The death of a young Melbourne man who was found in a field of magic mushrooms with an 18cm hunting knife in his chest was initially treated as non-suspicious.
But now there is a haunting theory behind how Jackson Stacker, 26 – whose badly decomposed body was found under a tree on August 25, 2021, with his scalp and dreadlocks found separately – died.
When Mr Stacker’s body was found at Pottsville in the NSW Tweed Shire, the police believed it was a suicide, but at an inquest in Lismore on Monday, a police officer was asked if there was a more sinister explanation.
Byron Bay detective Donna Tutt was questioned about whether she knew of human sacrifices or cults in the northern NSW area, but she said she was not aware of any.
Mr Stacker’s mum, Sandey MacFarlane insists her son did not take his own life, saying there was no history of suicide or poor mental health in their family.
There is a haunting theory behind how Jackson Stacker (pictured) – whose body was found badly decomposed under a tree on August 25, 2021 – died
Ms MacFarlane said Mr Stacker had never told her he was depressed and that there was no note or evidence to suggest it was suicide.
‘I don’t believe my son would have taken his life, he had so much going on for him,’ she told the inquest into his death, Byron News reported.
The last time she spoke to him was on July 22, 2021, and he sounded anxious and mentioned he had lost his job.
A few days later, she put $300 in his bank account and wrote ‘call me’ in the payment description.
When she did not hear back from him she was worried, but didn’t tell anyone else of her fears as she didn’t want to cause panic.
Ms MacFarlane was not able to get through any time she tried to call her son and said it sounded like his phone had been switched off.
Mr Stacker, who had been travelling in his Toyota Hiace van since 2020, was reported missing by his family on August 23, 2021 after they were contacted by a person wanting to buy his abandoned vehicle.
The inquest heard that when his skeletal remains were found two days later, it was face down, covered by his fur coat and with the 18cm blade sticking out of his chest.
His scalp and dreadlocks were found separately, some of his teeth were missing and his boots were found metres away from his body.
But a fox or wild dog could have been to blame for the state of the body, which may have been in the field 40kilometres north of Byron Bay for up to a month, the inquest heard.
Detective Tutt said the kind of knife found in the deceased’s chest was a common type used by someone camping or living in a van.
State Coroner Magistrate Teresa O’Sullivan heard that valuable items, including a phone, laptop computer and Nikon camera were missing from Mr Stacker’s van.
His friend John Winegarden said Mr Stacker visited his home in Nimbin in early August, 2021 to pick up tools.
‘He was pissed about the whole Covid lockdown, he wasn’t happy he couldn’t do what he wanted to do,’ he said, the Byron News reported.
Mr Winegarden said told his friend he could stay with him, but he said no, he was going to the beach at Byron Bay.
He said he found Mr Stacker’s behaviour ‘strange’. ‘He seemed upset … he wasn’t happy-go-lucky Jackson … he was definitely quite depressed.’
Jackson Stacker had been travelling in his Toyota Hiace van (pictured) since 2020
The last time his mum spoke with Mr Stacker (pictured) was on July 22, 2021, and he sounded anxious and mentioned he had lost his job
He said he later saw the Hiace van on a Facebook page, but couldn’t remember when because he took ‘too much weed, mate’.
Mia Kieis, 25, another friend of Mr Stacker, told the inquest about an occasion when he seemed to be in a manic state and had worrying thoughts.
She also said her friend sometimes felt down and was very affected by a murder-suicide involving a person they both knew.
The inquest continues.