Missing camper’s wife’s shock comment

The wife of a camper missing in Victoria’s high country for more than a year has revealed new details about her husband’s case and made a grim prediction.

The wife of missing camper Russell Hill – who vanished in the Victorian wilderness with Carol Clay nearly 15 months ago – believes she will never see her husband alive again.

“I can’t see how they will come home. He hasn’t spent any money, he hasn’t done anything,” Robyn Hill said.

“I just want them found, one way or the other, and then he can face the music if he’s still alive.

“See, I’m a bit of a sadist. You’ve got to be, otherwise you’d be in a heap.”

After almost 15 months of searching, the mystery of what happened on the campgrounds of the Wonnangatta Valley continues to baffle detectives.

Mr Hill, 74, and Ms Clay, 73, vanished on March 20 last year during a camping trip in the remote East Gippsland beauty spot, 350km east of Melbourne.

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

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

Mrs Hill said she and her husband had known Ms Clay for more than 50 years and attended her first wedding.

Mrs Hill could not understand what fate the pair met.

“Unless someone’s got them,” she said. “But why would they do that?”

“I just want them found and then maybe work out what happened.”

She said she was coping well and had support from friends and family.

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

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

Mr Hill was last heard from the next day via HF radio, stating he was at Wonnangatta Valley in the Victorian Alps.

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

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

In a shock twist, police moved the search 80km northwest to the Mount Hotham area a fortnight ago, marking the first time the search had strayed from Wonnangatta.

The search then came to an abrupt halt the day after detectives found two shovels in thick bush off the Great Alpine Road on April 14.

The shovels are still being forensically examined, and a week later the search was redirected back to the campgrounds of Wonnangatta where the pair first vanished from.

Investigators are now focusing on areas along the Dargo High Plains Road, Cynthia Range Track, Herne Spur Track and the Wonnangatta Track “as a result of information obtained from previous searches”.

Missing Persons Squad Detective Acting Inspector Tony Combridge has dropped the biggest hint so far that the pair met with foul play, saying police believed “somebody else is involved” in the disappearance.

“I don’t think anything’s off the table but we look at what’s in front of us and the likely scenario is that somebody else is involved,” Detective Acting Inspector Combridge said moments after the discovery of the two shovels in Mount Hotham.

“We could be one phone call away. That’s the position we hold … from this matter being resolved.”

Anyone who was in the Wonnangatta area about the time Mr Hill and Ms Clay went missing on March 20 – including campers, day trippers, hunters, fishermen or trail bike riders – regardless of whether they saw or heard anything, are being urged to come forward.

Detectives were also keen to speak to anyone who was in the area of Howitt Plains and Zeka Spur Track on March 19 or 20, and the Wonnangatta Valley and Wonnangatta Station between March 20 and 24.

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

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

Anyone who sees Mr Hill or Ms Clay should phone triple-0 immediately. Anyone with any other information should phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.



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