NO body, no crime scene and no clear motive.
Rachel Penno has suffered more than any parent should have to suffer.
On Tuesday, the Newcastle mother told a Cairns inquest into the sudden disappearance of her son Jayden "Jay" Penno-Tompsett that she believes he was murdered.
"I believe he's been murdered," she said. "I know he's been murdered."
Jayden was heading from Newcastle to Cairns for a New Year's Eve party when he vanished from the remote Far North Queensland town of Charters Towers on the morning of December 31, 2017.
Police said Jayden was travelling with more than $10,000 worth of drugs to meet friends at Cairns and he smoked half on the road trip to Charters Towers and lost the other half.
Ms Penno said Jayden had recently lost his job in demolition and she understood he had bought the drugs on "tick".
She said before he left Newcastle, Jayden said he was going to buy her a new car when he returned.
"Jay was carrying drugs, $10,000 worth, he smoked half of it...and lost the other half of the drugs," Ms Penno said police had told her.
The court heard that while police believe Jayden perished in the harsh conditions outside Charters Towers after having a fight with his travelling companion Lucas Tattersall and storming off on foot, Ms Penno does not agree.
While being deeply at odds about exactly what happened, the opposing sides agree on one thing: Jayden is dead.
Queensland police State Search and Rescue Coordinator, Senior Sergeant Jim Whitehead, told the inquest that Jayden was most probably already dead before a search for him even began.
Senior Sergeant Whitehead, who has been involved in more than 12,000 searches over 16 years, described the temperature at that time of year as "hard to handle" and said a person would last about three days without water, but it could be a lot less in the heat.
"A person doing nothing sitting under a tree could last easily three days, a person who is actively walking, trying to find help, maybe not last three days at all," he said.
The court heard the Bureau of Metereology recorded a top temperature at Charters Towers of 39.1 degrees the day Jayden disappeared and 40.1 degrees the next day.
When the SES did eventually conduct a major search, Snr Sgt Whitehead said the locals, who are acclimatised to the harsh Summer heat, planned it to avoid the hottest part of the day from 10am to 2pm because it poses the biggest dehydration risk.
Police believe Jayden was lost in the bush during this time on the day he went missing.
"I was satisfied with the search given the limitation we never had a last known point with any clarity," Snr Sgt Whitehead said.
The court heard Jayden and Mr Tattersall had been smoking ice for several days on the trip to Charters Tower and in CCTV footage, captured at a service station hours before Jayden's disappearance, he appeared to be "fried".
Detective Sergeant Peter Edwards, who headed the investigation, said Mr Tattersall cooperated with police, drawing a "mud map" of where he said he left Jayden, but he was unable to identify the location.
"We drove him around for days in different areas of Charters Towers trying to point out areas similar to this [mud map] and he was unable to point out any areas," he said.
Jayden was reported missing on January 3, but it was not until January 9, 2017, nine days after he is believed to have walked off into the bush alone, that local residents saw a newspaper article about his disappearance and a man came forward to report Mr Tattersall had stopped at his place to ask for water.
It was only then that police were able to pinpoint a location for an extensive search, that revealed no sign of Jayden.
"I would be very surprised if he was still alive at the time we were doing these searches," Snr Sgt Whitehead said.
From past experience, he said, people affected by drugs "do things you don't expect them to do", like walking around in circles or away from water, which makes it harder to find them.
"They tend to do the opposite of what you would expect a normal person to do," he said. "They tend to be a little more paranoid... We've had three people who were known to be affected by drugs that we could never find, because they do totally the opposite of what you would expect them to do."
Charters Towers resident Lionel Murphy told the inquest Mr Tattersall "appeared a bit shifty" when he pulled up in his front yard about 10am on New Year's Eve asking for water.
This was around the time he would later tell police he drove away leaving Jayden, then returned a short time later to look for him.
He told Mr Murphy he was looking for a property and made no mention that Jayden was missing
"He wouldn't look me in the eye, he kept looking at the ground," Mr Murphy said. "He kept looking around, not at me."
The longtime Charters Towers resident said the day was "sunny as hell" and there hadn't been much rain in a while, but pointed out there were houses in every direction within 400m from his place.
"If you were dying of thirst you'd just go to a house somewhere," he said.
Detective Sergeant Edwards said there was no evidence Jayden met with foul play.
He said Mr Tattersall's story, that the pair had a fight, Jayden stormed off and has never been seen since, fitted with what the police investigation uncovered and that Jayden had a history of going off alone after arguments.
"I believe he wandered into the bush, in the matter of what people reported he may have done, and he has perished in the bush," he said.
But Ms Penno said in the months before Jayden went missing he had been threatened by people associated with Mr Tattersall, who her son described as having guns.
"I received a text message that Lucas had threatened Jay prior to them leaving over drug debts," she said.
The court heard Jayden started using methylamphetamine, or ice, on-and-off from the age of 16 and it caused him to have "mood swings" and become "irrational and angry".
Ms Penno described trying to take Jayden to the Calvary Mater Hospital at Waratah in the weeks before he went missing due to concerns about his mental health following a threat to self-harm, but he jumped from the car and ran off because he feared being admitted to a "psych ward".
Jayden was struggling. He'd lost his job, broken up with his girlfriend and fallen back into drugs.
While waiting for his Centrelink payments to come through, Ms Penno said he "reverted back" to buying drugs "on tick".
"There was a war going on between Jay and his mates," she said. It was a war that revolved around "drugs and money owed".
"They're young....this is what they do, they go out on the weekend and get on the pingers [ecstasy]," she said. "This is what they do, playing around with these nasty drugs."
Ms Penno said that Jayden, who normally had a "beautiful" and "gentle" nature, changed when he used drugs.
The inquest heard the mystery of what happened to the then 22-year-old has been characterised by countless social media theories, rumour, innuendo and a disturbingly graphic account by a fake psychic.
Throughout, Ms Penno, has fought long and hard for justice for her son.
The grieving mother described how her desperate search for answers, that has seen her visit properties and interview people from Newcastle to Charters Towers, ended in a serious rift between herself and the police.
She claims to have been cut out of the investigation after she posted information on social media that the police asked her to keep confidential.
"He [the detective] was very arrogant and saw me as a crazy mother," she said.
Ms Penno said in the days after Jayden disappeared a detective told her "he's probably run off with a Swedish backpacker and they had a chuckle to themselves".
The many lines of inquiries investigated by police and Ms Penno over more than three years have all failed to lead to answers.
Ms Penno was the first witness to give evidence in Cairns Coroners Court on Tuesday morning and said she believed her son had met with foul play.
"I don't really know much of the [police] investigation. I don't see that there is much investigation gone into it," she said.
Ms Penno claimed police had not followed up on several lines of inquiry and it took "10 months" to interview the man Jayden bought the drugs off.
But according to the police, it was an extensive investigation that produced a 170-plus page running sheet detailing their actions.
An emotional Ms Penno broke down when counsel assisting the coroner, Joseph Crawfoot, played CCTV vision of Jayden and Mr Tattersall at a Charters Towers roadhouse.
The grainy vision is the last known footage of Jayden alive.
Throughout the vision, just hours before Jayden disappears, he can be seen frantically searching through the car with the torch on his mobile phone looking for the lost drugs.
Ms Penno said she believed there was a physical altercation in the car between Jayden and Mr Tattersall over the missing drugs.
The court heard Ms Penno had not had enough time to read the police's extensive investigation summary and she was excused from giving evidence to further review the document. She may be recalled on Wednesday.
Queensland Coroner Nerida Wilson is tasked with determining whether Jayden is dead, and if so, when and how he died.
The inquest also heard from forensic expert Sergeant Kirsty Sutherland, who said she found no blood in the car the men were travelling in and said the inside had not been recently cleaned, and Lloyd Lavery, a Charters Towers resident, who police interviewed and dismissed as a possible suspect following a tip-off to CrimeStoppers that suggested he was involved in Jayden's disappearance.
Mr Lavary, a grazier who owns property near where Jayden is believed to have gone missing, told the inquest he had never met Jayden or Mr Tattersall.
Jayden's cousin Tim Westcott, Mr Tattersall and several of Jayden's Newcastle friends are expected to give evidence when the inquest resumes on Wednesday.
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