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Ties to Oregon, bizarre revelations from former detective in O.J. Simpson robbery case

Andy Caldwell, a retired detective from Las Vegas, discusses the O.J. Simpson armed robbery and kidnapping case at his home near Mill City.

At a church in Mill City, the lead detective in O.J. Simpson's armed robbery case in Las Vegas shared what he calls a strange voicemail he received from Simpson.

It was one of several odd discoveries KATU made after talking with the former police officer and others involved with the case, which includes more than one link to Oregon.

There were also some harsh comments from Simpson's attorney, Malcolm LaVergne, who referred to the retired detective as "fat, lying Andy Caldwell."

Caldwell told KATU he's sorry LaVergne feels that way.

Last month Simpson left a Nevada prison on parole.

The former football star was locked up for nine years for taking part in an armed robbery and kidnapping of sports memorabilia collectors at a Vegas hotel. Simpson was not armed during the crime but prosecutors said two of the men with him were.

"You mother-f***er!" Simpson is heard saying in an audio recording of the 2007 robbery. "You think you can steal my s*** and sell it! Don't let nobody out of here!"

Memories of the case are still fresh for Caldwell, who holds onto keepsakes from the investigation, including copies of evidence photos and an illustrated timeline of events.

Caldwell retired from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in March. Since then he's worked as a pastor at the Mill City Christian Church.

"Pastoring or leading a church is very similar to being a police officer in the community where you're invested, where you do want to help people," Caldwell said.

He recently published a book about the armed robbery investigation, "Room 1203: O.J. Simpson's Las Vegas Conviction."

"What really happened in that room was a crime. It was a very violent encounter that guns were brought to," Caldwell said when asked what he most wants people to know about it. "The biggest thing and probably my biggest heartache over the entire case was this narrative that he stole his own property back. It's just not true."

Caldwell said many of the items Simpson and his partners took had nothing to do with him.

"Such as the sunglasses from the victim, the hat from the victim, the cell phone from the victim, Joe Montana lithographs that the victim had signed by Joe Montana, stacks of 'em, a West Point football, Duke Snider sports memorabilia, Pete Rose (memorabilia)," Caldwell explained.

"Andy Caldwell's a big, fat, lying piece of s***," said LaVergne, who disputes Caldwell's claims. “Mr. Simpson ... didn’t take items physically. He obviously was conspiring with these guys to take items but he personally didn't take items."

But Bruce Fromong, the primary victim of the robbery, told KATU that's not true. The sports memorabilia collector said Simpson took his cell phone.

Fromong said Simpson left him a voicemail soon after the crime offering to return his stuff but there was a problem.

"He called on the cell phone which he took during the robbery, called that cell phone," Fromong explained.

He told a KATU reporter he eventually got that phone back from police. He said Simpson and his crew took nearly 1,000 pieces of his property -- most of them Simpson-related.

But Fromong, who's originally from Lincoln City, said a California court returned all of it to him except for 16 items, which LaVergne said were returned to Simpson.

Fromong said he obtained everything legally.

"They were ties, some footballs, some plaques," said Fromong, describing the disputed property. "It wasn't that those items didn't belong to me. Some did. Some didn't. But I went ahead and relinquished all my rights to those items so I could go ahead and take the rest of the stuff home."

KATU asked Caldwell about his other big takeaways from the case.

"(O.J.'s) behavior was erratic," he said before telling a strange story corroborated by three other officers.

Caldwell said it started the day after the robbery when he and several other detectives went to Simpson's hotel to interview him.

"His girlfriend was in the room running around chasing a little white dog that she was trying to put a sweater on. He was yelling at her that she needed to leave," Caldwell said. "The room has about eight to 10 detectives in it. He sits on the corner of his bed. I sit in front of him and at this point, I'm not asking about the crime because he's already asked for a lawyer. We're actually waiting for his lawyer. ... He's talking. We're taking notes. ... And then he looks at me after a couple of moments and says, 'Hey, did you take my phone?' And it caught me a little off guard. ... And luckily my partner Eddie was quick enough to say, 'No. It's right there in between your legs.' He looks down. He grabs his phone. He picks it up and he pulls it to his chest and now in front of all these people in the room, he throws himself backwards on the bed and he starts just wiggling around with his arms and legs up in the air for 15 to 20 seconds as we all just kind of sit there and watch. And then he sits back up as if it didn't happen."

Caldwell said Simpson was laughing.

LaVergne doesn't buy it.

"All of this is bulls***. This is all bulls***," LaVergne said. "They're trying to make it like Simpson was in a delusional state making all these wild, kind of crazy remarks and he wasn't doing any of that stuff."

After the meeting in the hotel room, Caldwell, exhausted from the investigation, said he went to sleep early.

He said he woke up to a voicemail that Simpson left at 7:30 p.m.

"Uh, hey, Officer Caldwell, this is O.J.," Simpson says in the recording. "Look, my lawyer is taking your numbers. I think he's gonna call you late tonight or early in the morning …to set up this interview. ... He also said that he will endeavor to get all the guys who have to give a statement. Two of the guys I really don't know. ... Hope all is well. Sorry about all of this crap. ... Haha, you take care."

Caldwell said he's never received a voicemail from a suspect like that before or since.

"He definitely implies that he's going to be almost a partner in this process," Caldwell explained. "My experience over the entire investigation was just -- there was odd behavior. ... When I walked to the witness stand I would sit down at the witness stand. He would smile at me and nod, which I've never had that happen before. In fact, the first time he did it he caught me a little off guard."

"Andy Caldwell's a f***ing loser. That's that," LaVergne said. "He just happens to be a cop that was trying to capitalize on O.J. Simpson's fame. ... Mr. Simpson was cooperative with all of these detectives at all phases.”

Caldwell said he has no ill feelings towards Simpson and wishes him the best in parole.

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