true crime

New podcast The Lighthouse examines the baffling disappearance of 18-year-old Theo Hayez in Byron Bay.

For the past five months, the disappearance of Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez has baffled police and the wider Byron Bay community.

Hayez, just 18 years old, was last seen leaving Cheeky Monkey’s nightclub in Byron Bay on May 31 earlier this year. As he walked back to his hostel, he messaged a friend back home in Belgium after midnight. But he never made it back and was reported missing on June 6.

It was Hayez’s mother who raised the alarm, after not hearing from her son for several days. That day, the WakeUp! hostel in Byron Bay told police that the young man’s belongings – including his passport – were still untouched in his room, days after he was meant to check out.

Since then, there have been little clues about his whereabouts. Pings from Hayez’s mobile phone were detected near the Cape Byron lighthouse on June 1, the day after he was last seen. A cap was also found that his family said belonged to Hayez but which reportedly failed to match his DNA. And his WhatsApp messages – which may tell us more about his final moments – have been unable to be read by investigators.

After months of community-wide searches, NSW police eventually referred his case to the Coroner.

Now, The Australian podcast team behind the award-winning podcasts The Teacher’s Pet and Who the Hell is Hamish have released The Lighthouse, which investigates the disappearance and incredible search for Hayez.

Episode one of the podcast, hosted by The Australian’s national crime correspondent David Murray, was released on Friday. It discussed Hayez’s last known whereabouts, and the CCTV footage which may have captured his path back to his hostel.

Watch the trailer for The Lighthouse podcast below. Post continues after video.

Video by The Australian

Theo’s parents, Laurent Hayez and Vinciane Delforge, have expressed their gratitude for Murray for getting involved in the case and telling Theo’s story.

“We welcome this collaboration with hope that answers can be found. We believe that Theo was not alone on the night that he disappeared and that sooner or later somebody must speak out,” they said in a statement to The Australian.

“We have worked closely with David in the development of this podcast and believe that, along with the coroner’s investigation, it is the best way forward for now. We will not give up until we know what happened to Theo.”

New episodes will be dropping weekly, on Fridays.