March 30 2008
– Police fear a missing Melbourne bushwalker may have been murdered and are investigating the movements of a man they suspect could be involved.
Detectives called in to probe the disappearance of experienced bushwalker Warren Meyer in the Yarra Ranges revealed yesterday that a man in his late 30s had been in the area at the time and was a “person of interest”.
Mr Meyer, 57, a Canadian national living in Beaumaris, was due to return from a 10-kilometre bushwalk in the Mount Dom Dom area at noon last Sunday but has not been seen since.
A massive search covering more than 100 kilometres of tracks and roads and more than five square kilometres of forest has failed to find any trace of the married father of two.
Mr Meyer, a consultant civil engineer, set out at 7.30am from the Dom Dom Saddle car park with food, water, a phone and GPS.
Police want to speak to a group of about eight people who were camping in the Black Spur, Narbethong or Acheron Way area over the Easter break and who might have given the suspect a lift to Warburton.
The man has been interviewed by police and admitted he had been in the area.
Police spokeswoman Creina O’Grady said the man claimed to have come across the group of campers on the day Mr Meyer disappeared and that they gave him a lift to Warburton. Detectives want to speak to the campers to check his story.
Sergeant O’Grady said detectives were keeping an open mind as to what happened to Mr Meyer. “You can’t rule anything out. It’s a mystery because if you had to hang up a poster of the ideal family man, loved by his wife, he would be the one,” she said.
Detective Senior Constable Stuart Walls, of Alexandra CIU, said police were studying all other avenues of inquiry, including murder.
“This man was an experienced bushwalker, he had a mobile phone, GPS, he was in good physical condition … his disappearance is baffling,” Senior Constable Walls said. “Warren had no reason to disappear, he had no money with him, and he loved his family dearly.
“To not find anything, even his backpack, is very strange.”
Senior Constable David Fitzgerald, who helped search for Mr Meyer last week, said: “It seems strange he has disappeared; for all intents and purposes he has disappeared off the face of the earth.”
Mr Meyer is an experienced bushwalker who had trekked in Nepal and walked the Kokoda Trail.
His wife, Zanette, and two children did not want to comment yesterday.
More than 100 people from Victoria Police, the State Emergency Service and the Bushwalkers Search and Rescue Association spent five days searching for Mr Meyer.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit crimestoppers.com.au.
A search that leads to suspicions
■March 23 — Experienced hiker Warren Meyer leaves the Dom Dom Saddle car park near Healesville at 7.30am to go for a 10-kilometre bushwalk. He is known to go “bush bashing” — hiking off set tracks — and is due to return at noon but disappears. Police are called in at 5.15pm.
■March 24 — Massive search is launched in rugged bushland.
■March 28 — Search is scaled down after 53 Country Fire Authority volunteers, 40 SES and 15 search and rescue police comb new ground in a last-ditch attempt to find Mr Meyer. More than 50 millimetres of rain had fallen in the area over the previous two days and overnight temperatures dropped to 5.5 degrees.
■March 29 — Police reveal detectives have been called in to investigate Mr Meyer’s disappearance and are not ruling out foul play.
– Mark Russell