Ronald Chapman claims he saw William Tyrrell (pictured) in a car on the day he disappeared
A man who claims he saw William Tyrrell in the back seat of a speeding car on the day the three-year-old disappeared is still as confident as ever about what he witnessed that fateful day.
Ronald Chapman was waiting for a delivery of plants on the morning of September 12, 2014, when he said two cars ‘gunned it’ around the corner of his street about a kilometre away from William’s foster grandmother’s home in Kendall on the NSW mid north coast.
He claims a little boy – who he now recognises as William – was unrestrained in the back seat of the Landcruiser, still wearing a Spider-Man suit.
Mr Chapman exclusively told Daily Mail Australia he is still certain the little boy was William Tyrrell – and he’s adamant he would recognise the car if it drove past his home again today
‘I may be an old man, but I’m not a blind man,’ Mr Chapman, who is due to turn 83 next month, laughed.
‘I’m still absolutely certain it was him. September 12 2014 is a day I will never forget.’
The retiree, who was born and raised in Kendall, told an inquest into William’s disappearance and presumed death he was in the back seat of the gold or brown Landcruiser when it sped past his home about 10.45am the morning he vanished.
A second car was a short distance behind.
Mr Chapman (pictured outside his home) was waiting for a delivery on the day the three-year-old in the Spider-Man suit went missing from his foster grandparent’s home. He claims he saw William in the back seat of a speeding car as the vehicle ‘gunned it’ around a street corner
Police are searching an area of land along Batar Creek Road in Kendall (tagged in background of above aerial photo) after receiving new information about William’s disappearance. He was last seen at his foster grandmother’s home nearby (tagged in foreground)
‘The front of the car was by the gravel on the edge of the tarp,’ a police walkthrough video shows Mr Chapman telling an officer.
In the seven years since William’s disappearance, Mr Chapman claims he’s ‘never seen either car again’.
In a town as small as Kendall, home to just 1,141 residents, that is strange in and of itself.
‘Everybody knows everybody here,’ he said. ‘I would’ve seen the cars again [if it was unrelated].’
If either car drove down his quiet street today, Mr Chapman is still confident he’d be able to identify them.
He recalled seeing the face of a boy in the back seat of the Landcruiser, unrestrained but not distressed, while windows in the second car were too tinted to see inside.
William Tyrrell (pictured) vanished from his foster grandmother’s house in Kendall, on the NSW mid north coast in 2014 sparking an enduring police investigation
Mr Chapman shared this information with police years after he vanished, initially under the impression police were doing the rounds to speak with locals and would get to him when they had a chance.
In total, he gave detectives three detailed interviews sharing what he saw and a further two at a coronial inquiry in 2019.
Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame said she could not make a finding on the relevance of Mr Chapman’s information or determine whether it was in fact William in the back seat.
Regardless of whether his testimony has in any way helped police, Mr Chapman is of the belief William’s remains will not be found in the bush behind his late foster grandmother’s home.
Police search crews are pictured in Kendall on Tuesday. Detectives swept back into the town on Monday, November 15 after new information led them to consider new theories
Police forensic teams start working for the day on Tuesday as they scour section after section of the bushland area. As the days have worn on, police have continued to extend the parameters of the search scope
In fact, he remains hopeful the boy in the Spider-Man suit is still alive.
The coroner previously ruled this unlikely, and when police announced they’d be returning to Kendall with new evidence, they confirmed the search was for a body.
‘We’ve been here before. The police arrive, they search, they find nothing,’ Mr Chapman said.
The retiree said while he’d never met William before, seeing his face on the local news later that evening, he immediately felt it was familiar.
‘I knew his foster grandmother, but I wouldn’t know his foster parents if they passed me in the street. They weren’t up here often, so I’d never seen that boy before,’ he said.
‘Once I saw those photos, I recognised him. It was William, I’m sure of it.’
A NSW Police worker is pictured at the Kendall search site on Tuesday. Search workers crossed Batar Creek Road into new territory at the behest of professional body finder and water science expert Jon Olley
Mr Chapman, like many proud townspeople here in Kendall, hopes his opinion is misguided and this search will yield different results.
Detectives swept back into town on Monday, November 15 after new information led them to consider new theories and identify William’s foster mother as a person of interest.
More than 600 people have been considered persons of interest at some stage of the investigation over the course of seven years.
William’s foster mother – who cannot be named for legal reasons – has always maintained she had nothing to do with his disappearance.
One of the theories police were considering was that he fell from his foster grandmother’s balcony and tragically died.
For a little boy so afraid of heights his foster mother couldn’t even place him in a tree on his own, many in town have questioned whether this theory holds and weight.
His foster grandmother’s house (pictured) where William was said to have been playing outside before he vanished
Police initially searched parts of the home – which is now owned by an entirely unrelated and innocent man – last week before turning their attention to three nearby dig sites.
As the days have worn on, police continue to extend the parameters of the search scope.
On Tuesday, they crossed Batar Creek Road into new territory at the behest of professional body finder and water science expert Jon Olley.
Within hours of Prof. Olley identifying the site, a large yellow bag was removed from the scene containing potential evidence which will be sent for forensic testing.
Two more items were found in a similar area later in the afternoon.
Timeline of William Tyrrell’s disappearance
Still missing: William Tyrrell vanished from his foster grandmother’s home five years ago
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.
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.
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
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