The Jetstar pilot charged with murdering two elderly campers will appear in court Friday morning after an ‘exhaustive and complex criminal investigation’, but one of Victoria’s top cops says a vital piece of evidence is still missing.
A trailer being towed by an off-road vehicle captured on CCTV the night secret lovers Russell Hill, 74, and Carol Clay, 73, vanished in the Wonnangatta Valley in March 2020, is yet to be accounted for – and is believed to have been sold on Gumtree.
Police seized a Nissan Patrol belonging to Gregory Lynn, 55, on Monday when Special Operations Group officers dramatically arrested the Caroline Springs man after tracking his movements and flying into remote bushland by helicopter.
A subsequent search of his property did not uncover a trailer, which police believe could be the final piece of the puzzle, as forensic crews prepare to search for the pair’s remains at a second ‘crime scene’ discovered on Thursday morning in the remote Great Alpine region.
In the hunt for human bones, specialist teams will also deploy ground-penetrating radar at Lynn’s two storey home in Melbourne’s West – the same technology being used in the search for missing NSW child William Tyrrell.
Gregory Lynn, 55, (pictured) was charged with the murder of secret lovers Russell Hill, 74, and Carol Clay, 73, as police begin the exhaustive search for their bodies
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
Russell Hill (pictured, left) and Carol Clay (right) are alleged by police to have been murdered during a camping trip in March 2020
Assistant Victoria Police Commissioner Bob Hill said investigators are keen to speak to anyone who may have purchased a rusty silver or blue 7×5 ft trailer with off-road wheels between March 20 to July 2020.
‘We believe the trailer was sold on Gumtree,’ he said.
Earlier this month, police made a public appeal for a blue late 90s Nissan Patrol – the same make and model police seized from Lynn during his arrest in Licola, about 100km south of the where the couple went missing.
But Lynn’s vehicle was coloured beige, not blue.
Assistant Commissioner Hill said he’s ‘proud’ of police efforts during the 20-month long police probe, but added the ‘long haul’ investigation is ‘far from over’ as the focus now turns to uncovering the couple’s remains.
Keen camper and dad Gregory Lynn, 55, (pictured) has been in custody since Monday and will face court on Friday morning
An Australian flag sits proudly in the top window of the Lynn’s property in Caroline Springs (pictured)
For 20 months police have been investigating what happened to the two missing campers
‘This morning detectives identified a crime scene within the Great Alpine area and forensic specialists will commence searching at that location over the coming days,’ Assistant Commissioner Hill said.
‘We have located a specific area and we will establish a search parameter.
‘Police are hopeful we will be able to locate the deceased in order to find closure for the families.’
While the search is taking place in remote bushland, forensic specialists will also be scouring Lynn’s two-storey home in Melbourne’s west.
Ground-penetrating radar which can uncover anomalies deep within the earth or even concrete structures will be brought to assist the evidence gathering operation.
Police put out a public appeal for this 4WD (pictured in a police sketch) with roof racks, side steps, off-road tyres and a bulbar. The box trailer is ‘fairly standard’ but has been fitted with ‘off-road wheels’, detectives say
The beige off-roader belonging to Lynn was taken by police at a remote campsite in East Gippsland where heavily armed officers swooped on the suspect, north of Sale
‘My heartfelt thoughts are with the Hill and Clay families. The past 20 months has been a difficult time for them and I know their grief remains as raw as ever,’ Assistant Commissioner Hill added.
The baffling murder investigation involved ‘numerous police interviews and vehicles inspection’ as well as painstaking data and video analysis.
Lynn has been stood down from his job with Jetstar following his arrest, with the airline saying it will assist investigators if needed.
For months it appeared the trail had gone completely cold on the missing campers, with little evidence revealed to the public and no clear suspects.
Investigators weren’t even sure if the pair were murder until it became their leading theory in mid 2020.
Mr Hill left his Drouin home on March 19 and picked up Ms Clay from her home in Pakenham in his white Toyota LandCruiser.
Lynn is seen chatting to a neighbour during a brief encounter on Sunday afternoon – just a day before his arrest
Assistant Commissioner Bob Hill announces that a 55-year-old man has been charged over the disappearance of two missing campers (pictured on Thursday night)
Greg Lynn is seen with his wife Melanie – who is a flight attendant with Jetstar – with the pair meeting through work
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.
The pair have not been seen or heard from since.
The following day, campers found Mr Hill’s car with minor fire damage at their completely scorched campsite near Dry River Creek Track in the valley.
Detectives believe the pair were attacked between 6pm and 11pm during a random confrontation with another camper who then torched their campsite to cover their tracks.
Lynn was dramatically taken into custody by special operations officers as part of the investigation into missing campers Carol Clay (left) and Russell Hill (right). The pair have not been heard from since March 20, 2020. The pilot has since been charged with their murder
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
The pair went missing in the Wonnangatta Valley, more than 200km north east of Melbourne
Possessions belonging to the couple were found inside Mr Hill’s Toyota 4WD at the scene.
The only things missing were their mobile phones and a remote control drone that is yet to be recovered.
Mr Hill’s wife Robyn, 71, said she had no idea her husband was with another woman when he went missing.
She said her husband had been friendly with Ms Clay for decades but was unaware they were travelling together.
Lynn will appear at the Sale Magistrates Court on Friday morning.
TIMELINE OF CAROL CLAY AND RUSSELL HILL’S DISAPPEARENCE
* 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