Police seek information on 6-month-anniversary of Hill and Clay disappearance

On the 6-month-anniversary of when they were last heard from, detectives from the Missing Persons Squad are again appealing for information as part of their investigation into missing Wonnangatta campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay.

Russell left his Drouin home on 19 March, collected Carol from her home in Pakenham in his white Toyota Landcruiser.

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

He was last heard from on 20 March via HF radio stating he was at Wonnangatta Valley in the Victorian Alps when he made the call.

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

Investigators have been told Russell and Carol were camping together at Wonnangatta River near the Wonnangatta camping ground.

Police are keen to speak to anyone who was in the Wonnangatta area around that time, including campers, 4×4 day trippers, hunters, fishermen or trail bike riders, regardless of whether they saw or heard anything.

This is so police can eliminate people and vehicles from their extensive investigation.

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.

Investigators have been told that Russell took his DJI Mavic drone before going camping and the drone is still yet to be recovered.

Police have made extensive inquiries in relation to the drone and its flight logs which have not provided any further information.

Campers found Russell’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 21 March.

The examination of the fire scene by arson chemists was inconclusive and police would still like to speak to anyone who saw this fire or the smoke from it.

Detectives have also established that Russell was camping alone with his Landcruiser in the area of the King Billy and Bluff Track between 11-13 March.

Police are keen to speak to anyone 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 22-23 March, however have never been able to establish if this was the missing campers.

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

Despite extensive searches over the past six months, the pair have not been located and have not contacted family or friends.

It is still yet to be fully determined whether their disappearance is suspicious, but a major investigation has been conducted over the last six months and will continue.

Officer in charge of the Missing Persons Squad, Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper, said police were still hopeful of getting answers for the Hill and Clay families.

“Six months is a long time to be waiting by the phone for information, however police haven’t given up,” he said.

“When the weather allows, our investigators and specialist search teams will return to the area to conduct further searches in the hope of finding any clues about what has happened to Russell and Carol.

“We’ve had a number of people who were in the area around the time they went missing come forward however I can’t stress enough that anyone with even the slightest piece of information is urged to contact us.

Police are extremely grateful for the many people who have come forward so far.

“If you were in the Wonnangatta or surrounding areas around this time but for whatever reason have not spoken to police, we’d still very much like to you to contact us.

“We know there were vehicles in the area at the time with Victorian, NSW, Tasmanian, Queensland and South Australian registrations, so potentially there are people now interstate who have some information or need to contact us with their details.

“Although six months have passed, police still believe that we can solve this but we need the public’s help.”

Anyone who sights Russell or Carol is urged to contact triple zero (000) immediately.

Anyone with any other information regarding their disappearance or who has any CCTV or dashcam footage is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or log onto www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

Natalie Webster

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