Dramatic footage shows the moment heavily-armed cops in helicopters swoop on a key suspect wanted in the mysterious disappearance of two elderly campers.
School students staying at the Licola wilderness village, about 250km east of Melbourne, captured the moment cops descended on Jetstar pilot Gregory Lynn, 55, on Monday night.
Red and blue lights could be seen flashing on a police helicopter hovering over the camp ground, and on another that landed in a nearby field.
The group were told it was an air training drill, but a parent said the 14 and 15-year-olds ‘knew something was going down’.
‘They all felt a little overwhelmed and very confused as to what was going on,’ the parent told the Herald Sun.
Lynn was arrested at a remote campsite in Arbuckle Junction, north-east of Licola, over the disappearance of lovers Russell Hill, 74, and Carol Clay, 73, during a camping trip in Wonnangatta Valley on March 20 last year.
Police helicopters hovered over a wilderness village in Victoria before Gregory Lynn was arrested (pictured)
One helicopter landed while the other flew over the top of the remote village (pictured)
Lovers Carol Clay (left) and Russell Hill (right) went missing on March 20, 2020, during a secret camping trip
No charges have been laid but detectives have been questioning Lynn at a station in Sale.
Mr Hill’s wife Robyn – who did not know her husband was camping with an other woman until he vanished – hopes the arrest will bring her family much-needed closure.
‘We want an answer,’ she told the publication.
‘I just want them found, that’s all we want. The rest will follow. We need closure.’
Mrs Hill said her children are ‘more involved with the police than me’, but that her family is coping well.
‘Hopefully we can just move on,’ she added.
Detectives recently made a public appeal for a blue late 90s Nissan Patrol which had been captured on CCTV in the area at the time Mr Hill and Ms Clay went missing.
The pilot’s seized Nissan Patrol is the same make and model as the one police were looking for and has the same roof rack – but it is beige, not blue.
With Lynn reportedly under the eye of police for many months, they are now investigating whether he repainted the car shortly after the couple disappeared.
Gregory Lynn, 55, (pictured) was apprehended by heavily armed police in a dramatic operation on Monday
The pilot’s Nissan Patrol (pictured) is the same make and model as the one police were looking for and has the same roof rack – but it is beige, not blue.
Lynn also had a large firearm collection made up of rifles and shotguns.
Police teams executing search warrants also swarmed Lynn’s Caroline Springs home, leaving neighbours on the quiet suburban street stunned.
The Qantas subsidiary has now stood down the senior pilot, although no charges have been laid as of late Tuesday night.
The secret lovers snuck off for a trip to Victoria’s remote Wonnangatta Valley on March 20, 2020 and have never been heard from since.
Investigators were baffled by the lack of solid leads in the case until painstaking video analysis uncovered a mysterious off-road vehicle towing a trailer, near the remote campsite.
Carol Clay (pictured) was having an affair with Richard Hill for decades before their doomed camping trip
A 55-year-old man suspected of involvement in the disappearance of the missing couple was arrested on Monday
But when SOG teams in tactical gear rushed in to arrest Lynn in remote bushland at Licola, north of Sale, about 100km south of where the couple vanished, they found a 4WD matching what they were looking for – but coloured beige.
It has now been taken back to the Forensic Services Centre at Macleod in Melbourne’s north east and will be examined for evidence.
Lynn’s social media profile showed a wholesome family man with an enthusiasm for camping and a love of nature, before they were removed following reports of his arrest.
A shocked neighbour who witnessed swarms of investigators descend on the street recalled meeting the man now at the centre of one Australia’s biggest mystery cases.
‘I was washing my car… I saw the guy coming… he just walked past and I said ‘hi’,’ the resident told the Herald Sun.
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
Russell Hill (pictured, left) had been friendly with Carol Clay (right) for decades before they ad an affair
‘He said ‘welcome to the street’… we just had a chat and we spoke about an incident where some kids got attacked around here a few weeks ago.
‘I said ‘we will have a beer sometime’, and that was it.’
Lynn (pictured) also worked for Qatar Airways
Lynn told him he worked for Jetstar, but the airline has now ‘removed him from duty as a result of their arrest’.
The carrier told Daily Mail Australia the airline ‘has been advised by Victoria Police that one of its employees is under investigation for a serious crime’.
The Qantas subsidiary said it ‘will work to assist in this due process any way we can’.
As well as flying for the budget Aussie airline, the Caroline Springs man also worked for Qatar Airways from 2002 to 2007.
Ms Clay’s sister Jill Walker said the development in the case took her by surprise after so much heartache.
‘It’s absolutely amazing actually but scared as well because we’ve been holding this together for 20 months now… 20 months is a long time,’ she told 7News.
Pictured: The destroyed campsite where Mr Hill and Ms Clay were staying before they disappeared
Russel Hill (pictured) was an experienced bushman and took his lover Carol Clay to a campsite near Dry River Creek Track
‘It’s been an incredible shock and because it’s been such a mystery, it’s been a bit unfathomable. There’s no sense that there’s a reason for this.
‘If this can be resolved we can then let go, have a memorial and move on. But until that happens, we can’t.’
On March 21, campers found the couple’s campsite near Dry River Creek Track in the valley completely scorched with Mr Hill’s car suffering minor fire damage.
Detectives believe the pair were attacked between 6pm and 11pm during a random confrontation with another camper, who then set their campsite alight to cover their tracks.
Witnesses have since come forward with new information that revealed just how difficult – and dangerous – it would have been for the killer to flee the high country on the night the lovers vanished.
A motorist, believed to be towing a trailer, was seen driving erratically around midnight after reaching a closed gate on a narrow stretch of road north of the campsite.
Russell Hill and Carol Clay were last heard from on March 20, with Mr Hill’s wife unaware he was travelling with another woman
Finding the road unalterably blocked, the driver – who was heading towards Myrtleford – would have needed to have performed a difficult u-turn with a trailer on the narrow road to go back the way the car had come.
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.
Russell Hill, Carol Clay: Moment cops in helicopters SWOOP on Gregory Lynn in missing camper mystery