News, Culture & Society

Theo Hayez’s family acknowledge for the first time that Theo may have died while in Byron Bay

The family of missing backpacker Theo Hayez have publicly acknowledged that he could have died for the first time. 

The Belgian backpacker vanished on May 31 last year after leaving Cheeky Monkey’s in Byron Bay, northern New South Wales. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since. 

The family launched a website Looking4theo.com in the hopes of receiving any information about his disappearance.

In a heartbreaking development they have now told their supporters that if Theo is indeed dead they are pleased he spent his last months alive in Australia.  

‘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. 

Theo Hayez with his girlfriend Severine Marcotty. Theo vanished on May 31 last year after leaving Cheeky Monkey’s in Byron Bay, northern New South Wales

Theo's family have fought tirelessly to find out what happened after he went missing in Byron Bay last year Pictured: Theo's father Lehore Hayez (centre) at a media conference in 2019

Theo’s family have fought tirelessly to find out what happened after he went missing in Byron Bay last year Pictured: Theo’s father Lehore Hayez (centre) at a media conference in 2019

Theo's godfather Jean-Philippe Pector (left) said the feeling of not knowing what happened to him is  exhausting

Theo’s godfather Jean-Philippe Pector (left) said the feeling of not knowing what happened to him is  exhausting 

​’Thank you to the people of Belgium, Australia and elsewhere for the attention and love that you bring to Theo!

‘You are not mistaken! He deserves it!’ 

Theo’s godfather Jean-Philippe Pector says he is still overwhelmed with grief as the one year anniversary of Theo’s disappearance looms. 

‘In my mind, somewhere, I don’t want to believe that it happened — I don’t know if it’s a way to protect myself,’ he told ABC. 

‘When I wake up at night, my brain does not stop working on what should I do, or is there more to do?’

He insists that the search for Theo will not stop until ‘we think we have nothing more to do’. 

It comes as Theo’s cousin Lisa, revealed she ‘did the work of the police’ in their search to find him in Byron Bay. 

Police began a land, sea and air search when they were alerted to his disappearance by staff at the Wake Up! Hostel in Byron Bay on June 6.

As thousands of volunteers descended to Byron Bay in hopes of finding Theo, Lisa and her brother accessed Theo’s Google and Facebook account. 

‘The police had a lot of restrictions so they couldn’t just get into his Google account because they had to ask permission,’ she said on Triple J’s Hack.

‘So I tried to do it with my brother, we were just trying to find his passwords and asked his parents to try and get in.

‘We eventually found his Google and Facebook password and that helped a lot.’  

Byron Bay locals scour dense bushland in the search for missing backpacker Theo Hayez

Byron Bay locals scour dense bushland in the search for missing backpacker Theo Hayez

Theo (pictured with his girlfriend) was travelling around Australia on a gap year after finishing school in Belgium

Theo (pictured with his girlfriend) was travelling around Australia on a gap year after finishing school in Belgium

Lisa first knew something was wrong when Theo’s mother texted her saying she hadn’t heard from her son in a few days. 

‘His mum texted me saying she hadn’t heard from him in a few days but then I tried calling him and his phone was off and that’s when I started worrying and called the hostel and they said he hadn’t come back in a while.’  

As the family continues to search and look Theo, Mr Pector described the experience of not knowing what happened to him as ‘extremely exhausting’. 

‘(It’s) extremely exhausting, the not knowing of what happened and the not being able to fully understand the circumstances that makes our brains work day and night,’ he said. 

Lisa echoed his sentiments saying it was ‘really upsetting’ when police stopped their search. 

Police officers conduct a search for Theo in bushland near Tallows Beach in Byron Bay

Police officers conduct a search for Theo in bushland near Tallows Beach in Byron Bay

Theo’s family released a statement on Monday night begging anyone with information to come forward.

‘One year on, we believe that there is much more to Théo’s story than has been brought to light,’ the statement reads. 

‘Theo’s family and friends, those living in Byron Bay and everyone who is concerned for the safety of young travellers are eager for the full story of that night to be understood.

‘We know that many people are struggling at the moment and we are so grateful for all the different ways that people continue to show their support and their love.’ 

Theo’s parents, Vinciane Delforge and Laurent Hayez, released their own statement on Monday saying they ‘missed their son very much’. 

‘We have high hopes in the work of the New South Wales Coroner and his team of dedicated lawyers and we continue to believe that someone has information that could provide new evidence,’ they said. 

‘We beg potential witnesses to come forward.

‘The support we receive online counts for a lot. We know that we are not alone and every message, drawing or photos with Theo’s name comforts us and allows us to endure this ordeal.’  

A grey Puma cap was found in bushland at Tallows Beach, with Theo's family confirming the cap belonged to the missing backpacker

A grey Puma cap was found in bushland at Tallows Beach, with Theo’s family confirming the cap belonged to the missing backpacker

Data from Theo's phone has traced this route as his last known movements before he vanished on the night of May 31 2019

Data from Theo’s phone has traced this route as his last known movements before he vanished on the night of May 31 2019

Search efforts for the 19-year-old have continued into 2020, with police conducting DNA tests on hair found in what is believed to be Theo’s grey cap, which was discovered in bushland off Tallows Beach. 

Severine Marcotty shared an emotional plea to friends on Facebook with an image of Theo’s missing poster saying: ‘need your help… please share’. 

Theo’s family thanked those involved in the search – and gave an insight into the police investigation.

‘Since the beginning of the year, we have spoken less publicly about developments,’ the post reads.

‘Far from us giving up hope or dedication, the main reason is because the ongoing police process means we need to be careful about what we say.

‘We think about Theo every minute and would like to share any information that may help to find out what happened to him but we have to be careful that we also give the police the best chance of finding this out.

‘It breaks our hearts every day and we hope that they will soon have some clarity for us. The police investigation is ongoing and we are grateful for this but we have been asked not to provide details.

‘New searches have taken place and police have provided us with the results from the DNA testing conducted on the two hairs found in the cap.’

The hat was found by a member of the public in the same area where the last ‘ping’ from Theo’s phone was recorded on June 1 around the Cape Byron Lighthouse. 

Theo’s family is certain the hat is his – but DNA testing on the material was inconclusive. 

They have maintained Theo was not alone on the night he disappeared.

Theo Hayez was last seen leaving Cheeky Monkey's in Byron Bay on May 31

Theo Hayez was last seen leaving Cheeky Monkey’s in Byron Bay on May 31

The leading theory in Theo’s disappearance is that he fell while trying to climb cliffs near Tallows Beach and his body washed away.

Theo was travelling Australia on a gap year after finishing school in Belgium. 

Police began a land, sea and air search when they were alerted to his disappearance by staff at the Wake Up! Hostel in Byron Bay on June 6.

Thoe was last seen leaving the Cheeky Monkey Bar on May 31 in Byron Bay, northern New South Wales

Thoe was last seen leaving the Cheeky Monkey Bar on May 31 in Byron Bay, northern New South Wales

Hostel staff raise the alarm after finding his belongings, including his passport, left untouched.

Theo’s father, Laurent Hayez, flew into Australia that month and made an emotional public appeal to help find his son.

‘I promised Theo’s little brother that I would bring his brother home. Please, help me keep my promise to him,’ he told reporters through tears at Tweed Heads Police Station.

Theo’s disappearance made headlines around the world and several volunteer groups formed to search for him.

The case has been referred to the NSW coroner.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.