An army of volunteers who have led the search for missing Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez have spotted new details about the watch he was wearing when he vanished.
The tourist, who was 18 at the time, was last seen leaving Cheeky Monkey’s bar in Byron Bay, northern NSW, on May 31, 2019, after being asked to leave about 11pm.
He was staying at the Wake Up! hostel, and was wearing a black hooded jumper, tan pants, black shoes and watch, and a grey Puma hat.
The hat was found five weeks later but police called off the search and referred his disappearance to the NSW coroner after failing to find any trace of him.
Now, the search team have taken to the Looking for Théo Hayez Facebook page asking for help to identify the ‘make, brand and model’ of his digital wristwatch.
The Looking for Theo Hayez Facebook group is calling for more information on the make, brand and model of the watch the missing Belgian backpacker was last seen wearing on May 31, 2019 (pictured)
Theo Hayez was last seen leaving Cheeky Monkey’s restaurant and bar at Byron Bay in New South Wales on May 31, 2019, after being asked to leave about 11pm (pictured)
‘We recently found out that the black watch that Theo was wearing wasn’t the one we thought but a new one rather similar,’ a post on the page read.
‘The display (digital only, no hands) and the straps are different.
‘Please have a look at this photo. Can you help us to identify the make, brand and model?’
Many of the group’s 16,000 followers were quick to identify it as a G-Shock watch, but others questioned its authenticity, with some pointing out it could be a ‘knock off’ or a ‘cheapie if purchased from a market’.
‘Have sold G-Shock for over 30 years. I’m not convinced it’s a G-Shock by the casing and strap the way it sits,’ one person commented under the post.
‘I’ve been looking at Casio G-Shocks all morning and I’m not convinced it’s one either … All the G-Shocks, even the older types, have a rounded insignia at the Top. Theo’s has a straight one,’ another said.
‘There are so many models in this type and lots of cheap copies so depends on where he got it,’ a third follower wrote.
Theo Hayez (pictured) was reportedly wearing a black hooded jumper, tan pants, black shoes and a grey Puma hat the night of his disappearance
The tourist (pictured with his girlfriend, Severine Marcotty) was reportedly also wearing a black watch – a detail the Looking for Theo Hayez Facebook group is calling for more information on
Data from Hayez’s phone has traced this route as his last known movements before he vanished on the night of May 31, 2019
The urgent appeal for information about Hayez’s watch comes after the backpacker’s cousin, Lisa Hayez, speculated he might have been with a mystery person on the night of his disappearance.
She claimed Google data tracked the tourist walking ‘a very unusual path through thick bushland’, which ‘leads us to believe someone must have been with him.’
‘After we were able to access his google data, we realised that the night he disappeared, he walked a very unusual path through thick bushland that is impossible to imagine that he walked alone,’ she said in June.
The leading theory in Hayez’s disappearance is he fell while trying to climb cliffs near Tallows Beach and his body washed away.
Staff at Wake Up! notified authorities of his disappearance when they found his belongings – including his passport – untouched several days later.
Police began a land, sea and air searches with efforts continued well into 2020.
A grey Puma cap, believed to have belong to Hayez, was discovered in bushland off Tallows Beach and police conducted DNA tests on hair found in it.
Although the testing was inconclusive, Hayez’s family were certain it belonged to the missing backpacker.
The hat was found by a member of the public in the same area where the last ‘ping’ from Theo’s phone was recorded on June 1 around the Cape Byron Lighthouse.
‘Because Byron is such a transit town, travellers come and go every day,’ Ms Hayez said in the video.
In the lead up to this confirmation, the Belgian backpacker’s father, Laurent Hayez (pictured), called for calm in the search for both missing people
Search efforts for the 19-year-old continued well into 2020, with police conducting DNA tests on hair found in what is believed to be Theo’s grey cap (pictured), which was discovered in bushland off Tallows Beach
A missing persons flyer of Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez, 18, on a sign at Byron Bay in NSW
‘Someone might have been with him or seen him and might not have even known he had gone missing.’
Hayez’s family posted a heartfelt message on the Looking For Theo Facebook group in May, thanking those who had helped to search for the backpacker – as well as giving an insight into the latest police efforts in 2020.
‘Since the beginning of the year, we have spoken less publicly about developments,’ the post read.
‘Far from us giving up hope or dedication, the main reason is because the ongoing police process means we need to be careful about what we say.
‘We think about Theo every minute and would like to share any information that may help find out what happened to him – but we have to be careful that we also give the police the best chance of finding this out.
‘It breaks our hearts every day and we hope that they will soon have some clarity for us.’
THE TIMELINE OF THEO HAYEZ’S DISAPPEARANCE
May 31st 7.45pm: Theo Hayez and an unnamed friend were caught on CCTV camera at a local bottle shop in Byron Bay.
May 31st 11pm: The last confirmed sighting of Hayez. He was spotted leaving the Cheeky Monkey’s bar.
June 1st AM: The last confirmed WhatsApp message was sent from Theo’s phone.
June 1st 1:42pm: Theo’s phone pinged for the last time.
June 6th: Theo was reported missing to local police .
June 9th: Police conducted a major land, sea and air search in the Byron Bay area with the assistance of rescue officers, the State Emergency Service, a lifesaver helicopter and lifesavers.
June 10th: Locals and other backpackers joined in the search for Theo.
June 10th-June 16th: SES crews, the dog squad, lifeguards, local volunteers and police are continuing to search the Byron Bay headlands, east and north of the town, as well as beaches and swamps.
June 16th: Theo’s mother Vinciane Delforge, told a French broadcaster in Belgium she is holding out hope her son is safe and well, but said his disappearance is entirely out of character.
June 17th: Theo’s father Laurent Hayez travels to Byron Bay to help search for his son Theo. He makes an emotional plea asking Australia to keep looking for his son and vows to stay in the country until he is found.
He says he hopes WhatsApp will cooperate with police to decode the messages that Theo last sent – a feat, he says, which could change the course of the search.
Police confess they are still ‘baffled’ by the case, and are keeping all lines of inquiry open.
Homicide detectives join in on the search for Theo.
July 3rd: NSW Police announce the full-scale search for the teenager had been called off, but investigations are ongoing.
July 12th: Theo’s heartbroken father flies home.
July 17th: Top forensic psychologist Tim Watson-Munro says believes Theo could have been the victim of an unknown serial killer, along with two 20-year-old backpackers who went missing on the NSW north coast months prior.
July 18th: Theo’s parents reveal they believe he is still alive and are holding out hope he is in a commune.
August: A dedicated group of Byron Bay locals have brought in cadaver dogs to search for missing Belgian tourist Theo Hayez.
The dogs and their handlers scoured bushland in the Arakwal National Park including Tallow Beach.
September: Theo’s father Laurent Hayez arrives back in Australia to continue his search for his son.
September 16th: Police call off the search for Theo and refer his case to the coroner.
October 13th: Theo’s family confirm a cap found in dense bushland near to where the missing backpacker’s phone last ‘pinged’ belonged to him.