Victoria police found the body of a missing 14-year-old autistic Australian boy who went missing during his daily walk hours after locals were infuriated as police sent those seeking to form search parties home and reminded them to follow the area’s stringent COVID rules, which prohibit residents from traveling more than five kilometers from their home.
14-year-old William Wall’s body was discovered in the small Victoria town of Yarra Junction hours after those seeking to form search parties were turned away police, with Wall’s brother confirming to media that he and his family were instructed not to search for his brother by police.
After news broke that the child was missing, large numbers of locals began traveling to the area to assist local law enforcement, but they were turned away due to Victoria’s Stage 4 COVID-19 lockdown rules that restrict citizens from traveling more than five kilometers from their home.
Speaking to local media, a mother explained that she and her 13-year-old daughter were turned away by authorities after they sought to search for the missing teen after police told a large number of volunteers to go home and adhere to local COVID-19 rules.
“It’s really disappointing, we waited an hour to hear that news,” said the woman. “It is disheartening for us all, because we’ve all come with good intentions to look for William, to find him and get him back safely, because the weather is getting worse.”
— Aneeka Simonis (@AneekaSimonis) September 23, 2020
She also revealed that, despite the authorities sending large numbers home, she and others intended to disregard their orders and search for the missing teen in unorganized groups.
“We’re going to go home now and get our dogs,” said the woman. “We’ve already been searching this morning, through town, so we’re going to go back and get the dogs and have a look.”
Victoria police later confirmed the death of the teen after they found his body in a small town of less than 3,000 people.
“We can confirm the sad news that 14-year-old William Well has been located deceased in Yarra Junction,” Victoria Police officials wrote on their Twitter account. “His death is not being treated as suspicious and police will prepare a report for the Coroner. We would like to thank the media and all those involved in the search.”
We can confirm the sad news that 14-year-old William Wall has been located deceased in Yarra Junction.
His death is not being treated as suspicious and police will prepare a report for the Coroner.
We would like to thank the media and all those involved in the search. pic.twitter.com/GIHpaq1DqH
— Victoria Police (@VictoriaPolice) September 23, 2020
Local media also confirmed reports of the teen’s death after police located Wall’s body, noting that his death has “floored the search teams and those that wanted to help but couldn’t.”
The family said they were shocked and touched by the number of people who came to search for the missing teen, and shared their frustration at the police forcing them away due to COVID-19.
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