UPDATED 11.55AM 6/9/2021
NSW Police say they have found alive a three-year-old boy who has been missing since Friday.
Police revealed the good news in a tweet about 11.45am on Monday, after an increasingly frantic hunt for Anthony “AJ” Elfalak, who has autism and is non-verbal.
He had not been seen since vanishing from his family’s rural property at Putty, near Singleton, about 11.45am on Friday.
There are no details yet about AJ’s condition or where he was found.
Earlier, his family feared he might have been taken from their property, although NSW Police refused to speculate about what might have happened to the boy.
Family friend Alan Hashem was at the farm when AJ went missing, and said he saw an old white van driving away from the location.
He said the family believed the boy has been abducted.
“Without a doubt. Without a doubt,” he told the Nine Network on Monday.
“For the simple reason he is on the spectrum of autism but he is always quite afraid and attached to his mum hence why his mum couldn’t have him by her side when she’s cooking, he is with his brothers.
“He’s never wandered,” he said.
“Just bring him home. Look, just please, you don’t understand how much pain and anguish this family’s feeling,” he said.
Mr Hasham also told the network that CCTV footage from the day AJ vanished was “missing” from the property’s cameras.
“We installed it so high you can’t tamper with it and we had two mechanisms of storage, cloud storage and physical storage, and there’s no data in that time slot,” he said.
Mr Hasham said police had been given the memory card from the CCTV cameras, as well as passwords to cloud storage.
NSW Police confirmed they had seized a white ute at a property at Bulga as part of the investigation.
If AJ was lost on the property, he would have endured three nights alone as temperatures dropped to as low as six degrees, wearing only a grey jumper, pants and sneakers.
The boy’s family moved to the area just three months ago. His mother, Kelly Elfalak told the Nine Network on Sunday it was out of character for AJ to wander off.
“I just want to find my son, I need to find AJ,” she said.
“I’ve searched the property, so many times I’ve searched and I still cannot find him.
“I’m his universe, he holds my hand all day and all night, we are together all the time – something’s not right.”
Superintendent Tracy Chapman said at the weekend more than 130 people were involved in the search for AJ. Volunteers are helping police on foot and on dirt bikes.
“Detectives assisted by specialist resources have formed (a) task force … to investigate the circumstances surrounding the missing three-year-old,” Superintendent Chapman told ABC TV on Sunday.