Unsolved crime

US man offers $660,000 to find killer of his gay brother in Australia

Scott Johnson
Scott Johnson (Photo: NSW Police)

The American brother of a man who was killed over 30 years ago in Australia has offered a reward of AUS$1million ($660,000) to help find those responsible. The reward money comes in addition to another AUS$1million already offered by New South Wales Police.

Scott Johnson was an American mathematician who was based in Sydney. He’d moved to the city to complete his Ph.D. and be with his partner.

In December 1988, his body was found floating in the water at the foot of a cliff at Blue Fish Point, near Manly’s North Head beach.

Related: Hunting gay men for sport: Man’s fall from cliff ruled a hate crime 30 years later

The area above the cliff was known as a gay cruising spot. His clothes were found neatly laid out at the top of the cliff.

The 27-year-old’s death was initially ruled as suicide. However, the local gay community and Johnson’s family always questioned this ruling. His death came at a time when homophobic violence and gay-bashings were commonplace in the area. Gangs were known to target gay men.

In 2017, a new investigation by the local coroner ruled Johnson died, “as a result of actual or threatened violence” by people who attacked him over his sexuality. The coroner said it was “highly unlikely” Johnson died by suicide.

In 2018, the local police offered their reward for more information.

Scott Johnson
Scott Johnson (Photo: NSW Police)

Johnson’s brother, Steve, has already spent thousands of dollars trying to find his brother’s killer or killers. He’s now matching the police reward with $660,000 of his own money.

Appealing on anyone with information to come forward, Johnson said in a statement.

“I have been greatly encouraged by the recent progress in the investigation, and truly honored by the reception Scott’s case has had with the community.

“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.

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

“With a reward of up to $2 million on the table, I am hoping that Scott will finally get justice,” he said.

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

Related: Hunting gay men for sport: Australia investigating the deaths of 88 men as hate crimes

Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said it was the first time such a large offer had been made in New South Wales.

“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.

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