Reward announced over 1995 death of a Lightning Ridge man3rd July 2012
Ministerial media release
Minister for Police and Emergency Services Michael Gallacher has today announced a $100,000 reward for information relating to the unsolved death of a man in Lightning Ridge in 1995.
Paul Murray's naked body was found in scrub two-kilometres from an opal-mining claim he owned near Lightning Ridge on April 22, 1995.
According to witness statements, the 40-year-old was last seen alive on March 19 by a local who had dropped him off just outside the town. His concerned family reported him missing on March 23, 1995 after not hearing from him for several days.
Investigating officers couldn't find any signs of trauma on Mr Murray's body or any obvious cause of death. A Coroner's inquest in 1996 also failed to determine the manner or cause of Mr Murray's demise.
Minister Gallacher hopes today's announcement will encourage someone who might hold vital information to come forward.
"Mr Murray's family has lived for the past 17 years not knowing what happened to him, at the very least they deserve some closure," Minister Gallacher said.
"There could be someone in the Lightning Ridge community who knows what happened to Mr Murray but has been too afraid to come forward, my message to them is any information you have could help a grieving family to understand what happened to their loved one and why.
"From all accounts Mr Murray was a generous man and was well liked in the local community.
Investigators say Mr Murray was well known around town and have never ruled out the possibility of homicide.
"We're hoping the reward will encourage people to come forward and help us solve the mystery of what happened to Mr Murray," Detective Chief Inspector John Lehmann of the State Crime Command's Unsolved Homicide Team said.
"Mr Murray had been living in a camp on the Wyoming Opal Field since purchasing his claim there in 1990.
"He was well known in the area, and as such, we are confident someone has significant information about this case," Detective Chief Inspector Lehmann said.
Mr Murray's older sister, Rosemary Pierse, is also hopeful that today's announcement will bring a conclusion to this chapter in her family's history.
"My father, in particular, would like to know what happened to Paul," Mrs Pierse said.
"He's 91 years old now, and living in a nursing home, but every time we speak he asks if there is any news about Paul. It would be a great relief to have this mystery solved before our dad passes away.
Mrs Pierse said her younger brother was a "straight and honest talker", but also generous, gentle and kind.
"He lent money to many families in need around Lightning Ridge, and often refused their offers to pay it back," she said.
She also described her brother as an affectionate man, "The last time I saw him, he was leaving my house to return to Lightning Ridge," she said. "He grabbed me and said, 'Give your brother a cuddle'. My three other brothers and I miss him every day."
Anyone with information to assist police is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Reward announced over 1995 death of a Lightning Ridge man (PDF 90KB)