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Crime

Police narrow in on suspected killer of gay man found naked at the bottom of a cliff in 1988

Patrick Kelleher March 12, 2020
Gay man Scott Johnson

Scott Johnson. (Justice For Scott Facebook page)

Police in Australia have reportedly narrowed in on a “particular individual” in an investigation into the suspected gay hate killing of Scott Johnson in 1988.

Johnson’s corpse was found naked at the bottom of a cliff in New South Wales, Australia in 1988. His death was initially ruled a suicide, but a 2018 coroner’s inquest ruled that he had likely died as a result of a gay hate crime.

Police have since ramped up efforts to bring the killer of Scott Johnson to justice, and recently offered a $1 million reward for anyone with information that leads to a prosecution. This week, Johnson’s brother Steve announced that he would match that donation, bringing the total amount to $2 million.

Chief Inspector Yeomans said they have received “an incredible amount of information from the community” since increasing the reward to $1 million in 2018, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Police in Australia have been led to focus on a ‘particular individual’ in the investigation into the suspected hate killing of Scott Johnson.

“We identified and revisited information relating to people who were known to have a specific bias around the time of Scott’s death,” he said.

He also said that “there may have been bragging” around the events of Johnson’s death, and added: “This has led us to some very specific lines of inquiry, with our current focus on a particular individual.”

Scott’s brother Steve, who has fought for his brother’s killer to be brought to justice for years, said the statement was “very emotional”.

This has led us to some very specific lines of inquiry, with our current focus on a particular individual.

“To go for so long with an intransigent police force, totally uninterested in investigating my brother’s death as a homicide, to a team clearly dedicated to solving it. And then to learn they are this close to solving it… it leaves me hopeful and emotional,” he said.

Steve Johnson also said he decided to offer a $1 million reward for information as the police appeared to be making progress in the case.

“I thought it was important to do that right now because they seemed to be on the brink of a breakthrough, so I thought I could give it one big push,” he said.

Police have become ‘progressively more hopeful’ that they could solve the case.

He said police had become “progressively more hopeful” in recent months.

“These calls used to end with, ‘Please don’t get your hopes up.’ They’ve stopped telling me that.”

Speaking on March 9, Steve Johnson said he was “greatly encouraged” by progress made.

“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 said the $2 million reward would be for new information that leads to a conviction 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.”

More: Australia, New South Wales, Scott Johnson

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