Sobbing, Depression & Suicide Fears: Inside O.J. Simpson’s Prison Hell

erik menendez oj simpson prison neighbors suicide threats depression
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Apr. 23 2018, Updated 11:55 a.m. ET

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While Erik Menendez was awaiting trial for the 1989 murder of his parents Jose and Kitty, he had a familiar face in prison to keep him company: O.J. Simpson. In his wife Tammi Menendez’s 2005 book, They Said We’d Never Make It: My Life With Erik Menendez, she gives details on Erik and O.J.’s prison friendship.

Tammi explained in excerpts exclusively obtained by that Erik and O.J.’s prison cells were next to each other.

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“Erik tells me he was eventually bounced around the jail until he landed in the 7000 unit – specifically a row of seven cells, known as the ‘hard cells,’” she penned. “While he was there a parade of well-known prisoners stayed in the 7000 unit, sometimes for weeks or months: Kelsey Grammer, Charles Keating, Christian Brando, Todd Bridges, Adam Rich and O.J. Simpson.”

She explained how the jail had been notified several days before Simpson’s actual arrest for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in 1994. The two were found stabbed to death outside of her home in Brentwood, Los Angeles.

“Erik was the only prisoner in the hard cells at the time and was ordered to clean out and prepare the cell next to him,” she wrote.

When Simpson entered the hard cell unit the night of the freeway chase, she claimed he was “handcuffed to a waist chain” while “iron shackles restrained his legs.”

Erik’s father knew O.J. because he ran Hertz in the late ‘70s and O.J. was featured in their commercials. When he passed Erik’s cell, he said, “Hi, Erik.”

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Security allegedly tripled the night Simpson arrived.

The two would watch a television that often covered the former NFL player’s case. Whenever the media would report on Simpson’s abuse of his ex-wife, it allegedly would “infuriate” him.

“’He kept yelling at the television that she has actually mistreated him,’” Tammi claimed her husband told her. “'That was all a bit strange… I wanted to stay out of his life – which was a little hard to do because we were the only two in the unit, and he loved to talk.’”

Erik, now 47, allegedly told his wife that he believed O.J., now 70, was guilty.

“’After being in jail for a while, you get a sense of who’s guilty or not from the way they behave,’” he allegedly said. “’The innocent guys, as you’d expect, constantly profess their innocence, and just can’t get over the fact that the police arrested them. Guilty guys on the other hand usually just hem and haw about the quality of evidence against them. O.J. never once professed his innocence. He never confessed either.”

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Erik claimed negative reporting drove O.J. to “severe depression.”

“’He cried,’” Erik allegedly told Tammi. “’Late at night he cried. Maybe he missed his wife, or maybe he was just overwhelmed. For a while I was concerned he might commit suicide. Jail breaks a lot of men, and I think it nearly broke him.”

In the end, O.J. was found not guilty of the murders.

Tammi blamed the acquittal on Erik and his brother Lyle’s guilty verdict in their second trial. As readers know, the brothers were sentenced to double life terms without parole for the shooting of their wealthy parents.

“O.J. Simpson had been acquitted and set free just six days before the start of the brothers’ second trial, and you get a sense of the pressure facing the police, the district attorney and even the judge,” she wrote. “Los Angeles didn’t need another black eye. It was obvious how bad the prosecutor wanted a conviction.”

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