$500K reward for identity of man found decapitated in river

Police are hopeful a half-a-million-dollar reward and new forensic imaging will lead to a breakthrough in a historic murder case in NSW.

On 21 February 1997, a couple stopped at a public rest area on the southern side of the Hume Highway at Penrose, when they made the grim discovery of a naked man’s body submerged at the river’s edge.

They notified police, who rushed to the scene and recovered the body of a man who had been decapitated at the base of the neck.


About a month earlier, four fishermen located a shopping bag containing a human head in Salt Pan Creek at Padstow, which was later confirmed as a match to the remains discovered in the river.

Despite ongoing investigations, including the help of authorities around the world, the man has never been identified.

“In 1999, an inquest by the NSW Coroner found that the man had died by strangulation by a person or persons unknown on or about Thursday 20 February 1997,” NSW Police said.

However, with the help of modern technology, the NSW Police Facial Recognition Unit has now been able to recreate a more accurate image of the man’s face.

A $500,000 reward has also been announced for information that leads to the identification of the man and/or those responsible for his murder.

“The technology used in this reconstruction is able to recreate the likeness of what the deceased man would’ve looked like at the time to an incredibly high standard,” Homicide Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said.

“He was murdered in a particularly gruesome fashion and his naked body was left in a river on the side of a highway, his head decapitated.

“This brutal crime has remained a mystery for a significant period of time and anyone who can help solve it may receive $500,000 for their efforts, so please come forward”.

If you have information for Police, please contact NSW Police on 131 444 or provide information using their online form 24 hours per day. 

You can report also information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via nsw.crimestoppers.com.au 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.