Devastating detail in teen’s death
The heartbroken family of a teenage boy found dead in dense Victorian bushland yesterday have broken down as they approached the scene of his death.
In a devastating detail it has also emerged the 14-year-old's body was discovered just over one kilometre from the family home where he went missing on Tuesday.
William Wall was last seen at 6:45am on Tuesday morning after leaving his home in Launching Place, a town 54km east from Melbourne's CBD.
He told his family he would be back in 15 minutes, which wasn't unusual; the "fitness fanatic" would usually run 25 kilometres.
"There was nothing out of the ordinary, he's left money at home, doesn't have a myki or use public transport, his push bike is still at home," Williams, dad, Shane Wall said earlier.
"It's absolutely the first time he's got lost. He's a kid that sticks to himself, does all his school work, so this is really out of the ordinary."
But more than 24 hours later, the Wall family was facing a heartbreaking walk of their own in wet and muddy conditions.
William's body was found just before 5pm on Wednesday at the end of a residential street at Yarra Junction after a huge air and ground search mission that saw close to 100 personnel from Victoria Police and dozens of State Emergency Service units combine forces with locals.
The boy's body was found by a member of the local boxing club.
Police say they are not treating the death as suspicious and will prepare a report for the coroner.
William was described as being 177cm tall, with a lean build and mousy brown hair. He was dressed in a dark hooded jumper, trackpants and had a hydration pack across his chest.
Family friend Tyson Truscott told The Herald Sun: "He was a great kid. There is nothing bad about him. He loved going for runs, he went flat out," said Mr Truscott.
His family were pictured breaking down as they visited the scene of his death, exhausted and depleted after joining the search mission that saw rain and temperatures drop to 7C.
Just hours before, William's father had fronted media in tears, asking locals to put out protein bars and fruit for his son and claiming his disappearance was out of character.
The mood on Wednesday night, according to reporter James Hancock in Warburton, was quiet and sombre.
LOCALS TURNED AWAY FROM SEARCH
The distressing news of his death came amid reports those who had wanted to join the search were turned away due to treacherous conditions.
William's older brother Harrison, told Seven News he and other brother Jake were turned away after spending Tuesday night scanning the area on dirt bikes.
"We've been told by all the police, saying we're not allowed to help because we're past the five kilometre radius, which is going to put a bit more of a delay in finding him," his older brother, Harrison, .
William suffered from high functioning autism and it was feared he may have become disorientated without food due to the length of time he had been missing.
Despite William's body being located so close to home, in excess of 100 personnel from Victoria Police and the State Emergency Service had centred their search around the tracks along Warburton and the Warburton Rail Trail, which runs for approximately 40km across rough terrain. Specifically, they focused on a 10km radius around the area.
The O'Shannassy Aqueduct Trail in Warburton was also a focus, located 16 kilometres away from William's home. Police said earlier they had received a number of tips of "credible" sightings around those areas.
Police at the station cited "quite treacherous, wet and slippery" conditions as the reason for not wanting extra help from the public.
A reporter at the scene as police delivered the news to frustrated volunteers described the mood as "tense".
"This is not to do with COVID. We don't want to bring this into a COVID conversation. What we are doing is focusing our search on Will," Inspector Jason Goddard, local area commander for the Yarra Ranges police service, said.
Still, many volunteers searched on their own.
About 50 locals who turned up in Warburton this morning to join the search for William Wall have been told they aren’t needed & should raise the alarm on social media instead. Many are frustrated, including Georgia Strahan (pictured) who says she will search anyway. @abcmelbourne pic.twitter.com/Gdr5FXg4mm— Zalika Rizmal (@Zalika_R) September 23, 2020
On Wednesday, Mr Wall said he had slept very little in the past 24 hours.
Mr Wall said William loved dogs, liked healthy food, and was a very energetic and athletic teen who could run 20-30km.
"It wouldn't be that much of a stretch for him," he said.
He said he had been overwhelmed by support from the community.
"This has just blown me away, the support from local people, Facebook, community noticeboards, it's fantastic, it's really top notch and the police and SES have been great."
He said their family - including William's two brothers, Harrison, 18, and Jake, 21, and sister Sophie, 10 - absolutely missed him
"Just come home, we want you home," Mr Wall said.
"There's heap of people around, I thank the police, his brother's mates, they've all been out all night, and I just want everyone to be safe."
The Prime Minister is among a number of high profile Australians to send their condolences, tweeting his "heart goes out" to William's family after the "very sad news".
Very sad news. My heart goes out to William’s family and loved ones. Thank you to all those who were involved in the search. https://t.co/50RRRy61vD— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) September 23, 2020
Originally published as Devastating detail in teen's death
So deeply sorry to hear of the loss of William Wall. Just a terrible, terrible loss of a beautiful young life.— Greg Hunt (@GregHuntMP) September 23, 2020
My thoughts and prayers are with his family, his friends and the Yarra Ranges community.