Detectives from the Purana Taskforce are today renewing their appeal for information about the fatal shooting of Richard Mladenich in St Kilda almost 20 years ago.
The Altona North man was shot and killed in room 18 of the Esquire Motel on Acland Street about 3.30am 16 May, 2000.
Mladenich, who was 37-years-old at the time he was killed, was a well-known underworld figure with a wide range of criminal associates and links to the drug trade.
In December 2002 police offered a $100,000 reward for information in relation to his murder and in May 2011 the reward was increased to $1 million.
It was one of the few $1 million rewards on offer in Victoria at the time.
Police have made a number of public appeals for information over the years, including an appeal in July 2011 from the Homicide Squad where they asked for a man who had provided information about a firearm potentially used in the shooting to get in touch again.
Never before released photos of the crime scene, as well as new images of Richard, are also being issued as part of the updated appeal.
Detective Sergeant Jesse Maxwell of the Purana Taskforce said investigators strongly believe this murder is solvable.
“While that was a period of significant violence and a number of underworld figures were murdered, we believe there are still people out there who were involved in those criminal groups and have information about who murdered Richard and why,” he said.
“That could be people who were main players or people who were on the periphery.
“Almost two decades have passed and allegiances and associates are almost certain to have changed over that time, so people who may not have been in a position to speak to police when Richard was killed could finally be ready to come forward – we’re certainly ready to speak to them.”
Det Sgt Maxwell also stressed that it was important for police to keep an open mind.
“Richard’s murder has received a lot of media coverage over the years and that includes a lot of speculation about who was responsible,” he said.
“We absolutely have persons of interest but it’s crucial that we’re open to any new information and the potential that this could take the investigation in a different direction.
“To say there’s only one possibility of who was responsible would be incorrect.”
Today’s appeal comes as part of a review of unsolved cases investigated by the Purana Taskforce.
“I know there are people out there who will ask why we’re pursuing this given Richard’s criminal involvements,” Det Sgt Maxwell said.
“Everyone deserves justice and he also had a family who deserves answers.
“Richard’s death also means that there is someone who is responsible for the murder who has never been held to account – someone who was willing to commit such a violent act in our community, with no regard for the life of others.
“Those factors alone make it important enough for us to continue to investigate and try and find some answers.”
The investigation into the murder of Richard Mladenich remains active and ongoing, and the reward for information is still on offer.
A reward of up to $1 million will be paid at the discretion of the Chief Commissioner of Police for information leading to the apprehension and subsequent conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Richard Mladenich.
In appropriate cases, the Director of Public Prosecutions may consider, according to established guidelines, the granting of indemnification from prosecution to any person who provides information as to the identity of the principal offender or offenders in this matter.
Any payment of a reward will be subject to the applicant signing a deed of confidentiality prior to payment.
Investigators are seeking public assistance to help solve this murder and are appealing directly to anybody with knowledge of this crime and of those responsible to come forward and contact police.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au