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Millions Of Dollars In Cold Case Rewards Left Unclaimed

WARNING: Graphic content

In NSW monetary incentives totalling $21.6 million for crucial information are on offer for information relating to more than 100 prominent cases.

But just seven have rewards of $1 million.

Those cases all relate to the disappearance and suspected murders of people from the 70's right through to 2014.

But no matter how varying the circumstances of their death they all have people who have never given up on the search for justice.

LYNETTE WHITE, 1973

Lynette White was murdered in a frenzied attack inside her Coogee home, just metres from her 11 week-old baby.

Her husband returned home to find the gruesome scene; blood everywhere, her throat slit and a kitchen knife still embedded in her chest.

He has been fighting to find her killer ever since, and so have police.

In June they announced that they’ve turned their focus to four male British backpackers who lived in the same apartment complex at the time, after finding DNA in the carpet which turned up no hits in the Australian database.

“They might not be in the country and that’s part of the reason why we’re focussing on these particular individuals from the UK,” Detective Superintendent Scott Cook told reporters.

MARIA SMITH, 1974

It’s been 44 years since Peter McGuinn last saw his baby sister Maria, who was murdered inside her Randwick unit just 59 days after getting married.

In very similar circumstances to Lynette’s murder a year earlier, her husband came home to find the dead body of his young bride and homicide detectives suspect the neighbours in this one too.

“Maria was horribly murdered; she was bound, gagged and sexually assaulted before being strangled,” Detective Superintendent Scott Cook explained.

ROXLYN BOWIE, 1982

The murder of young mother Roxlyn Bowie has disturbed the small town of Walgett, in the state’s Far North West, for nearly four decades, but new leads last month lead police back there, where they commenced a dig for her body a few hundred metres from her family home.

She was just 31 when she was last seen hanging out the washing at her Euroka Street home, leaving behind her husband, John and their two children, Brenda and Warren (now deceased).

Her husband now lives in Toowoomba and remains a line of inquiry.

Detective Superintendent Daniel Doherty told reporters the new forensic dig had been prompted by information from members of the public.

“We can’t stress enough how crucial information from the community has been in the investigation thus far.” He said.

“We will never give up on this investigation, no matter how many years pass… not just for Roxlyn but also for her daughter, Brenda, who has gone too long without the truth.”

SCOTT JOHNSON, 1988

Three decades ago, the body of young American man Scott Johnson was found at the base of the North Head cliffs near Manly, killed because he was gay.

At the time, gay hate crimes were carried out like sport and a coroner ruled he was either pushed or had attempted to jump to get away for his own safety.

Police believe the offenders would have bragged about such an accomplishment and that someone, or many people, know what happened at the edge of that cliff 30 years ago.

“We have a fresh investigations team, a fresh set of eyes and it’s really important we move this case forward,” Assistant Commissioner Tony Crandell said, explaining the establishment of Strike Force Welsford in September.

Police say it was a shameful time in our state’s history and that the $1 million is for anyone who has the courage to now speak up -- for Scott’s sake, and the entire LGBTIQ community.

JESSICA SMALL, 1997

Jessica Small has been missing for longer than she was alive.

She was just 15 years old when she never came home from the ‘Amuse Me’ amusement park in Bathurst in 1997.

She was hitch-hiking when she was abducted and assaulted by a man in a white-coloured sedan.

That car was last seen in Elington, driving towards Hill End.

“This was a 15 year-old girl who vanished off the streets of a New South Wales city, it’s a shocking crime and we want to provide answers to her family,” Detective Superintendent Michael Willing said at a press conference in October.

“Somebody out there must know something and we want those people to come forward.”

RAPHAEL JOSEPH, 2014

Career criminal, Raphael Joseph, was murdered four years ago over money and was last seen getting into a car in Auburn then his body was found in a 44-gallon drum.

Detective Superintendent Scott Cook told reporters he has no doubt his killers were driven by greed and that the seven-figure reward could yield results.

“What we need is for those people who are close associates of Raphael to come forward and give us the last piece of information we need,” he said.

“Irrespective of who the victim is, we cannot have people executed in New South Wales like this.”

Protection will be offered to anyone who comes forward.

WILLIAM TYRRELL, 2014
William Tyrrell, minutes before he disappeared (AAP IMAGE/NSW POLICE)

The case of the three-year-old spider-boy who was kidnapped four years ago has captured hearts across the country and was the first case in New South Wales in which a $1 million reward was offered.

The reward is also unique in that it does not require a charge or conviction, it will be paid out simply for the recovery of William Tyrrell.

He disappeared from his grandmother’s front yard in Kendall, on the New South Wales mid-north coast.

A renewed dig in bushland outside of Kendall in June didn’t find the toddler but did give them new leads.

Detective Superintendent Scott Cook told 10 News First they’ve since provided a brief to the coroner to make public everything they’ve uncovered, as well as compel prime suspects to give evidence.

The inquest has been scheduled for five days in March next year.

In the last five years, New South Wales taxpayers have paid out $180,000 to people who have assisted police on a number of cases.

NSW Police Minister, Troy Grant said rewards system is just one of the resources used to support the police in solving crimes and getting justice for the victims' families and friends.

"It's an effective way in generating awareness and publicity about a particular case... the offering of the rewards shows that police never give up in searching for the truth," he said in a statement.

"The success of the system is not measured in payouts."

10 daily contacted police jurisdictions from all states and territories and of the ones that responded, we realised that $1 million rewards are incredibly rare.

Victorian police currently have eight cases where information that'll solve them is worth $1 million and in South Australia, that bounty is placed on 13 of their most high-profile child murder cases.

In Queensland, there are rewards for more than 100 cases but all range between $50,000 and $250,000.

There aren't any with a seven-figure reward. That's also the case in Tasmania and Western Australia and the Northern Territory.