Police edge closer to answers on missing alpine campers

Twenty months after they were last seen, detectives from the Missing Persons Squad have released an image of a vehicle and a trailer they believe may be able to help them find missing Wonnangatta campers, Russell Hill and Carol Clay.

Detectives are keen to speak to the driver of the vehicle or any witnesses who saw the vehicle in the area at the time.

Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said throughout the detectives’ extensive investigation during the past 20 months, they had not been able to eliminate the blue four-wheel drive from their enquiries.

“We have witness statements that put this blue vehicle and its trailer in the valley at the time Russell and Carol were there, and indeed near the spot that they had set up their camp,” he said.

“Detectives have also been given information that a vehicle attempted to leave the valley late at night on the evening of Friday, March 20, but the Myrtleford gate was closed because of the bushfires, meaning that the driver had to make a complicated turn back in the direction from which they had come.

Police have released this sketch of a blue Nissan Patrol and its trailer they believe was seen in the area when campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay went missing.

“That same vehicle is also spotted on two cameras at the top of Mount Hotham, consistent with where a vehicle would exit the valley, given the closure of the Myrtleford gate.

“We understand that initially, given the confusion around COVID-19 and state-wide lockdowns, that people may have been reluctant to come forward, or that someone may simply have missed our repeated appeals for information.

“But if you are the driver of this blue Nissan Patrol, or you know who is, we would urge you to come forward – if nothing else, so we can eliminate you from our enquiries and move forward.

“Both families are still desperate for answers about what happened to Russell and Carol and why, and I know our investigators are doing all they can to try and get those answers for them.

“If you do know something or have heard something, no matter what it is, then I urge you to come forward and hopefully we can continue to fill in all the pieces of this puzzle until we get the result and answers both families deserve.”

Mr Hill and Ms Clay were last heard from on March 20, 2020, when they were camping in the Wonnangatta Valley.

Since that time, police have conducted significant, meticulous and protracted searches of the area in the hope of discovering even the smallest clue as to their disappearance.

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.

It is still yet to be fully determined whether the pair’s disappearance is suspicious, however investigators have long believed it is likely a third party was involved in their disappearance.

Anyone who sees Mr Hill or ms Clay should phone triple zero (000) immediately.

Anyone with any other information regarding their disappearance can file an anonymous report by phoning Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au