Desperate Byron Bay locals refuse to give up the search for missing teenage Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez – after cops called off the official hunt for him
- Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez has been missing for three weeks since May 31
- His phone gave off its final signal near the Cape Byron Lighthouse on June 1
- Police suspended their search over the weekend but local volunteers continued
- Theo’s father Laurent Hayez reached out to thank the Byron Bay locals
Byron Bay locals have refused to give up hope on missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez.
The 18-year-old has been missing for three weeks since he was last seen leaving the town’s Cheeky Monkey’s bar at about 11pm on May 31.
His phone gave off its final signal a few hours later near the Cape Byron Lighthouse.
Police suspended their search over the weekend but local volunteers continued to scour bushland.
The Byron Bay hostel where a Belgian backpacker (pictured) was staying before he vanished has been slammed for taking three days to report him missing
Police (pictured on Thursday) suspended their search over the weekend but local volunteers continued to scour bushland
A message on the Facebook Group Looking For Theo Hayez asked volunteers to meet at a sports field at 9am on Sunday before starting their search.
‘We can’t stress enough that we need more community volunteers,’ Sheri S’Rosario wrote on the group.
The volunteers said there would be no organised search on Monday but they would be ‘continuing to work hard and will hit the ground running again on Tuesday’.
Police will announce on Monday morning when and where their official search is continuing, a spokesman told Daily Mail Australia.
Although the physical search for Theo was suspended for Saturday and Sunday, detectives are continuing to go through information provided to them.
It comes after Theo’s father Laurent Hayez reached out to thank Byron Bay locals.
‘Your warmness and kindness is like a balm on our bleedin’ heart,’ Mr Hayez posted to a group for the Byron Bay community on Friday night.
‘You give us force and faith. We love u from the earth to the moon (What Theo told me one evening in his bed at age of five)… ‘
Rescuers look for Mr Hayez around the Cape Byron Lighthouse where the last ‘ping’ from Theo’s phone was recorded on June 1
Theo Hayez, 18, was staying at the WakeUp! hostel (pictured) when he disappeared on the night of May 31
Detective Inspector Matt Kehoe also took to the Facebook group to thank the Byron Bay community.
‘The kindness, compassion and selflessness of everyone involved demonstrates what a wonderful place this truly is,’ Insp Kehoe said in a statement on Saturday.
‘Sadly our search efforts … do not have any more answers for Theo’s family.’
However, through time spent with Theo’s family, Insp Kehoe said he is ‘strengthened to continue our efforts’ to locate the teenager.
Mr Hayez last Monday made an emotional plea for help, begging encrypted chat service WhatsApp to grant police access to his son’s final known conversations.
The company provided what information they could but were unable to access the content of the messages, AAP understands.
Belgian police are also working in Europe to speak with people Theo may have contacted in those hours.
More than $70,000 has been raised via a GoFundMe page for the family, part of which was used to help Mr Hayez fly to Australia.
The disappearance of Theo Hayez
May 31 7.45pm: Theo Hayez and an unnamed friend were caught on CCTV camera at a local bottle shop in Byron Bay.
May 31 11pm: The last confirmed sighting of Hayez. He was spotted leaving the Cheeky Monkey bar and appeared to be heading in the direction of the WakeUp! Backpacker hostel where he was staying.
June 1 AM: The last confirmed WhatsApp message was sent from Theo’s phone.
June 1 1:42pm: Theo’s phone pinged for the last time.
June 6: Theo was reported missing to local police.
June 9: Police conducted a major land, sea and air search in the Byron Bay area with the assistance of rescue officers, the State Emergency Service, a lifesaver helicopter and lifesavers.
June 10: Locals and other backpackers joined in the search for Theo.
June 10-June 16: SES crews, the dog squad, lifeguards, local volunteers and police are continuing to search the Byron Bay headlands, east and north of the town, as well as beaches and swamps.
June 16: Theo’s mother Vinciane Delforge, told a French broadcaster in Belgium she is holding out hope her son is safe and well, but said his disappearance is entirely out of character.
June 17: Theo’s father Laurent Hayez travels to Byron Bay to help search for his son Theo. He makes an emotional plea asking Australia to keep looking for his son and vows to stay in the country until he is found.
He says he hopes WhatsApp will cooperate with police to decode the messages that Theo last sent – a feat, he says, which could change the course of the search.
Police confess they are still ‘baffled’ by the case, and are keeping all lines of inquiry open.
Homicide detectives join in on the search for Theo.
June 18: The search continues around the headland near the town’s lighthouse with no results
June 21: Police call off the search, saying it is suspended for the weekend