Announced September 2021
Victoria Police is today announcing a $1 million reward for information to help solve the brutal murder and sexual assault of teenager Denise McGregor in 1978.
About 6.15pm on the night of Monday, 20 March 1978, 13-year-old Denise and her 11-year-old sister left their Bell Street home to walk to a nearby hamburger shop in the same street.
They arrived about 6.30pm and paid for their food with a $5 note their mother had given them.
The pair left the shop and started to walk home when Denise handed the parcel of food to her sister and told her she was going to buy drinks from a milk bar on the corner of Andersen and Bell Streets in Pascoe Vale.
Denise’s sister arrived home about 7pm and when Denise failed to return, was sent back to the milk bar to look for her.
Unable to locate Denise, her sister returned home and she and her mother got in their car and started searching nearby streets.
They then reported Denise missing at Coburg police station.
About 11.25am the following day, Denise’s body was located beside the road on Merriang Road in Wallan East, approximately 3km from Beveridge Road.
Denise was only partially clothed and has been sexually assaulted and beaten to death.
The extent of the attack and injuries suffered by Denise were sickening and graphic in nature.
Of particular interest to investigators is the fact Denise had previously used a CB radio on a couple of occasions at one of her girlfriend’s houses.
During these calls, she had made contact with an unidentified male with the call sign ‘Lightning One’.
Denise was well known and popular amongst children of her age from the area and was known to frequent an amusement parlour in Broadmeadows.
She also attended the local high school and by all accounts was a typical teenager.
Detectives believe there are still people out there who know what happened to Denise and who is responsible for her sexual assault and brutal death.
As part of the renewed appeal, the case will be featured on the Victoria Police cold case hub and highlighted across social media channels.
Police have also released images of Denise and along with crime scene photographs as part of today’s appeal.
Over the past four decades, police have spoken to hundreds of people and followed an enormous number of leads in an effort to find who was responsible for Denise’s sexual assault and death.
Police have also re-tested several times a number of items taken from the scene and will continue to pursue any developments in forensic technology as part of this investigation.
In June 1978, a $50,000 reward was offered for information in relation to this case.
A reward of up to $1M will now 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 death of Denise McGregor.
The Director of Public Prosecutions will 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.
Quotes by Detective Inspector Tim Day:
“While 43 years have passed, I have no doubt that the community would expect that solving the brutal sexual assault and murder of an innocent teenage girl remains a priority for Victoria Police.
“This is the type of crime that really strikes at the heart of our community, and the sort of investigation that stays with detectives for a long time.
“Today’s reward announcement is testament to our commitment to find answers for Denise’s family and to make every possible attempt to hold those responsible in any way accountable.
“The terror Denise would have endured before her death is unimaginable.
“As Homicide investigators, we are often dealing with the worst of humanity but Denise’s murder is a particularly devastating case.
“Police want to hear from anyone who has any piece of information about what happened to Denise 43 years ago and who is responsible.
“We would ask that the public come forward with any information they think might assist police, even if they think that the person or persons involved in this horrific crime may have since passed away.
“As much as this is about holding those responsible accountable, it is also about giving Denise’s desperate family answers that they haven’t had for over four decades.”
Reviewed 08 September 2021