LOS ANGELES - You’ve heard of the “Sex and the City” tour in New York and the iconic London Bus Tour, but did you know that for $45, you can be taken inside the O.J. Simpson murder trial on a tour of Los Angeles?
To add an extra layer of realness, the tour is conducted in an actual 1994 Ford Bronco, identical to the one made famous in the televised police chase that drew an audience of 95 million.
Adam Papagan conducts the tour. He’s a Brentwood native who grew up in the neighborhoods where the murders took place, and says growing up constantly hearing about the case inspired him to become a self-described “historian.”
In 1995, O.J. Simpson was tried on two counts of murder in the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, but Simpson was acquitted of the charges.
“I grew up in West LA. I was a kid when all this happened. I went to summer camp a block from Nicole’s house, so we drove by the crime scene every single day,” said Papagan.
“The Monday after it happened actually, we drove by and saw the ambulances, and cop cars and news vans and saw a sheet on the ground in the front which probably would’ve been Ron, so it was always something that was just a part of my life,” Papagan said.
Papagan actually inherited the tour from his high school friend’s dad, Stu Krieger, a screenwriter best known for writing “The Land Before Time.” Krieger came up with the O.J. tour in the late 1990s, but only did it for fun, for family and friends.
In the first years of Papagan’s tour, he said he was just doing it because it was something cool that he knew about and wasn’t charging any money for.
He said people from all over the world have traveled to experience the key events that would eventually lead up to the trial of the century.
“The reason I do the tour at the heart of it, is I was once just like all of these people. I was once just like, ‘Wow, a tour of O.J., that sounds fascinating. I love the OJ trial,’ and so that’s why I keep it going,” Papagan said.
Papagan originally took people in a Jeep Cherokee, which he points out was a car Nicole Brown Simpson also owned.
In 2015, interest was steadily building, Facebook events were selling out, and Papagan was suddenly getting serious press for his business.
More and more people were flocking to see for themselves where one of history’s most infamous murders took place.
At this point, the tour was getting more serious, and Papagan was getting so many inquiries that he knew he had to make the whole thing more legitimate.
He got commercial vehicle auto insurance and decided to get the only fitting vehicle for the tour: a 1994 white Ford Bronco.
He started a GoFundMe to raise money for a car identical to infamous Bronco, which he said was not difficult to find. He said he raised about $5,000 for the car.
According to Papagan, people love riding in the Bronco, and say it’s an extremely surreal experience to drive through the neighborhood where the murders occurred in the same car made infamous by the trial.
But Papagan said he won’t take the passengers on the 405 Freeway where the chase took place, pointing out that there’s too much traffic and that it would add too much time to the tour.
In Papagan’s view, it’s not as important. “The thing I’m interested in is everything leading up to the murders,” he said.
Papagan said most of his business is from people from out of town who take the tour when they’re on vacation, so there is a boom during the summer, but he says he hasn’t gotten more business because of the 25th anniversary of the murders.
He says he wouldn’t do this if he got any negative feedback. In general, Papagan says people love the tour. At the end of the day, he says he just wants to entertain people and make them think.
“Sometimes the more shocking the subject matter or the more unique or unorthodox it is, the bigger of an impression it’s going to leave,” Papagan said.