News, Culture & Society

Opal miner Paul Murray death in Lightning Ridge reopened by NSW Police with $500,000 reward

Why opal miner was found ‘naked and decomposed’ is still a mystery as desperate cops announce a $500k 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 2km from his camp near Lightning Ridge 
  • NSW Police are now offering a $500,000 reward to try to finally solve mystery 

Paul Murray's dead boy was discovered by two graziers on April 22, 1995

Paul Murray’s dead boy was discovered by two graziers on April 22, 1995

It’s a decades-old mystery that has puzzled police for decades – the strange case of the opal miner feared murdered after his naked body was found rotting in scrub – with no obvious cause of death.

And 27 years later, detectives are still no closer to solving it, sparking a $500,000 reward for new information so the final scene can be written. 

Paul Murray’s dead body was discovered by two graziers on April 22, 1995 around 2km from his camp on the opal-mining claim he owned, 8km outside of Lightning Ridge in north-western 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 town. His family reported him missing a week later.

The body was found in scrub by two graziers on April 22, 1995 around 2km from his camp on the opal-mining claim he owned

The body was found in scrub by two graziers on April 22, 1995 around 2km from his camp on the opal-mining claim he owned

A post-mortem examination found no signs of trauma or obvious cause of death and a 1996 inquest failed to determine how he died.

The investigation was handed over to cold case murder squad detectives in the State Crime Command’s Unsolved Homicide Unit after a review in 2012.

They established Strike Force Huddleston to continue investigating his death, and Detective Chief 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 investigations and an inquest failed to deliver 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-western NSW (pictured)

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-western NSW (pictured)

‘Police have always kept an open mind as to the circumstances of 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 they repay him when their situation improved,’ she said.

‘Any information, no matter how small, would assist police and may be what is needed to provide myself and my family with some answers after all these years.’

Paul Murray's opal claim was 8km outside of Lightning Ridge, a mining town with a rich history and a sometimes dark past

Paul Murray’s opal claim was 8km outside of Lightning Ridge, a mining town with a rich history and a sometimes dark past

Mining town 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 miner prepared to camp out in the bush in the hunt for their fortune, and also attracts those seeking to escape the spotlight.

An immigration tribunal heard how alleged Byron Bay Covid superspreader Zoran Radovanovic hid out there under an alias for years after his visa ran out.

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 as she walked her dog in 2020.

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk