Théo Hayez

Théo Hayez, an 18-year-old Belgian man, vanished in the Cape Byron region, last seen departing Cheeky Monkey’s bar in Byron Bay around 11:00 pm on May 31, 2019.

Disappearance

Hayez came to Australia in late 2018 on a working holiday visa. A week before his scheduled return to Belgium, he vanished. His family contacted New South Wales police on June 6, 2019, worried about his disappearance and his failure to return to his accommodation.

The Wake Up! hostel, where Hayez was staying, also notified the police on the same day, three days after he missed his checkout. His personal items, including his passport, remained in his room.

Investigation

Australian authorities conducted searches using helicopters, drones, cadaver dogs, trackers, divers, and rock climbers. Hayez’s parents, Laurent Hayez and Vinciane Delforge, traveled to Australia in June 2019 to aid in the search efforts. His father appealed to the Australian public, expressing his commitment to fulfilling his promise to bring his son home.

Hayez’s last phone signal was traced to the vicinity of Cape Byron on June 1, 2019. Investigations, with the involvement of Hayez’s family and Google, suggested his potential last location near Cosy Corner, Tallow Beach. WhatsApp collaborated with NSW Police to retrieve chat logs from that night, although the data was limited due to encryption.

The Hayez family persisted in urging authorities to prioritize the case and pursue leads. In July, volunteers found a grey Puma hat resembling the one Hayez wore when last seen, in bushland at Tallow Beach.

As the investigation slowed, the police’s official theory proposed that Hayez may have accidentally fallen from the cliffs near the lighthouse. Various reasons were speculated for his presence there after midnight, including being lost, misdirected by Google Maps, under the influence of substances, suicidal, led there by a local, heading to a party, or encountering harm.

The absence of his body could be attributed to several factors, such as human intervention, getting lost, shark attack, or being swept away by tides. A coroner’s inquest was scheduled for November 2021.

Media

The case quickly gained widespread attention in both Australia and Europe, and interest persists more than two years later. At the request of Hayez’s family, Australian national crime correspondent David Murray joined the search efforts. Murray dedicated three months to the unofficial search party and documented the case in late 2019 through a six-part Australian crime podcast titled “The Lighthouse.”

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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Disappearance of Théo Hayez, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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