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Mystery surrounds case of missing man who vanished after camping with a woman who was not his wife

Russell Hill, 74, (pictured) and Carol Clay, 73, went missing last month after going on a camping trip together on March 19

Mystery surrounds the disappearance of an elderly man and his female companion who went missing during a camping trip.  

Russell Hill, 74, from Drouin, and Carol Clay, 73, from Pakenham, Victoria, went missing last month after going on a camping trip together on March 19.  

Mr Hill’s wife Robyn, 71, had no idea her husband was with another woman when he disappeared.

She said her husband had been friendly with Ms Clay for decades but she had no idea they were travelling together.

A search party found their charred and abandoned campsite in the Wonnangatta Valley, deep in east Victorian bushland on March 27 – a week after they vanished. 

Mr Hill’s four wheel drive was parked nearby and still had the keys inside. 

Police have been trying to piece together what happened to the pair and are exploring a number of different scenarios.

Inspector Craig Gaffee, who is leading the investigation, said that police are exploring the possibility that the pair are still in the valley.

They are also investigating if there was third party involvement or the possibility that the couple had ‘gone somewhere else’ together. 

Mr Hill's wife Robyn, 71, said her husband had been friendly with Carol Clay (pictured) for decades but had no idea they were travelling together and now fears they both be dead

Russell Hill, 74, from Drouin, had known Carol Clay, 73, (pictured) for decades

Mr Hill’s wife Robyn, 71, (pictured left) said her husband had been friendly with Carol Clay (pictured right) for decades but had no idea they were travelling together and now fears they both be dead

‘The more likely (scenarios) are that they are still in the valley, that a third person or parties are involved, or perhaps the people themselves have gone somewhere else,’ Inspector Gaffee told the ABC. 

A day before the search party found the burnt-out tent, other campers stumbled across the site and claimed it looked normal.

‘Arson chemists haven’t been able to determine a cause of the fire at this stage but we don’t believe that fire was deliberately lit,’ Inspector Gaffee said.

‘There is a gap there between the 20th and the 26th so if anyone was up in the Wonnangatta Valley during that time period we’d love to hear from them.’ 

He said it looked as though the pair had intended to return to the site as Ms Clay’s belongings were still in the car, and food was left at the campsite. 

Mr Hill was last heard from on March 20 when Mrs Hill messaged him over the radio as he entered Wonnangatta. 

‘I knew something was wrong because he wasn’t calling in on the radio,’ Mrs Hill said.

Mrs Hill said her husband was very familiar with the area due to his work as a logger but when the weather turned for the worse it was not a good place to be. 

She said her husband was a ‘silly bugger’ and hoped he would return safely.

Police released images of the campsite used by the pair. Mr Hill's car was still perfectly functional

Police released images of the campsite used by the pair. Mr Hill’s car was still perfectly functional 

‘I just wish they would find them both alive,’ Mrs Hill told the Herald Sun. 

‘I’ve got a feeling they may have died.’ 

The pair last made contact using his high-frequency radio on March 20.

A desperate search was launched when they stopped making contact. 

A week long air and land search was conducted, with video footage showing police looking through kilometres of dense forest. 

Parks Victoria, the Mounted Cattleman’s Association of Victoria and the SES were also helping with the search. 

However, on Monday, police announced they were calling off the search as it was highly unlikely the couple is still alive.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk