Search For Missing Belgian Backpacker Theo Hayez Called Off
The search for Theo Hayez has been called off by police, after it failed to turn up any sign of the missing backpacker since his disappearance more than a month ago.
Hayez, 18, went missing on May 31, last seen in Byron Bay. The Belgian tourist failed to return to his hostel, with police mounting a large-scale land and sea search in the weeks since. His family, and Belgian police, have flown to Australia to assist in the operation.
On Wednesday afternoon, NSW Police said that while investigations continue, the full-scale physical search would be wound back.
"It’s times like this which shows the strength of our community. We want to thank each and every person who assisted and who provided support," Tweed/Byron Police Commander, Superintendent Dave Roptell said.
"Throughout the entire investigation we have been liaising with the Belgian Federal Police, keeping them informed of our progress and working collaboratively with them. Belgian authorities have been appreciative of the work being undertaken."
He said Hayez's family had been informed of the decision, and that police "send our thoughts to them all, both here in Australia and abroad."
Police were alerted to Hayez's disappearance a week after he went missing. He was last seen leaving the Cheeky Monkey's bar about 11pm on May 31, and the last 'ping' from his phone was recorded on June 1 in the area around the Cape Byron Lighthouse.
A huge search effort -- including police, SES, homicide squad detectives, surf lifesavers, and local community members -- did not find him. Police thanked all those who had participated in the search party.
"This search has brought the Byron Bay community together in more ways than one, and they have supported not only our officers but Theo's family during this difficult time," Northern Region Commander, Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell said.
"I would like to personally acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our Tweed/Byron Police District officers and the Belgian authorities; their collaboration and support has been second to none."
On Sunday, Theo's father Laurent thanked everyone who has helped look for his son.
"Thank you to all of you, thank you to the Australian people," he said.
"A beautiful country, a beautiful people."
Lisa said Theo's family will remain in Australia indefinitely as the search continues.
"We don't plan to go home or anything," she said.
"We'll just see how we go."
Police conceded on Sunday they are still struggling to determine what happened to Theo.
"Sadly we are no closer to knowing what happened to Theo but we will continue to work for the answers that his family so desperately need," Detective Chief Inspector Matt Kehoe said.