Seven years after seemingly vanishing off the face of the earth, the disappearance of William Tyrrell continues to intrigue, perplex and sadden people all over Australia.
The three-year-old went missing on September 12, 2014 while playing in the garden of his foster grandmother's Kendall, NSW home. At the time of his disappearance, little William was wearing a Spider-Man suit in images that have been plastered on headlines all over the world.
Since then, there have been numerous investigations and forensic searches into William's disappearance, with thousands of people interviewed in connection with the case, nearly 700 people of interest identified and a $1 million reward for information offered in 2016.
But this week in a stunning allegation that no Aussies saw coming, sources claimed NSW Police had identified William's foster parents as persons of interest in the case.
Being a person of interest does not suggest William's foster parents are suspects and there is no suggestion they are guilty of any crime. They have vehemently denied any involvement in the disappearance.
On Wednesday, in another shocking development, William's foster parents were charged over the alleged assault of a child. The child is not William and there is no suggestion it relates to his disappearance. The foster parents deny the allegations.
NSW Police confirmed the parents were charged with one count of common assault each.
"As part of ongoing investigations under Strike Force Rosann, detectives from the homicide squad received information relating to the suspected assault of a child at a home on Sydney's upper north shore," NSW Police said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
The 56-year-old woman and 54-year-old man will front Hornsby Local Court next Tuesday. The charges don't relate to William.
Earlier this week, Police Commissioner Mick Fuller revealed that detectives had narrowed down their focus to one person of interest, but he didn't shed light on who.
NSW Police are still yet to comment on reports that William's foster parents are being looked into, and there is no suggestion they were involved.
"There is certainly one person in particular that we are looking closely at," Fuller told Sydney radio 2GB on Tuesday.
"I certainly don't want to declare too much because again in these cases you do not want to compromise a potential outcome."
On Wednesday morning, the investigation continued to gain momentum as police seized a grey Mazda from a home at Gymea, four hours south of Kendall. The car will be forensically analysed.
Police are now investigating the possibility that William could have fallen from the house's second-storey balcony and died.
Dozens of police officers descended on the Kendall home on Tuesday to dig up the garden and comb through the soil in a bid to find any evidence of William's potential death.
Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Bennett didn't disclose if police had been tipped-off or a human source was involved.
"It's highly likely that we, if we found something, it would be a body," he said. "We are looking for the remains of William Tyrrell, no doubt about that."
The major announcement has led to an outpouring of intrigue for William's foster parents, who have vehemently denied any involvement with William's disappearance.
Little is known about the foster parents, who can't be identified for legal reason. The couple have continued their official campaign to find William, and often share press releases about developments.
His foster previously opened up about "the world [coming] to a screeching halt" when she realised William was no longer in the front yard playing with his five-year-old sister.
"There was no wind, no birds, no movement, nothing... I didn't expect any of this to happen, I thought he'd be back," she said as she struggled to breathe.
The couple then went knocking on their neighbours' doors in a frantic search for William, but to no avail.
"Children, teenagers on bikes and mothers pushing prams came to help search. The town of Kendall all came to help search for our precious little boy. We searched everywhere. We searched in drains. We searched in bush – bush so rugged and so overcome with lantana that it seemed impossible for William to have ventured there; but we searched there anyway trying to find our boy," they said.
"We searched under houses, in sheds, in garages. We searched along bush tracks, anywhere that William might have wandered.
"No one could stop us searching for our boy. We had to find him. From first light and well into the night we searched. That first dark day became the second, and the second became the third – Every day our search continued – a family and a community united."
The couple also cooperated closely with ex-lead detective Gary Jubelin, who ruled them out as persons of interest during his time working on the case.
When Detective Chief Inspector David Laidlaw took over the case from Mr Jubelin in 2019, he went back to the drawing board.