"I think about him every day."
Those are the words of Mike Zhao-Beckenridge's mother Fiona Lu.
Her evidence was shared on the final day of a coroner's hearing to decide if the missing boy would likely be dead or alive — eight years after he disappeared with his stepdad.
Lu's husband Peter Russell became emotional as he expressed their gratitude for the hearing to answer all of their questions.
"I really want to thank you really, really dearly," he said. "Oh s**t, we really mean it, not just for words, it's from our heart."
Due to the bitter custody battle he never met his wife's ex John Beckenridge but said he saw the fallout.
"I believe John used Mike as a weapon against Fi, and, in my view, that's not loving a child."
A statement read to the court revealed Fiona Lu's pain: "I am Mike's mother, and I know in my heart that Mike is alive. He is my only son, and I love him dearly. I hope one day to see my son."
She believes the police were too quick to assume they were dead.
"I don't want to say John was smarter than the police, but in this instance, I think he was one step ahead of the police from the beginning, and that's why they've been able to evade police for so long."
She told the court: "John was controlling and brainwashed Mike, but the violence required to kill themselves in the way police describe — no way. John is not a crazy guy even though what he did was crazy."
Her husband recalled a comment Mike allegedly made: "He said 'f*** you, we have a plan, I know it is working […]' hence why we are firm in our view, they had a plan."
Final verbal submissions will be made to the coroner in the coming weeks from the police, who maintain this case was a murder-suicide, and from family, who firmly believe the pair are alive and living in hiding.
Fiona Lu's statement revealed her belief: "He did it out of hatred. John hates me. I miss my son, and I think about him every day. I believe Mike will come back to me one day."