William Wall (Pictured), 14, was found dead at Yarra Junction, Melbourne on Wednesday, 32 hours after going missing on his daily jog on Tuesday
The grieving father of a missing boy with autism who was found dead in bushland has issued a heartfelt messages to the volunteers who searched for his son.
William Wall, 14, told his family he was going for a 15-minute walk around his hometown at Launching Place in the Yarra Ranges, east of Melbourne, at 6.45am on Tuesday.
His failure to return home promoted a widespread air and ground search with emergency workers and volunteers looking for the boy well into the night in severe weather conditions.
But the search ended 32 hours later in tragedy when the teenager, who had high-functioning autism, was found dead at the end of the street.
On Monday, his father Shane Wall wrote a touching message on Facebook to the volunteers who searched ‘into the night in horrible conditions’.
‘While still coming to terms of handling our grief of our loss of William I thought is was important to let the community know how much we love all of you,’ he said.
William’s distraught father Shane (pictured) struggled to fight back tears as he thanked volunteers, police, the SES and family members who had been searching all night
On Monday, his father Shane Wall wrote a touching message on Facebook (pictured) to the volunteers who searched ‘into the night in horrible conditions’
‘To the people that found my boy I know who you are and I will thank you in person,’ he wrote
‘To think William could have still been out there now as well as people still looking in this horrible weather would have broken our hearts even more.’
He added: ‘Be at peace my big boy.’
The post was inundated with messages of support from friends and strangers.
‘We are very sorry for your loss. Our thoughts, strength and love are with you all. Fly high little man,’ one woman wrote.
‘If we are needed you will find the community are here for you and your family,’ shared another.
William’s death has been treated as a suicide.
As the community deals with the loss of the ‘beautiful and caring’ teenager, they launched a crowdfunding campaign to help lessen the family’s financial strain.
Almost $25,000 had been raised by late Thursday, with more than 300 donations on the GoFundMe page.
On Monday, his father Shane Wall wrote a touching message on Facebook to the volunteers who searched ‘into the night in horrible conditions’
Distraught rescuers console each other after William Wall’s body was found on Wednesday
The page was set up by local residents Nikki Callaghan and Liz Wilkinson in an effort to show their support without intruding on the family’s privacy.
‘We are all aching for the Wall family at the moment,’ the page reads.
‘The community is struggling to come to terms with this tragic loss of such a beautiful boy, we couldn’t possibly imagine what the family is going through at this time.’
The creator of the page said she was ‘only a neighbour’ and was trying to make contact with the family to make sure they can access the donated funds as soon as possible.
‘The community wants to help in some sort of way, to take the financial strain off the family at this time,’ the page reads.
‘This GoFundMe is just to help them out with the cost of the funeral or anything else they may need so they don’t have to worry about money and can focus on being together as a family.’
William’s older brother Harrison Wall (pictured) was stopped by police from continuing the search due to Melbourne’s strict stage four lockdown restrictions
Warburton local residents listen to Victoria Police as they they request them not to join the search for missing autistic boy William Wall
Hundreds of people shared well wishes for the family as they pledged donations.
‘Hope the memories of your beautiful boy wrap and comfort you always,’ one woman wrote.
‘We are heartbroken at William’s death. We send prayers and love in support,’ another donor wrote.
The teenager’s father penned an emotional tribute to his son earlier Thursday, just hours after the confirmation of his death.
‘I wish I had better news regarding our beautiful and caring son and brother William Wall unfortunately he is no longer with us,’ Shane Wall wrote on Facebook on Thursday.
Friends console each other at the scene after police confirmed William’s body had been found
‘We don’t know how to begin to thank everyone who searched and supported us in the last 48hrs the list is endless. We are so fortunate to live in an amazing and supportive community.’
For 32 frantic hours, rescuers and volunteers combed bushland in the hope of finding William alive.
On Tuesday Mr Wall had told reporters his son had dreams of becoming a Victoria Police or Australian Federal Police officer and joining the Air Force.
He said William loved dogs and exercise, was very energetic and athletic.
The teenager had gone out for his daily jog along the Yarra Ranges’ Warburton Trail at 6.45am on Tuesday, promising his family he would be back in 15 minutes.
But he never returned to his home in Launching Place.
It remains unknown how long William had been dead before his body was found.
In all likeliness, the search – perhaps unbeknownst to those that participated – was a recovery mission from the start.
An ambulance leaves the street in Yarra Junction where William’s body was found
William’s disappearance had sparked an air and ground search involving about 100 personnel from Victoria Police and the State Emergency Service.
William’s body was found in bushland at the end of a residential street less than two kilometres from his home, and family gathered there on Wednesday evening.
Distraught rescuers and locals were also seen consoling each other at the scene.
Family friend Tyson Truscott said the Walls would be shattered by the tragedy.
‘He was a great kid. There is nothing bad about him. He loved going for runs, he went flat out,’ he told the Herald Sun.
William had a younger sister, Sophie, and two older brothers Jake and Harrison, who joined the search effort on Tuesday night.
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