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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Financial gain
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 15, 1994
Date of arrest: May 20, 2009 (15 years later)
Date of birth: 1965
Victim profile: Her wealthy boyfriend, William McLaughlin, 55
Method of murder: Shooting (9 mm handgun)
Location: Newport Beach, Orange County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on May 17, 2012
photo gallery

Girlfriend gets life in millionaire's murder

By Larry Welborn - The Orange County Register

May 18, 2012

SANTA ANA The former girlfriend of a millionaire entrepreneur who was shot to death in his bayside home in Newport Beach nearly 18 years ago was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Friday for orchestrating the murder for financial gain.

Nanette Johnston, 46, showed no reaction as Superior Court Judge William Froeberg gave her the maximum-allowable sentence for the special circumstances murder of William McLaughlin, who was shot to death by an intruder as he lounged in a robe in the kitchen of his Balboa Coves home on Dec. 15, 1994.

She sat in the jury box in Froeberg's 10th floor using her attorney as a shield from the glare of news cameras and did not look up as McLaughlin's daughters delivered eloquent victim-impact statements.

"No on should be interrupted while having dinner in the safety of their own home by a person pointing a gun at him," said Jenny McLaughlin. "I feel very grateful to have such a wonderful father in my life for as long as I did. I wish he could have stayed with us longer and that God could have chosen his time to leave rather than a person with a gun and a greedy heart."

Kim McLaughlin Bayless spoke directly to Johnston and said her "destructive trail of deceit is astounding. The fact that you, Nanette, destroyed so many lives, including my Dad's, is vile....You had absolutely no right to take him from us for your own selfish reasons. He was incredibly good to you for four whole years."

Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy contended that Johnston was the femme fatale at the center of a love triangle who convinced her young lover -- professional football player Eric Naposki to gun down her wealthy, older live-in boyfriend -- McLaughlin so that she would not be detected for cheating on him, stealing from him, and so she could reap a financial windfall from McLaughlin's $1 million life insurance policy and his will.

Murphy contended that Johnston, who was then 29, provided keys to Naposki, who was 28, so that he could quietly sneak through a pedestrian gate at Balboa Cove and into McLaughlin's home near Lido Village so he could kill McLaughlin at close range.

McLaughlin, who had just returned from a quick trip to Las Vegas in his private plane, was shot six times in the torso with a 9 mm handgun. His mentally disabled son heard the shots and hurried downstairs to find his 55-year-old father in a pool of blood. The son's anguished cries for help were recorded in a 911 call for help.

Johnston needed to have McLaughlin killed. Murphy insisted, so that he would not discover that she had been cheating on him with Naposki, and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his various bank accounts. She was also making a play to serve as trustee of his estate, which could have been worth millions, Murphy claimed.

Naposki, who played parts of two seasons in the National Football League as a linebacker, was convicted of special circumstances murder at a separate trial last year. His sentencing was postponed again Friday until Aug. 10 to give his attorneys more time to prepare a motion for a new trial.

He refused to enter the courtroom and listen to the victim-impact statements and instead agreed to the continuance by shouting from the courtroom holding cell.

Murphy called Naposki a "gigantic coward" who was afraid to face the two daughters of his murder victim. "This is his final blaze of no class and cowardice," Murphy said.

Deputy Public Defender Mick Hill, Johnston's attorney, argued during her trial that Naposki acted alone out of jealousy when he fired six shots from his 9 mm Beretta handgun.

Johnston, who is also known in court records as Nanette Packard, and Naposki were suspects in the McLaughlin murder from the outset, especially after detectives learned they were carrying on a secretive affair behind McLaughlin's back, and that Johnston was writing checks to herself from the millionaire's accounts.

The pair were questioned but not arrested about the slaying in 1995, although Johnston did plead guilty in 1996 to forgery and grand theft for stealing from his accounts, and was sentenced to a year in jail.

The case went cold for more than a decade, until District Attorney's investigator Larry Montgomery took another look at the file beginning in 2008, and found new witnesses who provided enough additional evidence that led to murder charges being filed against Naposki and Johnston in 2008

They had long since broken up by the time arrest warrants were issued in May 2009. Johnston was arrested in 2009 at her home in Ladera Ranch, where she was living with her third husband. Naposki was arrested at his home in Connecticut and extradited to Orange County.


Girlfriend guilty of millionaire murder

Orange County jury deliberates for three hours before convicting Nanette Johnston of special circumstances murder for the shooting death of her wealthy boyfriend in 1994

By Larry Welborn - The Orange County Register

January 23, 2012

SANTA ANA The femme fatale at the center of a love triangle was convicted of special circumstances murder Monday for convincing her young lover to kill her rich, older boyfriend in 1994 for financial gain.

Nanette Johnston, 46, showed no reaction when court clerk Laura Hoyle read the verdicts: guilty of first-degree murder and guilty of the special circumstance of committing murder for financial gain.

The nine-woman, three-man jury in Superior Court Judge William Froeberg's court deliberated for about three hours before reaching the verdicts.

She now faces a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole at her sentencing on May 18.

Johnston was convicted of orchestrating the murder of William McLaughlin, 55, the health care entrepreneur she was living with in his expensive Balboa Coves bayfront home near Lido Village.

McLaughlin was gunned down as he lounged in his robe in the kitchen on Dec. 15, 1994, by an intruder who gained entrance into the gated community with a pedestrian access key and into the house with a freshly made house key.

A separate Orange County jury last year convicted Eric Naposki, a former NFL linebacker who had been carrying on a secretive affair with Johnston, of being the killer who pumped six bullets into McLaughlin's chest at close range with a 9 mm Beretta handgun. He faces a life without parole sentence in March.

Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy contended that Johnston, then 29, provided the keys to Naposki so that he could quietly gain access to the residence and kill McLaughlin at close range.

Murphy said Johnston needed to have McLaughlin killed so that he would not discover that she had been cheating on him with Naposki, and stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his various bank accounts. She was also making a play to serve as trustee of his estate, which could have been worth millions, Murphy claimed.

Kim Bayless and Jenny McLaughlin, the victim's grown children, watched the verdicts silently from the second row of the courtroom.

"This is a huge relief," Bayless said moments after the verdict was announced. "It's an honor for my dad and for all other people along the way that this woman harmed."

"We're all real happy to see justice served for my dad," said Jenny McLaughlin.

The headline-making trial, which drew scores of court watchers including true-crime authors and producers for two television documentary shows, lasted two weeks and included 35 witnesses and more than 156 exhibits. The jury started its deliberations Thursday afternoon.

Nanette Johnston, who is also known in court records as Nanette Packard, was an attractive young woman who met McLaughlin after she placed an ad in a magazine seeking a wealthy man that read, "You take care of me, and I'll take care of you," The millionaire, who was 25 years her senior, had just gone through a nasty divorce with his wife of 24 years.

Soon, Packard was living with McLaughlin in his luxury home in a tight-knit gated community in Newport Beach and managing some of his personal financial affairs.

In early 1994, about the same time she started her affair with Naposki, Johnston also started stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from McLaughlin. She also wrote a check to herself for $250,000 dated on the day he was killed, and deposited two days later.

Murphy told the jury that McLaughlin was about to discover that his much younger girlfriend was cheating on him with Naposki, or that she was stealing from him. Either way, the prosecutor contended, Johnston's days living in luxury were about to end.

That love triangle, with Johnston living with McLaughlin but seeing Naposki, was at the core of the case.

It likely was best summed up by prosecution witness Suzanne Cogar, who told the jury that she lived in the same Tustin apartment complex as Naposki in 1994, and that he once told her he hated McLaughlin and wanted to kill him. Cogar said she also met Packard at the apartment complex.

She told the jury that it was her impression that Johnston wanted McLaughlin for his money, and Naposki for his body.

"We had a real good jury. They did the right thing," said Murphy as he faced a line of television and print cameras after the verdicts were announced. "She was a greedy thief who committed this murder. ... She left a trail of destruction through her life".


Defense in millionaire killing: 'She's a thief, not a killer'

By Larry Welborn - The Orange County Register

January 19, 2012

SANTA ANA "She's not a nice person," a defense attorney told an Orange County jury Thursday about his client, a Ladera Ranch woman on trial here, charged with orchestrating the murder of her millionaire boyfriend in 1994 for financial gain.

"Hate her as much as you want for being a cheater, a liar and a thief," Deputy Public Defender Mick Hill said. "But you can't vote her guilty of murder."

Hill insisted that circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution during a two-week trial does not prove that Nanette Johnston conspired with her ex-NFL football-playing lover to murder William McLaughlin on Dec. 15, 1994.

Johnston, 46, faces a potential life term in prison without the possibility of parole if she is convicted of special-circumstances murder of McLaughlin, the much-older boyfriend she was living with when he was gunned down in the kitchen of his Balboa Coves home by an intruder who gained entry into his home by using one key to get inside his gated community and another freshly made key to open the front door.

Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy argued Wednesday that Johnston manipulated her secret lover, Eric Naposki, who played parts of two seasons in the NFL, to murder McLaughlin so he would not discover that Johnston had been stealing from him and so she could claim a huge financial reward from his $1 million life insurance policy and as a beneficiary of his will.

Naposki, 45, was convicted of special-circumstances murder at his trial last year. He faces a sentence of life in prison without later this year.

The informal friendliness between the prosecuting and defense attorneys turned sour Thursday as the closing arguments were delivered.

Hill called the prosecutor by his first name throughout his final arguments and said Murphy presented "two hours of horse manure" in his final arguments. Murphy took offense over being called by his first name and told the jury that Hill, who was born and raised in Ireland, gave them "two hours of crap in an Irish accent."

They agreed on one thing in their final arguments: Naposki was the shooter who pumped six rounds from a 9 mm Beretta into McLaughlin's chest.

But while Murphy contended that there was "overwhelming evidence" linking Johnston to the plot to kill McLaughlin, Hill insisted there is no evidence that she participated in a conspiracy, no confession and no evidence that she was unhappy with McLaughlin.

"She's a thief," Hill added. "Not a killer."

Both attorneys said the keys used by the killer to gain access to the McLaughlin home were pivotal to their cases.

Murphy contended that Johnston gave Naposki her pedestrian-access key so that he could open a gate to get to the bay-front home, and also gave him her house key for him to copy to that he could open the front door to kill McLaughlin, who had just returned home from a trip to Las Vegas on his private plane.

But Hill insisted that the pedestrian key would have said "DO NOT DUPLICATE" if it belonged to Johnston, while the key dropped by the killer on the front door step did not have such a stamp.

"It means for sure it's not Nanette's key," Hill said, and he accused the prosecutor of misleading the jury by arguing that that gate access key left behind by the killer was stamped "DO NOT DUPLICATE."

Murphy, in his rebuttal argument, leaped to his feet, red in the face, and told the jury that he never suggested that the key was stamped "DO NOT DUPLICATE" and that he was aware from the beginning of his involvement in the case that there was no such stamp. He accused Hill of "inventing a Perry Mason moment."

The prosecutor added that when investigators examined Johnston's keychain the night of the murders, she was supposed to have four keys, and one of them was missing the pedestrian-access key.


Jurors hear Nanette deny her guilt

By Frank Mickadeit - The Orange County Register

January 17, 2012

It is highly unlikely Nanette Johnston will testify in her own murder trial, but jurors on Tuesday were still able to hear her in her own voice deny her participation or knowledge of the murder of William McLaughlin. The prosecution played a tape recording of her interview with detectives on Jan. 19, 1995, more than a month after the murder. Unfortunately for her, while she sounds pretty convincing, live testimony that prosecutor Matt Murphy elicited immediately following the playing of the tape showed she had lied to the detectives about a key fact: her knowledge of convicted killer Eric Naposki's guns.

The tape, which runs about an hour and a half, was created during an interview two detectives conducted with Nanette at one of the Newport Beach houses where McLaughlin had let her live. At the same time Nanette was being interviewed police were also interviewing Naposki at another location. In that interview, a tape of which we heard last week, Naposki was snide, combative and monumentally evasive about the guns he owned and where they were located.

By contrast Nanette was seemingly helpful and pleasant. At most, you might say, she was forgetful on some points and, while evasive about the nature of her relationship with Naposki she indicated that was embarrassment at having two lovers at the same time. Her voice is slightly husky, with just a tinge of a twang, reminding me a little of Jodie Foster's. And, indeed, Nanette proved to be quite the actress.

"Did you stay the night (with Naposki)?" a detective asked her.

"Never the whole night," she replied, trying to either minimize her involvement with Naposki or her general promiscuity, or both.

What is the "whole night"? asked the detective, who already had info from neighbors saying she often left Naposki's after dawn.

Until "6 or 7 in the morning," Nanette said, in tone that implied that any reasonable person would consider leaving at 6 or 7 to be something less than the "whole night." I guess it depends what your definition of "whole night" is.

Bad enough, but where she really stepped in it in the 1995 interview was when they asked her about Naposki's guns.

"Ever seen any of Eric's guns?" she was asked. "No," she replied. Asked about going to a range, she said Naposki "mentioned going to a gun range. ... He mentioned he wanted to teach me to shoot." She also told the cops that she never saw Naposki with ammo and never saw Naposki's then-roommate with a gun.

After the tape was done playing, Murphy called the former roommate, Leonard Jomsky. Jomsky testified that sometime during the summer before the murder he, Nanette, Naposki and another man went to a local range.

"Eric was showing both Nanette and I how to operate the gun and how to shoot," Jomsky said.

(Jomsky's testimony was a surprise only to jurors; he had said the same thing in Naposki's trial last summer. In fact, in that trial, he testified that Nanette had bragged about having been shooting before and knowing how to use a gun.)

For the record, Nanette asserted her innocence on at least two occasions during the 1995 police interview. "I know I didn't have anything to do with this and I really feel he (Naposki) didn't either," she said at one point. Toward end of the interview, when things got a little testy and the detectives went from playing nice cop/nicer cop to nice cop/slightly cranky cop, the latter made it clear that if they were to "catch up" to her in a lie, they would come after her unrelentingly.

"You can't 'catch up' ... because I didn't do anything," she said.

Taken alone, Nanette's statement to cops provides nothing approaching the beyond-a-reasonable doubt standard required to convict her. The cops at that point simply didn't have enough evidence to contradict her that day, or they made a strategic decision not to at that point. In fact, her generally helpful tone throughout most of the interview serves to give her a voice without her having to testify.

But Jomsky's testimony put the interview in a context highly favorable to the prosecution, and the defense was not able to do anything to really undercut it. Nanette's helpful, disembodied voice only hurts her now.


Autopsy reveals millionaire was shot from close range

By Larry Welborn - The Orange County Register

January 11, 2012

SANTA ANA The gunman who pumped six bullets into the chest of Newport Beach millionaire William McLaughlin in his Balboa Coves home in December 1994 was accurate and close, a pathologist testified Wednesday.

Dr. Tony Juguilon, the chief forensic pathologist for Orange County, told a jury that the autopsy revealed that at least two of six shots that slammed into McLaughlin as he lounged in a robe in the kitchen of his bay-front home were fired from less than two feet away. All six shots struck McLaughlin in the chest or abdomen and each was potentially fatal, Juguilon added.

The pathologist was called to the witness stand in the third day of the trial of Nanette Johnston, McLaughlin's much-younger, live-in girlfriend, who is charged with plotting his death for financial gain.

Prosecutor Matt Murphy and defense attorney Mick Hill agree that the gunman who shot with such deadly efficiency was Eric Naposki, a former NFL linebacker who was having a secretive affair with Johnston. Naposki, now 45, was convicted last year of special-circumstances murder for his role in the slaying and faces a life term in prison without the possibility of parole at his sentencing, scheduled Jan. 20.

Johnston, now 46, also known in court records as Nanette Packard, is on trial before a jury in Judge William Froeberg's court on similar charges.

Hill contends that Naposki acted on his own out of jealousy when he gained entrance into McLaughlin's home with a freshly-cut house key and shot the 55-year-old healthcare entrepreneur while Johnston was shopping on Dec. 15, 1994. Johnston, Hill told the jury, was not involved in the slaying.

But Murphy insists that Johnston put Naposki up to murder so that she could get away with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from McLaughlin's bank accounts and reap a financial windfall as the beneficiary of McLaughlin's life insurance policy and will. She also stood to have access to his beach house and title to a luxury car, Murphy said.

Murphy contends that Johnston provided the house key to Naposki for him to copy, and gave him her key to a pedestrian gate into the private community on Newport Bay, allowing Napsoki to get inside the home undetected.

The newly-cut house key was found stuck in the lock of McLaughlin's front door, and the pedestrian-access key was found on the ground near the entryway, apparently dropped by the gunman, according to evidence introduced earlier in the trial.

When Newport Beach police detectives examined Johnston's key chain, it was missing her pedestrian-access key.

Naposki, who played for at least two NFL teams during his brief career, was with Packard, then 28, at her son's soccer game in Walnut an hour before the murder, and worked security at a Newport Beach nightclub less than 200 yards from the Balboa Coves home.


An ex tells of a Yes, Yes Nanette

By Frank Mickadeit - The Orange County Register

January 11, 2012

Much of the prosecution's case against Nanette Johnston is a repeat of the trial we saw last year against her alleged co-conspirator, Eric Naposki, in the murder of Newport Beach millionaire William McLaughlin. But we also are seeing some old witnesses providing new information on Nanette. And we're learning about her at new level of bad. Interestingly, such testimony is being generated almost equally by the prosecution and defense. It almost seems like a race to the bottom which side can elicit more testimony that Nanette was a tramp.

We knew from Naposki's trial that Nanette had: 1) been cheating on McLaughlin; 2) embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from him; and 3) used his money to buy Naposki alligator cowboy boots and a motorcycle in the days around the time of the Dec. 15, 1994 murder.

In the courtroom, Nanette appears attentive but not very animated, unlike Naposki, who was given to smirking or shaking his head when he disagreed with a witness's testimony. Rather, she sits stoic, long brown hair drawn tightly back into a braid, rarely showing any expression.

Prosecutor Matt Murphy has emphasized how many times she has been married (four that we know of), and it is indeed her first husband (that we know of) who gave the jurors the greatest insight yet into her character.

Kevin Ross Johnston's contribution to the murder timeline is that he's able to say precisely when Nanette and Naposki left a soccer field in Walnut the night of the murder (8:20 p.m.) and bolster the prosecution's theory that Naposki had time to get to the murder scene in Newport Beach, probably after being dropped off nearby by Nanette.

He also said Naposki and Nanette were in a tremendous hurry to leave the soccer game and that Nanette typically a doting mother to her and Johnston's son didn't stay to watch the boy accept his trophy. That goes to the theory they were in a rush to kill McLaughlin before his son, Kevin, got home that night.

Her ex also testified that the day after the shooting, Nanette called him and said she had an "alibi" for the time McLaughlin was shot, 9:11 p.m. she was shopping but that when cops asked him about seeing her the night before, "she said, 'You don't need to tell them anything about Eric because he's not involved.'"

But Johnston, 51, also provided much more insight into Nanette's past than previously known. They were married in Arizona when he was 23 and she was 18. Both were working at a Federated electronics store and neither came into the marriage with much money. Nor did they leave it with much five years later. He had to pay the divorce lawyer's $500 fee in installments.

She had told people she graduated from Arizona State. "To my knowledge, she never even graduated from high school," Johnston said under cross-examination by defense attorney Mick Hill. They divorced, he testified, when he found a note that she had left on a guy's very nice car asking him to meet her for a date. "I couldn't afford the nicer things," Johnston explained.

Johnston comes off as an immensely likable fellow neat silver hair and beard, nice smile, a straightforward way of answering questions by both lawyers. He admits Nanette hurt him deeply but talks about how he was cordial to her boyfriends and even agreed to take her back at one point. He moved her out to California and hoped for a reconciliation, only to find out that she hadn't told either her father or her boyfriend back in Arizona that she was going back with Johnston.

Once divorced, she would bring her many boyfriends to soccer games and birthday parties. She showed up once at a double-header soccer game with one guy, Johnston said, and when Naposki showed up for the second game, she ended up going home with him.

Johnston said he found she'd been cheating on him all through the marriage. A guy named Ted, he found out, had bought her the new BMW she showed up with at home one day. Did her relationship with Ted last long? Hill asked.

"Well, she was cheating on him with another guy," Johnston explained matter-of-factly, as the courtroom tittered.

Hill then asked: "You kept a file on all her shenanigans?"

Johnston: "I wouldn't come close to saying it was all of them."


Girlfriend goes on trial in millionaire's 1994 slaying

Man who was having an affair with her has already been convicted of first-degree murder plus the special circumstances of murder for financial gain

By Larry Welborn - The Orange County Register

January 3, 2012

SANTA ANA The classified ad in a dating magazine was directed at "Wealthy Men Only," according to court documents. "Classy, well-educated woman ... knows how to take care of her man ... you take care of me and I'll take care of you."

At 25, Nanette Johnston was beautiful, sexy and young.

At 50, William McLaughlin was divorced, lonely and wealthy.

In 1991, he answered her ad.

Three years later he was dead, shot to death inside his Balboa Cove home.

McLaughlin had made a fortune in the pharmaceutical industry with a device that filters blood and was going through a messy divorce after a longtime marriage when he sought Johnston's companionship. First they dated, and she soon moved into his expensive home inside a gated community on Newport Bay.

A few minutes after 9 p.m. Dec. 15, 1994, someone got inside McLaughlin's home with a brand new key apparently while Johnston was out shopping and shot him six times in the chest with a 9 mm handgun. He died in a pool of blood while his son frantically called 911.

Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy contends the shooter was Eric Naposki, a former National Football League linebacker who was carrying on an affair with Johnston behind McLaughlin's back.

Naposki, who is now 45, was convicted by an Orange County jury in July of first-degree murder plus the special circumstances of murder for financial gain. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole at his sentencing Jan. 20 by Superior Court Judge William Froeberg.

Murphy contends that it was Johnston, who is also known in court documents as Nanette Packard, who put Naposki up to the killing. Johnston, according to Murphy, stood to collect $1 million in life insurance from McLaughlin's death, was entitled to $150,000 from McLaughlin's will, would get title to a late model Infiniti automobile, and be allowed to live for a year in a beach house McLaughlin also owned.

This week, more than 17 years after the slaying, opening statements will begin in Johnston's trial on the 10th floor of the Central Justice Center. She is charged with the special circumstances murder of her millionaire boyfriend, and also faces a life term in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

Deputy Public Defender Mick Hill, however, insists Johnston had nothing to do with McLaughlin's murder.

He said both sides the prosecution and the defense in the Naposki trial felt it was in their best interest to portray his client in the worst possible light. And, Hill said, since her trial was separated and postponed, she had no forum to rebut the allegations.

But now, in a trial that is slated to last 10 days, he will have a chance to tell her side of the story.

"She didn't so it," Hill said in an interview. "Naposki did it alone. There is no doubt he did the shooting. The question is, why?"

"I think it was jealously, that he wanted Nannette for himself," Hill added. "My client would never leave McLaughlin for a deadbeat loser."

No arrests were made in 1994 for McLaughlin's murder, which played out on local newspapers and television stations for weeks, although detectives always suspected that Johnston and Naposki were involved.

Johnston was arrested and convicted in 1995 of stealing from McLaughlin. But she was not charged with murder not for 14 years.

In 2009, district attorney's investigator Larry Montgomery reopened the investigation, analyzed old files, reinterviewed witnesses, and re-examined evidence. Authorities subsequently made two arrests: Johnston, who was then living in Ladera Ranch with her third husband, and Naposki, who played parts of two seasons in the NFL, who was then living in Greenwich, Conn.

Witnesses testified in Naposki's trial last year that he accompanied Johnston on the evening of Dec. 15, 1994, to watch her young son play youth soccer in Walnut.

Murphy argued during his trial that he had just enough time to return to McLaughlin's home, get inside with a duplicate key made from one provided by Johnston, and then murder McLaughlin in his kitchen.

Naposki's trial last year was often jammed with more than 100 spectators in the courtroom gallery, including McLaughlin's two adult children, their husbands and several friends, and producers and cameramen from two true-crime television shows "Dateline NBC" and "48 Hours."

Two true-crime book authors, Caitlin Rother and Stella Sands, also monitored Naposki's trial, and are expected back for Johnston's trial.


Woman accused of killing rich boyfriend arraigned

She, former lover charged with murder for financial gain, which could lead to life without parole on conviction

By Larry Welborn - The Orange County Register

May 21, 2009

NEWPORT BEACH - A Ladera Ranch woman stood in a dark blue jail jumpsuit in a courthouse holding cell this afternoon and told her family "I love you" moments before her arraignment on charges she conspired to murder her millionaire boyfriend for money in 1994.

Nanette Johnston Packard McNeal's husband and two adult children sat in the courtroom gallery and gave her the OK sign, blew her kisses and told her they loved her back before they were warned by a bailiff that communicating with prisoners in court is prohibited.

Packard McNeal, 43, was arrested at her home on Wednesday on a warrant charging her and a former paramour with the Dec. 15, 1994, shooting death of entrepreneur William Francis McLaughlin, 55, in his home in a gated community in Newport Beach.

Eric Andrew Naposki, 42, her alleged co-conspirator, was arrested Wednesday at his home in Greenwich, Conn. He will be extradited to Orange County within the next ten days, prosecutors said.

Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy charged both defendants with murdering McLaughlin for financial gain - a special circumstance that could lead to a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole if they are convicted.

Superior Court Judge Karen L. Robinson agreed to delay Packard McNeal's arraignment until June 8 at the request of defense attorney Barry Bernstein. Packard McNeal, a mother of four children including a new infant, will remain in custody without bail pending a bail review hearing in Orange County Superior Court's Harbor Justice Center on May 26.

Her husband and two adult children left the courthouse hastily and declined to comment to reporters.

Bernstein, who also represented Packard McNeal in 1996 when she pleaded guilty to embezzling from McLaughlin before his death, also declined to comment.

Murphy said a re-examination of all the evidence in the case prompted him to file charges. "The Newport Beach Police Department never gave up on this case," Murphy said. "We greatly look forward to presenting our evidence to a jury."

He declined to reveal what new evidence led to charges being filed now, nearly 15 years after McLaughlin was shot six times in the chest as he stood in the kitchen of his million-dollar-plus home in Balboa Cove.

Murphy contends that Packard McNeal met Bill McLaughlin, who made a fortune in the 1980s with a machine that separated plasma from blood, in about 1990 when she was about 25. According to Murphy, he responded to her personal ad that read, "I know how to take care of my man if he knows how to take care of me."

McLaughlin, who was in his 50s and who had just gone through a divorce, later began dating and financially supporting Packard McNeal, according to prosecutors. Packard McNeal, who at the time was divorced with two children, started living with him in a beachfront home he purchased for her and also stayed with him in his bayfront home.

At the same time, she also was allegedly an affair with Naposki, a former National Football League player for the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, according to prosecutors. At the time of McLaughlin's murder, Naposki worked as a bouncer at the Thunderbird Nightclub, located in Newport Beach, less than 500 feet from the McLaughlin's home.

Prosecutors believe that Packard McNeal, who had a $1 million life insurance policy on McLaughlin, provided Naposki with a key to the McLaughlin's home and information about when he was expected to be at the house.

At about 9 p.m. on Dec. 15, 1994, Naposki allegedly entered McLaughlin's home using the house key Packard McNeal provided, and shot McLaughlin six times with a 9 MM handgun while he was standing in the kitchen, according to the District Attorney's Office. He then walked over to the Thunderbird and reported for work, prosecutors said.

McLaughlin's son, a young adult who suffered brain damage as a result of being hit by a drunken driver a few years earlier, was upstairs listening to music and heard the gunshots. The victim's son found his murdered father and called 9-1-1.

Packard McNeal was named in McLaughlin's will, and was due to receive $150,000 in cash the event of his death and also have the right to live in his beach house rent free for one year, according to prosecutors.



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