IT could be the breakthrough police have been waiting for.
After at least three days of fruitless searching through remote bushland on the Sunshine Coast, on Wednesday a shoe was found at the site police believe holds the key to young Daniel Morcombe's fate.
Police warn the find may be unrelated but say the Morcombes have been notified.
The family face a wait of several weeks for the results of forensic tests.
The shoe was found about 3pm (AEST) at the Beerwah site where police and emergency workers have been scouring a patch of land not much bigger than a swimming pool.
Earlier a a mini-excavator had arrived at the site, which Daniel's father Bruce Morcombe has described as a "muddy jungle".
On Wednesday evening police remained tight-lipped after notifying media of the breakthrough in a short statement.
It appeared not even police were expecting the find, as just two hours before the breakthrough Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson had told reporters he doubted the search would yield a quick result.
"I hope we do (find Daniel's remains), but I don't think we're going to see an early breakthrough in terms of the search," he said.
Emergency workers had also begun searching a second site at a nearby creek, while police on Tuesday stressed it could be months before anything was found.
The breakthrough comes four days after 41-year-old Perth man Brett Peter Cowan was charged with Daniel's murder almost eight years after the boy went missing aged 13.
Cowan has also been charged with indecent treatment of a child under 16, child stealing, deprivation of liberty and misconduct with a corpse.
His case has been adjourned to next month.
The search continues.
- From: AAP
- August 17, 2011