EDITOR’S NOTE: The first week of the O.J. Simpson case in mid-June 1994 moved quickly, with reporters racing to reach the news. The only thing that was slow was The Chase.
The football great had been accused of killing his ex-wife and her friend, and there he was on live television, in the back of his friend’s white Ford Bronco with a gun to his head. The freeway was like a parade - with the police, media and fans following “The Juice.” There were crowds on the overpasses, signs, cheers and fists punching the air as the pursuit unfolded.
In The Associated Press newsroom, editors and writers were riveted to small televisions. And that’s where many would stay for the next 17 months - glued to a TV as the so-called “Trial of the Century” unfolded.
Twenty years after its original publication, the AP is making available the story wrapping up all the developments from The Chase.
O.J. ARRESTED IN SLAYINGS OF EX-WIFE AND HER FRIEND
O.J. Simpson was hunted down and captured in his driveway Friday night after running from charges of murdering his ex-wife and her male friend and leading police along 60 miles of freeways and city streets.
“I can’t express the fear I had that this matter would not end the way it did,” said Simpson’s attorney, Robert Shapiro, who had worried earlier that the former football great would kill himself.
Outside the walls of Simpson’s estate, members of Simpson’s family hugged each other and cried after word of the arrest came out.
A cheer came up from the crowd of 300 spectators.
The arrest shortly before 9 p.m. culminated an incredible drama that unfolded on live national TV in which police first announced charges against the former football great, then said he had disappeared and finally followed him along the highways for more than an hour.
After the white Ford Bronco came to a halt at Simpson’s estate, a man believed to be his lifelong friend and teammate, Al Cowlings, got out. Simpson’s lawyer arrived at the mansion nearly an hour later and the arrest came minutes later.
Before fleeing as he was about to be arrested, the former football great left a handwritten letter proclaiming his innocence, saying goodbye to friends and making “a last wish” to “leave my children in peace.”
Shapiro earlier said he feared Simpson was suicidal and pleaded with him to give up. At the same news conference, a friend read Simpson’s letter.
“I’ve had a great life, great friends,” the football Hall of Famer’s letter said. “Please think of the real O.J. and not this lost person.”