[Mo]nday Jan 26; 1998 08am. To anyone [who] can help us: We have been abandoned on A[gin]court Reef by MV Outer Edge 25 Jan 98 3pm. Please help us [come] to rescue us before we die. Help!!
Several theories were suggested surrounding their disappearance. At the time, it was suggested that the Lonergans might have staged their disappearance. However, the Lonergans’ bank accounts were never touched and their insurance policies were not claimed.
Another theory suggested that the pair committed suicide, or murder-suicide. This theory was bolstered by entries found in both victims’ diaries. Excerpts from Tom’s personal diary were used to portray a deeply disturbed man who was looking for a “quick and peaceful” death. Eileen’s writings had expressed concern for her well-being, given Tom’s “death wish”. She had openly chosen to stay with Tom, no matter the outcome. However, the diary entries were taken out of context, according to Eileen’s parents and family members. The family, the coroner Noel Nunan, and the Port Douglas police claim that only pages that would validate the suicide theory were leaked to the press, whereas the majority of the diaries remain unread except by the coroner, Port Douglas police, and the Hains family.
Eileen’s father, John Hains, later said that he suspects the couple ultimately became dehydrated and disoriented and in the end succumbed to drowning or sharks.
The coroner dismissed suggestions that the Lonergans had either committed suicide or faked their own disappearance, and formally charged Jack Nairn, skipper of the dive boat, with their unlawful killing. He was later found not guilty, but his company was fined after pleading guilty to negligence and went out of business. Queensland’s government also introduced stiffer regulations, for instance requiring that captains and dive masters independently confirm each head count.