Amongst the most tragic of all crimes are those involving the unexplained disappearance of children. In Australia there have been several such cases, with perhaps the most infamous involving the Beaumont children, three siblings aged 9, 7 and 4 who disappeared from South Australia’s Glenelg Beach on Australia Day 1966.
However in recent times the disappearance of 3-year-old William Tyrrell has horrified the nation, a case that triggered a massive but unsuccessful search and the posting of a reward of $1 million. This is the largest missing person reward ever offered in the State of NSW.
On 11 September 2014 William Tyrell, his five year old sister and parents had travelled by car from Sydney to visit his grandmother in Kendall, a town on the NSW Mid North Coast, about 35 km south of Port Macquarie.
The next day, on 12th September, the two children were playing hide and seek around the grandmother’s house in the morning, supervised by both the mother and grandmother. The two women became concerned around 1030 when nothing was heard from William and they began a search of the yard and house. William’s father had been in nearby Lakewood on a business trip and he arrived back soon afterwards and began a search of the street and the surrounding neighbourhood.
Police were notified and arrived at the property less than an hour later, and after failing to locate the little boy, initiated a massive search. Hundreds of police, Emergency Services personnel and community volunteers scoured the area for the next 5 days with no result.
On 16 September 2014 Strike Force Rosann was formed to investigate the disappearance, and this consisted of 14 detectives and a team of analysts who began working full time on the case.
As the days turned into weeks, police investigations were concentrated around the belief that William had been abducted by a stranger, and all known paedophiles in the area were questioned and investigated. Hundreds of people were interviewed and on the second anniversary of his disappearance, in September 2016, the NSW Government posted a record $1M reward. However no breakthroughs were achieved despite all these efforts.
In 2017 it was revealed that William Tyrell was a foster child and that the parents and grandmother in charge of him at the time of his disappearance were foster carers. This information had previously been suppressed but was released when a Supreme Court Judge deemed it to be “legitimate public interest”.
The case remains a high priority for the NSW Police who are adamant that they have not given up on finding William alive.
Image: A photograph of William Tyrell in his Spider- Man costume, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.