Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Football Player and the Millionaire: Deadly Love Triangle

A Cold Case Gets Hot

  

Detectives brought the case to the District Attorney's Office for charges, but were told that they didn't have enough evidence to file charges. So the case languished on a shelf until 2009, when homicide prosecutor Matt Murphy asked investigator Larry Montgomery to take a look at it.

Montgomery sifted through all the evidence and even listened to taped telephone calls of citizens offering tips. One such conversation piqued his interest. On Feb. 11, 1995, a woman spoke to a detective about business dealings she and her husband had had with Johnston and Naposki.

On the tape, Montgomery could hear the unidentified woman calling her husband, Robert, to the phone. Robert said he met Johnston and Naposki at the gym and talked to them about investing in his software company. The month before the murder, Johnston visited the couple at home, and she said she could invest between $100,000 and $200,000. Johnston claimed to be a salesperson and inventor of heart valve devices. She also claimed to own a medical company and said she was planning on marrying Naposki. The identity of the couple who gave this lead, though, was a mystery.

Montgomery suspected that they may live in Irvine because it was an affluent area and the gym was located there. He went through Johnston's phone records, looking for an Irvine call in November 1994 and referenced several numbers in an old Criss Cross directory, trying to find a software company or someone named "Robert." He found "R. Cottrill." A background check revealed a Robert Cottrill who was married in 1995, lived in Irvine, had a gym membership, and owned a software company.

Montgomery called Cottril, and he admitted making the call after recognizing Johnston and Naposki from news accounts.

"It scared him, and he thought that maybe she did, in fact, kill him so she decided to call the police," Montgomery said.

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