HomeWilliam Tyrrell: Insect larvae clue in soil from Kendall property

William Tyrrell: Insect larvae clue in soil from Kendall property

Detectives working around-the-clock to find William Tyrrell could find vital clues in the soil, particularly if areas contained evidence of insect larvae.

A bizarre underground item could provide police crucial clues in finding William Tyrrell as they continue combing through the garden and bush at the property where he was last seen.

Forensic examinations by Strike Force Rosann resumed at the home of William’s foster grandmother in Kendall on the NSW mid-north coast this week, with officers working late into the night on Tuesday.

Despite seven years having past since the little boy was last seen, detailed information can still be collected from the ground, particularly if it contains evidence of animal larvae, according to forensic scientist from Murdoch University Paola Magni.

While insect activity would have been at its highest in the early stages of human remains being detected in the environment, evidence of such activity could be found long after, Dr Magni said.

“The cocoons of flies can stay in the environment for a very long time. There are cocoons, or pupa cases, that you can find in the environment of Egyptians, so centuries after [a body is buried],” she told news.com.au.

“They can still provide information,” Dr Magni said, adding detectives may need to bring in a forensic entomologist to investigate the prevalence of pupa cases in the area.

Insect pupae would be incredibly valuable if found because they can indicate historic presence of organic matter in the soil, even if there are no remaining visible traces, Dr Magni said.

“With carrier insects you have blowflies and maggots, but when the maggots become blowflies, there is a metamorphic period they spend in a pupa case, and that case can be in the soil,” she said.

“Normally they should not be there, so if you find that in a search, it could be something interesting to consider.”

Blowflies would typically only be in the area if there was a source of food such as a decomposing body, Dr Magni added.

Insect analysis was one of several techniques available to detectives working to find William, who vanished from the property in 2014 when he was three.

Photos released this week showed officers using giant sieves to filter through soil, which forensic expert Professor David Ranson said was typical when searching for remains.

Other methods including aerial photography and heat detection devices, as well as analysing vegetation regrowth and changes, ground contour changes, and changes to soil colours, were likely being used to find a potential site of interest.

Dr Magni said technology like soil probes, which detect changes in soil without needing to dig it up, and ground penetrating radars (GPR), which uses radio waves to capture images below the surface, were also useful tools when searching for remains.

Recently completed research from Murdoch University also examined how insects affect clothing worn by buried people, which Dr Magni said could prove useful if detectives found any material in their search for William.


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