Byron Bay Lighthouse Glows in Honour of Missing Backpacker Theo Hayez

Theo Hayez

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.

On Sunday, May 31, 2020, family and friends gathered around the world on a special Facebook Group live stream, in honour of Hayez who is still missing.

The anniversary was marked by a special lighting of the infamous Cape Byron Lighthouse — the very same one that features as the titular landing spot of The Australian podcastThe Lighthouse.

Lit with an iridescent orange glow, Hayez’s favourite colour, it was a symbol of hope for his family that it would “help light the way to the discovery of what happened to him.”

Photographs and special messages were played during the live stream, including the one below, which depicts Hayez with his father, Laurent, at the wedding of his friend Jean-Phillipe Pector.

The Lighthouse
Laurent Hayez with Theo. The Australian/Facebook.

Pector has been leading the search mission in Australia and now lives at Apollo Bay in Victoria’s Otway Ranges.

“It will be really heartwarming for the family. It means a lot,” Mr Pector told The Australian of the lighting of the lighthouse.

“I cannot imagine the emotional state they will be in but I’m sure it will be something that will help them and ease a bit of the pain.”

One of the silver linings to come out of Theo’s disappearance is the community spirit of Byron Bay — where strangers have rallied together to help look for the teen.

One resident, Sheri D’Rosario has been leading the search party, and with other volunteers, made a raft of flowers to float out to the ocean during the tribute.

“As it gets dark tonight it will really hit home that it will be a year, that it was this time last year something terrible happened,” D’Rosario said.

Back in early May, crime reporter David Murray (who joined the “unofficial” search party in December 2019 and podcast creator) reported that police had “secretly conducted new searches around Cape Byron Lighthouse” and a renewed search effort was focusing on some of Hayez’s missing personal effects including his mobile phone.

At the time, the family of the missing teenager said that they had “spoken less publicly about developments” however, updated followers on their family Facebook page, the family of the missing teenager

“Far from us giving up hope or dedication, the main reason is that 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.”

You can watch the full tribute here.

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