PEOPLE Reporter: 'I Spoke to Nicole Brown Simpson's Family The Day After Her Murder — I Got Chills' (Exclusive)

PEOPLE's Johnny Dodd remembers the day he spoke to one of O.J. Simpson's ex-wife's grieving, and angry, sisters in the wake of the brutal killings

<p>Vinnie Zuffante/Getty</p>

Vinnie Zuffante/Getty

O.J. Simpson's death on April 10 reminded PEOPLE's Johnny Dodd of a reporting assignment to cover a crime in 1994. Nicole Brown Simpson, the former wife of Simpson, has been brutally murdered at her home in Los Angeles. Dodd sprung into action and, within hours, found his way to the front door of Nicole's family home. Here is the story of Dodd's first, chilling interview with one of her sisters.

I’d only been living in Los Angeles for a few months when my phone jingled to life way too early on the morning of June 13, 1994, just after sunrise. One of my editors in New York was calling. “There’s been a murder—OJ Simpson’s wife. Need you to get down to Laguna Beach fast and see if her family will talk to you."

At that point in my life, I always had a duffel bag packed because I was constantly hopping planes or racing off across California in my VW to cover all manner of stories, many of them grisly murders. By the time I got on the 405 highway and began heading south to where Nicole Brown Simpson’s family lived, I’d learned from radio reports that this murder—which took place less than a mile from my Santa Monica apartment—was about as grisly and awful as they come.

<p>Barry King/WireImage</p> O.J. Simpson, Nicole Brown Simpson, and their kids Sydney and Justin

Barry King/WireImage

O.J. Simpson, Nicole Brown Simpson, and their kids Sydney and Justin

Nearly an hour and a half later, I pulled up to the beachside gated community where Nicole had grown up and her parents still resided. A pack of reporters and TV crews were already camped out at entrance and after several hours there it seemed unlikely that anything fruitful was going to come by just waiting around.

Then I had an idea. One of my old college roommates was a surf bum-turned-landscaper who lived in the area. On the off chance that he might know someone who knew the Brown family, I found a payphone (this was before everyone carried cell phones), dialed his number and learned that he’d recently done work for the family.

Related: O.J. Simpson Dead at 76 From Cancer, Family Announces

Before I knew it, he picked me up in his truck. Minutes later we were ushered past the sea of reporters by a security guard and I was knocking on the front door of the Brown family’s home. No one answered. So I scribbled a note on my business card asking them to call me and placed it on their doormat.

<p>DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock</p> O. J. Simpson with children Justin and Sydney at Disneyland.

DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

O. J. Simpson with children Justin and Sydney at Disneyland.

Then I raced back to Los Angeles and sat by my office phone. Sure enough, early that evening one of Nicole’s sisters—after all these years I can’t remember which one—called. She was still in shock and sobbing from the news.

She told me that the only reason she was calling was to convey how much her 35-year-old sister loved being a mom and how she adored her two children. The call only lasted a couple minutes. Just before we hung up I felt compelled to tell her how I couldn’t comprehend the pain her family must be going through and wished her well.

Hearing that, her voice suddenly changed. Instead of trying to speak through her tears, she was seething with anger.

“Don’t you print this. Not yet,” she said. “But we know who did this and I hope he rots in hell.” Then she hung up.

I still remember sitting at my desk after the call ended with the phone pressed up against my ear and feeling chills run up my spine. It was clear that the mystery of who killed Nicole was no mystery for Nicole’s grieving family. And it wouldn't be long before the rest of the world learned who they were accusing—O.J. Simpson.

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