‘We owe him’: Melbourne dad hunting for answers after mystery death of 25yo son near Byron Bay
Ian Stacker knows nothing can change the fact his son is gone, but the Melbourne father says he owes it to his boy to find out what happened.
It’s been nearly two months since the remains of 25-year-old Jackson Stacker were uncovered at a rest stop near Pottsville, north of Byron Bay.
Police believe Jackson had been laying in the field for a month before he was found, about a couple of hundred metres away from his abandoned and ransacked van.
How and why Jackson died remain a mystery, with the last phone call between the father and son revealing only that the young man was “going off grid” for a while following a stint installing solar panels.
“You get all sorts of theories … but in the grand scheme of things there is no happy answer,” Ian Stacker tells NCA Newswire.
“For us, we are just devastated our son is gone.
“If it was not an accident, or it was not self-inflicted, then we owe it to him to find out what happened.”
The death of Jackson Stacker remains an open police investigation, with a report being prepared for the coroner after an inconclusive autopsy.
It is the latest mysterious case to occur in the Northern Rivers region over the past couple of years and comes at a time of heightened interest in missing persons incidents.
Belgian backpacker Theo Hayez, 18, remains missing after he exited a Byron Bay bar one night in May 2019, while the remains of 42-year-old Thea Liddle were uncovered in bushland near the NSW holiday hotspot in July 2020, about nine months after she went missing.
Meanwhile, the search continues for missing four-year-old Cleo Smith in Western Australia, while internationally, the voracious intrigue around the Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie case in the US has fuelled online investigations for months.
Ian says the circumstances around the Petito-Laundrie mystery were a tragedy in itself, and obviously removed from what happened to Jackson, but he is hopeful that case may cause people to rethink if they had seen or heard anything about his son.
“Unfortunately time has been against us, (Jackson) was in the elements for a month before he was found,” Ian said.
“But we are hoping someone saw him at that rest stop; he may be in the background of some footage or holiday snaps.”
Ian last heard from Jackson on July 14 this year, with several weeks passing before he had an inkling something had gone wrong.
Jackson – whose brothers, mother and stepmother also live in Melbourne – had been travelling and working for six years.
His latest adventure had him en-route to North Queensland before the northern border slammed shut, forcing Jackson to hang around the Byron Bay area for a while, where he had managed to pick up some work.
“He sounded in good spirits (when we last spoke), but he did mention he was going off the grid,” Ian said.
“So I wasn’t that stressed about it. But then a month later someone contacted me wanting to buy his campervan.”
A person passing by the Sleepy Hollow rest area near Pottsville had found Ian Stacker’s contact details on an abandoned Toyota Hiace, the one Jackson had been driving around.
Jackson was reported missing, and his body was soon found nearby.
He is estimated to have died on July 22, about a week after he last spoke to his father, and a month before he was discovered.
For the record, Ian Stacker has nothing but praise for how the police have handled his son’s case.
But perhaps understandably, with answers scant, he has turned to the public for assistance in filling in the gaps.
“The question is whether he took his own life, or someone took his life,” Ian said.
“But nothing we’ve found has indicated that he was in a frame of mind to take his own life.
“I have been talking to people he worked with and they said he was someone who had hopes and dreams and plans.”
Of the “thousands” of messages Ian Stacker has received following his online campaign for answers, the vast majority offer heartfelt condolences, but there are very few leads.
Turning to the public, however, has not been without reward.
Ian said following one of his public calls for information, police were handed a camera – believed to be Jackson’s.
Ian understands the camera had been left as a security deposit at an undisclosed business. He said when the depositor showed no sign of coming back for their goods, it was turned on.
Ian said photos of Jackson were on the screen, with the camera then being handed in.
Ian said he was unsure if Jackson had left the camera there himself, or if it was taken from his ransacked car and left there by someone else.
“We’re not certain that it has anything to do with his death, but it has given us a few pieces of Jackson that we might not have seen,” he said.
NSW Police said they were unable to reveal details of any investigation that is before the coroner.
Ultimately, Mr Stacker says all that may be needed is one clue that gives the family a clearer picture of what happened.
“For us, it is all about that (July 22) date,” Ian says.
“We’re hoping someone out there knows, at least so we can be totally sure he was alone, or whether he was with anyone.”
- Anyone with information on the disappearance of Jackson Stacker is urged to call Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000
- Mr Stacker has also consented for his email address to be distributed: firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published as ‘We owe him’: Melbourne dad hunting for answers after mystery death of 25yo son near Byron Bay
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