He's the little fella everyone "knows" but has never met.
It's the photo that's etched in our mind's eye, him sat on the floor drawing, crayons scattered around, barefoot and carefree. His mouth is agape and you can almost hear the piercing scream of excitement.
But it's not William's Tyrrell's Spider-Man suit that is front and centre for me, it's his perfectly formed baby teeth. In almost every photo shared with the media since little William disappeared seven years ago, there are those teeth. Tiny little chompers that deserved the right to fall out and be popped under pillows for a $2 reward.
Instead, his family commemorates tragic milestones and endures, more publicly than they ever could've imagined, the heartbreak of his loss.
In many ways William's story is the 2014 incarnation of the Beaumont children's from 1966. They went to the beach, the never came home. One minute William was playing outside his grandmother's house, the next he was gone.
Whenever news of a missing child circulates, it's safe to say, minds on the NSW Mid-North Coast automatically default to William. To receive a text from NSW Police about a missing three-year-old on Saturday, stopped me in my tracks: "Police are searching for 3YO AJ Elfalak who is autistic and non-verbal."
My town is more than 250km from AJ's home. In between those two places is where William was last seen.
The ending was so very different this week. Well, there was an ending. AJ was found, not far from his starting point, after days and nights away from his family.
SES volunteer Greg Chalmers, better known as Bluey, was the bear of a man who found little AJ. When he says he choked up making the call to base about finding AJ, you understand immediately.
"He has looked around and it's one of those smiles you won't forget."
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