An Australian journalist investigating the disappearance in Australia of 18-year-old Belgian backpacker Théo Hayez (photo) has been approached by a potential witness who claims to have seen a body that resembled the missing man lying by the side of the road just two days after he disappeared on the night of 31 May to 1 June this year.
Journalist David Murray, who is a crime correspondent for The Australian, has followed the case since the beginning. He has published the results of his investigations on a website which now features a video in which a woman, beauty therapist Leesa Home, described driving at about 04.00 just outside Coffs Harbour, some 240km from where Théo was last seen at Byron Bay in New South Wales. The video of the woman’s report is here.
Suddenly, she saw a man aged around 30 years by the side of the road in the pitch black of night, gesticulating at her to stop. Beside the man, lying on the ground apparently lifeless, was another man who resembled the description of Théo.
She did stop, but then took fright and drove off again. She claims to have reported the incident to police, who later said they had found no trace of the two men. However Murray has been unable to unearth any police report of the incident.
Since Théo’s disappearance, his father has travelled to Australia to help with the search, which has gone over the locality where he was last traced with a fine-tooth comb – without finding a trace of Théo.
In June the official search was stopped because of bad weather, and not resumed later, although volunteers continued to look. Later in June, three Belgian police officers flew to Australia to offer their assistance, arriving at the same time as Théo’s mother.
In early July, after deploying police dogs and drones in the search, Australian police called off the hunt on the ground, and the Belgian officers returned home. The investigation, however, continues. A cap which he may have been wearing was found in July, but advanced the inquiry no further. By the end of July, police were reassuring family and the public that the investigation was still fully operational.