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NFL player, O.C. housewife arrested in 1994 Newport Beach slaying [Updated]

May 21, 2009 |  8:05 am

In the early 1990s, wealthy Newport Beach businessman Bill McLaughlin answered a personal ad from a woman that read: “I know how to take care of my man if he knows how to take care of me." 

Nanette Packard McNeal McLaughlin hit it off with Nanette Packard McNeal and they started dating. Soon, McLaughlin, the head of a successful medical technology firm, was financially supporting McNeal and her two children and even provided them with a beachfront home, according to Newport Beach police.

Then, in 1994, someone broke into McLaughin's bayside home and shot him six times as he stood in the kitchen. According to police, McLaughlin’s son, a young adult who had suffered brain damage as a result of being hit by a drunk driver, discovered his father's body. The shooting stunned the gated Balboa Island community, where McLaughlin and his son were well known.

Now, 15 years later, police have arrested McNeal and a former professional football player in connection with the cold case. Authorities allege that at the same time she was dating McLaughin, McNeal was also dating Eric Naposki, a former National Football League player for the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. (Updated at 10:40 a.m.: An earlier version of this post left out McNeal and Naposki's first names.)

According to Newport Beach police records, Naposki worked as a bouncer at a nightclub next to McLaughlin's home, the Thunderbird Nightclub. Police allege Naposki went back to work after killing McLaughlin.

In a document released by Newport Beach detectives, the alleged motive for the killing was financial gain.

Detectives say that McNeal wrote a $250,000 check from McLaughlin’s accounts. She had long been a suspect in the slaying. In 1995, she pleaded guilty to taking $500,000 from McLaughlin's accounts.

In a 1995 interview with The Times, McNeal denied killing McLaughlin, saying "the police are all wet." She said that Naposki was with her at the time of the killing.

"I didn't do it and [Naposki] didn't do it," McNeal said. "I don't think they [police] have any real facts," Johnston said. "They couldn't, because I didn't do anything. . . . I stood to gain a lot more by being with Mr.McLaughlin than [from] an insurance policy."

McNeal was arrested Wednesday in Ladera Ranch, Naposki in Connecticut. They are scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Orange County.

The unsolved slaying has long baffled Newport Beach. McLaughlin was a legendary figure in Orange County medical circles. Operating out of a Santa Ana garage, he created in the 1980s a prototype blood-filtering device for collecting plasma that was soon to be used by blood banks worldwide. He later sold the business to a larger medical firm.

Shortly after the slaying, one friend, Brian Ringler, said he couldn't figure out why anyone would want to harm McLaughlin.

"How could it be that someone who appears so nice and so giving could have something like this happen to him?" he told The Times. "It does not make any sense."

-- Shelby Grad

Booking photo of Nanette Packard McNeal. Credit: Orange County district attorney's office