Why Did It Take 15 Years To Prove An NFL Player Killed A California Millionaire?

A love triangle gone wrong left a millionaire dead and a football star behind bars for life.

January 21, 2022
Bill McLaughlin

Millionaire Bill McLaughlin

Photo by: Discovery, Inc.

Discovery, Inc.

Gregarious NFL player Eric Naposki lived as a free man for 15 years after the December 1994 killing of millionaire Bill McLaughlin.

Naposki was a promising football star on a full scholarship at UConn in the mid-1980s before playing for the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, and World League of American Football.

He had reportedly shown impulsive, angry tendencies on the field and had quit the UConn football team after a fight with the coach, but he was skilled at the game and a valuable player due to his imposing size. Unfortunately, his football dreams were short-lived. Nagging injuries ultimately sidelined Naposki, and by 1992 he was living in Southern California and working security in a bar where he met his then-girlfriend Nanette Johnston.

There was just one problem—Johnston was romantically involved with Newport Beach millionaire Bill McLaughlin. McLaughlin had made his money with different medical technology inventions and was living off the royalties. The 55-year-old divorcee enjoyed flying planes and driving expensive cars, and 27-year-old Johnston proved herself to be an excellent companion.

McLaughlin bought Johnston her own beach house, and Johnston helped care for McLaughlin’s disabled adult son.

The men reportedly knew about each other. McLaughlin believed Naposki was a platonic friend, and Naposki thought McLaughlin was mentoring Johnston.

A year after Johnston and Naposki began sleeping together, McLaughlin was found shot dead on December 15, 1994, on the kitchen floor of his mansion. Six bullets had ripped through the man’s body.

Naposki and Johnston were questioned about the murder, and Johnston found herself charged with theft and forgery for helping herself to some of McLaughlin’s money in the days surrounding his death. Eventually, the pair broke up, Naposki headed back to Connecticut, and the murder case grew cold.

According to the Connecticut Post, police had long suspected Naposki and Johnston were involved in the murder, but they lacked the evidence to prove it until ballistics testing improved in the early 2000s. The pair was arrested in 2009 and charged with McLaughlin’s murder, though they went to trial separately in 2011 and 2012.

Authorities believed Johnston ordered Naposki to kill McLaughlin because she stood to gain a substantial amount of money from his life insurance. Johnston was also allegedly concerned that McLaughlin was going to realize she was stealing him. Johnston’s defense team tried to pin the blame solely on Naposki, saying he killed McLaughlin to keep Johnston from leaving him.

Was the motive money or love? Find out on the “Millionaire Murder” episode of The Perfect Murder, streaming now on discovery+.

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