Bill McLaughlin Murder: How Did He Die? Who Killed Him?

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Since its launch in 1978, ABC’s ’20/20′ has been exploring true crime tales that can only be described as extraordinary, character-driven, and high in drama. The purpose is to delve into each aspect of a mystery to get to the heart of what transpired while also highlighting the pitfalls of human nature. Thus, of course, its latest event special, profiling the brutal murder of William “Bill” McLaughlin, is no exception. From affairs to greed and from lies to deceits, this matter has everything. So, if you’re curious to know its nitty-gritty details, we’ve got you covered.

How Did William “Bill” McLaughlin Die?

At the age of 55, William “Bill” McLaughlin was a loving father of three who’d created a great life for himself and his family in Newport Beach, California. Not only was he a millionaire from having invented the medical instrument that separates plasma from blood, but he was also in a seemingly blissful relationship. After his 24-year-long marriage ended, Bill got involved with Nanette Johnston Packard McNeal, a single mother thirty years his junior. Unfortunately, though, shortly after they got engaged to marry, he lost his life in one of the worst ways imaginable.

On December 15, 1994, Bill’s son found him lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor of his luxurious home located in a wealthy, gated community. The youngster frantically called 911 moments later, and it became evident that it was already too late to save Bill. Once investigators arrived at the crime scene, they discovered that no essential materialistic items were missing, indicating a personally-driven homicide. According to official records, the entrepreneur was shot six times in the chest and torso while sitting at his kitchen table on that cold and ominous day.

Who Killed William “Bill” McLaughlin?

The inquiries into William “Bill” McLaughlin’s murder commenced with the evidence of shell casings from a 9mm gun and two house keys recovered from the scene. Because of the circumstances, suspicion immediately fell upon those closest to him, including his fiancée Nanette Johnston, who had arrived back home hours later, only to hear of Bill’s demise. She appeared devastated at first, yet detectives quickly realized that she was having an affair with Eric Naposki, a former professional football player working as a nightclub bouncer and bodyguard at the time.

Apart from the love triangle and its implications, Nanette also had seemed to have another motive; financial gain. As specified in Bill’s will, she stood to gain $150,000 and access to his extravagant beach house while being the sole beneficiary of his $1 million life insurance policy. Moreover, as it came to light in the months that followed, she had forged her fiancé’s name on cheques to steal from him on a few occasions. Nanette had even falsified his signature on a $250,000 cheque the day before he was killed. For this, she pleaded guilty to forgery and grand theft in 1996.

Coming to Eric, the authorities’ speculation of his involvement in the case increased when they found Bill’s license plate number scribbled down in a notepad in his car after they stopped him due to a pending traffic violation warrant. The fact that Eric continuously altered and modified his narrative during the succeeding interrogations and lied about his bond with Nanette and owning a 9mm handgun did not help either. Nevertheless, the couple wasn’t charged or arrested because of a lack of physical evidence — DNA, fingerprints, witnesses, guilt admission, or the murder weapon.

After 15 years, though, detectives re-examined the case and chose to set up a bicoastal sting operation to apprehend both Nanette and Eric, who’d moved on by that point. They theorized that she engineered Bill’s slaying and convinced her boyfriend to be the triggerman so that they could start a new life together with the money she receives. They were detained on May 20, 2009, and stood trial soon after. Eric was found guilty of first-degree murder on July 14, 2011, whereas Nanette was convicted on January 23, 2012. Eric has since claimed that Nanette masterminded a murder-for-hire plot to get rid of Bill while he was in the room. Except, he stated that he had no hand in it and that the killer went behind his back to use his gun. With that said, they both maintain their innocence to this day.

Read More: Where is Nanette Johnston Now?