A convicted paedophile who is a ‘person of interest’ in the baffling disappearance of William Tyrrell had a son who mysteriously died at the same age the toddler was when he vanished.
Frank Abbott, 80, was living in a caravan 12km from the Kendall property on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales where the three-year-old boy vanished without a trace on September 12, 2014.
Described as a ‘dirty old man’, he is currently serving a 16 year prison sentence for the sexual abuse of three young children and was acquitted of a teenage girl’s 1968 murder in the small community of Pitt Town, 60km north-west of the Sydney.
Despite being in prison, he has taken a keen interest in the coronial inquiry into William’s likely abduction and murder – watching every day via Zoom.
It has now been revealed for the first time that his own young son, who was like William around three years old, died – with the findings of an inquest sealed by a NSW coroner under ‘confidentiality’ rules.
This means the circumstances surrounding his death must remain a secret.
One of the key persons of interest in the baffling disappearance of William Tyrrell (pictured) once had a son who mysteriously died at the same age as the foster child
Seven years on from William’s disappearance, a two-part documentary by 7News Investigates has uncovered the bombshell new information – but the mystery which has gripped Australia still remains unsolved.
Abbott has been spoken to by police about his whereabouts on the day William disappeared from his foster grandmother’s home while playing in the yard in a Spiderman costume.
While he has not yet been able to provide police with an alibi, with the documentary claiming no one is able to vouch for his movements that day, he maintains he had nothing to do with what happened to William.
Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting Abbott had any involvement, and is merely stating that police have spoken to him.
Jailed paedophile Frank Abbott, 80 (pictured), is a key person of interest in the disappearance of William Tyrrell
Ray Porter (left) allegedly told an aged care nurse he drove William and a fishing mate 300km north day after his disappearance in his white stationwagon (right)
Police spoke to Abbott about his movements after a bombshell claim several years after William’s disappearance.
Abbott’s friend Ray Porter, who died of kidney failure, allegedly told a nurse he had driven ‘my best fishing mate and that little boy from the television’ 300km north.
Uniting Care nurse Kirston Okpegbue told a coronial inquest last year that Porter had rested his head on her shoulder in August 2019 revealing he believed he was tricked into giving the pair a lift up Pacific Highway towards Queensland – a day after the abduction.
While Mr Porter did not explicitly name Abbott, the pair were known to be fishing buddies.
‘That was his only friend. The only person I’ve ever seen Ray with was Frank Abbott,’ an unnamed associate told the programme.
‘And he described the little boy from the TV which would be William Tyrrell.’
William was playing with his sister at their foster grandmother’s Benaroon Drive home (pictured) when he mysteriously disappeared seven years ago
This is a caravan Abbott lived in on the mid-north coast of New South Wales following William’s disappearance
Highway cameras captured Porter’s vehicle on the southbound Pacific Motorway camera at Kew on September 13, and on the north and southbound cameras at Port Macquarie the following day.
Williams’ foster mother also told police a white station-wagon matching the description was parked near her parents’ property on the morning of his disappearance.
The inquest separately heard that a worker at a takeaway shop where Abbott used to do repairs reported the elderly man making a ‘strange’ comment about William’s whereabouts.
Where is the inquest at with the other famous persons of interest?
William Tyrrell was abducted from his foster grandma’s home – that much is clear after years of police investigation and a long inquest.
But investigators are yet to smoke out who did it and it’s without doubt that innocent names have been dragged through the mud as a result.
Washing machine repairman Bill Spedding was unfairly publicly named as a major person of interest in the investigation from the get-go.
Mr Spedding had stridently denied any involvement and evidence at the inquest indicated he had a sturdy alibi.
The tradesman and his wife, Margaret, were attending a school assembly the morning William vanished from his foster grandmother’s home.
At least one other parent told the inquest they could independently recall Mr Spedding being in attendance that day.
Further, the couple have a receipt from a nearby cafe, from earlier that morning, where they had ordered coffee.
Neighbour Paul Savage – who lived down the road from where William vanished – gave to authorities what one journalist described as a ‘confusing and contradictory account’ of his activities on September 12, 2014.
But the widower has always denied playing any role in the abduction.
And despite well-documented, legal and illegal police surveillance, there has been no proof to link him to the crime.
‘Frank made a comment he thought they were searching in the wrong spot for William Tyrrell, which seemed like a very strange comment to make,’ Dean Anderson told the court.
Abbott also once spoke of smelling something ‘dead’ in bushland by a road in nearby Logans Crossing, Mr Anderson said.
Mr Anderson said he suggested the smell was probably a dead kangaroo, to which Abbott replied: ‘No, I know the difference between a dead kangaroo and a dead human smell.’
Revelations also came to light that Abbot was acquitted of the gruesome 1968 murder of 17-year-old shop assistant Hellen Harrison after being trialled twice.
William Tyrrell (pictured) disappeared without a trace while playing in the yard and was last heard making roaring sounds like a lion
Homicide Squad’s Strike Force Rosann inspecting the yard of William Tyrrell’s grandmother’s home in Kendall, NSW on September 12 after reportedly receiving new information
William and his five-year-old sister had made the five-hour drive from Sydney with their foster parents before his baffling disappearance.
His foster mother, who cannot be identified due to legal reasons surrounding the identification of foster carers, said she had only taken her eyes off William for ‘five minutes’.
FBI-trained Kris Illingsworth, who worked as a NSW police detective, said it was almost certainly an opportunistic attack.
He also suggested that William, who had been roaring like a tiger while playing in the yard, has let out a ‘last roar’ that was ‘especially loud, as though he’s roaring at someone’.
‘I believe this offender given he has this preferential idea of being attracted to children and has kicked so quickly into predatory child abductor mode, to me that says it’s an older offender,’ the criminal profiler said.
‘This has years of experience and practice behind it.
‘He sat there for a moment in his car and watched William – this flash of blue, this roaring noise that he’s making – and he’s been checking out the situation thinking that boy attracts me. I am interested in him, so I’ll watch a bit more.
The mystery which has gripped Australia still remains unsolved after seven years (pictured, detectives at William’s foster grandmother’s home in Kendall on September 12)
‘And at that time he’s also doing a risk assessment. He’s very cool, calm and collected in what he was doing.’
Former Australian Federal Police commander Grant Edwards said US-style ‘curb-crawler’ abductions, where paedophile networks target vulnerable children off the street, are extremely unusual in Australia.
‘A child is a commodity just like any other commodity is to those who do what they do in the criminal world,’ he said.
‘It’s not just the self gratification of the individual who is abusing the child but it is the material that they take in terms of the film or the footage.
‘That can become a trading commodity.’
He also warned families that paedophiles often presented as normal and friendly, particularly towards children, before grabbing them without warning.
William Tyrrell (pictured) vanished from his foster mother’s Kendall property, on the NSW Mid North Coast, in September 2014
‘They can present across the spectrum from saints to the absolute nastiest people in the world,’ he said.
‘You have those people, the way they present, you struggle in your mind to rationalise why they do what they do.
‘I have seen people arrested, and thought, “wow I would never have thought that person to be a paedophile”. You just don’t know who you’re dealing with.
‘They live a normal life (or) what we believe to be a normal life. But behind that normal life, there’s a very, very sordid life, a second life that they live.’
The inquest into William’s death is yet to deliver its findings.
Timeline of William Tyrrell’s disappearance
September 12 – Dressed in a Spiderman outfit, three-year-old William Tyrrell goes missing from the garden while visiting members of his foster family on the NSW north coast.
September 21 – Police stop searching for the missing boy after scouring surrounding bushland and neighbouring houses.
January 20 – Police search the home and business of a person who had been due to carry out repairs at the house at the time the three-year-old went missing.
Detectives take items for testing including a mattress, computer and vehicles. They drain his septic tank.
January 23 – The person publicly denies any involvement in William’s disappearance and says he and his wife are on the verge of a breakdown due to the public attention.
February 19 – Homicide detectives take over the case and say it’s likely William was abducted.
March 2 – Police fruitlessly search an area of bushland near Bonny Hills for three days after a tip-off.
April 17 – William’s foster parents speak publicly for the first time in an emotional video released through police which does not identify them.
April 17 – Police say the boy may have been a victim of a paedophile ring.
September 6 – The Nine Network’s 60 Minutes reveal two suspicious cars were parked on the street the morning William went missing.
September 12 – ‘Where’s William’ week is launched one year after he disappeared.
September 12 – A $1million reward is offered for information leading to William’s return.
August 24 – William’s foster child status is revealed after a landmark court ruling.
June 12 – NSW Police announce the start of a four-week forensic search of bushland conducted by Strike Force Rosann.
June 14 – William’s grandmother scolds police who have failed to find the young boy after four years, and claims their latest search is ‘just for show’.
June 26 – The forensic search continues on what would have been William’s seventh birthday.
June 27 – Strike Force Rosann announces it will move the search to an 800sqm block of bushland just 4km from where William was last seen alive.
June 5 – The latest search ends with Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin saying the case could soon go to a coroner.
August – Investigation leader Detective Chief Inspector Gary Jubelin and a sergeant get into a disagreement during a briefing.
September 13 – Police reveal they found a burned out car wreck belonging to a former person of interest.
December 19 – Coroners say William could still be alive and the inquest will determine if he died or not.
February – DCI Jubelin is removed from the investigation amid a misconduct probe.
March 25 – The inquest into William Tyrrell’s disappearance begins, with William’s biological and foster parents appearing over the course of a week.
The inquest’s first batch of hearings focused on William’s family situation and the events leading up to his disappearance.
Both his foster and biological parents were quizzed, as were neighbours who helped in the search.
It was disclosed that William’s biological parents absconded with him for six weeks in 2012, following a children’s court order.
William’s biological father slammed authorities for letting them down.
‘Authorities f***ed up … The minister had a duty of care to keep William safe until he was 18. That was not the case at all.’
May: DCI Jubelin quits the Police Force.
June: Four charges of breaching the Surveillance Devices Act are laid against DCI Jubelin. He denies any wrongdoing whatsover
August: The second tranche of inquest hearings began on Wednesday August 7
The coroner orders an urgent probe into the final image that was taken on the day William vanished as metadata suggests the picture may have been taken 118 minutes earlier than originally thought.
The image has a ‘created time’ of 7.39am and a ‘corrected time’ of 9.37am, a new document from the 2000-page evidence brief.
The coronial inquest has been delayed for another eight months with the next round of hearings happening in March 2020.
November 11: The deputy state coroner releases footage of William Tyrrell and family at Heatherbrae McDonalds, on September 11, 2014
Feb – March 2020: Gary Jubelin defends four charges of illegally recording a person of interest in court hearing
March 2020: The coronial inquest into William’s disappearance resumes but stops with two days to go due to the coronavirus outbreak
April 6, 2020: Magistrate Ross Hudson delivers his verdict in Gary Jubelin case
April 8, 2020: Jubelin is convicted of all four charges and fined $10,000. Ex-cop says he will appeal
June 22: Police and SES launch new search for William Tyrrell near Herons Creek