Major twist in missing campers case

 

A year-long search for missing campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay has taken another turn with police moving their search to the Mount Hotham area.

Missing Person Squad detectives and Search and Rescue officers will be scouring the area on the Great Alpine Road in Mount Hotham from 9am on Wednesday.

"Detectives are acting on information uncovered during the course of the investigation that has led them to this area and is believed to be of interest to the investigation," a Victoria Police statement read.

Mr Hill and Ms Clay vanished on March 20 during a camping trip in the remote Wonnangatta Valley, 350km east of Melbourne.

Mr Hill left his Drouin home on March 19 before collecting Ms Clay from her home in Pakenham in his white Toyota LandCruiser.

Russell Hill and Carol Clay vanished on March 20 during a camping trip in the remote Wonnangatta Valley, 350km east of Melbourne.
Russell Hill and Carol Clay vanished on March 20 during a camping trip in the remote Wonnangatta Valley, 350km east of Melbourne.

 

The friends then travelled via Licola spending one night at Howitt High Plains before heading into Wonnangatta Valley on 20 March.

He was last heard from the following day via HF radio, stating he was at Wonnangatta Valley in the Victorian Alps when he made the call.

Ms Clay told friends she was heading away and was expecting to return home on March 28 or 29.

Previous reports have suggested the pair were high school sweethearts, and that Mr Hill's wife was not aware Ms Clay was joining him on the camping trip.

Investigators were told the pair were camping together at Wonnangatta River near the Wonnangatta camping ground.

Campers found Mr Hill's vehicle with signs of minor fire damage at their campsite, which was completely destroyed by fire, near Dry River Creek Track in the Wonnangatta Valley on March 21.

"Investigators are continuing to appeal to anyone who was in the Wonnangatta area around that time, including campers, 4x4 day trippers, hunters, fishermen or trail bike riders, regardless of whether they saw or heard anything," a Victoria Police spokesperson said.

"Detectives are also keen to speak to anyone who was in the area of Howitt Plains and Zeka Spur Track on 19 or 20 March, and the Wonnangatta Valley and Wonnangatta Station between 20-24 March who has not yet made contact with police is urged to come forward."

Campers found Mr Hill’s vehicle with signs of minor fire damage at their campsite, which was completely destroyed by fire. Picture: ABC
Campers found Mr Hill’s vehicle with signs of minor fire damage at their campsite, which was completely destroyed by fire. Picture: ABC

 

Detectives also established Mr Hill was camping alone with his Landcruiser in the area of the King Billy and Bluff Track between March 11-13, 2020.

Police were also keen to speak to anyone who was in that area on those dates.

Information was later received about sighting of "an older person or pair" in the Black Snake Creek, Eaglevale River crossing and the Ollies Jump area on March 22-23 - but have not been able to establish if this was the missing campers.

Detectives called for anyone in this area, or any older couple who may be these persons, to also come forward.

Anyone who sights Mr Hill or Ms Clay should phone triple-0 immediately.

Anyone with any other information should phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

anthony.piovesan@news.com.au

Originally published as Major twist in missing campers case



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