A 14-year-old autistic boy who was missing for 32-hours has been found dead in dense bushland after Victorian Police allegedly told volunteers they were not allowed to help with the search because of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Police confirmed William Wall’s body was found in Yarra Junction on the second day of searching after the boy failed to return from his daily walk along the Tarra Ranges’ Warburton Trail.
As news broke of William’s disappearance, large numbers of volunteers turned out to assist in the search. Victorian Police, however, reportedly thought it was more important to enforce Melbourne’s stage four restrictions.
Williams older brother Harrison told Seven News that the police had informed him, his brother, and their search party that they were not allowed to search for the boy because state restrictions prohibit people from venturing further than five kilometres from their home.
“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,” Harrison said.
Seven News also reported that Police issued a notice on Facebook, saying: “In line with coronavirus restrictions, at this stage, we do not require any assistance from the public.”
There's sad news coming in from the search for a teenager, who went missing in the Yarra Ranges. The body of 14-year-old William Wall has been located at Yarra Junction. https://t.co/ZosVRzWkin @CameronBaud7 #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/U9byihCUT3— 7NEWS Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) September 23, 2020
Aneeka Simonis of the Herald Sun was following the story when Police told a large group of volunteers to return home.
Victoria Police announced on Twitter this evening that William’s death is not being treated as suspicious and police will prepare a report for the Coroner.
It’s understood William’s body was found less than two kilometres from his home.