reports. 

Mark Fuhrman identified the knife that made all of the stab wounds he showed in his Murder in Brentwood book by measuring the width and thickness of the Stiletto against the undisputed wound dimensions in Golden’s autopsy reports. Those dimensions fit a knife that no one else considered, a Swiss Army knife with a 3” inch blade. To get a clear idea of how Fuhrman arrived at his conclusion you have to draw the German Stiletto and the Swiss Army knife in full scale showing the blades from three perpendicular views. Superimpose a ruler to measure the critical dimensions in Fuhrman’s pencil, pen and ink knife drawings that correspond to the dimensions in the autopsy reports and you get incontrovertible proof that he was right – as far as he went.


Because the measurements are made in fractions of an inch divided into 8ths, 16ths and 32nds instead of centimeters and millimeters it is more difficult to make the comparisons than it should be. Nevertheless, by placing the weapons close to each other you can see the difference in the thickness and width of the Swiss Army knife blade (3/32 x 5/8) vs. the Stiletto’s blade (5/32 x 13/16) in Fuhrman's drawings above and in mine below.   

In my illustration, the long triangular shape about 2 1/4 inch from the top of the blade and just below the sharp edge shows what the shape of many stab wounds on the surface of Goldman’s skin looked like. You can see that they are identical for both knifes up to this depth. Most of the stab wounds were no deeper than an inch and a half. You can also see that if the Stiletto had penetrated any farther it would have left a longer triangular shape, wider at the top, or a long diamond shape like a dagger because of the long, thin taper and the way it moved when it pierced the skin.

As Fuhrman points out in his book, the Swiss Army knife blade matches the deepest wounds in Goldman’s torso although the blade is only 3 “ long and the longest depths of the wounds in Goldman’s torso were 4” and 5 ” deep. Compression of soft body tissue (blue extension of blade in the top view drawing) is all you need to produce a wound path longer than the blade. If that happened you would also get a noticeable amount of bruising around the entrance of the wound from the front of the thick handle. The autopsy report shows the bruising.  

Where the single knife theory falls apart is in the bruise to the back of Nicole’s head produced by a hammer-like object and the 6” stab wound through Ron Goldman’s neck that pierced his ear on the opposite side. The width of the wound was roughly two inches and waves on the far end of the wound that Dr. Golden determined did not come from a serrated blade correspond to what you would expect to see if the German Stiletto were thrust through the neck and jiggle around before it was withdrawn. The bone handle of the German Stiletto with its fluted brass heel was designed to be used like a hammer.  

The 1” x 1” blunt force injury to the back of Nicole’s skull strongly suggests that the killer did use the butt of the Stiletto like a hammer to incapacitate her and inflected the “defensive wounds” on her hands when she was unconscious. A 1/8 x ” bruise on the back of Ron Goldman’s skull strongly suggests that he was hit in the head with the smaller tip of a lighter weapon before his throat was slashed and stabbed several times.  

This is what you would expect to see in a military-style ambush with two people walking in tandem. It’s called “the stun technique” because the handle of the weapon is more effective than the blade in initiating the attack. It insures that the victim will be rendered incapable of putting up an effective struggle for the first critical seconds. 

In the tight confines of Nicole’s courtyard, two killers welding knives would have been as much danger to each other as their victims. For one right-handed man holding the Swiss Army knife in his left hand and the German Stiletto in his right, it would have been easy. Like a right-handed boxer cocking his right arm and jabbing with his left, the killer would have used the fearsome-looking Stiletto in his right hand as an obvious threat and the Swiss Army knife in his left hand as his major weapon of attack. The multiple stab wounds in Ron Goldman’s torso and the one in his inner left thigh indicate that the killer used the Swiss Army knife just this way.   

To be consistent with a military-style knife attack, the sharp edge of the Swiss Army knife would have been angled upward. It was. To make Ron’s killing look like a fight, the killer had to know what medical examiners look for and simulate those signatures by keeping Ron on his feet for a long time and inflicting numerous superficial “defensive” cuts on his arms and hands.  

O.J. Simpson purchased the German Stiletto when he was working on the pilot of a TV series called Frogmen in which he played a Navy SEAL. He worked for the company that sold Swiss Army knifes. If the killer had searched O.J.’s house and found either knife, the prosecution could then have made a case for O.J. using either knife. The trouble was, Det. Luper found the German Stiletto unused and O.J. never had a Swiss Army knife with a 3 ” blade. His Swiss Army knives were smaller. Det. Luper also found an empty Swiss Army knife box but it was so small he dismissed it as a “knickknack box.” Mark Fuhrman used a fuzzy photo of the box to say that it held the Swiss Army knife. There are no objects in the photo of known dimensions to use as a ruler to measure it.

Mark Fuhrman says in Murder in Brentwood that he heard a rumor that O.J. had a large collection of knifes. He doesn’t say how he heard the rumor just hours after the murders when he found the bloody glove and volunteered to help the Robbery/Homicide detectives search O.J.’s Rockingham home. He says nothing about the weapon that made the blunt-force injury to Nicole’s skull and he angles the drawing he made of the German Stiletto in his book in a way that minimizes the heavy brass heel’s significance. He does not show the heel of the Stiletto at all in the photograph he used to illustrate the characteristics of the knife that don’t fit the wounds. He does not mention the wound through Ron Goldman's neck that it does fit.