Cops probing disappearance of autistic boy, 3, found drinking from puddle in Outback after ‘CCTV goes missing’

POLICE are probing the mystery disappearance of an autistic boy found after 72 hours in the Outback – after it was claimed crucial CCTV evidence was "missing".

AJ Elfalak, three, was spotted drinking from a muddy puddle in a "miracle" rescue yesterday, but today his mum brought in a bush tracker amid fears he might have been kidnapped and let go.

Cops are reported to be investigating biker gangs as part of the probe, and seized a ute pickup truck like one that was spotted in the area.

Some senior detectives believe "there are of lot of things that don't add up", according to reports.

Among the puzzles for investigators are how AJ evaded search teams, sniffer dogs and helicopters that had scoured the creek where he was eventually found just 500 yards from home.

Today AJ's family released a new photo of him asleep in bed on his first night at home after yesterday's emotional family reunion.

Mum Kelly said he was tired and covered in scratches but otherwise remarkably unharmed following his ordeal in rural New South Wales, Australia.

But she shut down questions over the "missing" CCTV and theories surrounding his disappearance in an interview with TV show Today.

Kelly said: "I'm not thinking about anything now. I'm happy, and my son's here.

"He is nice and warm. He's perfect, he's happy, he's healthy, he's sleeping. I cannot be happier right now. He's doing amazing."

Kelly said she had been unable to sleep or eat for three days after AJ vanished shortly before noon on Friday.

Recalling the moment rescuers brought him home, she said: "I collapsed. I was so happy. I just couldn't wait to put him in my arms.

"He looked at me and smiled and he held me tight and he slept."

Extended family members gathered for a celebration barbecue on Tuesday, despite the state's strict Covid lockdown.

An uncle told Nine News: "I can't believe it. Everyone is ecstatic.

"He slept straight through the night, poor little kid. They found him with a lot of bruises and a lot of scratches."


Temperatures in the area fell to 2C over the three nights that AJ – who is non-verbal – is believed to have spent alone in the bushland.

Superintendent Tracey Chapman said wombat holes and access to water helped his chances of survival.

Asked about speculation surrounding the case, she said: "We are certainly happy with where things are at the moment.

"We'll continue that investigation to be entirely comfortable but from our perspective it's simply a good news story.

"We have a three-year-old boy who many people probably expected was not alive and he's been located and been returned to his family."

However questions persist after a family friend earlier claimed CCTV was missing in the crucial four-hour window around the time AJ vanished.

Alan Hashem said he himself had recently installed security cameras on a post high above the remote dirt track that is the only way to reach the property.

He told Nine News: "There's footage missing, unexplained. (We have) days before, days after, but not during the time.

"You know what's more alarming? 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.

"We provided the user name and password to the police, we provided them the actual original memory card. There's a lot of explaining to do.

"How did he leave, who did he leave with? Did anything sinister happen?

"These are questions that need to still be answered and we will not stop until we actually find the truth."


AJ's mum is said to have immediately told cops on Friday she feared he had been abducted as he is "not a wanderer".

The family said they saw a mystery white Ford Ranger on their property that day. A similar vehicle was seized later in the town of Bulga.

It was reported today that police were examining CCTV footage from a petrol station some 40 miles away on the road towards Sydney.

It was also reported that the Strike Force Raptor police, tasked with investigating biker gang crime, was "among the groups assisting with the missing persons investigation".

Today professional bush tracker Jake Cassar was called in by the family to look for clues on their 650-acre property.

He and Kelly were seen walking to the muddy creek where AJ was found, which is down a steep rocky slope and hidden from the path.

Jake said it was possible for search teams to have missed the child, but at the same time he could rule out kidnap.

He told Daily Mail Australia: "I'm here to keep an open mind.

"The way I see it, if you've got two feet and a heartbeat anything is possible. Doesn't matter if you're a 97-year-old woman or a three-year-old boy."

A relative who lives at the house added that the family are conducting their "own investigation" alongside the official police probe.

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