Here's why so little progress has been made in finding Jay Slater – The Independent

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in
As Spanish police begin a new major search on Saturday, Holly Evans says Tenerife’s unforgiving terrain has made the hunt for the missing British teenager an arduous task
Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile
Located in a steep valley in the beautiful Rural de Teno park, the remote village of Masca is a heaven for hikers and adventurers travelling to Tenerife.
Yet for the family and friends of Jay Slater, it has become the place of nightmares because its rugged landscape and steep ravines easily hide clues which could shed light on the teenager’s disappearance.
Having seen the search first-hand, it is understandable how such little progress has been made in 12 days. The young Briton’s phone was last located near a stretch of road by the Mirador La Cruz de Hilda cafe, with cacti and dense shrubbery on either side, making it slow work for helicopters, drones and sniffer dogs to comb through the area.
Why the apprentice bricklayer had travelled such a distance is another mystery that has baffled investigators and volunteers involved in the search.
After enjoying himself at the New Rave Generation festival in the tourist area of Playa de Las Americas on 16 June, Mr Slater went with two older British men to their Airbnb during the early hours of the morning.
A Snapchat image sent at 7.30am shows him having a cigarette outside their apartment before he called his friend Lucy Law at around 8.50am to say that he was lost, dehydrated and on one per cent phone battery. Just over half an hour later, his phone died, and mountain rescue teams have focused their search on the area where it was last registered.
By the time I reach the site, the search teams have shrunk in size, with only a handful of Guardia Civil police officers and a sniffer dog combing the area. The ravine closest to the road has been examined in depth, and they soon move over to the valley near Los Giralles, an hour and a half walk away from the terracota-tiled Airbnb.
Facing daily questions from the pack of British journalists gathered in the mountains, the guards are reserved and shed little light on how their search is progressing.
While they have avoided issuing public appeals for information or holding press conferences, they have now called for volunteers to join them on Saturday 29 June, as the case fails to make progress.
Unfortunately for Mr Slater’s family, his disappearance has attracted less welcome attention, with conspiracy theorists and internet sleuths taking to social media to spread wild rumours, in a move that echoes the disappearance of Nicola Bulley in Lancashire last January.
The worst of the comments include his mother, Debbie Duncan, repeatedly being compared by trolls to the mother of Shannon Matthews, a little girl who was presumed missing but later found to have been hidden by her mother. Meanwhile, their GoFundMe to help the search has been questioned and criticised.
On Thursday, his family announced they would be withdrawing parts of the £40,000 raised in order to continue paying for their accommodation on the island and for loved ones to join them.
Occasionally TikTokers can be spotted filming the search, including Paul Arnott, who by Thursday had shared 66 videos of the search, while another couple describe themselves as “dark tourists” who liked to travel to observe disturbing news stories.
Meanwhile, the teenager’s family and friends remain at their hotel on the coast, with only his father Warren Slater making an appearance at the search site in recent days.
After pinning up posters in the nearby town of Santiago de Tiete, he emotionally told reporters: “I just want him to be found. I just want my son back, end of.
“What more is there? It’s been a week now, a week of nothing. So somebody somewhere must’ve found out something. Somebody.
“It is a living hell – unless you’re going through it, you cannot explain.”
Among those to offer their services to the family is former detective turned TV investigator Mark Williams-Thomas, who flew out to the Canary Islands on Monday.
Speaking outside his hotel, he says Mr Slater’s loved ones are “utterly broken” but still holding out hope that the youngster will be found safe and alive.
Among those who last spoke to the apprentice bricklayer is his friend Brad, who accompanied him to the festival. Speaking to Good Morning Britain, he said he could hear Mr Slater’s feet slide on the rocks, signalling to him his friend “went off the road”.
An eyewitness told police that she had spoken to the teenager while he was on the road near Masca, and informed him of the bus times back to the resort region. However, she spotted him a short while later walking up the road, the last sighting of him before he disappeared.
Although Spanish police spoke to the two men who had taken him to the mountain area after he was reported missing, little is known about their background or why they were staying in such a remote area.
He had met them while clubbing along Veronica’s strip, an area popular among British teenagers and young adults due to its row of late night bars and cheap drink deals.
At Papagayo’s nightclub, staff have clearly been told not to say anything in relation to the case. Snapchat images taken during the early hours of the morning on Sunday 16 June, showed Mr Slater partying with friends.
On Saturday, Spanish police were hoping for a large turnout of volunteers to search for him, as it approaches two weeks since he was last seen. Yet while the temperature is relatively moderate, the landscape is merciless with sharp drops, brambles and unclear paths.
For his family, they are hoping that this search party might put an end to their ordeal, and finally provide some answers.
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies
His mother Debbie Duncan and his family have all flown out to the island
A firefighter looks over the village of Masca, Tenerife, while the search is ongoing (James Manning/PA)
PA Wire
Outbuildings in the Masca valley have also been searched by police and sniffer dogs
James Manning/PA Wire
His last location is about 37km away from where he had been partying in Playa de Las Americas
PA Wire
He attended a festival at Papagayo’s nightclub before going missing
The Independent
Members of a search and rescue team near the last known location of Jay Slater (James Manning/PA)
PA Wire
His friend Brad said he had heard the teenager leaving the road
This Morning
Jay Slater was last spotted in the Masca region in Tenerife
Want to bookmark your favourite articles and stories to read or reference later? Start your Independent Premium subscription today.
Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in
Log in
New to The Independent?
Or if you would prefer:
Want an ad-free experience?


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top