By Jessica Rowe
Timaru police are searching for witnesses to help solve the mystery surrounding the suspected abduction of a nine-year-old boy.
The boy was found with facial injuries about 15km outside of Timaru, and police were able to speak with him for the first time this afternoon.
They have set up a checkpoint near the bridge just south of Timaru to ask passing motorists if they remember seeing anything usual last Thursday afternoon.
They're also showing them a photograph of the nine-year-old boy's school uniform, which he was wearing when he was found distressed and bloodied.
“We've interviewed a number of people, carried out scene searches of the bridge where the young lad was located, and we will be following up with information with members of the public,” says area commander Dave Gaskin.
The boy left Oceanview Heights School about 3pm on Thursday to walk home, and was found on Holme Station Bridge about 4pm – 15km outside of Timaru.
Police say the distance the boy travelled in such a short time suggests he was taken in a vehicle, and they believe he was abducted.
He is still in Timaru Hospital, and until today has been too unwell for police to interview him.
“Hopefully he is going to give some information that is key to the investigation,” says Mr Gaskin. “He's nine years old, so he has a reasonably good memory. Hopefully he will be able to tell us exactly what happened and where everything occurred.”
He was wearing his school uniform at the time, and is described as being of dark complexion and a slim build.
His principal says it's extremely worrying for the small town, and the boy's family has received a lot of support from the community.
“We are very concerned about our boy,” says principal Jenny Langley. “We are a small, urban school and everyone knows each other well. We are very concerned. My understanding is police are treating it as a possible abduction. Anything that strays into that sort of realm is concerning for the wider community.”
Police have warned Timaru parents to be on their guard and take extra safety precautions for their children.