A 41-YEAR-OLD has been charged today with the murder of Daniel Morcombe following the biggest missing person investigation ever seen in Queensland.
Daniel Morcombe, 13, vanished while waiting for a bus along Nambour Connection Road in Woombye, under the Kiel Mountain Road overpass, on December 7, 2003.
In a statement tonight, police said the man has been charged with one count each of murder, deprivation of liberty, child stealing, indecent treatment of a child under 16 and interfering with a corpse.
He will appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday.
Queensland's top cop Bob Atkinson made the announcement along with Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett at a news conference in Brisbane which was broadcast live on television.
Deputy Commissioner Barnett praised the "dedication, tenacity and professionalism" of officers involved in the biggest missing person investigation in Queensland history.
"This is obviously a very significant milestone in what has obviously been a complex and protracted investigation," he said
Mr Atkinson said the arrest was the result of a massive amount of work by detectives across Queensland and particularly on the Sunshine Coast.
He revealed that following information received by police a new search of bushland would be carried out on the Coast to try to find Daniel's remains.
Mr Atkinson paid tribute to Daniel's parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe for their 'courage, patience and resolve'.
He particularly thanked supporters on the Sunshine Coast, including those involved in the good work of the Daniel Morcombe Foundation which educates children about child safety all over Australia.
Tonight, Daniel's father, Bruce Morcombe, said the family was relieved to learn someone had been charged, but were coming to terms with the idea that Daniel may have been murdered.
"It's a tough gig," he said.
"We'll just see how things pan out."
Denise Morcombe posted a note of thanks on the Daniel Morcombe Foundation site after being flooded with well wishers.
"Thanks but I am sad tonight please give me a few days,'' Mrs Morcombe wrote.
Mr Morcombe, who was told of an arrest about 5pm via a phone call from Mr Atkinson, said the developments followed "almost eight years of relentless searching".
He appeared to be hopeful that Daniel's remains would be found.
"We've still got some work of ahead of us, but with any luck we'll find Danny wherever he may be," he said.