Eighteen-year-old Belgian tourist, Theo Hayez, came to Australia in November 2018.
On a backpacking holiday, Hayez landed in the coastal town of Byron Bay, before vanishing without a trace in May 2019.
Shortly after his disappearance, The Australian newspaper launched a podcast called The Lighthouse, urging people to come forward with any information they may have.
As the podcast grew in popularity, behind the scenes, local volunteers began searching and investigating with Théo’s family, which is now a major police investigation.
The Australian’s national crime correspondent, David Murray, joined the “unofficial” search party and in December 2019, the podcast was born.
Now, a year since Hayez disappeared, Murray (via The Australian) has revealed that police have “secretly conducted new searches around Cape Byron Lighthouse”.
On May 6, the crime reporter said that a renewed search effort was focusing on some of Hayez’s missing personal effects including his mobile phone.
In the first few episodes of the podcast, Murray speaks about the backpacker’s Puma cap which he was wearing when he went missing — and was subsequently found in bushland beside Byron’s Tallow Beach.
DNA tests took place in March this year, on hairs recovered from the cap, however, detectives have asked the Hayez family “not to discuss details of the investigation” including the results.
In a Facebook update on their family page, the family of the missing teen said that they had “spoken less publicly about developments”.
“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.”
Hi everyone. We are so grateful for your ongoing interest and support in the quest to find what happened to our Théo….
According to the outlet, a local coroner was set to examine the disappearance, however, due to the podcast and National attention, the case has now been taken over by the NSW Coroner.