Greg Lynn verdict: The mystery of Button Man in the disappearance of Carol Clay and Russell Hill

One of Australia’s most intriguing murder mysteries is finally over after Gregory Lynn was found guilty of killing Carol Clay, but not guilty of the murder of her secret lover Russell Hill.

The mixed verdict, which was handed down in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Tuesday afternoon, brought to an end a case that has gripped Australia for the last four years.

Ms Clay, 73, and Mr Hill, 74 went missing in the Wonnangatta Valley, in Victoria’s Alpine region, on March 20, 2020. 

Their disappearance initially baffled authorities, with many assuming the secret lovers had ran off together.

But as suspicions about their fate grew, detectives were inundated with tip-offs about an allegedly sinister and mysterious local figure known as the ‘Button Man’ who roamed around the High Country.

By July 2020, police had received 159 information reports from the public in relation to the ‘oddball loner’ 

He’s understood to have earned his nickname due to his hobby of using deer antlers to make buttons which he then sold at local markets. 

Locals alleged the Button Man had a fearsome reputation and was known for his bizarre and often creepy behaviour.

Secret lovers Carol Clay, 73, (left) and Russell Hill, 74 (right) went missing in the Wonnangatta Valley, in Victoria’s Alpine region, on March 20, 2020 

Former Jetstar pilot Gregory Lynn (pictured) was found guilty of killing Ms Clay, but not guilty of the murder of Mr Hill

Former Jetstar pilot Gregory Lynn (pictured) was found guilty of killing Ms Clay, but not guilty of the murder of Mr Hill 

He reportedly hunted deer with hand-crafted spears and was known to camp for weeks on end in the remote bush near a weather station called ‘The Crossroads’. 

The man, described as being around 70 and very fit, was also alleged to have frightened other campers.

One bushman said the Button Man had a ‘thousand-metre stare that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up’. 

It is alleged he once wandered into a camp occupied by three ex-soldiers and asked what they did for a living.

One said ‘we hunt people’ to which the Button Man allegedly replied: ‘So do I’, according to The Age.

In another terrifying story, a wildlife photographer claimed that he had stayed in the area around the Button Man’s camp to take pictures.

As suspicions about their fate grew, detectives were inundated with tip-offs about an allegedly sinister and mysterious local figure known as the 'Button Man' who roamed around the High Country (pictured)

As suspicions about their fate grew, detectives were inundated with tip-offs about an allegedly sinister and mysterious local figure known as the ‘Button Man’ who roamed around the High Country (pictured)

Carol Clay and Russell Hill went missing in the Wonnangatta Valley, more than 200km north east of Melbourne

Carol Clay and Russell Hill went missing in the Wonnangatta Valley, more than 200km north east of Melbourne

Police suspect a number of items may have been taken from the campsite (pictured) including a drone which is now missing

Police suspect a number of items may have been taken from the campsite (pictured) including a drone which is now missing

When he got home to download pictures from his camera, he found an unexplained picture of himself asleep – with no idea who took it or when. 

The Button Man is also known to build pyramids out of rocks on the roadside, piling pebbles to signify when a car has driven passed. 

WHAT IS KNOWN ABOUT THE ‘BUTTON MAN’?

– In his 70s, the expert bushman is known to disappear for weeks on end

– Often ‘spooking’ campers, he often asks them questions – but rarely answers any

– He fills up his tank in Mansfield and buys supplies before heading out

– He is an impressive walker, and remarkably fit for his age

– The ‘loner’ often builds bizarre stone pyramids on the roadside to track cars

– He drives a 4WD and uses a traditional spear to hunt 

Several months after Ms Clay and Mr Hill vanished, the Button Man was visited by missing persons investigators after police were deluged with ‘constant’ tip-offs.

By July 2020, police had received 159 information reports from the public in relation to him.

Another 50 reports were still being processed.

‘We had numerous IRs (information reports) nominating (the Button Man) as a person of interest,’ Senior Constable Justin told a pre-trial hearing, reported The Age. 

‘We had people, members of the public or police officers submitting weird or strange encounters with this person. 

‘He frequented the area. Some people were saying we should probably go and speak to him.’

One person reportedly said the Button Man ‘could look straight through you and lie, great bushman and could easily dispose of a body as well’.

Ultimately, phone records eliminated the Button Man from police investigations.

Detectives later closed in on Lynn after his dark-coloured Nissan Patrol was captured on camera leaving the valley after the alleged murders. 

The jury had been deliberating over the murder charges against Lynn since June 14.

The verdict came a day after the jury returned to the court to ask Justice Michael Croucher if both of their verdicts needed to be the same.

The jury had heard the prosecution could deliver no motive as to how they alleged Lynn had allegedly murdered Mr Hill.

The jury of 12 unanimously found Lynn murdered Ms Clay in cold blood before attempting to cover his tracks by burning and destroying the evidence.

Sobs could be heard across the courtroom as the verdicts were delivered. 

Wearing a black suit and blue shirt, Lynn showed little emotion as the verdicts were delivered. 

He will return to court at a date to be fixed for a pre-sentence hearing.

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