On a hot and windy November night back in 1989, when John Russell shared a beer at Sydney’s Bondi Hotel with his best mate, his best year lay ahead of him.
He had just inherited $ 100,000 from his grandfather and intended to use the money to build a kit home on his father Ted’s idyllic estate at Wollombi, near Cessnock in NSW.
He had just chosen the kit home to be delivered in a few weeks and he had quit his two part-time jobs.
His bags were all stacked next to the couch in the living room of the Bondi apartment he shared with his younger brother Peter and his nephew, whom he had helped raise. The following week, he celebrated his 32nd birthday on his father’s estate. He planned to spend a year traveling around Australia.
After a drink that night, John Russell, a gay man who had come out at the same time as the first Mardi Gras parade in 1978, strolled over to Bondi’s southern headland and passed Bondi Iceberg’s pool.
The following morning, his battered body was found under the rocks, his left hand holding the hair of his killer.
Russell’s killing came just four months after the disappearance of Wollongong weatherman and newsreader Ross Warren, and seven months before the killing of Thai man Kritchikorn Rattanjurathaporn, both gay men.
Investigations into the disappearance of Warren and the death of Russell, despite an anti-homosexual assassination at the time in Sydney, and the fact that these bore eerie similarities, were closed within a few weeks.