The killing of two minor players in Melbourne’s underworld has attracted huge $1 million police rewards after their deaths became linked to the same suspected hit man.
Dimitrios Belias, 38, was found dead in a pool of blood in a car park below a St Kilda Road office building in September 1999.
Two years later, George Germanos, 41, was shot in the head and chest, his body found late at night in an Armadale park.
Police say Mr Germanos, a part-time security guard, had known associations with several gangland identities, while Mr Belias was a property developer who owed significant debts to underworld figures.
Detective Inspector John Potter, head of Victoria’s homicide squad, says public tip-offs have led police to believe the same person killed Mr Belias and Mr Germanos.
The breakthrough comes more than 15 years after the first killing.
“As a result, we are now treating the jobs as linked and are appealing to anyone with information about either murder to come forward,” he said.
But it’s not clear what kind of relationship the two slain man had, if any at all, he added.
‘‘However, we do believe that the same person is responsible for both murders.’’
Police have not revealed if the suspected hit man is in jail or still at large, but announced a $1 million reward on Thursday to solve either case.
The rewards come only weeks after a cold case review into Mr Belias’ death led police to scour the Yarra River in search of a murder weapon.
Divers searched the murky waters around the Power House Rowing Club on Alexandra Avenue, South Yarra, and another site near the Hoddle Street Bridge, prompted by an anonymous tip-off that the weapon had been dumped in the area.
While police wouldn’t reveal if a handgun had been found, officers later described the river search in March as concluding with the discovery of an ‘‘object of interest’’.
A secondary search at a Strath Creek property in central Victoria also found spent ammunition of various calibres.
Mr Belias had been lured to the car park and killed with a single bullet to the head.
His friend and business partner, Milorad Dapcevic, vanished shortly after the 1999 killing, but it went unnoticed by police until the file was reviewed in recent months.
It’s feared Mr Dapcevic has also been killed by the same person who killed Mr Belias, police revealed last month.
Detective Inspector Potter said the passage of time and the huge rewards may motivate someone to finally call police and solve the killings.
“Fifteen years is a long time,’’ he said.
‘‘People’s circumstances change and there may be someone out there who knows something they didn’t feel they could talk to police about at the time.’’
Those who have information leading to a conviction can also avoid being prosecuted themselves, even if they were involved.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.