Former linebacker, ex-girlfriend charged

Updated: May 21, 2009, 4:10 PM ET
Associated Press

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- A former NFL linebacker and his ex-lover were charged Wednesday with killing a wealthy Orange County businessman for financial gain nearly 15 years ago.

Nanette Packard McNeal and Eric Naposki, who played in the late 1980s for the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, were arrested and each charged with one count of murder.

Both long had been suspected in the December 1994 shooting death of multimillionaire William Francis McLaughlin, 55, but were not arrested at the time because police hadn't found the 9mm handgun used in the shooting, among other evidence. Authorities declined to specify what new evidence was found.

"We feel at this point we have sufficient evidence to prove they were responsible for the death of Mr. McLaughlin," said Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office. The victim's family "deserves justice and closure for the murder of their father."

McNeal, 43, McLaughlin's former girlfriend who was known at the time as Nanette Ann Johnston, stood to collect $1 million in life insurance from his death, authorities said. She also was accused of writing hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of checks drawn from his accounts.

Police said Naposki, 44, who was romantically involved with McNeal, is believed to have shot McLaughlin six times at his Newport Beach home. Naposki was given a key to McLaughlin's home by McNeal, authorities said.

McNeal pleaded guilty in 1996 for stealing nearly $500,000 from McLaughlin before and after his death. She was sentenced to one year in jail.

McNeal at the time denied that she or Naposki were involved in the shooting. On Wednesday, after she was put in a police squad car and led to jail, she maintained she wasn't guilty.

Naposki was arrested in Connecticut and will face extradition proceedings. McNeal was arrested in Orange County and is scheduled to be arraigned Friday. Emami said she didn't know if they had retained attorneys.

McLaughlin founded a company that developed a device that separates plasma from blood. He had an estimated $55 million fortune, according to court records.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press