The drone owned by Russell Hill which was thought to be a key to solving the case of the secret lover campers who were killed in Victoria’s high country remains missing even after murder charges were laid.
Gregory Lynn, 55, faced court on Friday from a local police station in Victoria’s east after being charged with the murders of Mr Hill, 74, and Carol Clay, 73 – who vanished while camping in the Wonnangatta Valley in March last year.
Police were told Mr Hill was flying the drone above the isolated campsite in the hours before he and Ms Clay were murdered and considered the video footage he captured with it could have been significant in discovering their fate.
Greg Lynn (pictured) has been charged with murdering Russell Hill and Carol Clay in March 2020
A DJI Mavic drone (similar to the one pictured) is a missing piece of evidence in the case of murdered campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay
But searches at the scent of the dense bushland never discovered the drone, and more searching at the home of Mr Lynn – a Jetstar pilot – in Melbourne’s west also failed to find it, the Herald Sun has reported.
A bush worker saw the couple at the site on March 20, 2020 and said Mr Hill’s drone was being flown in the area just before dark.
Their bodies have never been found, but police believe they were killed that same night after an altercation at the campsite, which was later found torched.
The search for their remains will escalate on Monday, when police and emergency personnel search the Grant Historic Area near Dargo, about two hours drive southeast of Wonnangatta.
The search area lies within thick bushland with few, poorly maintained tracks. The scene is being protected by a crime scene guard since its location was revealed on Friday after Mr Lynn was charged with the murders.
Mr Lynn’s arrest was brought forward due to police concerns over his mental state.
He was held in custody for more than three days before being charged with the murders.
Mr Lynn was taken to Melbourne on Friday after his court appearance and will be held in remand until his next court hearing on May 31 next year.
Carol Clay (pictured left) and Russell Hill (pictured right) disappeared from a campsite in March 2020 and have never been found
His family has spoken about his dramatic arrest when Special Operations Group officers surrounded him at a remote campsite in Arbuckle Junction in the Victorian alpine region, 100km south of Wonnangatta Valley.
‘It has been distressing for our family and the families of the deceased and we are completely traumatised as well by these tragic events,’ they said.
‘We need to deal with the legal proceedings as they arise and try to restore some balance in our lives.
‘We also acknowledge the suffering of the Clay and Hill families at this difficult time.’
The family said they understood the media was interested in the case but requested privacy.
Greg Lynn was seated behind glass from the watch house of the Sale police station for his brief court hearing on Friday
Police released images of the bushland area where the search continues for the elderly couple’s bodies.
The photos show the dense terrain police will need to navigate to exhume the bodies of the campers.
The bodies of missing campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay are thought to lay somewhere within this thick bushland in Victoria’s high country
Police have been unable to account for the trailer (pictured) being towed in the CCTV footage the night the couple vanished near a remote camping spot
On Friday, during his appearance at the Sale Magistrates Court, Mr Lynn sat quietly in an interview room within Sale police station as he was remanded in custody until mid next year.
His wife Melanie Lynn, a flight attendant with Jetstar, also tuned into the videolink.
A masked Mr Lynn, who appeared from behind bulletproof glass in a cell, only showed his face to take a sip of water from a cup and did not speak.
At times he dipped his head and looked at the white table before him as his immediate fate was discussed.
His lawyer Chris McLennan did not make any application for bail on behalf of the alleged killer.
A brief of evidence against Lynn will not be ready until at least April 19.
Anyone with information is urged to contact CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 00
For 20 months police have been investigating what happened to the two missing campers
Mr Hill’s white Toyota Landcruiser (pictured) was found with minor fire damage at their burnt campsite near Dry River Creek Track in the valley on March 21
TIMELINE OF CAROL CLAY AND RUSSELL HILL’S DISAPPEARANCE
* March 19, 2020: Russell Hill, 74, leaves his Drouin home and picks up Carol Clay, 73, from her Pakenham home
* March 20, 2020: Mr Hill makes a call via high frequency radio saying he was at Wonnangatta Valley in the Victorian Alps. It is the last time anyone hears from either of the pair
* March 21, 2020: Campers find Mr Hill’s fire-damaged Toyota Landcruiser at their campsite near Dry River Creek Track
* March 26, 2020: When Mr Hill planned to leave the region
* March 28 to 29, 2020: When Ms Clay told friends she expected to return
* March 30, 2020: Police make public appeal for information amid search
* April 6, 2020: Initial search called off
* March 5, 2021: Police appeal for information about ‘mystery vehicle’, described as a ‘white dual cab ute’ seen in the area
* March 9, 2021: Drone handed into police ruled out as Mr Hill’s
* April 4, 2021: Cadaver dogs join search at Wonnangatta Valley
* April 14, 2021: Two shovels found near the Great Alpine Rd at Mount Hotham, about 100km drive from where the campers went missing
* November 8, 2021: Image released of blue four-wheel drive seen in the area
* November 22, 2021: Police arrest 55-year-old man from Caroline Springs
* November 25, 2021: The 55-year-old man is charged with two counts of murder
Greg Lynn is seen with his wife Melanie – who is a flight attendant with Jetstar – with the pair meeting through work
The charged remains of Russell Hill’s tent