$1 mil­lion re­ward for truth

The Tatura Guardian - - News -

This is a homi­cide in­ves­ti­ga­tion where de­tec­tives know what hap­pened and who was in­volved, but for the past 12 years have lacked the fi­nal el­e­ment to lay charges, which is why they are now of­fer­ing a $1 mil­lion re­ward to crack the case.

The Age’s John Sil­vester re­ports.

It was Jan­uary 22, 2006, when Se­bas­tiano ‘‘Sam’’ Formica, 38, the fa­ther of two young chil­dren, in­volved him­self in an ear­ly­morn­ing pub brawl in cen­tral Shep­par­ton that left him with fa­tal stab wounds.

The lo­cal fork­lift driver, his two broth­ers and a cou­ple of­mates had kicked on to a pub after drinks at a house be­fore de­cid­ing on night­caps at Fon­tana Bar in Wyn­d­ham St.

Ac­cord­ing to po­lice, they weren’t look­ing for trou­ble although there was bad blood in town.

Three weeks ear­lier one of Formica’s broth­ers was bashed in the bar and the as­sault was an ac­tive po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Two sus­pects had been in­ter­viewed and re­leased pend­ing fur­ther in­quiries.

The vic­tim, the al­leged of­fend­ers and oth­ers in the group were all mem­bers of a Tatura sport­ing club.

Just after 1 am on Jan­uary 22, mem­bers of the group in­volved in the ear­lier as­sault were lin­ing up to en­ter Fon­tana Bar when they were spot­ted by the Formica group. It was the flash­point.

Homi­cide in­ves­ti­ga­tors found it ‘‘kicked off’’ straight away and then spilled up the street.

One of the sus­pects and an­other man be­lieved to have been in­volved in the ini­tial as­sault broke free and ran north along Wyn­d­ham St with Formica chas­ing them.

Mul­ti­ple wit­nesses told po­lice when one of the men broke away Formica ‘‘brushed past’’ the sec­ond and then walked back to a hot-dog stand in the main street.

He lifted his shirt and said, ‘‘I’ve been stabbed,’’ be­fore col­laps­ing.

He died where he fell from mas­sive blood loss.

Po­lice took state­ments from 93 peo­ple who were in the vicin­ity.

Med­i­cal ev­i­dence was that he was un­likely to have sur­vived­more than a minute after he was stabbed and CCTV showed the in­ci­dent from the fight, the chase, stab­bing and death took two min­utes. An au­topsy showed he was stabbed with a 16 cm long, 3 cm wide non­ser­rated knife.

Cold-case de­tec­tives re­opened the file in Jan­uary and now be­lieve they are close to lay­ing charges.

The head of the unit, De­tec­tive Se­nior Sergeant Peter Trichias, said: ‘‘We are very close to solv­ing this case, but we want those who know the truth to come for­ward.’’

He said the killer would have con­fided to his friends on the night what had hap­pened and it was possi- ble an as­so­ciate may have helped dis­pose of the mur­der weapon.

‘‘We have hit so many dead ends look­ing for jus­tice,’’ Sam Formica’s brother Carmelo said.

‘‘There is no clo­sure.

‘‘He (the killer) would have told some­one.

‘‘I have tried to get an­swers, but no-one would talk.’’

The head of the Homi­cide Squad, De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Tim Day, said it was be­lieved the an­nounce­ment of the re­ward would en­cour­age the right per­son or peo­ple to come for­ward.

‘‘We are ap­peal­ing di­rectly to those peo­ple to help us solve this mur­der,’’ he said.

‘‘For 12 years some­one has known who has done this and it’s time that per­son tells us the truth.’’

● Any­one with in­for­ma­tion about the mur­der of Se­bas­tiano Formica should phone Crime Stop­pers on 1800 333 000 or sub­mit a con­fi­den­tial crime re­port at www.crimestop­pers.com.au

❝ For 12 years some­one has known who has done this and it’s time that per­son tells us the truth. ❞

De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Tim Day

Se­bas­tiano ‘ Sam’ Formica

Crime scene: Sam Formica mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion at the Fon­tana bar in Wyn­d­ham St, Shep­par­ton in 2006.

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