NSW detectives investigating the alleged gay hate murder of Scott Johnson have finally made an arrest, more than 30 years after his naked body was located near Manly’s North Head.
Detectives from Strike Force Welsford arrested a 49-year-old man at Lane Cove this morning. He was taken to Chatswood Police Station and is expected to be charged later today.
Johnson, 27, an American mathematician living in Sydney, was found at the base of a cliff at Blue Fish Point on Saturday 10 December, 1988. A bungled investigation and subsequent inquest concluded Johnson had died by suicide.
However, years of campaigning by Johnson’s brother Steve led to a coronial inquest in 2017, which found Johnson had mostly likely been the victim of a “gay hate attack”.
In late 2018, the NSW Government offered a $1 million reward for new information about Johnson’s death. The amount was doubled in March 2020 when Steve Johnson made a personal contribution of another $1 million, the first of its kind in NSW.
“With a reward of up to $2 million on the table, I am hoping that Scott will finally get justice,” Johnson said at the time.
“Please, do it for Scott, do it for all gay men who were subject to hate crime, and now, do it for yourself.”
Police Commissioner Mick Fuller called Steve in the United States this morning to let him know of the arrest.
“Making that phone call this morning is a career highlight – Steve has fought so hard for so many years, and it has been an honour be part of his fight for justice,” Fuller said.
“While we have a long way to go in the legal process, it must be acknowledged that if it wasn’t for the determination of the Johnson family, which inspired me and the Strike Force Welsford team – led by Detective Chief Inspector Peter Yeomans, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
A forensic search at North Head is also underway this morning, and is expected to take several hours.Image: NSW Police