After seven years of false leads, delay and police blunders Australia’s most baffling missing child case was blown apart this week with bombshell twists which could lead police to finding the boy’s remains.
The investigation which has supposedly confounded police since the three-year-old boy vanished from a tranquil country town in 2014 town took a sharp turn in a wild week of rollercoaster developments.
When it seemed the cold case which has intrigued people around the world would never be solved, NSW Police announced a series of unexpected revelations.
A new team of detectives are now ‘extremely confident’ that they will find the toddler’s remains at one of three potential covert burial sites within 700m from where William disappeared.
As police dug up evidence on a site strategic to a single person of interest in the case, they disclosed for the first time some shocking facts.
William vanished on the morning of September 12, 2014 from a street in tiny, picturesque Kendall on the NSW Mid North Coast.
Hopeful of a swift recovery of a little boy lost in the bush, neighbours mounted a search and were joined by police and SES volunteers, fanning out into thick lantana scrub and then fields and lakes.
The last photo of William Tyrrell on his grandma’s verandah dressed in a Spider Man suit with his mouth wide open in a playful roar went around the world.
But as no sign of William emerged, hope turned to suspicion and from lost boy in the bush, William Tyrrell had become an alleged child abduction case.
Despite multiple searches, alleged suspects who turned out to be innocent and a coroner’s inquest, William’s disappearance remained a mystery.
However this week a new team of investigating police took hold of the case and their new high-intensity search promises to find the boy’s body once and for all.
Here’s built a blow-by-blow account of how the week unfolded:
The search for William Tyrrell was blown apart this week with twists which could lead police to finding the boy’s remains
Morning: Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett announced a massive new high-intensity search in the William Tyrrell case would begin immediately around Kendall, where the boy vanished in 2014.
He said hundreds of police would descend on the NSW Mid North Coast at three locations and search with ‘specialist assistance’, using new technologies, clearing ground and going subterranean.
He said police were ‘looking for the remains of William Tyrrell, no doubt about that’ and that it was highly likely if they found something ‘it would be a body’.
Afternoon: Police and Rural Fire Service officers arrive at a corner site on Batar Creek Road, around 700m as the crow flies from the Benaroon Drive house where William was last seen around 10.30am on September 12, 2014.
RFS officers began clearing undergrowth with brushcutters and felling trees with chainsaws. Cadaver dogs do a sweep of the area, the size of several city terrace blocks, bordered by a creek and connected by fire trails up the back through dense bush to the Tyrrell abduction house.
The NSW Coroner’s Court subpoenas files, recordings and documents from Channel Ten’s 2019 podcast ‘Where’s William Tyrrell’.
The 2019 series extensively interviewed William’s foster parents, in part about their distress about how former Strike Force Commander Gary Jubelin was removed from the case.
News breaks that NSW Police have taken out an Apprehended Violence Order against William Tyrrell’s foster father in relation to an assault on a child and that the mattter is listed in Hornsby Local Court in Sydney on November 23.
Cadaver dogs (pictured) scoured underneath William Tyrrell’s foster grandmother’s house where the little boy went missing
Morning: Police begin digging up the garden underneath the Benaroon Drive house and taking evidence from the ground beneath the home’s 5m high verandah.
Police do not deny that they are acting on a theory that William may have fallen to his death from the verandah and then his body was taken away and buried.
A cadaver dog searches the area, evidence is bagged and police feed vegetation into hand sifters and a mechanical separator used for ‘challenging materials’ set up on the back lawn of the house.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller goes on radio confirming there was ‘certainly one person in particular we are looking at closely’ in relation to William’s death.
The Commissioner says he’s confident the current team can solve it and criticises the earlier investigations into the case saying the current team ‘inherited what was a bit of a mess and have really cleaned up that investigation’.
‘The investigation was looking at some persons of interest that were clearly not, and I think some time was wasted on that, and bushland is overgrown,’ Mr Fuller told Radio 2GB.
He said the ‘inherited mess’ would probably be subject to an internal police review.
At the Batar Creek Road dig site, more vegetation is cleared and police begin collecting dirt samples.
Evening: After spraying the blood-detecting chemical Luminol on the lower areas of the house, police return to look for positive results.
Police do not deny that they are acting on a theory that William may have fallen to his death from the verandah, and begin digging up a garden bed in his foster grandmother’s backyard
Morning: Police seize a grey Mazda once owned by William’s foster grandmother, who died earlier this year, but who was present at the house when the boy vanished.
Daily Mail Australia reveals that on the morning William vanished, the foster mother drove her mother’s car from the house along Batar Creek Road before turning back.
An object was allegedly tossed from the car, according to a witness.
Afternoon: The person of interest is identified as William’s foster mother, who strongly denies any involvement.
News breaks that both the foster father, 54, and the foster mother, 56, have been charged with common assault in relation to a young person.
The first find at the Batar Creek Road dig site creates a frisson of excitement when police pull a piece of degraded woven material from the dirt and compare it with images of children’s Spider Man suits and a swatch of blue and red Spider Man fabric.
Police slap the back of onsite forensic expert Professor Jon Olley in congratulation and the sample is bagged as live media reports from the scene cause Commissioner Fuller to call the site.
Police media quickly discount the find, but the fabric, and another swatch found on the same afternoon are sent off for analysis to the NSW Forensic Services laboratory in Sydney.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet publicly praises police on the Tyrrell dig, saying ‘they’re doing a phenomenal job … we hope we have a breakthrough as soon as possible’
William Tyrrell’s ‘furious’ biological grandmother reveals she knew police had wasted time chasing previous ‘suspects’ who ‘I knew … didn’t do it’.
She had instead suspected others involved in the case for some time and was angry as the case remained open and her grandson not found, she hadn’t had ‘a life’.
Detectives find a piece of material and compare it with a sample of red and blue Spiderman suit cloth
Police seized a Mazda (pictured) that once belonged to William Tyrrell’s foster grandmother, who died earlier this year
William Tyrrell’s foster mother (above) and her husband are charged over an unrelated alleged assault on a different child on Wednesday
Morning: Former detective and William Tyrrell case commander Gary Jubelin goes on radio to defend his handling of the case.
He blamed another detective, who he said had eliminated the foster parents of any implications in the case. He said he had nevertheless himself interrogated the foster parents and again eliminated them.
‘We certainly flagged the possibility there was an accident that was covered up,’ Jubelin said.
He also said ‘there was not one ounce of criticism in the whole four years I ran the investigation.’
Australian Federal Police use a a ground penetrating radar machine to X-ray a concerted slab under the foster grandmother’ house which had been laid after William’s disappearance.
The analysis finds nothing suspicious under the slab’s surface. Another items is pulled from the earth at the Tyrell dig site and detectives compare it with the Spider Man suit schematics, bag it and send it off for analysis.
William’s foster mother releases a statement saying she and her husband ‘have nothing to hide’ and that they had co-operated with police who had seized their laptops.
Evening: It is revealed that Jubelin is being looked into for possible breaches of police regulations.
Police use a ground penetrating scanner to examine a concrete slab laid in William’s foster grandmother’s garage, beneath the balcony
The slab was laid in the house in Kendall, on the NSW mid north coast, several years after William’s disappearance in 2014
Morning: After draining the creek at the dig site overnight with a pump, police don gum boots to begin searching the creek bed.
At one end of the creek, by a stagnant pool under a concrete culvert running beneath Batar Creek Road, Professor Jon Olley is called to a find tangled in foliage above the pool.
A forensic officer rushes over to photograph and bag the item, which turns out to be an 8cm x 8cm piece of fabric which is then sent off to the Sydney laboratory.
Afternoon: Police swarm the site to work as swiftly as possible ahead of predicted heavy rain this weekend which could refill the drained creek, but vow to work through the forecast storms and downpour.
Forensic specialist Professor Jon Olley examines a piece of blue cloth found on Friday morning at the edge of a pool of stagnant water classified as ‘Area 1’ of the William Tyrrell dig site
Police dig up an old hessian bag buried about one metre under the ground on the sixth day of the search for the remains of William.
The frayed green nylon bag was found in a deep hole police dug at Area 1 of the Tyrrell dig and was inspected, mapped with evidence marker ‘F’ and placed into an evidence bag.
The spot where it was found is near a tree trunk which has interested specialists on site.
Police also confirmed that the dig to uncover William’s remains could now take months and will cover an area up to one square kilometre.
Forensic experts believe if they remove surface dirt down to 15-30cms over the entire one kilometre square dig site, and analyse everything they find in the collected earth looking for traces of William that ‘he’ll be in there’.
‘Between half a foot and a foot down and once they get down through the top soil into the orangey clay they know that’s well into seven years down,’ a police spokesman said.
‘They are scraping back seven years (of dirt).’
The hessian bag is the sixth piece of evidence found in the search.
Police have found an old hessian bag (pictured) buried about one metre under the ground on the sixth day of the search for the remains of missing three-year-old William Tyrrell
The hessian bag is the sixth piece of evidence found in the search for William’s remains and has interested forensic officers