Man arrested over disappearance of elderly couple camping in Australia

Russell Hill and Carol Clay, missing (Victoria Police)
Russell Hill and Carol Clay, missing (Victoria Police)

Australian police have arrested a man over the disappearance of a camper couple from Victoria over a year ago.

A 55-year-old man from Caroline Springs, a suburb of Melbourne, was arrested on Monday, the Victoria Police said.

The man was arrested at a campsite near Arbuckle Junction by the force's special operations group, who flew to the area in two helicopters.

He has been taken into custody for questioning but has not been charged yet.

Russell Hill, 74, and Carol Clay 73, were last heard from on 20 March 2020, when they were camping at Wonnangatta Valley in the Victorian Alps. Mr Hill had used his radio to communicate with his friends in the evening and investigators believe the couple went shorty missing after that.

Mr Hill and Ms Clay were reportedly in a secret relationship. Ms Clay had told her friends she was heading away and expected to return home on 28 or 29 March.

The next day, Mr Hill's car was found burnt out at a campsite.

Despite launching one of the largest missing person investigations, authorities have not found any trace of the hikers.

The police believe that the couple could have had an altercation with another camper at the site. The investigation gained momentum earlier this month when police released images of a blue four-wheel-drive believed to be a Nissan Patrol, which was present in the area at the time the duo went missing.

“Maybe someone in that blue four-wheeler was parked and camped in the same area and that could have prompted some contact which may have been confrontational or aggressive contact,” detective inspector Andrew Stamper told reporters.

Ms Clay’s sister, Jill, said she hoped the arrest would bring answers.

“Emotionally it’s brought up everything during that time - a lot of grief and pain. We haven’t known how, we haven’t know why, they just vanished. Now all of a sudden there's a glimmer and we might get some answers,” she told Nine News.

“It would be such a relief, to have those answers, to have a memorial for Carol and Russell,” she added,

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