Jay Slater: Nine theories about disappearance as conspiracies 'destroy' family

Jay Slater with Lucy Law
-Credit: (Image: Instagram)


The case of missing teen Jay Slater has been dogged by conspiracy theories, all of which are unproven. They have spread rapidly on social media and the teen's loved ones have spoken about how damaging it has been to read the viral comments.

Jay Slater vanished without a trace three weeks ago while on holiday in Tenerife and his family have been left heartbroken by many of the upsetting conspiracy theories that continue to circulate online.

Slater, 19, from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, disappeared after he left an Airbnb in the village of Masca. The village is an 11-hour walk away from where he was staying. His family arrived on the Spanish island shortly after he vanished and took part in the widespread searches to find him. Below we have collected together nine elements of the story that remain unexplained.

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Here are nine theories that have been widely discussed online and how they have affected Jay Slater's family:

Was Jay Slater scared of something?

Williams-Thomas has claimed that Slater would have been "feeling scared" when he left the Airbnb on June 17. In a video filmed on July 2 and posted to X, formerly called Twitter, the investigator said: "We've received information that would suggest that Jay left the rental property feeling scared and he would not return to the rental, even though that would have been the most sensible course of action."

"If he has wandered off I just can't see how he would wander all the way down there. When you're lost you stick to a path. I don't know if he was afraid of someone or something," added Mr Duncan.

He went on to debunk another theory after a "distressing" video started doing the rounds online. People started to claim a clip showed Slater recently. But the video was not recent and could not be of the missing teen.

Williams-Thomas said: "Lots of people are contacting us about a distressing video that is circulating. The video was first posted on a social media site nine years ago and therefore cannot be Jay Slater."

The £12,000 'stolen' Rolex mystery

Williams-Thomas claimed Slater posted a Snapchat where he said he'd taken a £12,000 Rolex from a person. He later added: "We've received information that would suggest that Jay left the rental property feeling scared and he would not return to the rental, even though that would have been the most sensible course of action."

"We've been unable to validate this in terms of a reported theft", Mark Williams-Thomas said in another video. "However, friends of Jay said he would not make this up and the watch was subject of later conversation between the friends."

Qassim has insisted that there were "no problems" with Slater following reports he told friends he'd taken a £12,000 Rolex watch" and "left the rental feeling scared. He later added: "If I'd fallen out with him would he even come to mine? I don't know if he had beef elsewhere because I don't know him that well, I only know him through friends.'"

Jay Slater's past coming back to haunt case

Speculation over Slater's disappearance went viral online, with several posts mentioning the teen's criminal past and that could somehow have something to do with the case.

Slater was handed an eight month community order for violent disorder with 25 days rehabilitation activities as well as 150 hours unpaid work. The teen was part of a gang of eight that split the skull of Tom Hilton, then 17, during an attack with a machete and an axe in Rishton, Lancashire, back in August 2021, LancsLive reported.

Despite this, Hilton urged people to "help find him" and "have some respect" as the search continued. He wrote in a public social media post: "Whoever is writing on these TikToks, give it a rest. This young lad's missing and his family's heartbroken. Put yourself in their shoes. Stop talking nonsense on social media and get this lad found, mentioning my name all this and that. Have some respect and help find this boy and get him back to his family."

Did he get into trouble at the Airbnb?

One theory states the teen got into some kind of trouble during his stay at the remote Airbnb the night before he vanished with the men he stayed with. The case took a sinister turn when it was revealed last week that one of the last people to see him was a convicted drug dealer.

There is no suggestion that the man, named Ayub Qassim, is suspected of having done anything wrong. TV detective Mark Williams-Thomas, who flew to Tenerife to help find Jay, claimed on Sunday that Qassim, 31, was jailed nine years ago for orchestrating a scheme to inundate Wales with Class A drugs and is the mystery "Johnny Vegas" who drove Slater to the holiday rental.

A decision that 'baffled' Jay's family

Slater's family were "baffled" by the Spanish police's decision to let some of the last people who saw the teen alive travel back to the UK. Qassim has since returned to his family's east London flat, having previously said: "The only comment I have to make is that Jay came to the house alive, and he left the house alive."

One of Slater's close family members was "baffled" by the decision to let people who last saw Slater leave Tenerife. Glen Duncan, Slater's uncle, previously said: "It baffled me from day one. How can you say they have no relevance when they are two of the last people to see him alive? It doesn't make sense. I can't get my head around it."

"It's like if one of you guys going missing now and letting the rest of you fly home and say we're not bothered about it. It's a massive letdown. It's one of them too - you don't want to give them a hammering. I can't step on their toes."

Was someone else involved in Jay Slater's disappearance?

Mr Duncan explained each passing day was "just torture" for the devastated family. Speaking about online trolls and how rumours had affected the family, he added: "I'm not on social media or anything so I can just block it out. It's the world we live in.

"If he's gone on a trail like a path like this and he's got lost there or fallen down I think he would have been found by now." Duncan told of his suspicions, saying: "I've been thinking third-party involvement from the start. There's just some things that have already been out there."

Williams-Thomas has ruled out the theory that Slater was kidnapped, despite his mum Debbie Duncan believing this is what happened. "We have no evidence at this stage to say there was any third-party criminal involvement in Jay's disappearance," he said..

'We ain't drug mules,' says Slater's friend

One of Slater's friends hit out at a conspiracy theory that circulated on social media suggesting they had smuggled drugs. Brad Hargreaves, one of Slater's friends who travelled with him to Tenerife, blasted the theory.

In a message posted on Instagram, he said: "Thinkin I'm involved in all this is beyond me." He later added: "We've been mates for years, came on our first holiday together and unfortunately this has happened. We ain't drug mules or whatever.... peple [sic] need to know the facts before talking s*** on the internet..."

Was Slater's phone thrown to where it was last tracked?

An ex-British Army officer believes Slater's phone "may have been thrown" before he vanished. His phone was "pinged" in the Parque Rural de Teno nature reserve where police focused their search.

Following a conversation with the former army official, reporter Nick Pisa said the phone's GPS location could only be possible "if the phone was thrown" into the rugged terrain. He told GB News: "We're not obviously being kept up to speed, but [the former officer] did tell me that he thought where the ping came from was rather surprising because it was really steep to get to, and it was covered in undergrowth and cacti."

"He said to get there you'd have to need a machete. Or he suggested, someone had thrown the phone into that growth."

What is the GoFundMe money being used for?

A GoFundMe campaign for donations to help in the search for Slater has become the subject of intense online speculation. Jay's mum Debbie Duncan explained on June 23 that no money had been withdrawn from the fundraiser and that the family had used their own money to get to the island.

She later said money would be used to "support the mountain rescue teams" and to cover accommodation and food expenses" as the family needed to extend their stay in Tenerife.

There have been arguments between the family and TikToker Callum Fahim who claimed he was never given fundraiser money by the family. The family later said they needed "experts not hikers" to help their search efforts.

What has Jay Slater's family said about theories online?

On July 2, Debbie Duncan said: "We are a very close family and are absolutely devastated about his disappearance. Words cannot describe the pain and agony we are experiencing. He is our beautiful boy with his whole life ahead of him and we just want to find him.

"We are aware of the conspiracy theories and speculation on social media and some websites, and can only describe this as vile, the negative comments are extremely distressing to our family."

She has thanked Spanish authorities who have "worked tirelessly" in the search on the ground, and "continue with their investigations" behind the scenes. But her brother Glen has raised concerns about what the police were doing.

He said: "I don't know what the police are taking seriously. I don't know if they're following up every single lead. I feel like marching down there myself and bursting into the police station. What are they actually doing now, the police, I mean they're not searching with the helicopter are they? Are they doing door to door inquiries or sitting there looking at CCTV images?"

Slater's dad Warren has also voiced family frustration about the investigation. He added: "Tell me where I look, I can only go off the last sighting, the woman in that restaurant saw him going the wrong way. Which human being lets a young boy go the wrong way? Everything stinks. It's just a riddle and I don't know the answer."