SEPTEMBER 12 will forever mark the day William Tyrrell went missing, and three years on there is still no sign of the little boy.
Shortly before 10.30am on Friday, September 12 2014, William, then aged three, was playing in the yard of his grandmother’s home on Benaroon Drive, Kendall, when he disappeared.
Hundreds of local residents and emergency service workers combined to search the rural township, looking in forests, creeks and paddocks for the boy in a search that spanned nine full days.
As a result, police formed the view that William’s disappearance was as a result of human intervention and detectives and analysts from the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad established Strike Force Rosann to investigate William’s disappearance.
The Camden Haven State Emergency Service unit controller, and now the Port Macquarie-Hastings local government area local controller Paul Berg, was a part of the initial crew who searched for the first nine days.
He said the experience is one he thinks about almost every day.
“I never thought it would be something this big. When we first got there it was as simple as a child gone missing from a house,” he said.
“It’s important to note that on a job like that, we are a support role for police.
“You do think about it. It’s always on your mind, but so are a lot of jobs that you go to.
“I still find myself thinking about it, particularly with the media attention. Coming up to the three year investigation, you kind of can’t get away from it.”
Mr Berg said each event is very different and it affects people in different ways.
“Anything that involves a child is harder to deal with, and that’s the father side of me talking,” he said.
“You think of it a bit like that, and it depends on the circumstances around it.
“The SES has a range of support facilities for our members, and close friends and families always support us. We all support each other (in the emergency services).”
The $1 million reward
On the second anniversary of the disappearance of William, the NSW Government announced a $1 million reward for information on his whereabouts – the largest reward offered in NSW history.
The lead investigator in the disappearance of William Tyrrell, Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin said at the time that it was very important to dispel the perception that the announcement indicated police had run out of lines of inquiry.
"This is a very proactive investigation, we've got numerous lines of inquiry, and we see the reward as another tool to find out what's happened to William,” Det Ch Insp Jubelin said.
The investigation was the largest in the state with 2,800 reports to Crime Stoppers, a further 196 reports of information direct to the taskforce and 1,078 possible sightings reported at the time of the reward being announced.
Three years on with Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin
William would be six years old this year, 2017, and to mark the anniversary of William’s disappearance, Det Ch Insp Jubelin outlined some of the ongoing work and the current status of the investigation.
He said Strike Force Rosann investigators remain highly motivated to provide answers to William’s family.
“Our team is mindful of the unresolved grief William’s family is feeling at the moment, and as investigators we are seeking to provide answers above all else,” he said.
“The last 12 months hasn’t been any easier than previous years – we are frustrated that after three years we are not where we want to be – but we are still determined to find out what happened to young William.”
As inquiries continue, Det Ch Insp Jubelin reminded the community they are seeking specific information about William’s disappearance and called for common sense.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to the investigation, we will ensure every report is followed-up, and three years on, we don’t want to chase up reports of three-year-olds running around dressed as Spiderman,” he said.
“We thank the community for their continued support, but in an investigation of this magnitude, all our investigative efforts need to go into pursuing information that leads us to William.
“What we really want is to hear from those who know what happened in that yard on September 12, 2014.”
Det Ch Insp Jubelin confirmed that the investigation will not end until the matter is solved.
“Based on the information in front of us, it is a long time off until we will stop doing active investigations,” he said.
“I would like to assure the community of the Hastings that we have not given up on this investigation and will not give up on it. I can assure the community there that we will do everything we can to bring some form of resolution to this matter.
“What we are also looking at is anytime William’s name is mentioned in the public, we want people to observe the way that people react (to his name and the discussion of William).
“Given it’s a small town, we certainly focus our attention on people in the area at the time.
“And I’ll remind the public that NSW Police Force does not seek help from psychics, mediums and clairvoyants.”
From the family
The foster parents of William released a statement ahead of the third anniversary of his disappearance.
“Where are you William? Where are you our precious little boy? Tomorrow will mark the third anniversary of your abduction and three tragic years of unspeakable heartbreak and endless tears,” the statement said.
“Tomorrow will mark three years without you, three years of not knowing where you are, three years of keeping hope in our hearts that with every new tomorrow will come the day that you’ll be found.
“William, we will never stop loving you. We will never stop looking for you, and until the tomorrow we yearn for comes, we will never give up hope that you will be found and returned home to the arms of your loved ones where you belong.”
From September 11, 2017, the Where’s William Campaign will be rolling out a digital ad campaign featuring the $1 million reward on billboards, in shopping centres and on screens in cafes and offices around Australia.
Police are urging anyone with information about the disappearance of William Tyrrell to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/
Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence.
Police remind people they should not report crime information via Facebook and Twitter pages.