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Reward money doubles to $2 million for information on the death of a gay man found naked at the bottom of a cliff in 1988

Patrick Kelleher March 9, 2020
Gay man Scott Johnson

Scott Johnson. (Justice For Scott Facebook page)

The reward money for any information in the suspected gay hate murder of American mathematician Scott Johnson has now doubled to $2 million.

Last year, Australian authorities in New South Wales offered a $1 million reward to anyone who came forward with information that led to a prosecution in the 1988 killing of Johnson.

Now, in an unprecedented move, Johnson’s brother has matched the reward, bringing the total offer to $2 million.

Johnson was just 27-years-old when he was found dead at the base of a cliff in Sydney, Australia, in December 1988.

His death was initially ruled a suicide, however, the state coroner ruled in 2017 that he was actually the victim of a gay hate crime.

That ruling prompted investigators to reopen his case and to offer an original award of $100,000.

Scott Johnson’s brother Steve said anti-gay hate crimes ‘will not be tolerated’.

The $2 million reward was announced at an event on March 9 by New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller and Johnson’s brother Steve.

Steve Johnson said he was “greatly encouraged” by progress made in the investigation into his brother’s death.

“We now live in a more tolerant and open society – particularly here and in the United States – where societies enable their LGBTIQ communities to be their true selves, live safely and unlock their full potential,” he said.

“I wish Scott had been afforded the same opportunity, and every effort I put into helping find his killers is also to acknowledge that bullying and gay-hate crime will not be tolerated in our community.”

He continued: “So, in addition to the existing $1 million reward, I will provide up to an additional $1 million for the NSW Police Commissioner, at his discretion, to award to any person who comes forward with new information leading to the arrest and conviction of my brother’s killer or killers.”

Every effort I put into helping find his killers is also to acknowledge that bullying and gay-hate crime will not be tolerated in our community.

He said the reward will be for new information, and added: “I am hoping that Scott will finally get justice.”

“Please, do it for Scott, do it for all gay men who were subject to hate crime, and now, do it for yourself.”

Commissioner Fuller praised Johnson’s brother for offering the substantial reward.

“It has been 31 long years in Scott’s family’s pursuit of answers, and the dedication to their brother is as inspiring as it is heartbreaking,” Fuller said.

“Steve has never wavered in his fight for justice; dedicating his time and efforts to Scott’s honour, and today, he stands before you to offer his own money in hope that detectives get the elusive pieces to this puzzle.

“Our job as police officers is to solve crime, so when dealing with cases like this, it’s frustrating knowing that a family’s pain and suffering could be eased by that someone who knows something coming forward.”

A coroner ruled in 2018 that Scott Johnson died as a result of an attack from ‘unidentified persons’.

He said he hoped that the $2 million reward would motivate those who know what happened to Scott Johnson to come forward.

“While we’d like to believe a person’s conscience would force them to come forward, it’s clearly not in this case. So, if you’ve got the information we need – and cash appeals to you – there’s now up now up to 2 million reasons to talk to us.”

Johnson’s 1988 death hit headlines again in 2018 when state coroner Michael Barnes found that he “fell from the cliff top as a result of actual or threatened violence by unidentified persons who attacked him because they perceived him to be homosexual”.

The American gay man had been in a relationship with an Australian music PhD student and was in the process of applying for permanent residency in the country at the time of his death. He himself was a doctoral student at the Australian National University.

 

 

 

 

More: Australia, Mick Fuller, New South Wales, Scott Johnson, Steve Johnson

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