Family too ‘terrified’ to name dad’s killer
THE mutilated body of a family patriarch was left in the driveway of a Melbourne home 30 years ago today for his son to stumble upon.
Police say the person who killed Salvatore Rotiroti inside the gates of his Manifold Heights home on September 5, 1988 wanted "to take control of his family".
They say his killer was so feared by relatives that they swore an oath not to reveal him - an oath they keep today despite a $1 million reward for information on the unsolved cold case.
Homicide Squad detectives on Wednesday announced the sweetener on the 30th anniversary of Mr Rotiroti's murder.
"We believe that Salvatore's family has direct knowledge of what happened to him and why," Detective Inspector Tim Day said.
"Police also believe that several members of Salvatore's family have crucial information regarding the circumstances of his death and those responsible."
The circumstances of Mr Rotiroti's death are clear. He suffered a number of blows to the head and was covered in blood when his son, Vince, found him shortly after midnight on September 6.
Police say family members heard a commotion in the driveway shortly after 10pm but were too afraid to leave the house to find out where the noise was coming from.
When Vince got home, he ran to his father's side and begged him to wake up, but it was too late.
"When I got to him I noticed that his head was all beaten around. There was blood everywhere," Vince told the Herald Sun.
"I touched him on the right shoulder and said, 'Dad, Dad' and he didn't answer. I knew he was dead."
Catching his killer is more complicated. Police say Vince has been the only family member to assist them with the investigation in 30 years.
They originally arrested a 21-year-old man in relation to the murder of the father-of-five less than a month after he was killed.
Those charges were dropped after witnesses withdrew their statements and the man once believed responsible has since changed his name and moved interstate.
Police say he remains a person of interest. They also say family members know who killed the concreter from Italy but are afraid they'll be next if they say anything.
"We are appealing directly to those people to come forward and help us solve this murder," Insp Day said.
"However, while there are no other known suspects at this time, detectives are not ruling anything out in this investigation.
"This includes the possibility that a number of people were involved in planning and carrying out Salvatore's murder."
He said 30 years is a long time to hold on to a secret.
"We're hoping that by announcing a $1 million dollar reward today, some people may be motivated to finally come forward and tell us the truth about why this murder happened and who was involved.
"Thirty years is a long time to think about why you might be covering up for someone and if that is still worth it.
"I would strongly encourage anyone with information to come forward and speak to police now because as the reward shows, this investigation is far from over."
Lead investigator, cold case Detective Sergeant Paul Rowe, says family members are "terrified".
The $1 million reward can go to a family member, according to police. It 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, police said.
Anyone with information about the murder of Salvatore Rotiroti is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppers.com.au