Exclusive pictures show the moment Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak is embraced by family after leaving hospital following his three-day disappearance at Putty.
Three-year-old boy Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak has been photographed for the first time since being released from Maitland hospital.
AJ was rescued by emergency services personnel having gone missing for three days at his family’s 650-acre property at Putty.
Pictures taken by NCA NewsWire show the Elfalak family celebrating with a traditional Lebanese BBQ and bonfire on Tuesday morning.
The boy was relatively unscathed but had nappy rash, ant bites and had fallen over, according to his father, Anthony Elfalak.
Pictures show AJ also had some small scratches on his face.
Family said on Tuesday AJ had slept through the night and woke Tuesday morning to a celebration at his home.
The youngster was rescued in dramatic fashion about 11.30am on Monday after a police helicopter sighted the boy, who is autistic and non verbal, drinking water from a creek several hundred metres from his family’s home.
The circumstances of AJ’s disappearance remain a mystery, with several suspicious findings made in connection with the search.
On Friday, the family had noted seeing a “suspicious” white ute on the property, which was then seized from a property at Bulga – 78km northeast of where Anthony was last seen.
On Tuesday, PolAir Aviation Commander, Detective Superintendent Brad Monk, said it was likely emergency services could have walked past the boy, who is non-verbal, during the search without seeing him given how thick the forest is around the family’s property.
“It was very very dense; hence why the little fella was not found so quickly,” he said. “He was only located within 200m of the house.
“There is no doubt emergency services during that search passed closely by the little boy who may have even been sleeping at the time.”
Police also confirmed to NCA NewsWire the investigation was ongoing, particularly surrounding the four hours of CCTV footage of the family’s property that has gone missing.
Just hours before AJ was found on Monday, family friend Alan Hashem told the Today show CCTV footage from around the time of Anthony’s disappearance had vanished.
Police say the cameras’ motion detectors may hold a clue.
Police Superintendent Tracy Chapman told Sunrise investigators would continue to “look at all aspects” including reports of missing CCTV footage.
“We will continue to look at that, but it is a motion-detected CCTV and there could be any number of reasons (why it wasn’t recording),” Ms Chapman said.