Police have admitted they hold “grave fears” for missing boy William Tyrrell as they launch an intense four-week search in bushland on the NSW mid-north coast after he disappeared from his grandmother’s yard nearly four years ago.
For the next four weeks, teams of experts, along with hundreds of emergency services workers will conduct a sweep around the Kendall property near Port Macquarie, where William was last seen on September 12, 2014.
The initial search focused only on finding the then-three year old and was not carried out with a view of deliberate human intervention.
But at a press conference on Wednesday morning NSW Police Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin told reporters they were now trying to prove beyond reasonable doubt that William’s disappearance “was a result of human intervention and not through misadventure”.
He said police had received more than 15,000 pieces of information in relation to his disappearance before sending a stern warning to anyone withholding any evidence.
“We’ve got numerous lines of inquiries, including persons of interest that we are going to fully exhaust before the matter goes to the Coroner,” Detective Jubelin added.
“I strongly believe that there are people out there who have information on this and I want to make a point to those people that if you do have information concerning what happened to William, you are committing an offence if you do not come forward.
“I suggest you come to us before we come to you.”
William was playing in the yard of his foster grandmother’s home when he vanished.
Hundreds of locals and emergency services workers spent 10 days looking for him in the rural township, forests, creeks and paddocks to no avail.
The new search will coincide with William’s seventh birthday in two weeks’ time.
His foster family have never given up hope of finding William, and on Wednesday posted a message to social media.
“Today marks 1370 heartbreaking days since William disappeared. William’s loved ones are, and will forever be indebted to the tremendous ongoing commitment of NSW Police; in particular, Strike Force Rosann who have been absolutely relentless in their ongoing investigation in the search for William,” the family’s post read.
“Since that tragic day on Friday September 12 2014, hearts across Australia have been broken, but we have and will continue to maintain unwavering faith in NSW Police and carry hope in our hearts that William will be found. He is in our hearts always… Always”
The new large-scale search is being co-ordinated by search experts from the NSW Police public order and riot squad.
In 2016, the NSW government announced an unprecedented $1 million reward for information leading to William’s recovery.