Today marks two years since Théo Hayez mysteriously disappeared on a night out in Byron Bay – and ‘not a day goes by’ that his family doesn’t wonder what happened on that fateful night.
Theo’s father Laurent told Daily Mail Australia he had received his COVID-19 vaccine so he can return to Australia for the crucial upcoming Coroner’s hearing into the Belgian backpacker’s disappearance.
Laurent his hopeful the hearing, due to be held in idyllic NSW tourist town in November, will shed light on the ‘many remaining questions’ surrounding his son’s case.
Théo Hayez went missing from Byron Bay on May 31, 2019 and had not been seen since
CCTV footage of Hayez on Jonson Street Byron Bay after leaving Cheeky Monkey’s nightclub
Théo’s father Laurent visited Australia from Belgium twice to join the search for this son
‘Not a day goes by that we don’t think of him,’ Mr Hayez said from Belgium.
‘We continue to receive heartfelt messages of support from Byron Bay, Australia, Belgium and around the world. These messages mean so much to us and give us strength to go on.’
Locals will mark the disappearance by building a sand mandala at The Pass in Byron Bay on Monday afternoon.
‘We invite everyone who was touched by Théo’s story to be part of this special day by bringing something small from nature (e.g. a flower, feather, twig, pebble or seed pod) to decorate the mandala,’ a post on Facebook page Looking for Théo Hayez notified.
Laurent said there were ‘many remaining questions’ to be answered in his son’s disappearance without a trace. Theo had been on a gap year travelling Australia after finishing school in Belgium.
‘The last time we spoke with the Coroner’s team, we were reassured to see how seriously they are going about their work, verifying the investigations carried out by the police,’ he said.
There have been numerous twists and turns in the investigation since the 18-year-old Hayez was last seen on CCTV leaving Cheeky Monkey’s nightclub on Jonson Street at about 11:00pm on Friday, May 31.
His disappearance was not reported for five days when the Wake Up! Hotel where Hayez was staying failed to notice he had not returned.
Investigators soon discovered that pings to his mobile phone indicated he had been in the area of the Cape Byron lighthouse after he’d left the club in town.
Théo’s cousin Lisa said in 2020 she believed he was not alone when he walked through bushland between Byron Bay township and the Cape Byron lighthouse
The Hayez family believe this cap belonged to Theo, though DNA tests were inconclusive
NSW Police search bushland near Cape Byron lighthouse where Théo’s phone last pinged
A map shows the path it’s believed Theo took through Byron Bay on the night he disappeared
A few months later a cap similar to one Hayez was wearing on the night he vanished was found in bushland near Tallow Beach.
His family believed the cap belonged to Théo despite DNA tests failing to prove it was his.
In September 2019 NSW Police called off the search for the young Belgian and referred the matter to the NSW Coroner for investigation.
Laurent visited Australia to join locals in a widespread search and make public appeals to find his son, but in May 2020 the family acknowledged he may have passed.
‘If, however, Théo has left this poor Earth, and is currently having fun with whales, turtles and dolphins… Vinciane, Lucas and I, while looking at the beautiful smile of Théo on the pictures of his Australian adventure, are relieved to see that he spent the last 6 months (of his too short life …) in a beautiful country, meeting wonderful people!’ they wrote on a Facebook page dedicated to finding the teenager.
Théo Hayez was on a gap year travelling Australia after finishing school in Belgium
A tribute created by Théo’s mother Vinciane to mark his birthday last year
In June last year, Hayez’s cousin Lisa revealed that Google data had tracked Theo walking through thick bushland on the night of his disappearance, and suggested he could not have done so alone.
‘After we were able to access his Google data, we realised that the night he disappeared, he walked a very unusual path through thick bushland that is impossible to imagine that he walked alone,’ she said.
Forensic psychologist Tim Watson-Munro even floated the theory that Hayez’s disappearance could be the work of a serial killer, linking it to the disappearance from Port Macquarie in February 2019 of English backpackers Erwan Ferrieux and Hugo Palmer.
The strongest theory for Hayez’s disappearance remains that the backpacker fell from cliffs and was washed out to sea.
Laurent Hayez with other family members during one of his emotional press conferences in Australia at the height of the search for Théo.
NSW Police provided no comment on the case because it had been referred to the Coroner, though it is understand Tweed-Byron detectives continue to make inquiries in support of the brief of evidence they are preparing.
For Laurent Hayez, the agony of having no explanation for his son’s disappearance continues, tempered only by the support he continues to receive on this side of the world.
‘I will be glad to see my Australian family, the incredible community in Byron Bay and, above all, hope that answers will be found to our many remaining questions.’