An airline pilot was charged with the murder of two missing campers in Australia Thursday after the discovery of their burnt-out campsite in a rugged alpine region almost 20 months ago.
The 55-year-old man, identified by local media as Greg Lynn, was charged after being questioned by police across three days over the disappearance of Russell Hill and Carol Clay, both aged in their 70s.
“We are hopeful that this arrest brings us a step closer to providing the answers the families have been desperately seeking and richly deserve,” Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Bob Hill told media in Melbourne.
The pair were last heard from in March last year when Hill made a radio call to friends from Wonnangatta Valley, part of a national park in the southern state of Victoria.
Other hikers discovered their empty campsite, with the charred remains of a tent and fire-damaged car, the following day.
Lynn, an airline pilot, was arrested at another alpine campground on Monday with investigators taking days to lay charges.
“It has been a long haul, 20 months in fact of, you know, commitment, dedication, that’s been — as I said — extraordinary,” Assistant Commissioner Hill said.
Police would soon begin searching a new area in the remote bushland of Victoria’s alps and they were still hopeful they would find the bodies of the pair.
Five people — including Clay and Hill — have been reported missing in the area since 2011, according to The Age newspaper.
Their disappearance sparked intensive searches through the rugged region and emotional pleas for information from family.
“We can’t grieve for someone if you don’t know if they’re really missing or dead,” Hill’s daughter, Debbie, said in a video released by police last month.
“It’s just left a really big hole, a deep hole.”
Lynn will appear before Sale Magistrates Court on Friday morning.