Australian ‘gay bashing’ cases could be solved by DNA advances, police say
South Australia Police has said that they hope DNA advances could lead to new answers in two unsolved murder cases of gay men.
David Saint was murdered on Tuesday 16 April, 1991 in a suspected homophobic hate crime in Adelaide’s south parklands. In 2004, Robert Woodland was also found dead after a serious assault in the same area. Neither case has been solved.
However, detectives are now hopeful that advances in technology could lead them to finding the men’s killers.
Detectives say that they are keeping an open mind about why the men were murdered—but suggest that the men may have been attacked due to their sexuality as the area was a well-known meeting spot for gay men.
Materials from the crime scene will undergo further forensic testing in Australia
Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Justin Thompson said materials from the crime scene of David Saint are going to undergo further forensic testing due to advances in technology.
“The brick that we believe he was assaulted with will be the main item,” he said. “Initially robbery was thought to be a possible motive in this case, but given he still had his wallet with him, with $300 cash in it, that makes us shy away from that a little.
“There were reports at the time of ‘gay bashings’ around the south parklands, so that would be our strongest line in relation to motive.
“We know that some of the men who would frequent this area were married. In turn that means one of the issues for us is that because of the nature of this activity a lot of incidents that we were aware of anecdotally weren’t formally reported to police.”
“There were reports at the time of ‘gay bashings’ around the south parklands, so that would be our strongest line in relation to motive.”
– Detective Sergeant Justin Thompson, South Australia Police
Police said that eyewitnesses saw Saint being chased across a road by three men before he was found dead. When two people tried to intervene in the chase, they were told to mind their own business. They later approached police with information when they heard there had been a murder.
The police force has said that the men would likely have “boasted” about the supposed homophobic hate crime to others.
“There may have also been people who wanted to come forward, but who were put off by the media attention at the time,” Thompson said.
Investigation is a part of South Australia’s Operation Persist
Meanwhile, Woodland was found dead on 8 December, 2004 and had been dead for several days by the time his body was discovered. A post mortem later found that he had been a victim of a serious assault.
He had several items stolen—including an ATM card.
The investigation was hindered because his body was left lying in the open for several days—however, recovered DNA from the crime scene is thought to belong to the killer.
Police are investigating the murders as a part of Operation Persist, a long term strategy which aims to solve suspicious murder and missing person cases.
Rewards of up to $200,000 will be paid by the South Australia Government to anyone who provides information that leads to the conviction of those responsible in the murders of Saint and Woodland.
Anybody with information can contact Crime Stoppers in Australia and callers can remain anonymous.
Police in Australia also revealed late last year that they are offering up to a $1 million reward for information in relation to the suspected gay hate murder of Scott Johnson.