• Germany's news in English

Mystery English-speaking boy emerges from forest

Hannah Cleaver · 16 Sep 2011, 12:19

Published: 16 Sep 2011 12:19 GMT+02:00

Authorities have launched a Europe-wide appeal for information about the boy, who is somewhere between 16 and 18 years old, and says his name is Ray.

“We have sent appeals for help to all European countries via Interpol. The boy speaks English and a little German but we really have no idea where he comes from,” Michael Maaß, spokesman for the Berlin police told The Local on Friday.

The boy emerged from the woods on September 5, and said he had been living wild with his father for about five years.

The pair had left civilisation when his mother, who the boy said was called Doreen, died. The boy said he and his father, who he said was called Ryan, had not set up a home but had kept moving.

They had slept in a tent and huts they found in the woods, he told them.

Maaß said the boy had told youth workers he could remember nothing about where he came from, nor anything much more than his own first name.

Two weeks ago he found his father had died, and buried him in a shallow grave which he covered with stones, he told them.

“His father had told him to look at his compass and go north, if anything should happen. And this is apparently what he did, walking for two weeks before reaching Berlin,” said Maaß.

“There he found a youth emergency centre and walked in. We have never seen anything like it. We have no evidence to contradict what he has told our colleagues at the youth services, although we are still investigating, and very much want to find out who he is.”

He said Berlin police would have to enlist the help of colleagues in Brandenburg and possibly other neighbouring states. “I don’t know if you can walk through Brandenburg in two weeks,” said Maaß.

He said the boy had been medically examined and was physically healthy, while there was nothing to suggest he was the victim of any kind of abuse or violence.

“We have no evidence of a crime having been committed,” said Maaß.

“The boy is being cared for by the youth services, while we in the police force are responsible for trying to find out who he is,” he said.

Hannah Cleaver (hannah.cleaver@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

12:39 September 16, 2011 by pepsionice
Bogus story from the kid, my humble opinion. There should be other bits and pieces to the story that the kid would tell, and cops would quickly piece this together. The kid is likely some British kid on a hoax episode.
13:22 September 16, 2011 by PawD
Sounds like the movie 'Hanna'!
15:42 September 16, 2011 by nemo999
Something just does not ring true in this story. I might have believed it if his name was either Romulus or Remus.
18:30 September 16, 2011 by viciousmeatwad
parhaps we should all be reading Waldo's Pond
20:47 September 16, 2011 by thebard77
I think you mean Walden. The only reason why I know is I live 5 minutes from there.
00:50 September 17, 2011 by DickShawnsDiction
Unfeasible. I'm afraid the young man has something to hide...
02:02 September 17, 2011 by piper1
"walking for two weeks before reaching Berlin"

How stupid is this story

2 weeks?.. and then convieniently into a youth centre?

yeah right
09:16 September 17, 2011 by auniquecorn
Really strange story,

I (google maps) the surounding area of berlin there´s no place to walk due north for 2 weeks with-out seeing a dozen towns.

Will the local keep track of this story?
11:14 September 17, 2011 by iline

Surely if his father told him to walk north he'd be due south of Berlin to arrive there.

But I agree, he'd have gone through towns and over roads - and why cross a road to walk through woods when there's a burgersteig? Something doesn't add up.
11:16 September 17, 2011 by oravad
Why don't they bring in a native English speaker to determine what his accent is? I guess they may have done this already and are not releasing information..
12:03 September 17, 2011 by iseedaftpeople
@ auniquecorn:

"I (google maps) the surounding area of berlin there´s no place to walk due north for 2 weeks with-out seeing a dozen towns."

I agree... unless you make a point of specifically avoiding any rural civilization and ignoring anybody who comes your way while you are heading for Berlin, that's almost physically impossible.

Now there are areas in the state of Brandenburg which surrounds Berlin that are very scarcely populated, but again, this being Germany, there's nowhere you can walk even five miles without at least running into some rudimentary civilization.

Either this is really one of those stories that you just couldn't make up, a story that's actually true no matter how unbelievable it sounds... or the boy is having a laugh and he is putting them all on. Or maybe he killed his father in the woods somewhere and he thinks he can get away with it by coming up with a cock and bull story like this.
13:23 September 17, 2011 by Jollyjack
I, like many others, don't believe it.
17:00 September 17, 2011 by AZKent
According to other reports his father died about 2 weeks ago and he was walking for only 2 days. This is much more plausible since he was found on the 5th. Other reports also say that he has told them his full name and the circumstances surrounding his mothers death - information which the authorities are not releasing.

The only way I can see this story being believable is if his father killed his mother and fled to Germany with his son, fearing that the murder might be discovered. The son might then have been sworn to secrecy for the last 5 years to prevent their true identities being known. It's a bit far fetched, but it fits the story - the alternative, more likely explanation, is that it's a hoax.
23:19 September 17, 2011 by funman
i think this is a fake story,what did he eat and drink for them two week he walk in the wood?

12:39 September 18, 2011 by Enough
Next thing he'll be saying the wolves raised him.
19:56 September 18, 2011 by tulefine
There is an older movie called "The Earthling" starring William Holden & I think Ricky Schroeder. This has very similar elements. The fact that his memory is missing on crucial details makes me a little reluctant to believe the story.
06:36 September 20, 2011 by denice55
So weird, Can't believe a 17 year old man don't remember where he comes from. And it's pretty strange that he still remember he's date of birth but no longer aware in where he comes from. Does he traumatize? Poor man!

Here's a nice site that covers about this: [url=http://www.newsytype.com/11482-mystery-boy-in-berlin/]English speaking mystery boy appears in Berlin.
13:55 December 27, 2011 by bugger
No more news in the press about forest boy. Strange, isn't it?

- Police interpreters are not be able to find out the local subtleties of any Anglo dialect. Has forest boy been ever scrutinized by native English language *linguists* with an academic background and professional experience, dear police experts?

- Permanently living outdoors for some years leaves certain traces on a body of a human; smokey smell, leanness, scratches, minor wounds, blisters, scars. How did he groom, wash, brush his teeth, dress wounds, shave or clean and cut his nails within the 5 years? With exactly what did he wipe his behind after defecating in the woods all this time? Have these physical traces been found and evaluated, dear physicians?

- "Doreen" sounds more like the name of a female former GDR citizen. "Ryan" and "Ray" sounds more like an American family but he has no American accent.

- As for eventually being a male white American, chances are fairly high he is circumcised. Is he or isn't he, dear physicians?

- What did he live on in these years? If he lived off the woods, has he ever demonstrated how he hunted animals, killed and prepared them? Hunting or trapping with which instruments? Did he ever demonstrate which plants to harvest and which ones to avoid, especially in the winter, dear police experts?

- How did he cope with winter in the woods of czechia or the ore mountains? Did he ever demonstrate how to light a fire with which materials in the snow in order not to freeze to death, dear police experts?

- Try to light a fire in the German forests anywhere, and you will have a forester turning you in with the police within a very short time. Even if there is no visible smoke or shine of flames, it can be smelled for miles around. There is no Great Wilderness anywhere in Germany nor Czechia. Which traces have the local foresters found in the areas in question, dear police experts?

- Living outdoors for five years will show wear on the clothes and tools you have with you. Even if you can carry 30 kilos of baggage in your backpack, you will not have the space for 10 sets of clothes on you. How did the forest boy wash and repair his (maximum) 3 sets of clothes, dear police experts?

I do not believe a single word of what forest boy said.

Hoax of the year.
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