William Wall (Pictured), 14, was found dead at Yarra Junction, east of Melbourne, on Wednesday afternoon
Mystery surrounds the death of a 14-year-old autistic boy whose body was found just over one-kilometre from his family home 32 hours after he disappeared for a morning jog.
William Wall promised his family he would be back in 15 minutes when he embarked on his daily run along the Yarra Ranges’ Warburton Trail, east of Melbourne, at about 6.45am on Tuesday.
The teenager, who had high-functioning autism, failed to return to his home in Launching Place. He was not carrying his mobile phone.
William’s disappearance sparked a desperate ground and air search involving about 100 personnel from Victoria Police and the SES.
Authorities revealed his body had been found in nearby Yarra Junction on Wednesday afternoon.
‘We can confirm the sad news that 14-year-old William Wall has been located deceased in Yarra Junction,’ Victoria Police said.
‘We would like to thank the media and all those involved in the search.’
Victoria Police said William’s death was not being treated as suspicious.
William left his family’s home in Launching Place on Tuesday morning. His body was found in nearby Yarra Junction on Wednesday afternoon
Distraught rescuers comfort each other with a hug after William Wall’s body was found on Wednesday
Police did not divulge further and it is still not known how William spent his final moments.
It’s understood William’s body was found in bushland at the end of a residential street just over one-kilometre from his home.
The search entered its second day on Wednesday after rescue crews scoured the area overnight as temperatures plummeted to 7C.
William’s family gathered at the blocked off road near where his body was found.
Distraught rescuers and locals were seen consoling each other at the scene.
Family friend Tyson Truscott said the Walls would be shattered by the tragedy.
‘He was a great kid. There is nothing bad about him. He loved going for runs, he went flat out,’ he told the Herald Sun.
William’s two older brothers and friends spent Tuesday night looking for the teenager with rescuers but were stopped on Wednesday amid Melbourne’s Stage Four coronavirus lockdown.
Friends console each other at the scene after police confirmed William’s body had been found
‘We’ve been told by all the police, saying we’re not allowed to help because we’re beyond the five kilometre radius, which is going to put more of a delay in finding him,’ his older brother Harrison told Seven News.
Family friend Flynn Cousens added: ‘I’d rather go outside the five kilometre radius and find him than stick to five kilometres and let him stay out there another night.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison described William’s death as ‘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,’ he tweeted on Wednesday night.
Federal health minister Greg Hunt added: ‘So deeply sorry to hear of the loss of William Wall.’
‘Just a terrible, terrible loss of a beautiful young life.
‘My thoughts and prayers are with his family, his friends and the Yarra Ranges community.’
William’s distraught father Shane (pictured) struggled to fight back tears as he thanked volunteers, police, the SES and family members who had been searching on Tuesday night
William’s older brother Harrison Wall (pictured) was stopped by police from continuing the search due to Melbourne’s strict Stage Four lockdown restrictions
An ambulance leaves the street in Yarra Junction where William’s body was found on Wednesday
Locals were furious they were advised to follow lockdown restrictions while trying to keep an eye out for William.
In Melbourne, residents are not allowed to travel further than five kilometres from their homes and outdoor time is limited to two hours a day.
‘In line with coronavirus restrictions, at this stage we do not require any assistance from the public,’ a post on the Eyewatch Yarra Ranges Police Facebook read on Tuesday night.
‘We want to say a big thank you however, for the all the offers we have received.’
Police claimed their guidance for the search had nothing to do with coronavirus lockdown.
Bush Search and Rescue Victoria volunteers are pictured outside Warburton Police Station ahead of the search on Wednesday before William was found
SES personnel depart the Warburton Police state ahead of the search for missing autistic boy William Wall, who was later found dead
‘This is not to do with COVID,’ local police commander Inspector Jason Goddard told reporters.
‘We don’t want to bring this into a COVID conversation. What we are doing is focusing our search on Will.
‘If the resourcing we have on the ground here and deployed today is not adequate we will ask for more resources.’
But locals didn’t buy the claim and instead vented their anger at police during a tense meeting.
‘If that my kid out there, I would want every person on the ground out there, just having a look,’ one resident said.
Distraught rescuers at the scene comfort each other after the search came to a tragic end
William’s distraught father Shane struggled to fight back tears as he thanked volunteers, police, the SES and family members who had been searching on Tuesday night.
‘I just want everyone to be safe,’ he told reporters on Wednesday afternoon, hours before police confirmed his son had been found dead.
‘I never want to be in this situation but the people around here are fantastic. I mean, I’ve been in the valley for a long time and come from overseas but this has just blown me away.
‘Actual support from local people, the Facebook community and the noticeboards and that, fantastic. Top notch and the police and SES, again, it has been great.
‘I have hardly spoken to my wife much but they are liaising with them to look after her and I’m out helping where I can.’
Police advised volunteers to stay home instead of search for William, saying: ‘At this stage we do not require any assistance from the public’
William’s dad Shane Wall fought back tears during a press conference on Wednesday, several hours before the search for his son came to a tragic end
At the time, he was still hopeful William would be found alive.
Mr Wall added his son was ‘pretty hardcore’ and knew the area well.
The ‘energetic, very athletic’ teenager loved exercise and had dreams of joining the police force or the army when he got older.
Crews involved in William’s search had concentrated on the Warburton Rail Trail and the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail – about 16km from the family’s home – after police received a reported sighting of an ‘upset male’ in the area on Tuesday.
William’s disappearance comes three months after non-verbal autistic teen William Callaghan became separated from his family during a walk at Mount Disappointment, 60km north of Melbourne.
The teen spent two nights alone before being miraculously found safe and well.
Police blocked off this road in Yarra Junction after William Wall’s body was found