Crime expert revealed why he believed in secret lovers who went missing on a remote camping trip may not have been murdered.
Russell Hill, 74, and Carol Clay, 73, went missing on March 19 in the Wonnangatta Valley, in the East Gippsland area of Victoria.
Their disappearance baffled authorities, who found their camp set on fire and Mr. Hill’s car lightly damaged by fire two days later.
PodcastOne Australia editor-in-chief Adam Shand said he was “not convinced” the couple was dead.
“We don’t know what we don’t know in this case. We don’t even know they’re dead, “he said. A topical matter.
Russell Hill (pictured left), 74, and his lover Carol Clay (right), 73, went missing on a March 19 camping trip to the Wonnangatta Valley in the East Gippsland region of Victoria.
Crime podcaster Andrew Shand said it was speculated the couple had been murdered but were “not convinced” they were dead. He said authorities have found their bodies
Mr Shand said many believed the murder was the “strongest theory,” but there was no lead to suggest foul play.
MISSING CAMPERS – QUESTIONS WITHOUT ANSWER
What were the campers doing in the Wonnangatta Valley?
Why didn’t Mr. Hill tell his wife he was going?
Why did Mr. Hill take his drone?
“Today we are still looking, at least in a public sense, for a motive if there has been a murder.”
Mr Shand also said the couple’s bodies would have been discovered if they had been killed.
“You have crows and other scavengers circling around these corpses. This often leads the police to search the bodies, ”he explained.
Mr Shand said there were many unanswered questions regarding the couple’s disappearance.
‘There are so many questions. Why were they there? Why was Russell there? Why didn’t he say anything to his wife? Why was he there with the drone? What was he doing?’ he said.
Detectives consulted with interstate and global police about the investigation.
Police also called on interstate travelers visiting the area at the time to come forward.
Police last month revealed they were exploring a theory that the couple were attacked in their sleep.
Detectives believe that potential attackers may have burned down their encampment to destroy forensic evidence of a crime.
Mr. Hill’s white Toyota Landcruiser was found with minor fire damage at their burnt out campsite (pictured) near Dry River Creek Track in the valley on March 21
Mr Hill and Ms Clay’s search has gone international, as detectives turn to foreign and interstate experts for help
Mr. Hill and Ms. Clay had a secret relationship and did not tell anyone where they were going.
Ms. Clay just told friends she would be away for a few days.
In June, investigators said three theories about Mr Hill and Ms Clay’s disappearance were being investigated.
A foul play is highly suspected on the balance of probabilities, but there is no evidence and no suspects.
Another possibility is that the couple were flying Mr. Hill’s $ 2,000 drone and died of exposure after getting lost out of the way looking for it.
The third is that they died lost in the bush for some reason, but were not found because the feral dogs ate their remains.
Police are convinced the couple did not fake their own deaths and do not believe it was a murder-suicide case.
The couple disappeared in the Wonnangatta Valley, more than 200 km northeast of Melbourne
Russell Hill clings to a drone he had with him when he disappeared. The drone was not found despite a thorough search of the area
The key to unlock the case may have caught fire in a fire that destroyed their campsite.
Mr Hill’s four-wheel drive Toyota had been found by local police next to his burnt down tent, but the two had disappeared without a trace.
The vehicle itself was also damaged in the fire, but was still able to be removed from the scene.
At the time, police believed the fire was likely started by a shady phone charger or a campfire spark and the couple simply got lost in the forest.
But the fire could also have been started by a thief rummaging through the tent – or by a murderer trying to cover their tracks.
A spare key set was found hidden on the car, but it is believed that Mr. Hill took the main set with him.
Personal belongings (circled) were left in Russell Hill’s vehicle, which suffered fire damage when his tent caught fire
Carol Clay, 73, who was once president of the Country Women’s Association of Victoria, had had a relationship with Russell Hill for many years before their demise.
Mr. Hill’s white Toyota Landcruiser was found with minor fire damage at their burnt out campsite near Dry River Creek Track in the valley on March 21
The fact that the car was locked likely indicated that the couple had voluntarily left the campsite, likely to take a walk or fly the drone.
The drone is still missing despite an extensive search that ended on April 6 without anyone finding a trace.
Mr. Hill was an avid amateur radio enthusiast and did his last show from the bush on March 20.
Police are now certain the couple died within 18 hours of Mr Hill’s last message, as a passing hiker saw the campground set on fire around 2 p.m. the next day.
Because the couple was not due to return until a week later, the alarm was not raised for days and precious time was wasted.
When asked about the couple’s relationship in April, Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper of the Victoria Police Missing Persons Squad bypassed the question.
“It is delicate and we are very respectful of the wishes and concerns of both families here,” he said at the time.
Anyone with information is asked to contact CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 00
Victoria Police Missing Persons Squad Detective Andrew Stamper investigates mystery
Russell Hill and Carol Clay were last interviewed on March 20, with Mr Hill’s wife unaware he was traveling with another woman.