On the other end of the line was a man purporting he had information on someone considered a suspect when the case was fresh.
“He said he had never spoken to anyone about what he knew because he had been threatened by detectives to keep quiet,” Mr Knaus said.
“Basically, he said that if he’d said anything to anyone, he’d have been arrested and locked up.”
That phone call was enough to set off Mr Knaus on his year-long pursuit to discover the ineptitude of the original criminal investigation which saw no one ever charged over the death of 17-year-old Troy Forsyth in 1987.
After a year of investigating, while still juggling his regular workload at The Canberra Times, Mr Knaus discovered detectives were refusing to consider the possibility the teenager’s death was deliberate just a week after his death.
Mr Knaus’ first port of call was to speak to the detectives currently assigned to the case, but he hit a brick wall.
“They were saying, ‘the evidence you have doesn’t really help us, it doesn’t move the case forward,’” Mr Knaus said.
“When I heard that, I lost a little heart. I left it for a month and came at it with fresh eyes.”
Over the next year, Mr Knaus interviewed witnesses, people involved with the original investigation, looked over past court records, looked over police notes and files investigators had held, searching for any irregularities which stood out.
“Part of the process I really enjoyed was going back over all those documents trying to pick out discrepancies and things that just didn’t add up,” Mr Knaus said.
Mr Knaus said the response to The Canberra Times’ investigation was positive and people began to understand the original police investigation was deeply flawed.
He said he was over the moon to have been nominated for a Young Walkley Award for the end result.
“It’s pretty surreal to be honest,” Mr Knaus said.
“I’m still trying to come to terms with it.”