‘A long way to go’: Police await DNA results on remains found during missing campers search

Dec 01, 2021
Remains found as part of the Victorian missing campers investigation will undergo weeks of testing: Source: Instagram/@newscop_media & @caffeinecrimeandcanines

The human remains discovered as part of the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Russell Hill and Carol Clay may take investigators weeks to identify as DNA testing begins.

Authorities made the discovery in bushland near Dargo, on November 30, after a large contingent of police and forensic experts spent much of the day scouring dense bushland in search of the two bodies.

Despite the significant find, Victoria Police Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper told news.com.au “there is still a long way to go” before DNA testing can confirm the identity of the remains, with testing expected to take several weeks.

Forensic investigator Greg Kelly told 9 News it could be weeks or even months before detectives can identify the remains.

“Police have to consider that the temperature of the earth, the decomposition of the bodies that takes place in that period of time and the forensic evidence that surrounds that,” he said.

“But moreover, we are looking not just at the forensic evidence associated with the identification, which is extremely important both to the authorities and also to the families concerned.

“But we are also looking at what physical evidence, material evidence that might be identified – as the bodies start to break down we might find the remains of projectiles or other injuries that help the police put the case together and be the evidence that they will ultimately present in court.”

Detectives announced the discovery of the human remains in a statement on November 30.

“Victoria Police has located human remains in bushland near Dargo as part of their ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Russell Hill and Carol Clay,” the statement read.

“The remains are yet to be formally identified and it is expected this process will take some time.

“As this matter is now before the courts, we will not be facilitating any interviews in relation to the investigation.”

Russell Hill and Carol Clay were last heard from on March 20, 2020 when they were camping in the Wonnangatta Valley. The couple’s campsite was discovered by campers on March 21 completely destroyed by fire near Dry River Creek Track. Hill’s vehicle was found with signs of minor fire damage.

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