On October 3, 1995, after O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of the murders of his estranged wife Nicole Brown Simpson and a waiter named Ronald Goldman, the first statement to the public came through O.J.’s 25-year-old son Jason. The pudgy ex-athlete read a written statement from his father to the gaggle of daily reporters, family members, legal team members, and curious public onlookers in a packed courtroom gallery.“I’m relieved that this part of the incredible nightmare that occurred on June 12, 1994, is over,” Jason read in a monotone, his eyes down, focused on the paper in his steady fingers. The statement continued:
“When things have settled a bit, I will pursue as my primary goal in life the killer or killers who slaughtered Nicole and Mr. Goldman. They are out there somewhere… I can only hope that someday, despite every prejudicial thing that has been said about me publicly, both in and out of the courtroom, people will come to understand and believe that I would not, could not and did not kill anyone.”
He was at once unemotional and steady, unblinkingly cool — a young man who was dragged unwittingly into a horrible drama. But very quickly, he would be drawn, unfairly, many say, even deeper into the tragedy.
The moment defined Jason in the public’s eye, the man who would himself, over the years, occasionally become indelicately accused of being the killer of Nicole and Goldman in June 1994. There is a subset of authors, journalists, and internet theorists who insist that Jason could have been the killer of Nicole and Ronald.
The suppositions have never been proven, and Marcia Clark, who prosecuted the murder case for the state, calls the accusations of Jason “hideous.” “I can’t even tell you how awful it is,” Clark told NBC News. “And it’s baseless.”
Who Is Jason?
Jason Simpson, now 46, has seen both sides of celebrity from the sidelines, from the mansions and the luxe travel to the humans-as-quarry pursuits of an insatiable media preoccupied with the famous. Growing up, that view created some demons for Jason.
He attended the private Crossroads School in Santa Monica, where today tuition runs around $31,000 a year. He was interested in music and the arts as high school neared, but when he tried out for football at Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad, California, Jason found he had some skills passed on to him from his Heisman-winning father. In 1986, Jason wore number 31 as a starting running back for the esteemed military school.
In the school’s 1988 yearbook, O.J. is pictured autographing a football for the school’s annual auction, while Jason is cited as the team’s leading runner, “who after 7 games had totaled 19 touchdowns and over 1,200 yards.”
He enrolled at the University of Southern California to play football, but left after a year — “transferred to a community college to improve his academic standing,” a Los Angeles Times story reported. But, instead of transferring, he discovered a new passion – the culinary arts.
Jason worked a series of restaurant jobs, starting as a bus boy and moving his way up. “You gotta start somewhere,” he told a lawyer during a 1996 deposition for the civil case against his father filed by the Goldmans. The jobs kept him in the mid–Los Angeles area, as he lived the life of a young man finding his way, rooming alternately with girlfriends and his mother and living alone.
As he embarked on his kitchen career, he was diagnosed with epilepsy and prescribed Depakote to treat the ailment. He began to drink heavily around the same time.
The Trouble Begins
In 1990, Jason was convicted in Los Angeles of driving under the influence. He plead out and was sentenced to 30 hours of community service and required to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
The following year, in 1991, he was admitted to St. Johns Hospital and Health Center in Santa Monica after taking an overdose of Depakote. Hospital records claim it was a suicide attempt. “Of significance in his past history, his mother and father are divorced, and he had a sister who died, drowning, when he, the patient, was eight years old,” the assessing physician wrote in the report. He was released after two weeks.
In 1992, he was charged with assaulting the owner of the Revival Café Restaurant, where he was a cook. He was charged with battery and assault with a deadly weapon, “to wit, hitting and kicking,” according to court documents. He pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace, a misdemeanor.Four months after the infamous murders in October 1994, Jason, driving without a license, rammed the Jeep he was driving into the back of a brand-new Nissan pickup on Santa Monica Boulevard at 2 A.M. He sped away, but the Nissan’s driver got his license-plate number, and Jason later turned himself in. It’s unclear if he was charged with an offense.
What’s He Up To Now?
Since the late nineties, though, Jason Simpson has rarely been heard from. An accomplished chef by trade, records show he has bounced around high-end restaurants, as a station cook at the Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne, Florida, to the Four Seasons in Miami and finally moving on to Atlanta, serving at two high-end eateries that have since closed their doors. The most recent account of Jason’s life has him employed by St. Cecilia, an Italian restaurant in a splashy area ten miles north of downtown that opened in early 2014.
But the public certainly has not forgotten about him, and probably never will. Not that he is interested. “I don’t like that,” he said in the civil-case deposition. “I don’t really like cameras and all that crap. I think it’s a bunch of bull.”
Main photo: O.J. Simpson sits with his wife Marguerite (Whitley) Simpson, daughter Arnelle and son Jason pose for a portrait at home on January 8, 1973 in Los Angeles, California. [Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images]