Drone handed in does not belong to missing camper, police say

A drone that was being examined after it was handed to police on the weekend does not belong to missing Victorian camper Russell Hill, investigators say.

The drone was handed into East Gippsland police station several days after police renewed an appeal for information about the missing pair.

The burnt campsite discovered by campers on March 21. The fire was cold by the time it was discovered. Credit:A Current Affair

It was a white dual-cab ute, but the make and model is unknown. There is nothing to indicate the vehicle or its occupants were linked to the pair’s disappearance, but police hoped those travelling in the ute could have new information.

Head of the missing persons squad Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said: “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.”

“We cannot leave any what-ifs when it comes to an investigation like this.

“The grief that these families have had to deal with over the past year, coupled with immense public speculation, is immensely difficult to comprehend.

Missing campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay.

“We will not give up on the possibility that we can give those families the answers they need – but we cannot do this without the public’s help.”

Police are still keen to speak to anyone who was in the area of Howitt Plains and Zeka Spur track on March 19 or 20, 2020, and the Wonnangatta Valley and Wonnangatta Station between March 20 and 24 last year, so they can continue to eliminate people and vehicles from the investigation.

“It is still yet to be fully determined whether the pair’s disappearance is suspicious,” a police spokeswoman said.

Mr Hill was seen by neighbours loading Ms Clay’s bags into his car as he picked her up from her home in Pakenham on March 19, 2020.

He was last heard via high-frequency radio on March 20, when he told a friend he was at Wonnangatta Station in the Victorian alps setting up camp before dark.

Mr Hill promised to call back the next day but never did. His call sign was VK3 VZP and anyone who heard this signal is being urged to contact police.

Their tent and some belongings were found burnt to the ground next to Mr Hill’s slightly scorched Toyota LandCruiser on March 21 at their campsite near the Dry River Creek track.

A photo of a DJI brand and Mavic model drone, similar to the one Russell Hill had recently bought.Credit:Victoria Police

The Age previously revealed that Ms Clay had settled on a new property in Melbourne’s south-east a week before the pair’s mysterious disappearance.

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or anonymously online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.

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