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William Tyrrell’s complicated family dynamic explained: From foster parents to biological family

A complicated family tree has only added to the mystery surrounding the baffling disappearance of William Tyrrell.  

His status as a foster child wasn’t even confirmed to the public until three years after he disappeared, and has become the source of much confusion in the years since.

The three-year-old in the Spider-Man suit, who disappeared from his foster grandmother’s home in Kendall on the NSW mid north coast, was removed from his biological parents along with his older sister when he was still a baby.

Video taken before he vanished showed him calling his foster dad, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, ‘daddy’, and the couple refer to themselves as William’s mum and dad.

For his biological family, the pain of not knowing what happened to William on the morning of September 12, 2014, has been a constant source of anguish.

His mother, who has two other sons that remain in her care to this day, previously told Daily Mail Australia she ‘doesn’t want anyone’s sympathy’.

Pictured: Who’s who is William Tyrrell’s complicated family tree – from his wealthy north shore foster parents to a ‘homeless’ biological dad and single mum raising his two younger brothers

Daily Mail Australia has learned the car which once belonged to William's late foster grandmother was allegedly used by the foster mother near the spot on the NSW mid north coast where he disappeared

William's foster father is pictured outside his home on Sydney's upper north shore

Daily Mail Australia has learned the car which once belonged to William’s late foster grandmother was allegedly used by the foster mother near the spot on the NSW mid north coast where he disappeared

William Tyrrell's foster family lead a $141,000 campaign to uncover what exactly happened to their little boy for seven years before the foster mum was identified as a person of interest

William Tyrrell’s foster family lead a $141,000 campaign to uncover what exactly happened to their little boy for seven years before the foster mum was identified as a person of interest

Like the rest of the world, she’s desperate for the truth about William’s disappearance.

On Monday, it was revealed William’s foster mother is being investigated as a person of interest. Over the seven years since his disappearance, some 600 people have been considered persons of interest. 

New information led to a renewed search of the foster grandmother’s home and surrounds where William was last seen. The now-deceased woman’s car was seized on Wednesday morning.

Daily Mail Australia understands the Mazda hatchback was allegedly driven by his foster mother on September 12, 2014 – the morning the three-year-old disappeared. 

A Supreme Court justice allowed his foster care status to be revealed in August 2017, in what had been an open secret to those who had followed the case for years prior.

‘The truth to date has been obscured,’ Justice Paul Brereton said. 

In light of the new developments in the case, Daily Mail Australia explains who’s who in the toddler’s life.

A search for William Tyrrell's remains in Kendall will enter its third day on Wednesday

A search for William Tyrrell’s remains in Kendall will enter its third day on Wednesday

THE BIOLOGICAL PARENTS

William’s biological mother told media she felt like ‘the worst mum in the world’ after learning her three-year-old had disappeared while in the care of his foster family. 

The stay-at-home mum from Sydney’s west has two younger sons who remain in her custody, and William’s older sister, who is also in foster care.

She previously told Daily Mail Australia she ‘doesn’t want anyone’s sympathy’ but has maintained a dignified silence in the wake of William’s disappearance. 

She occasionally shares photos of her eldest son online and maintains a private Facebook group dedicated to bringing him home.

Meanwhile, William’s biological father – who is no longer dating his mother – allegedly spiralled after the toddler went missing.

He developed a drug habit and has been in and out of jail. Some relatives have described him as a ‘career criminal’ in the past.

It’s understood he is homeless after his last stint in jail.   

William's biological mother told media she felt like 'the worst mum in the world' after learning her three-year-old had disappeared while in the care of his foster family

William’s biological mother told media she felt like ‘the worst mum in the world’ after learning her three-year-old had disappeared while in the care of his foster family

William's biological father - who is understood to no longer be dating his mother - allegedly spiralled after the toddler went missing

William’s biological father – who is understood to no longer be dating his mother – allegedly spiralled after the toddler went missing

PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER

William's biological paternal grandmother has long been the face of his family, making public pleas for information that would lead to his safe return

William’s biological paternal grandmother has long been the face of his family, making public pleas for information that would lead to his safe return

William’s biological paternal grandmother has long been the face of his family, making public pleas for information that would lead to his safe return.

On Wednesday, she told The Daily Telegraph of the toll the tragedy has had on herself and her family.

Her son, William’s father, has been in and out of jail, is estranged from his family and suffers from mental illness.

‘He’s homeless,’ she said. ‘I don’t know where he is. I heard from him once when he got out, I felt so bad because he had nothing.’

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said her son was desperately trying to get a medical script for prescription drugs.

He’d told a chemist ‘I need them (pills) because I lost my son seven years ago’, and reportedly began to cry. 

‘He’s never opened up about that… Look what they’ve done to me, look what they’ve done to my son,’ his mother said.    

FOSTER PARENTS

William’s foster parents have never been formally identified, but have given anonymous interviews and maintained a $141,000 campaign to find their boy.

Police this week confirmed they’d received new information which led to the reinvigorated search, and William’s foster mother has been singled out as a person of interest.

The foster mother, now 56, was at the home with her own mother with William and his sister when the boy is believed to have disappeared. Her husband was in town.

The couple are wealthy professionals from Sydney’s north shore and had the Tyrrell children in their custody for about two years before the tragedy.

William Tyrell's foster mother - the main person of interest in the three-year-old's disappearance - has appeared in public as police step up their search for the missing toddler. She walked out of her home on Sydney's upper north shore on Wednesday morning wearing a pair of slippers before spotting media crews

William Tyrell’s foster mother – the main person of interest in the three-year-old’s disappearance – has appeared in public as police step up their search for the missing toddler. She walked out of her home on Sydney’s upper north shore on Wednesday morning wearing a pair of slippers before spotting media crews

Pictured: William's foster mother in 2019

Pictured: William's foster mother in 2019

In early September, a leak from a NSW Police source revealed cops had zeroed in on a suspect which prompted William’s foster family to issue a scathing statement downplaying the claims (pictured, William’s foster mother who wept while giving evidence about the boy’s disappearance at an inquest in 2019)

In the years since William disappeared, the couple have spearheaded the official ‘Where’s William’ campaign and made regular pleas for his safe return.

In early September, a leak from a NSW Police source revealed cops had zeroed in on a suspect which prompted William’s foster family to issue a scathing statement downplaying the claims. 

‘Imagine waking up to an unsubstantiated article published by a large media outlet claiming a ‘senior officer’ within NSW Police shared that they have a NEW person of interest, whilst inferring that this heinous crime is on the brink of being solved,’ they said in a statement shared to their ‘Where’s William’ website.

‘Once again we are forced to watch others objectify William for personal gain… fake news causes more heartache for William’s loved ones.’  

William’s foster parents have both vehemently denied any involvement in his disappearance.   

William's foster parents have both vehemently denied any involvement in his disappearance. Pictured: His foster father leaving their home on Wednesday

William’s foster parents have both vehemently denied any involvement in his disappearance. Pictured: His foster father leaving their home on Wednesday

The couple appeared on 60 Minutes to reveal what happened the morning William disappeared, and shared a video of William with his foster dad (pictured together)

The couple appeared on 60 Minutes to reveal what happened the morning William disappeared, and shared a video of William with his foster dad (pictured together) 

FOSTER GRANDMOTHER 

When William disappeared on September 12, 2014, he was playing in the garden of his maternal foster grandmother in Kendall, on the mid north coast of NSW.

The property where the crime occurred has since been sold and the grandmother has died.

On Wednesday, it was revealed her car was seized from a home in Gymea by officers tasked with solving the mystery of William’s disappearance.   

Daily Mail Australia understands the Mazda Hatchback was allegedly driven by his foster mother on September 12, 2014 – the morning the three-year-old vanished.

A NSW Police source said officers believe an object may have been thrown from the vehicle as it was driven along Batar Road at Kendall. That area is the middle of a massive forensic police search.

It’s understood the alleged unspecified object is part of the focus of forensic search underway for traces of William, about 700m from his foster grandmother’s home.

The foster mother allegedly made the drive in her mother’s car before her husband had returned to the house to join the search for William.  

Police have seized a Mazda (pictured) belonging to William Tyrrell's foster grandmother, who died earlier this year

The seized car (pictured being towed away) is currently undergoing forensic examination

The seized car (pictured being towed away) is currently undergoing forensic examination

Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett said the renewed search (pictured, the house on Monday) would take two to three weeks

Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett said the renewed search (pictured, the house on Monday) would take two to three weeks

Timeline of William Tyrrell’s disappearance

Still missing: William Tyrrell vanished from his foster grandmother's home five years ago

Still missing: William Tyrrell vanished from his foster grandmother’s home five years ago

2014 

September 12 – Dressed in a Spider-Man 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. 

2015 

January 20 – Police search the home and business of washing machine repairman Bill Spedding, 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 washing machine repairman 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. 

2016 

September 12 – A $1million reward is offered for information leading to William’s return. 

2017 

August 24 – William’s foster child status is revealed after a landmark court ruling.

2018 

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.

2019

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

Inquest hears Bill Spedding, a NSW mid-north coast repairman and one-time person of interest in the disappearance of William Tyrrell, met his wife for coffee about 9.30am in Laurieton, a 15-minute drive from Kendall, on the day William went missing.

They then attended a school assembly across the road to see a child in their care receive an award.

The inquest heard how a man who claims he saw William Tyrrell unrestrained in the back of a speeding car on the day the child went missing was waiting for police to interview him to tell them what he saw.

He told the inquest he contacted police but did not hear back about an interview.

It took it took almost 1000 days before he was able to reveal what he saw to police. 

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 person of interest Paul Savage in court hearing

February 21: Daily Mail Australia reveals Frank Abbott was arrested in custody for the purposes of a police interview about William’s disappearance 

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, 2020: Police and SES launch new search for William Tyrrell near Herons Creek, where Abbott once lived

June 26, 2021: Police acknowledge William Tyrrell’s 10th birthday

November 15, 2021: Detectives return to Kendall after receiving new information and admit they are searching for a body. His foster parents are reported to be persons of interest in the case 

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