A 55-year-old Melbourne man has been charged with the murder of Victorian campers Russell Hill and Carol Clay.
A crime scene has been set up in the state’s Alpine region, with police focusing their efforts on finding the couple’s remains.
The man, from Caroline Springs, was charged with two murders on Thursday evening. He is due to appear in the Sale court on Friday morning.
Victoria’s assistant commissioner Bob Hill said investigators reportedly discovered a crime scene in the vast Alpine region on Thursday morning.
“We have located a specific area and we will set up a search perimeter in the coming days and we hope to find the remains of Mr Hill and Mrs Clay,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday evening.
“While this arrest represents months of dedication and tireless work by the missing persons’ detectives, this investigation is far from over.
“In the coming days, forensic specialists will search that location. I hope we can locate the deceased and close the families.”
Hill expressed his condolences to their families, saying that “the past 20 months have been an incredibly difficult time for them”.
The suspect has been incarcerated since his arrest Monday night.
Specialized police showed up to make the arrest at a remote campsite in Arbuckle Junction, 280 km northeast of Melbourne.
The man’s four-wheel drive has been seized, but the police have not yet located his trailer.
Victoria Police Chief Shane Patton told 3AW radio earlier Thursday that detectives believed the silver trailer had been sold between March and July last year.
He called on anyone who had bought a similar one at the time to come forward.
Hill and Clay were last heard on March 20, 2020 while camping in the Victorian Alps.
Hill left his Drouin home the day before and picked up Clay from her home in Pakenham in his white Toyota LandCruiser.
On March 20, Hill, an experienced outdoorsman, called over high-frequency radio that he was in Wonnangatta Valley.
Clay, former president of the Victorian Country Women’s Association, told friends she was on her way home and expected to return home on March 28 or 29.
Investigators were told that the couple camped together on the Wonnangatta River near Wonnangatta’s campground.
Campers found Hill’s car destroyed by fire on March 21 at their campground near Dry River Creek Track. The couple has not been seen or heard from since.