Why opal miner was found ‘naked and decomposed’ remains a mystery as desperate cops announce $500,000 reward for answers
- Naked and decomposing body of opal miner Paul Murray, 40, discovered in 1995
- No cause of death has been confirmed and no one knows what happened to him
- Two graziers found remains in scrub 2 km from his camp near Lightning Ridge
- NSW Police are now offering a $500,000 reward to finally solve the mystery
Paul Murray’s dead boy was discovered by two grassmen on 22 April 1995
It’s a decades-old mystery that has puzzled police for decades – the strange case of the murdered opal miner found naked and decomposing in scrub – with no apparent cause of death.
And 27 years later, detectives are still no closer to solving it, offering a $500,000 reward for new information so the final scene can be written.
Paul Murray’s dead body was discovered by two grassmen on April 22, 1995 about 2 km from his camp on opal mining he claims owned, 8 km outside Lightning Ridge in north-west NSW.
NSW Police said he was last seen alive on March 19, 1995, by a local who had driven him to a location just outside the city. His family reported him missing a week later.
The body was found in thickets by two herders on 22 April 1995 about 2 km from his camp on the grounds of the opal mine he owned
An autopsy found no evidence of trauma or apparent cause of death, and a 1996 autopsy could not determine how he died.
The investigation was handed over to the criminal police detectives in State Crime Command’s Unsolved Homicide Unit following a review in 2012.
They established Strike Force Huddleston to continue the investigation into his death, and Detective Inspector David Laidlaw said police remain open-minded about the case.
“Paul’s body was in an advanced state of decomposition and as such subsequent examinations and an inquest could not provide a concrete answer as to what may have happened to him,” he said on Thursday.
NSW Police said he was last seen alive on March 19, 1995, by a local who had driven him to a location just outside Lightning Ridge, north-west NSW (pictured)
“Police have always kept an open mind about the circumstances surrounding his death and hope this reward can encourage the flow of new information.”
Paul’s sister, Rosemary Pearse, said her brother was a generous man.
“He would always offer to help anyone in need financially and only ask them to pay him back when their situation improved,” she said.
“Any information, no matter how small, would help the police and may be what is needed to give myself and my family some answers after all these years.”
Paul Murray’s opal claim was 5 miles outside of Lightning Ridge, a mining town with a rich history and sometimes dark past
The mining town of Lightning Ridge is famous for its unique black opals and has a rich history, marred by tragedy in its sometimes dark past.
It attracts a special breed of miners ready to camp out in the bush in search of their fortune, and also attracts those looking to escape the limelight.
An immigration court heard how alleged Byron Bay Covid super spreader Zoran Radovanovic hid out there under an alias for years after his visa expired.
And a year ago, a 73-year-old man was charged with the murder of a local woman, Christine Neilan, 39, who was allegedly shot while walking her dog in 2020.