Letters to Simpson Reflect Writers' Own Pain, Trouble
1994, Los Angeles Times, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
The emotions, spilled single-spaced across five pages of ruled yellow paper, are heartfelt, almost raw. The earnestness borders on the desperate.
"Never . . . have I felt so much empathy for anyone in my life," begins the letter, one of tens of thousands sent to O.J. Simpson as he sits in a jail cell in Los Angeles County. "I pray God will let this letter reach you."
Typical of the personal, even intimate, tone of many of the letters, the writer - a woman, 48, from Vermont - matter-of-factly refers to her 13 years as a battered wife and describes the happiness she found with her fourth husband, her childhood sweetheart. She tells Simpson about her four children, one of whom once finished third in a beauty contest, and her two surgeries for cancer.
Finally, she invites Simpson to visit when he is out of jail and to bring his children. "You will feel loved and unencumbered," the letter says.
Although Simpson hasn't yet seen that letter, his attorneys have been delivering a small fraction of his mail each day to his cell, where he is awaiting trial for the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
Since the murders, the Simpson case has been a collective experience for the American people, with millions of people getting caught up in the drama of a charismatic sports hero who had been welcomed into their living rooms for years.
The thousands of letters reveal the emotional depth those events have plumbed in the psyches of people, ranging from a convict in a prison in Florida who addresses Simpson as "brother" to a nun from New York who sent the wealthy former athlete a $10 check to help cover legal bills; from a 6-year-old boy from California who said he prayed for police to find the true killer to a woman from Miami who wrote that "even if you did commit the crime, I am still in support of you."
Some, most of them from men, urge Simpson to confess. The vast majority of the letters are from women. Some proselytize. In one, the writer wonders if Simpson recalls running into him when the writer was getting off the No. 15 bus on Kearney Street in San Francisco in the late 1970s. Most reveal profound feelings of loneliness, sadness, religious zeal and love. …