The family of Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez makes a video tribute a year after he went missing in Byron Bay
On the one-year anniversary of Hayez’s disappearance, his cousin Lisa Hayez filmed an emotional video thanking volunteers who worked tirelessly to find him
The family of missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez has shared heartbreaking tributes to the teenager exactly a year after he went missing in Byron Bay.
The 19-year-old disappeared on May 31 last year after leaving Cheeky Monkey’s bar in the northern city of New South Wales. He has not been seen or heard since.
On the one-year anniversary of his disappearance, friends and family from around the world watched as volunteer search teams gathered at Byron to illuminate the famous lighthouse in orange, Theo’s favorite color.
The backpacker’s cousin, Lisa Hayez, filmed an emotional video shown at the lighthouse, vowing she would never stop looking for him.
“We all miss you so much. You’re the kind of person who brings good luck to everyone you meet, “Lisa said.
“You can’t imagine how much I miss your smile … every time I saw you I couldn’t stop laughing because you made me so happy by nature.
Theo Hayez with his girlfriend Severine Marcotty. Theo disappeared on May 31 last year after leaving Cheeky Monkey’s in Byron Bay, northern New South Wales
Theo Hayez was last seen leaving the Cheeky Monkey Bar on May 31 in Byron Bay, northern New South Wales
“You and I have been together since birth. You’ve always been a brother to me.
“If I had to describe you in a few words, I would say happiness, respect and love.”
Lisa thanked the team of volunteers who searched day and night for her nephew, who was traveling in Australia during a gap year after finishing school in Belgium.
Since May 31, Byron Bay has changed. People who did not yet know each other united for the same purpose; I find you, ”said Lisa.
Theo Hayez was last seen leaving Cheeky Monkey’s in Byron Bay on May 31
“They haven’t stopped for a second and trust me, they’re not ready to stop until we know what happened to you.
“It seems that you handpicked them all to create the best, strongest and most amazing team to try and find you.
Thank you Theo, thank you very much for being a great guy, a great son, a great brother. You deserve all the respect in the world.
“I promise we’ll never give up. I so much hope that wherever you are, you are fine and happy. ‘
Hayez’s father Laurent also paid tribute on Sunday, sharing a photo of the couple when Theo was three, along with a story about the missing man’s childhood.
“During painful moments, poetry and philosophy often help to ease the pain,” Laurent told Facebook.
‘When I was 18, my father gave me a framed poem on parchment paper.
“This list has accompanied me ever since and has been on the wall of my bedroom or office for a long time.
This poem was written by Rudyard Kipling, also author of the “Jungle Book”, the first cartoon I often watched with Theo and his little brother.
Hayez’s father Laurent also paid tribute on Sunday with a heartwarming story about Theo’s childhood and an old photo
‘On Theo’s 18th birthday, a month and a half before he left for Australia, I had the pleasure of offering this precious setting to Theo. Since then it still hangs on the wall of his room near his mother’s house. ‘
Hayez’s uncle Jipe said that when the teenager stayed at his home in Australia before his disappearance, the story of the poem was full circle.
“Theo told me about this special gift from his father when he discovered to my surprise that I had the same poem framed on the wall of my office,” he said.
The search efforts for the 19-year-old have continued into 2020, with police conducting DNA tests on her in what is believed to be Hayez’s gray cap, which was discovered in bushland off Tallows Beach.
The hat was found by a member of the public in the same area where the last ping of Theo’s phone was recorded around the Cape Byron lighthouse on June 1.
Hayez’s family is sure the hat is his, but DNA testing on the material was inconclusive.
The family has alleged that Hayez was not alone on the night he disappeared.
The guiding theory behind Hayez’s disappearance is that he fell while trying to climb cliffs near Tallows Beach and his body washed away.
The police began a search by land, sea and air when they were seen 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’s family fought tirelessly to find out what happened after he went missing in Byron Bay last year (Mr. Hayez (center) pictured with his friend and Theo’s female cousin) at a 2019 press conference
Search efforts for the 19-year-old have continued into 2020, with police conducting DNA tests on her found in the suspected gray Theo cap, which was discovered in bushland near Tallows Beach
Data from Theo’s phone followed this route as his last known movements before disappearing on the night of May 31, 2019
Hayez’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.
Hayez’s disappearance made headlines around the world and several volunteer groups formed to look for him.
The case was referred to the NSW medical examiner.
Jean-Philippe Pector, Hayez’s godfather, says he is still overwhelmed with grief as the one-year anniversary of Theo’s disappearance looms.
“In my mind, I don’t want to believe it happened somewhere – I don’t know if it’s a way to protect myself,” he told ABC.
“When I wake up at night, my brain stops working on what to do, or is there more to do? ‘
He insists that the search for Theo does not end until “we think we have nothing left to do.”
Theo (photo with his girlfriend) was traveling in Australia during a gap year after finishing school in Belgium