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LAPD analyzing knife purportedly recovered from O.J. Simpson's former estate

In this July 8, 1994, file photo, O.J. Simpson bites his lip as he listens to Dr. Irwin L. Golden, a medical examiner, describe the extent of Nicole Simpson Brown's wounds during testimony in Los Angeles Criminal Courts. (Photo: AP Photo/Eric Draper, File; Video: CNN Newsource)

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is analyzing a knife that was purportedly found buried on the perimeter of Orenthal James "O.J." Simpson's former estate years ago, TMZ first reported early Friday.

According to the entertainment news website, it is unclear exactly when a construction worker located the knife, the discovery date "ranging from 'several years ago' to 1998, when the house was demolished."

TMZ reports its law enforcement sources say the worker turned the instrument over to an off-duty LAPD traffic officer working security for a movie shoot across the street, who kept it for years and planned to display the knife at his home in an engraved frame. Per TMZ sources, the now-retired officer shared his plans with a friend in the department's Robbery Homicide Division, who informed his "outraged" superiors. The retired officer followed orders to surrender the knife to police.

During a press conference Friday morning, LAPD Capt. Andrew Neiman confirmed the department was studying a knife obtained from a retired officer that "may have been recovered" from Simpson's estate. He stressed that police were not yet sure whether the knife was "in fact evidence" or if its recovery was "a made-up story."

"Within the last month, LAPD became aware of an item that was allegedly recovered by a citizen at the Rockingham property, possibly during the demolition of the site. We need to vet that. We still don't know if that's an accurate account of how this item came into our possession," Neiman said. "The person that we received this knife from is a retired LAPD officer who retired back in the late '90s."

Neiman declined to name the officer who obtained the knife and said police were unaware of the identity of the individual who allegedly recovered the knife from the estate.

"I was really surprised. I would think an LAPD officer, if this story is accurate, as we're being told, would know that any time you come into contact with evidence that you should and shall submit that to investigators," Neiman said. "So, I don't know what the circumstances are -- why that didn't happen. Or, if that's entirely accurate. Or, if this whole story is possibly bogus from the get-go."

Still, Neiman doubts the retired officer would face any charges relating to the knife he reportedly kept.

"On terms of charges, the officer is retired. So, in terms of administrative charges with the department, we'll look into that, but at this point, I don't believe there are any administrative charges that can be filed, 'cause he's no longer an employee of the department," he said. "In terms of criminal allegations, robbery/homicide and our investigators will look into if there are any potentiality of criminal charges related to this."

TMZ described the knife as a "folding buck knife," while Neiman said he would not elaborate on the type of knife.

According to TMZ, the rusted, stained knife is being tested for fingerprints and hair, and will be tested for DNA in the Serology Unit next week. The site refers to the investigation surrounding the knife as top secret, saying, "It's been logged into the LAPD's computer system outside the official case file to maintain security."

Simpson, once an NFL great, was acquitted in October 1995 for the June 1994 murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. In 1997, he was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to the victims' families after a civil jury found him liable in the fatal stabbings.

Neiman acknowledged that while Simpson's acquittal means the case remains open, double jeopardy prevents him from being prosecuted again.

FX's popular miniseries "The People v. O.J. Simpson," which began airing last month, has thrown the infamous case back into the spotlight.

RELATED | O.J. Simpson not happy with portrayal of lawyer on TV show ads

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Leake reported from Washington. Follow her on Twitter (@NewsyLindsey) and Like her Facebook page.

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