The text message Theo Hayez’s family received was horrifying. “We have Theo,” it reportedly said. “I am aware how scary this message is going to be. This is not a hoax... your son is kidnapped.”
Already at near breaking point over their 18-year old son’s disappearance, Theo’s parents Laurent Hayez and Vinciane Delforge wondered if their ordeal was nearing the end. But the text, like so many other potential leads, proved to be a false alarm – a sick attempt to extract thousands of dollars from a desperate family.
Later this month, on May 31, it will be 12 months since Theo vanished from Byron Bay with police unable to discover what happened, despite a witness and mobile phone records tracking his movements on that fateful night.
Theo was a Belgian teenager, backpacking around Australia like many before him. Just weeks away from returning home, he checked into the WakeUp! hostel in Byron Bay. Supposedly a safe tourist hotspot with stunning beaches, celebrity endorsers like the Hemsworths and a lively nightlife, it was the most unlikely place for things to go wrong on his travels.
But on June 6, 2019, his family back home realised Theo hadn’t been active on his social media. Contacting the hostel, staff said Theo had failed to check out, and all of his belongings, including his passport, were in his room.
WITHOUT A TRACE
The Hayez family’s lives turned upside down when they were told Theo had disappeared.
You can read up to 3 premium stories before you subscribe to Magzter GOLD
Log in, if you are already a subscriber
Get unlimited access to thousands of curated premium stories, newspapers and 5,000+ magazines
READ THE ENTIRE ISSUE
May 11. 2020