The NSW Police Force has announced a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder of Michael ‘Billy’ Hegedus nearly three decades ago.
About 9pm on Wednesday 23 October 1996 – exactly 27 years ago today – emergency services were called to a service station roadhouse on Warialda Road in Inverell, following reports a teenage boy had been shot.
Michael ‘Billy’ Hegedus, aged 17, was taken to hospital; however, he died a short time later.
A post-mortem examination later revealed Billy died from two gunshot wounds to his chest and stomach.
Local police – assisted by State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad – commenced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the alleged murder.
Approximately $36,000 was stolen from the service station at the time, in what police believe was a robbery gone wrong. The money has never been found.
In May 1997, the NSW Government announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to a conviction over Billy’s death.
A year later, one man was charged; however, no one has ever been convicted.
The matter remains under investigation by the Unsolved Homicide Unit and New England Police District under Strike Force Beanba.
Today (Monday 23 October 2023), the NSW Government and NSW Police Force announced the reward for information has increased to $1 million.
Minister for Police and Counter Terrorism, Yasmin Catley, said the reward increase should encourage people to think about any information they have that could assist police.
“Through this announcement, the NSW Government pledges our ongoing support for this investigation and the detectives working tirelessly to find answers for Billy’s family.”
“We are asking people to cast their mind back to Inverell in the year 1996, and to reconsider anything you may have seen or heard that might help detectives,” Minister Catley said.
“No piece of information is too small, and something you might have previously disregarded may just be the missing piece in this puzzle.”
Commander of State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad, Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty, said nearly three decades on, police still believe there’s someone out there that knows something.
“Billy’s murder was a reckless and callous robbery-gone-wrong that has robbed Billy’s family of a lifetime with their loved one,” Det Supt Doherty said.
“Billy was just a kid who loved his sport and had dreams of becoming a teacher. While he didn’t deserve what happened to him, his family deserve answers, and that’s why we’re appealing for help today.”
“Inverell is a small and tight-knit community, and we believe – even 27 years on – there are people out there who know something that could help us close this case.
Billy’s Mum, Patricia Page, said Billy was everybody’s friend and loved by so many.
“Billy was taken from us a week before his 18th birthday – I remember waking him up that day, hassling him to get on with studying for his HSC, but he just fluttered his big, beautiful eyes at me and told me not to worry,” Patricia said.
“While I’m thankful I know where Billy is and we got to lay him to rest, in our hearts there’s not a day that goes by we don’t ask, ‘what if?’ or ‘what happened? – as a parent, you just never stop looking for answers.
“Inverell is such a small town that I truly believe someone must know something about that night. And if you know something, please say something to help find justice for our Billy.”
Anyone with information that may assist investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.