Detectives in New South Wales, Australia have arrested and charged a man with the 1988 hate crime murder of American math scholar Scott Johnson.
The 27-year-old’s body was discovered on December 10, 1988 near Manly’s Blue Fish Point in Sydney. At the time, Johnson’s death was seen as symbolic of authorities’ willingness to overlook hate crimes in the gay community after the PhD student’s death was initially ruled a suicide.
Today, Sydney has a thriving and prominent gay community., but in the 1980’s, however, packs of young men roamed popular meeting places for gay men, intending to beat and rob them. Gay men were told to carry whistles to call for help if they were attacked.
Detectives arrested 49-year-old Scott White at Lane Cove about 8.30am on Tuesday, before a search warrant was executed at a nearby home.
Steve Johnson said in a statement that his brother symbolizes those who lost their lives to homophobic-inspired violence.
“It’s emotional for me, emotional for my family, my two sisters and brother who loved Scott dearly, my wife and three kids who never got to know their uncle,” Johnson said.
On Tuesday morning, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller praised the Johnson family for their determination, which he said “inspired” his officers.
“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,” Commissioner Fuller said.