New clue in search for missing Victorian campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay
A new clue has emerged in the search for missing Victorian campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay, with a drone reportedly handed in over the weekend.The pair vanished while on a camping trip in the remote Wonnangatta Valley east of Melbourne on March 20 last year.
Investigators were told Mr Hill took his DJI Mavic drone before going camping.
Victoria Police confirmed detectives from the missing persons squad received an item that was handed in to them over the weekend.
“The item is being reviewed to determine if it has any relevance to the investigation,” a spokeswoman said.
“The investigation remains ongoing and as such it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this time.”
Mr Hill left his Drouin home on March 19 before collecting Ms Clay from her home in Pakenham in his white Toyota LandCruiser.
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.
Investigators have been told the pair were camping together at Wonnangatta River near the Wonnangatta camping ground.
The new clue comes after police on Friday appealed for information about a mystery vehicle, hoping it could lead to a breakthrough in the baffling case.
Victoria Police revealed they had been able to identify all vehicles seen in the area near Mr Hill and Ms Clay’s campsite except one car – a white dual cab ute, with the make and model unknown.
Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said while there was nothing linking that vehicle to the pair’s disappearance, investigators “could not afford to leave any stone unturned”.
“We cannot leave any ‘what ifs’ when it comes to an investigation like this,” he said.
“I appreciate this is not an especially uncommon vehicle; however, if you or someone you know with a white dual cab ute was in the Wonnangatta area around 20 March last year then we need to hear from you.”
Police issued the renewed appeal ahead of the long weekend when a large number of people are expected to flock to camping grounds across the state.
Investigators want to speak to anyone who was in the Wonnangatta area at that time of the pair’s disappearance, including campers, 4×4 day trippers, hunters, fishermen or trail bike riders, regardless of whether they saw or heard anything.
Detectives are also keen to speak to anyone who was in the area of Howitt Plains and Zeka Spur Track on March 19 and 20 and the Wonnangatta Valley and Wonnangatta Station between March 20 and 24.
Campers found Mr Hill’s vehicle with signs of “minor fire damage” at their campsite, which was destroyed by fire, near Dry River Creek Track in the Wonnangatta Valley on March 21.
Detectives have also established that Mr Hill was camping alone with his LandCruiser in the area of the King Billy and Bluff Track between March 11 and 13.
Information was later received about the sighting of an older person or pair in the Black Snake Creek, Eaglevale River crossing and the Ollies Jump area on March 22 and 23, but it has not been established if they were the missing campers.
It is still to be determined if the pair’s disappearance is suspicious.
Anyone who sees Mr Hill or Ms Clay is urged to contact triple-0, and anyone with information about the white dual cab ute should phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.