Russell Hill and Carol Clay: Bizarre new twist in case of missing campers

May 20, 2021
Russell Hill and Carol Clay's disappearance remains a mystery. Source: Channel Nine

A new theory has emerged in the case of missing campers Russell Hill, 74, and Carol Clay, 73, who haven’t been seen or heard from since March last year after they seemingly vanished without a trace while camping in Victoria’s Wonnangatta Valley.

News Corp papers reported on Thursday morning that a hunting mishap could be the reason for the two camper’s mysterious disappearance. According to the Herald Sun, some locals now believe the pair may have been accidentally shot by hunters armed with crossbows or rifles, and disposed of quickly out of panic.

A witness, the same one who stumbled upon the pair’s scorched campsite after their disappearance in March 2020, recently told missing persons investigators he recalled finding a fluorescent green crossbow arrow near the burnt-out camp, but didn’t think much of it at the time.

Locals in the area also reckon there’s a possibility that hunters may have accidentally shot Hill and Clay with a rifle. How? Well, hunters use thermal imaging on their high-powered rifles to spot deer at ranges of up to 800 metres, the Herald Sun reports. However, the images aren’t the clearest, so a human bending over may be easily mistaken for a deer. “Culpable negligence could easily turn to murder in a panicked cover-up,” the news outlet writes.

It’s the latest theory to emerge from the missing campers case. In March this year, detectives were investigating whether a drone found in the search zone was connected to the pair. They later confirmed the identical missing drone wasn’t. The police are also searching for an unknown white dual-cab, which was parked near the campsite. Police hope that those travelling in the ute may have some information to assist investigators in the mysterious disappearance.

Hill, who has been married to wife Robyn for 50 years, left his home in Drouin on March 19, and picked up Clay from her home in Pakenham in his white Toyota Land Cruiser. Hill made contact with his wife using a high-frequency radio on March 20, however, that is the last time anyone heard from either of them, with their mobile phones gone.

It is believed the pair went away together frequently and were expected to return home on March 28 or 29. But one week later, on March 27, a group of campers discovered the missing pair’s burnt-out campsite and tent and the police investigation was launched.

Initial theories included the suggestion that the companions may have staged their own disappearance to begin a new life together, but Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper, who leads Victoria Police’s Missing Persons Squad, believes there was “no reason for them to do that”.

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