The mysterious disappearance of Daniel O'Keeffe: What we know today.

Yesterday, the five-year mystery surrounding the fate of a missing Victorian man took a tragic new twist — with the discovery of human remains at his family home.

Daniel O’Keeffe‘s father Des found the remains underneath the family house at about 1.50pm yesterday, and the O’Keeffe family confirmed on Facebook last night that the body is believed to be Dan’s.

“It is with heavy hearts that the family and friends of Dan O’Keeffe, update this page to share that Dan’s remains were discovered earlier today,” they posted to the Dan Come Home Facebook page last night.

family home pic
Police surround the family home in Geelong, Victoria. (Photo: TEN Eyewitness News)

In one sense, the grim discovery brings his loving family’s tireless search to an end — but the development also raises just as many questions as it answers.

Dan O'Keeffe found
Dan at a family Christmas event. (Source: Dan Come Home)

Dan was just 24 when he disappeared from the family house in suburban Highton, Geelong in 2011. He was wearing Ugg boots when he disappeared, and took no personal belongings — not even his medication or his wallet.

The strapping Brazilian jujitsu martial arts instructor was due to begin a carpentry apprenticeship the week after he went missing. He had been involved in mentoring young people, and had also recently a martial arts academy in the suburban town of Werribee, The Age reports.

Dan O'Keeffe found
Dan with Susie, his girlfriend of three years (Source: Dan Come Home)

He lived part-time with his girlfriend Susie Mansfield at her home in Docklands, Melbourne when he wasn’t in Geelong. He also had the support of a loving family around him: He has been described as “a kind, gentle, friendly guy who’s respected by his students, admired by his friends and adored by his family.”

But accounts by family members make clear that the tall man with a broad smile man had been suffering depression and anxiety before his disappearance.

“Dan told me this February [2011] that he thought something was wrong with him. He was incomprehensibly upset,” his sister Loren O’Keeffe, 31, wrote for Mamamia several months after his disappearance.

“Dan did all the right things to try to get himself better. He took the medication he was prescribed, attended the appointments, read books to understand more about the mind. After reading The Art of Happiness several times over, he went to see the Dalai Lama with the hope to broaden his already mature wisdom, knowledge and insight.”

Dan also remained in close contact with Loren, 31, and her partner Ruth as he struggled with depression.


“He really leaned on us, and although we tried to hide the toll it took, I worry he felt like a burden,” Loren says.

Dan O'Keeffe found
Dan with Loren. (Photo: Supplied)

After about six months, it seemed that Dan’s mental state was improving.

“We went over to his place to play mahjong one night during the 3-day Dalai Lama workshop in June [2011]. I had never seen him that happy,” Loren says. “We all had such a good time together – I burst into tears of joy as soon as he’d closed the front door. He was getting better.”

But five weeks later, on 15 July 2011, Dan vanished.

He was having “an everyday ordinary chat with Dad in the kitchen,” his sister says. “Within half an hour, he’d gone from just bumming around the house, to vanishing into thin air.”

He was last seen at about 9:45am that day — and the family has heard next to nothing of his whereabouts since then.

“The only thing we do know is that Dan is in Australia. He left without ID, money, his watch or any other belongings, besides his phone (which wasn’t answered the whole day of his disappearance and has been off since that night),” Loren says. “He’s just walked away from it all.”

Dan O'Keeffe found
Dan with Loren. Photo: Supplied.

A bizarre development five months after Dan’s disappearance raised the family’s hopes: On 30 November 2011, Dan walked into a medical centre in Queensland and asked for a glass of water. He was going by his middle name, James, and was visibly very unwell, according to the the website.

Two weeks later, having seen the O’Keeffe family being interviewed on The Project, the medical centre receptionist realised she had spoken with Dan and informed authorities.

Loren immediately flew to Queensland and says that CCTV confirmed her brother’s identity.

For months, the search for the young man turned to south-east Queensland — but no confirmed sightings were reported, despite Loren’s dedication to the “Dan Come Home” social media campaign, which gained more than 65,000 followers on Facebook.

Dan O'Keeffe found
Dan at his aunt’s place (Source: Dan Come Home)

Over the last five years, the O’Keeffe family and authoroties have pursued a range of possibilities.

Loren, who quit her job with the Victorian government in 2011 to search for Dan full-time, told The Courier Mail she’d visitedevery single food van, men’s shelter, hospital and park” throughout her search.


“I was going to church groups and thinking that maybe he’d been inducted into a weird cult,” she added. “The possibilities are endless and exhausting.”

Police had earlier urged those who worked at homeless shelters to keep an eye out for Mr O’Keeffe.

“Daniel has lately been trying to assimilate with homeless people, that could well be one further avenue of inquiry,” Sergeant Forehan said shortly after the young man’s disappearance. “It’s quite possible that he may be seeking to assimilate with some homeless people in order to understand their plight and how they exist on a daily basis.”

The family eventually even offered a $50,000 reward for information that leads directly to finding their boy.

Dan O'Keeffe found
Dan at his graduation. (Source: Dan Come Home)

Yesterday, after almost five years of anguished searching and wondering, the O’Keeffe family learned of Daniel’s fate in the most awful way. But so many questions remain.

It is not known how the remains got underneath the house.

It’s also unclear if the November 2011 sighting really was Daniel, in light of the grim discovery.

Authorities have not yet confirmed how long the bones have been there, so it is not known yet whether Daniel’s body had been underneath the family home since his disappearance.

But if so, it’s unclear how they were missed in the initial search of the property.

One thing that is clear is that the world has lost a beautiful young man.

Our thoughts are with the O’Keeffe family during this difficult time.

For help or information contact Lifeline 131 114 or beyondblue 1300 224 636.