Detectives in Australia have arrested a man in the murder of a famous gay mathematician from the United States in 1988 who was forced off the Sydney cliff in what officials called racial crime.
Scott Johnson’s murder caught a man’s attention a rash of crime that is driven by homophobia in the 1980s and 90s where gay men were targeted by youth gangs, which sometimes forced them down the cliff to death.
Police in New South Wales, who initially decided death as a suicide, said that they had arrested a 49-year-old man on Tuesday morning and that he would be charged later. They did not identify the suspect.
Mick Fuller, New South Wales police commissioner, said that he personally told the victim’s brother, Steve Johnson, who lives in the United States, about the arrest.
“Making a phone call this morning was the highlight of his career – Steve has struggled very hard for years, and it is an honor to be part of his struggle for justice,” said Mr Fuller.
“While we still have a long way to go in the legal process, it must be admitted that if it were not for the determination of the Johnson family,” added the commissioner, “we would not be where we are today.”
The Johnson family began petitioning for a second hearing, held in 2012, and which canceled the suicide determination and recommended that the police re-investigate.
“I haven’t stopped crying for five days,” said Steve Johnson. “Today is just an emotional roller coaster of joy, sadness, relief.”
His brother, he continued, will be grateful the family did not give up to find out what happened in the final hours. “Now we have an answer, we have lessons for other people who will commit more crimes – that they will be arrested,” he said.
Isabella Kwai contributed reporting.
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