Almost a year to the day that campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay went missing in Victoria, detectives are “getting close” to cracking the baffling case after forensic evidence revealed new information about their campsite.
Speaking with A Current Affair on Thursday, Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper, officer-in-charge of the Missing Persons Squad, said police have been able to focus on several “persons-of-interest” and a number of theories about what happened to the pair.
Forensic testing has revealed the pair never used the toilet set up at their campsite in the Wonnangatta Valley, which is why investigators believe whatever happened to them was carried out within an 18-hour-window, shortly after Mr Hill finished a final radio call about 6:30pm on March 20 last year.
The following day other campers discovered the pair's campsite with no sign of either Mr Hill or Ms Clay.
The area where Mr Hill and Ms Clay went missing is popular with deer hunters, and when asked if the probability of a hunter becoming frustrated by Mr Hill's drone and accidentally shooting one of them is being investigated, Mr Stamper said it was a possibility.
"There's a number of scenarios we are looking at," Detective Inspector Stamper told A Current Affair.
"Certainly that's one we can't eliminate.
Occupants of white ute may have information
Mr Hill’s drone and the pair's mobile phones are unaccounted for, as are their sleeping bags.
A drone recently handed in to police was found not to be Mr Hill's. Police believe there may be some evidence on the missing drone that could help with the case.
Since the companions went missing, detectives have managed to eliminate hundreds of people who were in the area at the time with the exception of the occupant of a white dual-cab ute – the make and model unknown – spotted at a public toilet in the Valley the day before Mr Hill and Ms Clay were last heard from.
Detective Inspector Stamper said although there was nothing to suggest the occupant or occupants of the vehicle were involved in the pair's disappearance, they may have been the last people to see the campers alive.
"It might seem like only a very small possibility that those in the white ute will have information about Russell and Carol's disappearance but we can't afford to leave any stone unturned," Detective Inspector Stamper told media earlier this month.
"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."
Detective Inspector Stamper told media police could not leave any "what ifs" in their investigation and that it could not be done without the public's help.
"We will not give up on the possibility that we can give those families the answers that they need," he said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a report online.
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