Remembering Ron

Fred Goldman opens up about his son 23 years after O.J. Simpson acquittal
By: 
KYLEY WARREN, ASU Journalism Student, Special to the Times

Fred Goldman

Photo courtesy Kim Goldman
Ron Goldman, pictured here, was murdered along with Nicole Brown Simpson 24 years ago outside Simpson’s Brentwood, Calif., home. Simpson’s ex-husband, football star O.J. Simpson, was charged in both murders but later acquitted.

“A lot of people missed out on not getting to know him. A lot of people.” — Fred Goldman, Father of late Ron Goldman
Twenty-three years after O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder, Fred Goldman is speaking out about his family, the flawed justice system and the double-murder of his son, Ron Goldman, and Ron’s friend, Nicole Brown Simpson, that occurred more than two decades ago.
 
“No such thing as closure. People just don’t grasp the whole notion of what violent crime does to a family. Nothing gets closed. It might be momentarily off of your mind, but in a millisecond, it’s back,” Goldman said, when asked about the potential to move on.
 
Nicole, O.J.’s ex-wife, and Ron were found stabbed to death June 12, 1994, outside Nicole’s Brentwood, Calif., home. O.J. was charged with both murders, but on Oct. 3, 1995, was acquitted.
 
These days, Goldman is still working just as hard as he did 20 years ago to ensure that the memory of Ron is never lost. Despite his vocal efforts to enforce change and to urge more accountability within the justice system, he is still reminded of the harrowing truth that his son is gone.
 
“I find myself seeing a young man that might be what Ron’s age would be right now, with a family. And I just can’t help thinking that’s not the case,” Goldman said.
 
Goldman was born in Wisconsin in 1940. He and his family later moved to Chicago, where he spent most of his childhood.
 
He had two children, Ron and Kim, with his first wife, who he was divorced from in 1974.
 
He later married Patti, who he was introduced to by an ex-girlfriend.
 
“We went out one night, and then every night after that, for something like 140 days in a row. Every single day,” Goldman said.
 
Eager for change, Goldman discovered a job opportunity that would lead him and his family out to California. He insisted Patti and her family move with him, so that they could continue dating.
 
“She thought the notion of uprooting her family to continue dating was rather humorous,” Goldman said.
 
The couple then got engaged, sold their two homes in Chicago and moved to California with their total of five children.
 
“No, it was not the Brady Bunch,” Goldman joked.
 
But in 1994, he received a phone call that would alter the course of him and his families’ lives, forever.
 
“It was the L.A. Coroner’s Office. And they said, ‘I assume you’ve heard about Nicole Simpson being murdered along with another person? Your son was the other person.’ And that’s how I found out, just over the phone,” Goldman said. “I went crazy. Patti and I stood there in our kitchen crying.”
 
The minimal mention of Ron’s name in the news only helped to escalate the emotional pain that the family was forced to reckon with.
 
“He was always just referred to as ‘Nicole’s friend.’ As far as I know, they were nothing more than acquaintances,” Goldman said.
 
After Simpson was charged with double-murder, what lay before their family was an 11-month-long trial, that has since been dubbed, “The Trial of the Century.”
 
Despite the family’s efforts to avoid being presumptuous throughout the trial, the “overwhelming amount of evidence” that was presented made it difficult for them to believe that Simpson would not be found guilty.
 
“I don’t think at the time we were bothered by the defense and all of their excuses. They were throwing proverbial crap on the wall about everything, and whatever stuck stuck,” he said.
 
Goldman recalled discussing the possible verdict with his family the night after the case had gone to the jury.
 
“I was 150 to 200 percent sure that it was going to be guilty,” Goldman said.
 
And although Simpson was acquitted of both of the murders in 1995, to this day, Goldman has no doubt that Simpson was responsible for the crimes.
 
“Maybe 500 percent sure now. There’s just nothing redeeming about him at all,” Goldman said, on how certain he still is that Simpson was guilty.
 
The victims’ families filed a civil suit against Simpson in 1996, when he was found “responsible” for both murders. Though the victims’ families were reportedly awarded $33.5 million in compensatory damages, they have received less than 1 percent of it.
 
Though the Goldman family continues to seek justice for their son, today, they are working to harness their frustrations for good by bringing attention to the lack of rights victims’ families receive following a violent crime.
 
“I think it’s always important to remember that the same year Ron was killed, something in the neighborhood of 17,000 other people were murdered. Every one of those families has the same pain to live with. And in some cases, the same lack of justice,” Goldman said.
 
Goldman still holds onto the stories of Ron’s antics and colorful behavior from former colleagues of his son.
 
“I heard numerous stories about his tenure there. One was that he came in one day, and there was this big open space, where all of the patients would congregate during the day. And he came and brought a boom box with him,” Goldman said with a smile.
 
He continued, “He put the boom box down, turned it on loud and told all of the patients that they were going to dance. He had them spinning around in their wheelchairs. That’s just how he was.”
 
When it came down to the night of Ron’s murder, Goldman said his son was the one who found Nicole’s mother’s glasses at the restaurant where he worked as a waiter.
 
According to Goldman, Ron had offered to drop them off at Nicole’s on his way home, so that she would not have to return to the restaurant the following morning.
 
“It ended up costing him his life, to be a nice human being,” Goldman said.
 
He continued in saying that Ron was warm, kind, sensitive and creative, among so many other things.
 
“A lot of people missed out on not getting to know him. A lot of people,” Goldman said.
 
In early 1994, Goldman recalled being approached by his son about helping him to pursue one of his creative endeavors: a uniquely themed restaurant. Though Ron was not keen to share the details just yet.
 
“I said, when you have something, the answer is yes,” Goldman said.
 
Following Ron’s untimely death, his family found menu samples and additional details about the restaurant in his apartment.
 
“He had approached artists and drawn out sketches — he was on the verge of his dream,” Goldman said.
 
Now, Fred and Patti are pursuing a passion of their own: real estate. The couple currently live in northern Peoria and are self-employed through their real estate company, The Goldman Team.
 
“I don’t think our lives will ever be normal. This has just become our normal,” Goldman said, on whether living in Peoria has brought a sense of normalcy back to their lives.
 
The couple is focused on family and the nine grandchildren they now share.
 
In terms of future goals and dreams, Fred has just one these days: “Stay sane.”

 

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