A professional tracker has urged police not to discount a simple theory in their search for William Tyrrell, saying the initial search ended too soon.
Early searches for William Tyrrell may have been abandoned prematurely, a professional tracker who helped in the initial investigation has suggested.
Jake Cassar gained crucial new insight during the desperate search for three-year-old Anthony “AJ” Elfalak earlier this year, and argued this week’s revived land search for William was long overdue.
“I do think we need to do our absolute best to ensure these cases are not called off too soon. Anything is possible, that’s the bottom line,” Mr Cassar told news.com.au.
He remained in Kendall, on the NSW mid-north coast, for an additional few days after the initial search for William ended, hoping he would spot something that was missed.
“I know for a fact that people can easily miss someone or something. They can be looking over their shoulder and miss the little kid behind a rock for example,” Mr Cassar said.
He praised police for returning to sweep over the property again, and said they should focus their search across a broader section of land than what was covered in 2014.
“They should cover a much further and broader distance and search for bones. You can’t underestimate a small child or how far they can travel.
“If you’re looking over the space of days and you’ve got a small child who’s desperately trying to find their way out of the bush, they could be eight, nine, or even 10 kilometres away.”
Mr Cassar said investigators shouldn’t discount the possibility that the hundreds of officers deployed to the search area in 2014 simply missed William or tracks left by him at the time.
“I think if we learnt anything from the AJ case, it’s that it’s very easy to miss a small child in the bush,” he said.
“There were literally hundreds of professionals scouring for AJ and they were unable to locate him for four days.
“The lesson I learnt from that case was that just because William wasn’t found in the area where hundreds of people were searching, it doesn’t mean he didn’t become lost, fall down a crack or go into a cave or a hole, and has never been found.”
Capable of travelling further than expected
He said even a struggling child who was exhausted or injured would still be capable of travelling long distances.
“I think to assume a young child would only move three to five kilometres away is dangerous,” he said.
Investigators should avoid ruling out the possibility the little boy never left the bush, Mr Cassar said.
“With great respect to police for their wonderful work, it’s my personal opinion that they should broaden out the search as much as possible, and everyone should keep an open mind,” he said.
“Don’t dismiss anything, and have an open mind.”
Detailed searches needed for the ‘fringes of town’
Obscure inroads up to seven kilometres away should be closely analysed, Mr Cassar argued.
“He could have been taken five, six, seven kilometres away, that’s where I started searching. Down roads and side alleys a little bit out of town.
“Because you would think that if a predator was going to take them, they’re not going to go straight down a main road with a child in the car. They might drive kilometres away and drive down a side street somewhere.
“Those obscure places would be where I would be searching, and the obvious spots on the fringes of town, where they might have driven out, parked their car and potentially disposed of the body.”
Like in the case of AJ, weather conditions were relatively survivable when William went missing, with Mr Cassar saying it was plausible he travelled a significant distance on foot.
“People can go for between three and four weeks without any food at all, depending on the weather, and up to 14 days exposed to the elements,” he said.
“You often hear people talking about foul play right from the start, it’s difficult to not give in to these sorts of belief patterns. I just try to stay open minded.”
He argued that in too many missing person cases, foul play was incorrectly assumed from the start, which he said hindered investigations.
“In both the AJ and William case, there were enormous assumptions made that they had both been kidnapped, and people were closing their mind in both instances.
“They were closing their mind to the possibility that the child could have just been missed in the bush. People are a needle in the haystack, we’re not that big in the scheme of things.”