Twenty-five years ago today, two brutal murders exploded into America’s consciousness.
On June 12, 1994, O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, 35, and her friend Ron Goldman, 25, a part-time model and waiter, were found stabbed to death in the courtyard of her Brentwood condominium.
The double-murder spawned non-stop news coverage, a slew of books, an Emmy Award-winning miniseries, an Academy Award-winning documentary and a change in the way America viewed the legal system and itself.
Lost in the noise and chaos was the most fundamental element: that two people, one a daughter, sister, and mother of two, and the other a son and brother, were viciously slaughtered.
“Two innocent people were murdered and no one cared,” Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor O.J. Simpson’s trial, told PEOPLE in 2016. “Everybody forgot.”
Though he was acquitted of the double-murders in October 1995, Simpson was deemed liable for the deaths in Feb. 1997 in a civil case brought by the two victims’ families.
In 2008, Simpson was convicted for his role in the armed robbery and kidnapping of two sports memorabilia dealers in Las Vegas. He was released from prison in 2017 after serving 9 years.
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Their families were left not just to mourn their loved ones’ deaths, but deal with a bizarre kind of fallout they never imagined. The passage of time has not mitigated the families’ pain.
Nicole’s sister Tanya Brown tells PEOPLE that “it seems like yesterday.”
“This year, the anniversary is hitting me hard,” she says, adding that she and her mom will light a candle to commemorate Nicole’s death.
‘Her Kids Were Her Life’
Tanya Brown just wants to make sure Nicole is remembered as the good mother, daughter and sister she was.
“Everybody equates Nicole with being a domestic violence victim, which she was, beyond belief,” she says. “Her death doesn’t define who she was.”
“I hope that people get the fact that Nicole and Ron were human beings who walked this earth. They were good people.”
Kim Goldman holding a picture of her and her slain brother, Ron Goldman
Motherhood was everything to Nicole. “Nicole was a mom, first and foremost. Her kids were her life. She always wanted to make sure they were having fun and being kids.”
Today, her children, Sydney and Justin, now in their 20s, are living quiet lives far from the spotlight.
“They’re established young adults and they know what they want,” she says. “I’m very proud of what and who they have become.”
O.J. Simpson, Nicole Brown Simpson and their children, Sydney, (left) and Justin, (right.)
‘Act of Decency’ Cost 25-Year-Old His Life
Ron Goldman died a hero, his father, Fred Goldman, told PEOPLE in 2016. On the night of June 12, 1994, his son had gone to Nicole’s condo to return the prescription sunglasses her mother had left at the restaurant where he worked when she and her family were there hours earlier.
He was known for always helping people, and this “was one of those acts of decency and kindness that ultimately cost him his life,” Fred said.
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“He could have run. He didn’t. I’d like to say I wish he did but that wouldn’t have been Ron. I think he attempted to help — and it cost him his life,” Fred said.
“I am so proud of him that in his last moments he did something heroic,” Kimberly Goldman told PEOPLE in 2016.
Added Fred: “All the way through his life I had enormous pride for Ron and for the young man he was becoming and all the good things he did for people.”
Fred said the grieving process after Ron’s death is “a journey that doesn’t end.” He added, “It’s constant. The loss is always there and the pain is always there.”
Tanya and her family think about Nicole every day. “You don’t get over it,” she previously told PEOPLE. “As time goes on, with more healing, you learn to laugh and remember the fun times.”
She said she and her family survived the “circus,” she says. “We are thriving. But the crazy thing is that I don’t know it will ever go away. I don’t think it will ever go away.”
On Wednesday, Kim Goldman is launching podcast called “Confronting: O.J. Simpson,” a 10-part series in which she interviews key members of the case.
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