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Million-dollar reward offered to solve 1983 murder of Janita McNaughton

Million-dollar reward offered to solve 1983 murder of Janita McNaughton

Victoria Police has announced a $1 million reward for anyone with information that helps solve the murder of Janita McNaughton, 36 years after she was shot in the head on a boat in a southern Victorian bay.

McNaughton, then 23 years old, was on board a boat with four other people in Western Port Bay on December 27, 1983 when she was fatally shot between the eyes. The part-time model died in hospital from her injuries later that night.

Police said homicide squad detectives had spoken to all those on board that day, but they were still seeking answers into her death.

Those on board first told police the shot was fired from the shore. Later, investigators were told the gun belonged to one of the passengers and was accidentally fired after it was dropped on the boat.

Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Rowe said police have disproved the sniper and the accidental discharge accounts, The Age reported.

Head of the homicide squad, Detective Inspector Tim Day said police are “keeping an open mind” in its investigation, which was reopened in 2015.

“The one thing we do know is that someone out there will know who is responsible for shooting Janita and the exact circumstances in which she died,” he said.

A then 29-year-old man was charged with manslaughter in 1983, but had his charges dismissed by a coroner at inquest in 1984.

“Janita’s family have suffered heartache for 36 years without knowing why Janita was killed,” Day said.

“We’re hopeful that someone out there will be able to provide us with information about her death.

“It might be that one of the people on the boat can come forward with the truth, or it might be someone that they’ve spoken to over the years, such as a family member or friend, who can provide us with information.

“We know that circumstances change with time and we hope this reward will encourage someone to come forward and give her family some deserved justice.”

A reward of up to $1 million would be paid, at the discretion of the Chief Commissioner of Police, for information that led to the conviction of the person or persons responsible over McNaughton’s death.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a report at its website.