Philip Vannatter, the Los Angeles police detective who was a lead
investigator in the 1994 murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald
Goldman, has died in Southern California, according to his brother.
Vannatter died Friday (Jan. 20) at a Santa Clarita hospital of complications from cancer. He was one of the first detectives on the scene of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Vannatter testified at the murder trial of former football star O.J. Simpson. Simpson was later acquitted of the crime.
The Simpson trial wasn’t the only celebrity criminal Vannatter tried to bring to justice. 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. He arrested Polanski in the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills and found a Quaalude in Polanski’s hand. That was the drug Polanski was accused of giving the victim.
Vannatter was a 28-year veteran with the LAPD, where he spent most of his career as a
homicide detective. He planned to retire in 1994, but was pulled into the Simpson trial. He retired in 1995 but a consultant for cold case murders.
Vannatter was known for defending the actions of detectives at the crime scene after the defense stated that the search items, including a bloody glove, bloody socks and bloody drops should be thrown out. The search was upheld on the basis of Vannatter’s testimony.
Vannatter is survived by his brother, his wife, their daughter Donna, their son Matthew and five grandchildren.