O.J. Simpson story gets provocative spin in documentary series

Tom Lange, right, was a lead detective on the case in the mid-1990s. He’s interviewed as part of “Is O.J. Innocent?”
Tom Lange, right, was a lead detective on the case in the mid-1990s. He’s interviewed as part of “Is O.J. Innocent?” Investigation Discovery

For more than two decades, William C. Dear has obsessed about O.J. Simpson and the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

The Dallas-based private investigator and author is convinced that Simpson did not kill his ex-wife and her friend on the evening of June 12, 1994 — crimes for which the football icon and showbiz personality was acquitted when the polarizing “Trial of the Century” wound to a close on Oct. 3, 1995.

Dear found himself asking: If Simpson told the truth, if he didn’t do it, then who is the killer?

That’s what prompted Dear to spend years trying to learn more about what happened on that bloody night in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles.

Today, he quite confidently points an accusing finger at someone close to Simpson. In 2012, he shared his findings and conclusions in a book titled O.J. Is Innocent and I Can Prove It.

This material — which some people might consider to be revelatory, while others will dismiss it as a crackpot conspiracy theory — is the basis of Is O.J. Innocent? The Missing Evidence, a three-night, six-hour documentary series that premieres at 8 p.m. Sunday on Investigation Discovery.

“This new ID series represents my exhaustive 21-year search for the truth,” says Dear, who is also an executive producer on the show. “I am certain viewers will be shocked to learn who O.J. may have actually been covering up for.”

We won’t identify that person in this story — no spoilers here — but Dear wastes no time in naming his suspect in the very first episode.

The series, which airs in two-hour blocks Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, then follows two hand-picked investigators, LAPD forensic psychologist Dr. Kris Mohandie and Rhode Island police sergeant Derrick Levasseur, as they examine the mountain of evidence and conjecture, old and new.

Thanks to the nonstop media coverage (which included live telecasts from inside Judge Lance Ito’s courtroom on CNN, Court TV and E! Entertainment), Simpson’s trial became a national obsession in the mid-1990s.

The saga held everyone’s attention because it was a story with a little of everything. It was a real-life mystery and conspiracy thriller. It was riveting courtroom drama, with more twists than a John Grisham bestseller. It was an intoxicating combination of showbiz glitz and tabloid sleaze.

It also was a racially polarizing case. Surveys indicated that the majority of white observers believed O.J. killed Nicole and Goldman; African-Americans, when polled, tended to support Simpson, convinced that he was being railroaded by a racist police department.

Two decades later, the case and its outcome can still generate heated debate.

In the first two episodes of the new series, which were available for preview, Mohandie and Levasseur meet with members of the victims’ families, consult with Dr. Henry Lee (a forensic scientist who testified for the defense, discrediting the prosecution’s blood evidence, in 1995) and even run a few of Dear’s theories past an argumentative Tom Lange (one of the lead detectives in the mid-1990s).

While the new investigating duo are reluctant to wrap their arms around every piece of evidence that Dear throws at them, they are intrigued — especially when they encounter instances of investigative incompetence (crime scene materials that might have been mishandled and leads that weren’t pursued).

Dear’s “person of interest,” for example, was never interviewed by LAPD detectives.

In subsequent episodes, there will be sit-downs with other prominent players in the trial (including Kato Kaelin, Simpson’s friend and a key witness) and a never-before-seen interview with a potential eyewitness to the crime.

Will the two Is O.J. Innocent? investigators come away from their investigation as believers or skeptics? More importantly, what will viewers think?

Dear is confident that they will wind up seeing things his way.

“Viewers will not only be presented with real facts and hard evidence, but also an undiscovered eyewitness,” he says. “This revealing series will now show you what may have really happened, based upon all the facts. So for the first time, you will be able to judge for yourself.”

Is O.J. Innocent? The Missing Evidence

  • 8-10 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday
  • Investigation Discovery