MELBOURNE, Australia – Twenty months ago, Russell Hill and Carol Clay disappeared while hiking in the Wonnangatta Valley, in the remote highland country of Victoria, Australia. Their camp was burned to the ground, and the carcasses of deer were scattered across the valley.
On Thursday, the mystery of what happened to them, the country-shaking case, came close to resolving when police announced that a suspect had been charged with their murder.
“We hope this arrest will bring us closer to providing the answers that families are desperately looking for and that they deserve,” Victoria State Police Assistant Commissioner Bob Hill told a news conference Thursday evening.
The announcement came three days after police arrested 55-year-old Greg Lynn, who was identified by local media as the pilot of the Australian airline Jetstar Airways.
Jetstar said in a statement via email that police said the employee was under investigation for a “serious crime” and that “it goes without saying that the employee was removed from office as a result of the arrest. “
Police said he was arrested Monday night while camping in Arbuckle Junction, in a high-mountain Victorian country, about 15 miles south of where Mr. Hill and Miss Clay were last known to have been.
Police began questioning Mr. Lynn, who lives in a Melbourne suburb, on Tuesday morning and charged him with murder on Thursday. He will appear in local court Friday morning, Assistant Commissioner Hill said.
The police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with this case.
The announcement follows a nearly two-year police investigation that has garnered national attention.
Mr Hill and Ms Clay, both in their 70s, set off in March 2020 for what was supposed to be a week-long trek in the Wonnangatta Valley. Five hours from Melbourne, it is one of the most remote regions of the state and can only be reached by four-wheel drive or horse.
That evening, when they arrived in the valley, Mr. Hill, an amateur radio amateur, called to let the other amateurs know where he was.
This was the last time they heard of them. The next day, tourists stumbled upon their burned down camp. Mr. Hill and Miss Clay were nowhere to be found.
Over the next months, the police returned to the site several times and combed the area, although the search was difficult due to its strength.
There were rumors and speculation in the media surrounding this case: illegal deer hunting in the area; the possibility that an unmarried couple escaped together; and a local hermit known as Button Man – although there is no evidence that he was ever a suspect in the case.
In April of this year, police found and took as evidence two shovels after new information forced them to search an area 20 miles northeast of where Mr. Hill and Miss Clay were last seen. It is unclear what significance the discovery made.
Last month, the police, along with family members of Mr. Hill and Ms. Clay, again requested information on the case.
“He just disappeared, and you just got stuck,” said Debbie, the daughter of Mr. Hill. “We cannot grieve for someone if you do not know whether they are really missing or dead. There’s just a really big hole left, a deep hole. “
Despite the arrest, many questions remain.
Nearly three weeks ago, police released photographs of a navy blue Nissan Patrol with a trailer it said was “still under investigation.”
When the police arrested Lynn, they took his car – a beige Nissan Patrol. Local media reported that police intend to state that Mr. Lynn painted his car a different color to avoid detection.
Police are still looking for the trailer, Assistant Commissioner Hill said Thursday, and looked forward to meeting everyone who bought it between March and July 2020. Police believe the trailer was sold on the Gumtree site, a classified classifieds site.
He said police did not find the bodies of Mr. Hill and Miss Clay, but they were targeting the Victoria Highlands, where they would begin searching in the coming days.
“The police are hoping that we can find the victims and ensure the final closure of their families,” he said.