Federal agents travel to Australia in search of missing teen
A missing persons specialist and two additional members of the federal police are in Byron Bay, Australia, as the 30-day mark passes in case of missing backpacker
Family also on site
Hayez was backpacking across Australia, when he abruptly stopped checking in with friends and family in Belgium. His parents alerted authorities in Australia, and a search was begun for the young man, who had been travelling around the country for the last six months. Byron Bay was his last stop before heading home to Flanders.
Hayez’s parents and cousin are also in the coastal town, where they have joined hundreds of volunteers who are combing the cliffs, inlets and hills of the spot, long popular with backpackers and surfers. Byron Bay is a major tourist destination, and local residents and police have responded en masse to Hayez’s disappearance.
His parents have met with the Belgian police, who arrived in the town at the weekend. One of the three officers is from Belgium’s missing persons unit.
We are doing everything in our power to get a lead in this case
“Our intention is to exchange all the information that we have gathered in Belgium with colleagues in Australia who are leading the investigation,” a spokesperson for the federal police told Radio 1. “We are doing everything in our power to get a lead in this case.”
Hayez is known to have visited a nightclub on the night he disappeared. He left the club, and signals from his mobile phone suggest that he went in a few different directions before the final signal, pinpointed to the area of the town’s lighthouse.
While local police have said that it is possible Hayez fell from a cliff or drowned in the sea, they are treating the case as a murder investigation.
VTM’s Telefacts news programme travelled to Byron Bay last week and spoke to local residents, many of whom said that the coastal town had changed over the years from a laid-back centre of counter-culture to a somewhat tacky party town. During the day, its beautiful beaches and trendy shopping are still popular with travellers, but at night, the bars, clubs and drug dealers take over. Some residents said they no longer felt safe after dark in the centre of the town.
Photo courtesy Federal Police/BELGA