- (As hard as it is to believe, Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman were murdered seventeen years ago this weekend. As a tribute to them, and to some of the other people we know only because of their violent murders, I reprint this article that was originally posted in late December, 2010.)
At this time of year it’s customary for the news and entertainment outlets to reminisce about the celebrities who died over the course of the year.
With the Christmas Day anniversary of the murder of young JonBenet Ramsey, I am reminded of all the people who only became celebrities by dying.
Four cases quickly come to mind. Taken chronologically, they are Elizabeth Short, known as the “Black Dahlia,” Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman, and the aforementioned JonBenet Ramsey.
Elizabeth Short was a twenty-two year old beauty from Massachusetts who was determined to make it in Hollywood. Instead, her nude, mutilated body was found in a vacant Los Angeles lot in January, 1947. Dozens of men confessed to the crime, but it remains unsolved.
Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman were both murdered in 1994 outside of Simpson’s apartment in Brentwood, California. Simpson, the ex-wife of football and movie star O.J. Simpson, had left her glasses at a restaurant. Goldman, who was working as a waiter there, went to drop them off to her after work. He arrived either during or just after the murder of Simpson and was stabbed to death himself. O.J. Simpson was arrested for the murders and acquitted in the “Trial of the Century,” but was later found liable in a civil suit for the wrongful death of Goldman.
JonBenet Ramsey is the most tragic case. She was only a six-year old when her body was found strangled in her parent’s home in Colorado on Christmas Day, 1996. She was originally thought to have been kidnapped, but was found in the upscale family’s wine cellar hours after she was reported missing.
The police initially suspected the parents, who were harshly criticized for letting the young girl participate in beauty pageants (as if that somehow led to her murder). They have since been exonerated (JonBenet’s mother died of ovarian cancer in 2006). The case was officially reopened two years ago, but as yet, remains unsolved.
After fourteen years of seeing her face on the tabloids, we think we know her. The truth is, we never knew her, just as the public never knew Elizabeth Short, Ron Goldman, or Nicole Simpson. This sad group consisted of a little girl who wanted to be beauty queen, a young woman who dreamed of silver screen glory, a good Samaritan, and a woman who just happened to marry the wrong guy.
In other words, they were people.
Not celebrities … just people.