More than 20 years after O.J. Simpson was tried and acquitted on two counts of murder for the deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ron Goldman, public interest into the former football star remains extremely high, evident by the fact that Simpson’s parole hearing Thursday, where he was granted parole from a 2007 robbery, was blasted live across the air waves.
Perhaps the most symbolic artifact from the saga that began on June 17, 1994, save the bloody glove, is the white Ford Bronco owned by Simpson’s friend and confidant, Al Cowlings. The Bronco was driven by ‘A.C.’ with Simpson in the back seat during the low-speed car chase around Los Angeles that ended with O.J.’s surrender at his home in Brentwood.
This vehicle should not be confused with Simpsons’ car, which was the exact same make and model. O.J.’s white Bronco was parked outside his estate the night the alleged double homicide occurred on June 12, 1994. During the trial, it was revealed that this Bronco contained traces of blood from both Brown-Simpson and Goldman. Because the vehicle was used for evidence during the trial, it was impounded and later destroyed.
However, A.C.’s Bronco didn’t fall to the same unfortunate fate and is still kicking around in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. You heard that right…Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
The Bronco is now the property of Alcatraz East Crime Museum, which was founded in 2008 in Washington, DC. Due to its lease being terminated, the museum was forced to move to East Tennessee in 2016.
According to the their website, the museum features five distinct galleries including: History of Crime, Crime Scene Investigation, The Consequence of Crime, Crime Fighting and Pop Culture. Alcatraz East is also home to original artifacts from infamous criminals Jesse James and Whitey Bulger, but the white Bronco remains the museums’ crown jewel.
Still, this begs the question of how a relatively small and unknown museum was able to acquire an artifact so ingrained into the public consciousness.
Cher Murphy, who is in charge of public relations for the museum, believes it’s due to the museum having ties close to Simpson himself.
“We’ve had a relationship with O.J.’s former manager for years. The Bronco coming to the museum was just a natural fit,” Murphy said via email.
The museum leases the vehicle from O.J.’s former agent Mike Gilbert, who is one of three co-owners of the white Bronco after purchasing it from Cowlings back in the 1990s, per reports.
Murphy insists that patrons come to the museum “for a variety of reasons,” but concedes that the presence of the Bronco is extremely impactful.
“When you observe people – it’s funny, they aren’t expecting such a jaw-dropping exhibit area,” Murphy went on to say. “Even if they knew about the Bronco [and other cars] in advance, they forget about it while in the museum. So when they see it they look at each other in disbelief. ”
Twenty-three years later, Al Cowlings’ white Bronco continues to beguile the American public. Just this time it does so from the mountain town of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
More O.J. Simpson coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• O.J. Simpson granted parole, can be freed in October
• Twitter reacts to Nevada parole board’s Simpson decision
• A parole board member heard Simpson’s case wearing a Chiefs tie
• Parole only the latest twist in O.J.’s long legal drama