LA detective in Simpson-Goldman murders dies at 70

Jan 22, 2012, 9:08 PM

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Philip Vannatter, the Los Angeles police detective who served as a lead investigator in the 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, has died in Southern California, according to his brother. He was 70.

Vannatter died Friday at a Santa Clarita hospital of complications from cancer, his brother Joe Vannatter told The Associated Press on Sunday.

He was among the first detectives on the scene at former football star O.J. Simpson’s mansion in June 1994, following the stabbing deaths of Simpson’s wife Nicole and her friend, Ron Goldman. Vannatter testified at the murder trial, at which Simpson was acquitted.

In 1977, Vannatter conducted the investigation that led to the arrest of film director Roman Polanski on charges he drugged and had unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl.

A 28-year veteran with the LAPD, where he spent most of his career as a homicide detective, Vannatter retired from the force in 1995 but continued on as a consultant for cold case murders.

“He was a very devoted detective,” Joe Vannatter said, adding his brother worked some 250 murder cases in his career. “The last time I saw him he had gotten a call from LAPD that they solved a homicide he was involved in 30 years ago. He took great pride in that.”

Vannatter arrested Polanski in the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills, kicking off an international legal saga that escalated when the director fled to France after he was convicted. As he put the cuffs on, Vannatter said he found Polanski was clutching a Quaalude, the drug he was accused of giving his young victim.

Vannatter had planned to retire in late 1994 but instead spent more than a year in the middle of the Simpson trial. Along with fellow detective Mark Furman, Vannatter’s name often featured in headlines and his face was a common sight on cable news shows.

Defense lawyers took aim at Vannatter’s truthfulness, suggesting police set out to get Simpson as soon as his ex-wife was found slain.

The defense argued that the search of Simpson’s estate was illegal and that all evidence seized _ including a bloody glove, bloody socks and bloody drops _ should be thrown out.

On the witness stand, Vannatter sharply defended the actions of detectives at the crime scene. Two judges upheld the search on the basis of Vannatter’s and other detectives’ testimony that they were trying to inform Simpson of the death and that it became an emergency after blood was discovered on Simpson’s Bronco and they feared people in Simpson’s house might be injured.

“I don’t think anybody’s ever been in the news like that. … It’s history now. Obviously we’re disgusted about what happened,” Vannatter said in 1995 of Simpson’s acquittal.

Joe Vannatter said his brother took the spotlight _ and the criticisms _ that came with the Simpson trial in stride.

“He was very upbeat and he knew he did the right thing,” Joe Vannatter said about his brother’s involvement in the case. “He had such thick skin. They felt that they had the right person that committed this horrendous crime.”

During retirement Vannatter lived part time on a farm in Indiana, where he served for four years as a deputy sheriff in the town of Vevay, pop. 1,683.

Before joining law enforcement, the West Virginia native served in the U.S. Army.

Besides his brother, Vannatter is survived by his wife, Rita; their daughter, Donna; their son, Matthew, an LAPD officer; and five grandchildren.

Services are planned for Wednesday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood. A fund has been established in Vannatter’s name with the Los Angeles Police Memorial Foundation.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Body bags lie at the scene where a tractor trailer with multiple dead bodies was discovered, Monday...
Associated Press

46 dead after trailer carrying migrants found in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Forty-six people were found dead in and near a tractor-trailer and 16 others were taken to hospitals in a presumed migrant smuggling attempt into the United States, officials in San Antonio said. It’s among the deadliest tragedies to have claimed thousands of lives of people attempting to cross the U.S. border […]
20 hours ago
This image provided by the Horry County Sheriff's Office in Conway, S.C., shows Bhagavan "Doc" Antl...
Associated Press

‘Tiger King’ star Doc Antle set to be released on bond

Bond has been set for “Tiger King” star Bhagavan “Doc” Antle on charges he laundered more than half a million dollars, money federal prosecutors have said that he believed to be the proceeds of an operation to smuggle people across the Mexican border into the United States. A federal judge in Florence, South Carolina, on […]
20 hours ago
In this photo provided by Dax McDonald, an Amtrak passenger train lies on its side after derailing ...
Associated Press

3 killed, dozens hurt in Amtrak train crash in Missouri

MENDON, Mo. (AP) — An Amtrak passenger train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago struck a dump truck Monday in a remote area of Missouri, killing three people and injuring dozens more as rail cars tumbled off the tracks and landed on their sides, officials said. Two of those killed were on the train and […]
20 hours ago
In this image from video released by the House Select Committee, John Eastman, a lawyer for former ...
Associated Press

Lawyer who advised Trump says federal agents seized phone

WASHINGTON (AP) — A conservative lawyer who aided former President Donald Trump’s efforts to undo the 2020 election results and who has been repeatedly referenced in House hearings on the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol said in a court filing Monday that federal agents seized his cell phone last week. John Eastman said […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Police tape blocks the entrance to the Castro Muni Metro train station following a shooting ...
Associated Press

Attorney: Man involved in train killing shot in self-defense

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A man who shot and killed a passenger on a San Francisco subway commuter train will be charged with gun crimes but not homicide in what was “clearly” a case of self-defense after he was attacked with a knife, his attorney said Monday. Javon Green, 26, will face charges of having […]
20 hours ago
Associated Press

Mary Mara, TV actor for decades, dies in apparent drowning

CAPE VINCENT, N.Y. (AP) — Mary Mara, who appeared on television shows including “Ray Donovan,” “Dexter” and “ER” in an acting career that spanned more than 30 years, has died in what New York authorities said appeared to be a drowning accident. The New York State Police said Monday a woman identified as Mara, 61, […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
LA detective in Simpson-Goldman murders dies at 70