The idyllic town of Byron Bay is known for its celebrity sightings and white-sand beaches, but the coastal hamlet has been plagued by a series of mysterious disappearances over the years.
Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez, 18, made international headlines in May last year when he disappeared without a trace after leaving a bar in the main road of Byron Bay.
On Wednesday, skeletal remains were found in bushland near where Hayez went missing.
The grim discovery was made while hunting for clues to the disappearance of another missing person, the nomadic woman Thea Liddle.
Ms. Liddle, 42, was known to move between homeless camps, but disappeared last year.
Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez, 18, was last seen on May 31, 2019 and left a bar.
Skeletal remains were found during a bushland search around Byron Bay, where Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez (left) went missing last May and nomadic traveler Thea Liddle (right) disappeared last October.
NSW police say they have yet to determine if the discovered bones are from a man or a woman, or even if they are related to one of their disappearances
Officers searched homeless camps in the bush where she was known the month before her disappearance
The NSW police say they have yet to determine whether the discovered bones are from a man or a woman, or even if they are related to any of their disappearances.
Police hired search dogs and rescue specialists on Tuesday to search the Byron Bay bushland as part of the hunt for answers regarding Ms. Liddle’s disappearance.
Mrs. Liddle’s last known address was a country estate where she lived with a 46-year-old man.
Although she was known to lead a transient lifestyle, her disappearance led to a grand quest amid fears for her safety.
Officers searched homeless camps where she was known in the months before her disappearance.
Superintendent Byron Police District, Superintendent Dave Roptell, said the search area is relatively wide due to her nomadic lifestyle.
“Thea lived a very transient lifestyle – shifted from place to place, often changed campgrounds, and chose places in remote bushland away from the public,” said Superintendent Roptell.
But Hayez and Liddle are just two of the many tourists and residents who have gone missing in the idyllic city.
Ellen Wilson, 2015
Ellen Wilson, 54, has been missing since September 11, 2015.
A CCTV recording that morning showed her cash from an ATM in Ballina, the airport city near Byron Bay, where thousands of tourists land for their holidays.
She was last seen at the Australian Hotel before leaving in her silver Subaru station wagon with NSW number plates CB-76-QX.
The next morning, she called a friend and agreed to meet her in Ballina later that day for some volunteer work.
But Mrs. Wilson didn’t show up, and her friend was concerned about her and called the police to report her missing.
Mysterious Disappearance: Ellen Wilson (pictured), 54, has been missing since September 11, 2015
She has not been heard or seen since.
The police have been to her house in Goonellabah several times, but have found no trace of her.
They also couldn’t find her car, despite several unconfirmed messages from people who said they saw it in 2015.
Mrs. Wilson’s relatives said it was extremely unusual for her not to make contact and that she missed several scheduled appointments.
She is described as 165 cm tall with a medium physique and shoulder-length gray-brown hair. She has blue eyes and wears reading glasses.
Detective Sergeant Bernadette Ingram, Detective of Richmond LAC, said in 2015 that the police have no idea what happened to her.
“We don’t know where she went and we call on the public for help. Any information can help us find her, “she said.
Bronwyn Winfield, 1993
Mother-of-two Bronwny Winfield, 31, was last seen at her home in Lennox Head, a coastal town just south of Byron Bay, on May 16, 1993.
She was reported missing 11 days later on May 27.
A colonial investigation into her disappearance in 2002 found that she most likely died the moment she disappeared.
Suspected murder victim: Bronwyn Winfield
The coroner recommended that one “famous person” is charged with murder, but police did not have enough evidence to file charges.
In 2009, the police reopened their investigation of her death, offering a $ 100,000 reward to anyone with information that led to a conviction.
New South Wales Police Minister Michael Daley, now leader of the opposition, held a press conference to announce the pay.
“Bronwyn Winfield was a nice lady and a good mother,” he said.
“She left behind two young children aged five and ten, making the attack all the more horrifying.
“Mrs. Winfield’s family, especially her children, deserve to know what happened – and her killer deserves to be behind bars.
“I hope the lure of a cash reward could encourage those with information, who may have been reluctant to come forward at the time, to help the police bring those responsible to justice.”
Mrs. Winfield’s daughter Chrystal was only 10 when she last saw her mother.
“I actually saw her the night she went missing, and that was the last time I saw her,” she told the Northern Star.
“I went to bed and that was it.”
Malcolm Briggs, 1975
Gone: Malcolm Briggs
Malcolm Briggs was last seen in Mullumbimby, a small town inland from Byron Bay, in 1975.
He managed to keep in touch with his extended family until 2004, who came from the nearby city of Casino.
After the contact was broken, the family reported him missing and was never found.
Mr. Briggs was 37 when he was last seen. He missed his left ear after an accident.
He would be 81 if he was alive today.
Family members say he enjoyed smoking custom cigarettes and keeping them in his breast pocket.
He also loved checkered long-sleeved shirts and long gray trousers.
Police described him as 172 cm tall and solidly built with red hair and blue eyes.
Rodney Bradridge, 1997
Rodney Clement Bradridge was 23 when dropped off on May 22, 1997 on Frasers Road in Mullumbimby.
Since then he has not been seen or has had no contact with friends or family.
Police searched possible campgrounds to see if they were camping in the wild but couldn’t find him and called off the search.
If he were alive, he would be 45 years old. Officers say they have serious concerns about his well-being.
Jeffrey Neville, 1993
Jeffrey Neville has not been seen since 1993
Jeffrey Neville was last seen near Mullumbimby around December 1993.
Since this date, he has had no contact with family or friends.
Neville, who was 39 at the time of his disappearance, was reported missing to the Mullumbimby Police Station.
Little information is known about him, but he is described in an unofficial register of missing persons as a regular user of prescription and prohibited drugs.
Mr. Neville has not seen his doctor or been given medication since he went missing.
He is described as 173cm with light brown / green eyes. If he lived today, he would be 65.
Theo Hayez, 2019
Theo Hayez was traveling in Australia during a gap year after finishing school in Belgium.
The 18-year-old backpacker was last seen on CCTV walking through Byron Bay after leaving Cheeky Monkey’s bar at around 11pm on May 31, 2019.
The police started a search by land, sea and air when they were shown by the staff of the Wake Up! Were warned of his disappearance. Hostel in Byron Bay on June 6.
The hostel staff sounds the alarm after his belongings, including his passport, are left untouched.
Theo, 18, was in Australia on a working holiday visa and had gone to Byron Bay’s popular nightclub Cheeky Monkey’s on May 31, 2019
The 18-year-old backpacker was last seen on CCTV (above) while walking through Byron Bay after leaving Cheeky Monkey’s bar at around 11:00 PM on May 31, 2019
This map shows the movements Theo Hayez made before disappearing without a trace
Theo’s father, Laurent Hayez, flew into Australia that month and made an emotional public appeal to help find his son.
“I promised Theo’s little brother that I would take his brother home. Please help me keep my promise to him, “he told reporters with tears at Tweed Heads police station.
Theo’s disappearance made headlines around the world and several volunteer groups formed to look for him.
The case was referred to the NSW coroner.