Superintendent Muir Clark, a detective with over 30 years' experience, described it as one of the most unusual missing persons cases he had ever come across.
He clearly did not want to be standing outside a PSNI station on a cold, wet Saturday, delivering the news Noah's family had been dreading for almost a week.
If there was any comfort to be gleaned from his short but devastating announcement, it was the insistence that no foul play was involved.
We await further forensic details, but what we now know ties in with the initial assumption that a head injury Noah had sustained after falling off his bicycle had left him confused and disorientated in a part of town he wasn't familiar with.
And, although it is no consolation to heartbroken mother Fiona and the other special people in Noah's all-too-short and prematurely ended life, at least their darkest thoughts - that evil had come calling - have been dispelled.
Hopefully it will bring succour in the days, weeks, months and years ahead.
When a tragedy of such epic proportions visits, it is only natural to hold on tightly to the memories that bind.
For Fiona Donohoe, Noah was going to "change the world" - and in some ways he did.
She can take comfort from remembering how local communities set aside their petty differences to look for him.
What is also clear is that the teenager was a special person we can all relate to, someone his devastated mum can be forever proud of.
Other things, however, are not as perspicuous.
Questions asked before the tragic denouement are still out there.
What, for instance, was a boy from a different part of the city doing in that area of north Belfast?
Had he been intending to meet up with someone? Was the book he had with him - 12 Rules For Life by Jordan B Peterson - significant in any way? And why did he have a laptop in his rucksack, when he already had his phone with him?
The answers to these questions may come in time, but they will not bring a beloved son back home to his mum, who was too distraught to participate in Sunday's well attended and highly emotional vigils in north Belfast.
There was another in her home town of Strabane.
It is obvious that Fiona and Noah were a lot more than mother and son; they were best friends too.
Pastor Brian Madden, who became friends with Fiona while the search for her beloved son was under way, called them a humble family.
He said the Donohoes felt guilty about "encroaching on people's generosity" when the search for Noah began just over a week ago. But there was no encroaching on anyone's generosity.
Ultimately, there was only regret that Noah, a precious, only child, would never be reunited with Fiona.
Her dignified plight, her ongoing trauma, the sight of her standing outside Musgrave Street PSNI station, looking gaunt, pale, emotionally distraught, pierced hearts everywhere - not least that of another mother, Karen Crooks, who found Noah's bike lying at her north Belfast door.
As police took it away, the 36-year-old classroom assistant burst into tears because, in her head, "he was coming back for that bike".
Noah's disappearance brought out the best in people but, ironically, it also stirred hateful trolls who felt compelled to post abhorrent comments and hurtful conspiracy theories on social media.
Their nasty, detestable intervention said every thing about them, and nothing about the innocent boy who took off on his bicycle nine days ago, never to return.
Of the countless others whose sentiments were heartfelt, sincere and well meaning, few can fully grasp the unimaginable grief that comes with losing a child.
No one wants to be where Fiona Donohoe is today.