CRIME: O.J. Simpson: End of the Run

As America watched, O.J. Simpson was transformed from hero to suicidal fugitive to accused murderer

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First he called his family lawyer and dictated a new codicil to his will. Then he wrote three letters -- to his children, to his mother and "To whom it may concern." As Shapiro explained later, Garcetti's office finally called and said police were coming to take O.J. into custody. But when the forensic psychiatrist went to get O.J., he and Cowlings were gone. The hunt was on.

As if that were not enough, after Shapiro finished his account, Kardashian stepped forward to read the letter Simpson had written to posterity. It sounded in every way like a suicide note. He protested his love for Nicole and his innocence of any crime, and he denounced the press for mistakes. "I can't believe what is being said. Most of it is totally made up," he wrote. He thanked his friends, then concluded, "Don't feel sorry for me, I've had a great life, great friends. Please think of the real O.J. and not this lost person."

The police by now were receiving anonymous tips on where O.J. had been spotted. At 7:15 p.m., L.A.P.D. Detective Tom Lange, who had been one of the lead investigators, reached Simpson on a cellular phone in Cowlings' car. Lange functioned as a crisis negotiator through the wild ride down the freeways. Simpson's friends went on the radio to plead with him to give himself up. "O.J., Al, if you're listening to me, if you can hear me, guys, please, please stop," said ex-N.F.L. player and sportscaster Jim Hill. "Just turn on your emergency blinkers and just pull over to the side. There are a lot of people who believe that if you two keep up with what you're doing right now, the worst is going to happen. People still love you, O.J., and they don't want to remember you going this way."

When it was all over, when the slow-motion chase ended in his driveway and night fell with the news that he was in custody, there was a national sigh of relief: O.J., still our O.J., had been pulled back from the brink of suicide; he was safe; it was over. The L.A.P.D., which earlier in the day had looked like Keystone Kops, accepted laurels for patience and restraint. It had been a day full of incipient violence, but as more than one commentator was heard to say at the end of it all, "at least no one was hurt."

At least no one was hurt?

In the Goldman home the phone kept ringing. It was friends of Ron's, calling his parents and sister to tell them how much they had loved him, sending their love and energy to the family. "It's hard to imagine that a 25-year-old could touch so many people," his father Fred said. "He was a special human being. He didn't deserve for this to happen." The children, Sydney, 9, and Justin, , 6, were with Nicole's parents. Their school had called in a psychologist to help their friends cope. One child broke down, wondering if she had anything to do with the murder because she knew Nicole and the kids. Outside Nicole's home, the flowers friends had placed at the murder site wilted in the hot June sun.

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