Detectives say they are getting “very close” to solving the case of two Victorian campers missing for 20 months.
Russell Hill, 74, and Carol Clay, 73, were last heard from on March 20, 2020, while camping in the Wonnangatta Valley and last week investigators said they were considering the theory there may have been a confrontation between the pair and another person.
That dispute could have been over a camping spot.
On Thursday, Police Commissioner Shane Patton told ABC Radio, he was confident of an outcome after the “painstaking” investigation.
“We are getting very, very close,” he said.
“We are very confident in resolving this, I assure you.”
Last week, police released pictures of charred camping chairs, a burnt-out battery and a bucket after a “significant breakthrough”.
The items were located inside the pair’s burnt-out tent and police believe it’s unlikely they would have been put there by the missing pair.
“The only reason we can assume that Russell didn’t camp in the best spot, was potentially there was somebody already there,” Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said.
“There’s been some sort of argument and maybe it’s escalated from there.
“It’s a theory, but it’s probably the best theory we’ve got at the moment.”
On Monday, police said a car spotted near the campsite around the time the pair disappeared could hold the key to cracking the case.
They want to speak to the driver of the blue four-wheel drive – believed to be a mid-to-late 1990s model Nissan Patrol – or anyone who might have seen it at the time.
The car has a distinctive trailer that has been modified to withstand the rough terrain in the Wonnangatta area.
“We can’t eliminate this vehicle. The person driving this vehicle is a person of interest,” Stamper said.
Hill left his Drouin home on March 19, 2020, and picked up Clay from her home in Pakenham in his white Toyota Landcruiser.
He was last heard from on March 20 when he made a call via HF radio saying he was at Wonnangatta Valley in the Victorian Alps.
Clay told friends she was going away and expected to return home on March 28 or 29.
Investigators have been told they were camping together at Wonnangatta River near the Wonnangatta camping ground.
Campers found Hill’s car with signs of fire damage at their campsite, which was completely destroyed by fire, near Dry River Creek Track on March 21.
The pair haven’t been seen or heard from since.
– With AAP