Murdered by bikies, changed identities or the victim of a serial killer are just some of the terrifying theories of what happened to Jayden Penno-Tompsett.
Murdered by bikies, changed identities or the victim of a serial killer are just some of the terrifying theories of what happened to Jayden Penno-Tompsett.

Bikies, drugs or serial killer: What happened to Penno?

It's been three years to the day since Newcastle man Jayden Penno-Tompsett was left on the side of a rural Queensland road, as murder rumours and hints of foul play continue to push his loved ones for answers.

Jayden, or 'Penno' to his mates, was only 22 at the time he embarked on a 25 hour road trip from Newcastle to Cairns with his friend Lucas Tattersall, who was 19 at the time.

The pair were set to arrive at their destination in time to ring in the New Year, however, for well loved Jayden, he'd never make it to Cairns and would instead disappear without a trace after he was left on the side of a dirt road in Charters Towers after a fight with Mr Tattersall.

Jayden Penno-Tompsett went missing near Charters Towers on New Year's Eve in 2017.
Jayden Penno-Tompsett went missing near Charters Towers on New Year's Eve in 2017.

Reports at the time suggested the duo - reportedly travelling in a separate car to a group of others also on the long journey up north- had planned to attend a party in Cairns, however more recent reports, including recounts from The Missing Files podcast, suggest he was heading north as part of a money making venture to sell drugs.

Mr Tattersall would later recount to police a fight over money prompted him to leave his mate - who was suffering from ill health - on the side of the road.

SES volunteers and police searched for missing Jayden Penno-Tompsett near Charters Towers.
SES volunteers and police searched for missing Jayden Penno-Tompsett near Charters Towers.

Jayden would not be reported missing to authorities until January 3, 2018 - an act that left his loved ones frustrated and confused.

"It's so difficult to hear that and I just want my boy home," Jayden's mum Rachel Penno told The Missing Files, while a family spokeswoman questioned Mr Tattersall's inaction.

"Why would you not alert someone to your missing mate when it happened?," the woman, who did not want to be named said. 

"That time frame could have been the difference between life and death."

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Mr Tattersall.

Jayden Penno-Tompsett, 22, was last seen in the early hours of December 31 in Charters Towers.
Jayden Penno-Tompsett, 22, was last seen in the early hours of December 31 in Charters Towers.

Ms Penno's last contact from her son was a text that read: "yeah," while she believed other texts and Snapchats claiming to be her son were in fact sent by someone else. 

In The Missing Files podcast, Ms Penno explained her frustration over the treatment of the very public case, as she urged authorities to explore all options.

"There's a house (at Charters Towers), a property, and it needs to be searched but nothing has been done," Ms Penno said.

"There's been so many different things said: the most recent one was that he is in a dungeon and then there's others, like he was thrown off a cliff or that he was dismembered and acid was used."

Newcastle mother Rachel Penno hasn't given up hope of finding her son Jayden Penno-Tompsett (inset) after he disappeared without a trace in Charters Towers.
Newcastle mother Rachel Penno hasn't given up hope of finding her son Jayden Penno-Tompsett (inset) after he disappeared without a trace in Charters Towers.

The family have been dealt several setbacks on the case, including a woman who approached Ms Penno in the days after her son's disappearance, claiming to be a psychic.

Ms Penno claimed the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was a fraud and was potentially linked to someone who knew her son.

There are many theories about what may have happened to the 22-year-old, including speculation he was killed by bikies over a drug debt, changed identities to start a new life, or was the victim of a roaming serial killer on the notorious Flinders Highway. 

The only thing that remains certain in relation to the mystery of young Jayden Penno- Tompsett, is that his loved ones will never give up hope.

If you can help, contact police.

Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000

Originally published as Bikies, drugs or serial killer: What happened to Penno?


What potential cyclone means for Whitsundays, Mackay weather

Premium Content What potential cyclone means for Whitsundays, Mackay weather

Meteorologist explains how much rain is expected to fall in the region as a...

FULL LIST: Proserpine Magistrates Court appearances today

Premium Content FULL LIST: Proserpine Magistrates Court appearances today

Here is a list of matters listed at Proserpine Magistrates Court on Monday.

Battling homelessness has become a daily struggle in Bowen

Premium Content Battling homelessness has become a daily struggle in Bowen

Support workers are fielding multiple calls a day and doing everything they can to...