In an interview just months after William Tyrrell mysteriously vanished, his foster mother revealed she heard the boy playing on the deck, making a roaring noise … and then ‘nothing’.
Police have handed a fresh brief to prosecutors containing a new theory about what happened to William, three, when he vanished from Benaroon Drive in Kendall on the NSW mid north coast in September 12, 2014.
It includes allegations that the toddler might have fallen from a high balcony, fatally hit his head and that the foster mother then subsequently covered up the accident by dumping the body in bushland.
In an interview with 60 Minutes in 2015, the foster mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, described the last moments she heard William playing with his sister outside before she stepped inside to make a cup of tea.
‘He was playing daddy tiger… My last memory is his raaaarrrr. Then there was nothing,’ she said.
‘Now it’s just silence. He has vanished.’
William Tyrrell vanished from the Kendall home of his foster grandmother in 2014
She described calling out to William from inside and asking ‘can you see daddy’s car?’ as he pulled into the house.
‘There was no answer.’
Within 20 minutes she had called police in a panic to report she could not find him and she suspected someone had taken him, she said.
The foster mother this week said she wants prosecutors to reveal any police evidence linking her to the three-year-old’s disappearance.
Her lawyer, Sharon Ramsden, contacted detectives on Wednesday seeking confirmation that a brief of evidence had been sent to the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions for the consideration of criminal proceedings against her client.
Ms Ramsden was responding to reports that police had recommended William’s foster mother be prosecuted.
‘The foster mother and her legal representatives call for disclosure of the evidence which police suggest forms the basis of any criminal proceedings,’ the lawyer said.
‘The foster mother has always, and (continues to) maintain, she has nothing to do with William’s disappearance.’
Police have recommended she be charged with perverting the course of justice and interfering with a corpse.
A brief of evidence has been handed to prosecutors but no decision has been made on charges.
William’s foster mother (pictured with her husband) said she heard the toddler playing outside and then ‘nothing’ in a TV interview in 2015
The foster mother is waiting to see if the DPP will charge her with perverting the course of justice and interfering with a corpse in the wake of her three-year-old son’s disappearance
The woman’s lawyer stressed the foster mother had previously been ruled out of any wrongdoing in relation to his disappearance.
‘William’s foster mother and her legal representatives urge the Director of Public Prosecutions to expeditiously determine whether charges are to be laid,’ the statement said.
The woman, aged in her late 50s, was acquitted in 2022 of lying to the NSW Crime Commission about hitting a different child with a wooden spoon.
William disappearance has caught the attention of the entire country
The charge was unconnected to William’s disappearance, which has been the subject of sustained efforts by police to find answers.
The case of the boy who went missing in a Spiderman suit has intrigued the nation.
During a court hearing in November over the perversion charge, a senior NSW detective said he believed the woman had knowledge of William’s whereabouts.
‘I have formed the view (she) knows where William Tyrrell is,’ Detective Sergeant Andrew Lonergan told Downing Centre Local Court.
In December 2020, a highly-publicised month-long search of the Kendall property and surrounding area failed to find any trace of the boy.
Police excavated a garden at the property, which belonged to William’s foster grandmother, and examined a concrete slab laid after his disappearance.
They also drained a nearby creek and sifted soil in bushland and around the home.
A $1 million reward for information leading to the recovery of William and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance was announced in 2016.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions declined to comment.
NSW Police said: ‘There are no updates on this matter. The investigation is ongoing’.
Detectives Sean Ogilvy and Andrew Lonergan (centre) with scientist Jon Olly (right) at the Batar Creek Road dig where they believe William’s remains lie
Is THIS what happened to William Tyrrell? Chilling new police theory about how three-year-old boy died – as cops recommend the missing toddler’s foster mother is charged
A tragic fall from a balcony, a fatal head injury and a mad scramble to hide a little boy’s body in the bush near a riding school.
This is the alleged chain of events NSW Police has put to the Director of Public Prosecutions in recommending charges be laid against William Tyrrell’s foster mother over his disappearance.
Nine years since William’s mystery disappearance, police have thrown out the old official timeline of what unfolded at Benaroon Drive in Kendall on the NSW Mid North Coast on September 12, 2014.
For a long time, the prevailing theory was that William had been abducted from his foster grandmother’s home by a predatory stranger.
But now, a fresh brief handed to prosecutors alleges another sinister scenario – including allegations the toddler’s foster mum interfered with a corpse and perverted the course of justice after William suffered a fatal accident.
The new theory suggests William may have fallen off one of the balconies at the home of his foster grandmother and that his foster mother may have taken off down the street in the grandmother’s car to a nearby riding school in order to cover it up.
The foster mother stridently denies this, or that she had any involvement whatsoever in William’s disappearance – and argues this is just the latest instance of police pursuing the wrong person, after having considered then ruled out several others over the past nine years.
William Tyrrell’s foster mother is waiting to see if the DPP will charge her with perverting the course of justice and interfering with a corpse in the wake of her three-year-old son’s disappearance
Police claim the foster mother, then aged 49, drove her mother’s Mazda hatchback (above after it was seized in late 2021) from her Kendall home on the morning William vanished
Senior police alleged in court last year that the foster mother ‘knows where William Tyrrell is’ and how his body was disposed of after he vanished from the Benaroon Drive house (above)
The old ‘abduction’ theory
The scenario first outlined at the unfinished inquest into William’s disappearance a few years back had the hallmarks of a dark fairytale.
Counsel assisting the coroner Gerald Craddock SC, originally suggested that William, three, disappeared from his foster nana’s property between 10.00am and 10.25am while playing a game in the yard.
William was meant to have woken with his foster family, dressed in his favourite Spider-Man suit, gone to play on his grandma’s verandah, ‘roared’ at the lens of his foster mother’s camera, and hopped off the edge for a game of ‘daddy tiger’ as foster grandmother and foster mum enjoyed cups of tea.
Thereafter, Mr Craddock said, a ‘sneaky, complex’ abductor had broached the quiet country street, entered the foster grandma’s property, snatched William and made off with him.
The alleged kidnap went totally undetected, aside from the foster mother’s recollection – some two days later when collecting her sister from the airport – that she had seen two unknown sedans parked in the street between 7.30am and 9am.
The foster mother asserted she had seen them just before William disappeared. If the brief of evidence before the DPP is to be accepted, then that timeline would be incorrect.
Issues with the timeline
Some of the evidence the foster family has given about what happened in the hours that followed is challenged by detectives.
The inquest heard that the foster father woke up at about 5.50am on Friday, September 12, 2014, stirring beside William in the room they were sleeping in together, after arriving the night before from Sydney with William’s sister and foster mother.
The foster father told William to change his pull-up diapers and then have a cuddle before they watched an episode of Bananas in Pyjamas.
Around 8am, William and his sister woke up the foster grandmother, and at 8.30am ate a breakfast of toast, eggs and Weet-Bix.
William insisted on wearing his Spider-Man suit, which the foster mother helped him dress in along with – she later said – a pair of matching shoes because the yard had prickly bindi weeds and dog droppings.
This is allegedly problematic because William’s final photo – taken by the foster mother – shows him barefoot on the verandah of the house.
Police also allege that there were no prickly weeds in the grass and the foster grandma’s dog had already died.
What detectives believed before:
* William, three, was snatched by a ‘complex’ stranger from the yard of his foster grandmother’s home on September 12, 2014
* William was then, presumably, at some point, killed
What cops believe may have happened now:
* After working through a long list of persons of interest, police believe that William, three, may have suffered a fatal accident, such as a fall from a balcony, at his foster grandmother’s house
*His death was then allegedly covered up by his foster mother
Detectives Sean Ogilvy and Andrew Lonergan (centre) with scientist Jon Olly (right) at the Batar Creek Road dig where they believe William’s remains lie
Questions have been asked about the time stamp on the photo taken of William Tyrrell (above) shortly before he disappeared in Kendall NSW in September, 2014
Just before 9am, the foster father left for the nearby Lakewood shopping centre, seeking a better internet connection for a phone conference with a Queensland real estate company.
He also had a prescription filled at the chemist and picked up a newspaper for his mother-in-law.
CCTV from the Kendall Tennis Club showed the foster father’s car passing just before 9am.
Back at the Benaroon Drive house, the foster mother made a call at 9.03am to the washing machine repairman Bill Spedding.
At 9.10am, handyman Geoff Owen rang regarding repairs to the house’s verandah.
This left 27 minutes until the alleged taking of the final photo of William, alive and shoeless in his red and blue costume, on the verandah.
The photo was taken at 9.37am, with the inquest originally hearing from Mr Craddock that ‘that is a time that we can be certain’.
However, computer and data software analysis before the inquest later prompted questions about that time stamp too.
A forensics report by the company Xways said the photo was ‘created 12/09/2014 07:39:54’ but also said it bore the ‘corrected time: 12/09/2014 09:37:44’.
The validity of the time stamp difference has been argued over since it was revealed in 2019.
Speculation swirled about the camera on which it was taken – bought by the foster mother in Bali in August 2014 – being set to the wrong time zone.
William’s foster grandmother,, since deceased, points out the back of her property to police on a walk through in the wake of William vanishing in 2014
The question remains as to whether William’s disappearance or death happened much earlier than believed.
Activities that occurred on the verandah may have occurred before, rather than after, the picture was taken.
The foster mother has testified that before the Spider-Man photo, she saw a car do a U-turn in the street as William and his sister rode bikes in the driveway.
She has testified that after the photo, a bored William tried several activities before he vanished.
This included her accompanying him into the yard to play a game of ‘mummy monster’, before her tea break and his alleged kidnap.
A senior policewoman, Detective Sergeant Laura Beacroft, told the inquest that she put the time William vanished between 10.05am and 10.20am.
But it is before this that police now believe William may have succumbed to a fatal accident, such as falling from the verandah of the Kendall house and hitting his head.
Interestingly, a local man leaving the Kendall tennis club suggested the boy may have gone missing up to an hour earlier than originally thought.
Richard Donoghue – who lived 270m from William’s foster grandmother – later told police he had been at the tennis club when a call came in which made him ‘think there was a child missing’.
Mr Donoghue’s departure from the club, caught on CCTV at 9.43am, happened around 45 minutes before William’s foster mother stated William disappeared, the inquest heard.
And that was also more than an hour before the foster mother made the Triple-0 call to report that the three-year-old had vanished.
At 10.30am, the foster father texted to say he was on his way home from Lakewood, and around five minutes away.
William Tyrrell in his favourite fireman’s hat with his foster mother before his disappearance in September 2014, sparking a massive search for the little boy which has found nothing
The foster father had arrived home to find out William was missing and, he said during a subsequent police walk through, he drove up the street, unaware of anything being wrong until he pulled into the driveway of the house.
When he finds out he ‘starts tearing the neighbourhood down’, running frantically up and down the street.
Around this time, either before the foster father arrived home or as he frantically searched for William, police believe the foster mother drove her mother’s grey Mazda3 hatchback down the street to nearby Batar Creek Road. There, an object may have been tossed from the window.
It was when she got back that she allegedly phoned the police, at 10.56am, to report William missing.
At 11.06am, the first police car carrying Senior Constable Christopher Rowley arrived at Benaroon Drive to begin the search for the missing boy.
Senior detectives have since floated a theory that the foster mother disposed of William’s body and knows where the missing toddler’s remains lie.
‘I’ve formed the view (the foster mother) knows where William Tyrrell is’, Detective Sergeant Andrew Lonergan told the Downing Centre Local Court in November last year.
Williams foster mother (right) was 49 when the three-year-old vanished from Kendall, NSW and has always maintained her innocence in his disappearance
The senior detective said ‘we know why, we know how’ William disappeared and his body was disposed of.
He said the location was on the corner of Batar Creek Road and Cobb and Co Road, the area investigated during the high intensity search made in late 2021.
‘We believe it was disposed in that area, yes,’ Detective Lonergan said at a hearing into allegations that the foster mother had lied to the NSW Crime Commission.
The Downing Centre Local Court heard how the state’s top secret crime-fighting agency grilled William foster mother in the days preceding the 2021 high intensity search.
In closed hearings, the NSWCC accused her of hiding the toddler’s body after the boy fell from the verandah of his foster gran’s home.
NSW Crime Commissioner Michael Barnes and counsel assisting Sophie Callan had piled pressure onto the 57-year-old in November, 2021.
William, who is believed to be dead, would have celebrated his 12th birthday on Tuesday
In fiery evidence put before the Crime Commission and played to the Downing Centre court, the foster mother repeatedly denied the accusations about William.
She challenged investigators to ‘dig up’ the area where they claimed the three-year-old’s remains were buried.
Magistrate Miranda Moody found the foster mother not guilty, saying she was not convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the foster mother knowingly lied to the Crime Commission.
Police later seized the late foster mother’s Mazda hatchback, and returned to Kendall to continue the search for William’s remains.
On Wednesday, the foster mother issued a statement via her lawyers in response to reports she may be charged.
The foster mother ‘has nothing to do with the disappearance’ of her foster son, the statement, sent to media via her solicitor Sharon Ramsden, said.
Ms Ramsden said the foster mother ‘has always, and maintains, she has nothing to do with William’s disappearance.
‘She desperately urges the police to resume the investigation into finding what happened to William.’
She also urged the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions to ‘expeditiously determine whether charges are to be laid’.
The investigation continues. William’s body has never been found.