• Germany's news in English
 

Mystery 'forest boy' shows face 10 months on

Published: 12 Jun 2012 16:15 GMT+02:00
Updated: 13 Jun 2012 16:17 GMT+02:00

“Nearly a year after he first arrived here, the whole thing is still a mystery,” Thomas Neuendorf from the Berlin police told The Local.

“We have conducted all the investigations we know how. We have compared his DNA with international missing persons lists, we’ve made public appeals, we’ve sent his fingerprints around the world to see if he was involved in anything picked up by authorities anywhere but have come up with nothing.

“He has now – after intense discussions - finally given us permission to release a photograph of him and we are appealing for information about who he is.

“At first he spoke just English, but it would seem this is not his mother tongue, that he had learned it. But the specialists we had in could not say where he was from.

“Certain aspects of his DNA indicate he most likely comes from Europe.”

Neuendorf said the boy was still sticking to his original story - that his mother Doreen died in a car accident when he was 12, and his father Ryan had taken him to live in the woods for about five years. They slept in a tent or found shelter in hunting sheds.

Ray says that one day his father died after falling over last August, and he buried him in a shallow grave and followed his emergency instructions – walk north until you find civilisation and ask for help.

He showed up in central Berlin last September and told astonished officials he had no idea where he was from – but that he had walked for five days to reach them.

“We thought all sorts of things at first – that he was doing it for a bet or something,” said Neuendorf.

“There were things that did not fit with his story – he was relatively clean and the tent he had with him did not look like it had been used for five years. It was also simply unimaginable that someone could live near Berlin for such a long time without being seen.

“But such a long time afterwards and we are still mystified as to who he is.”

A few more details have come to light – Ray told his carers he saw his father getting money “out of the wall,” said Neuendorf, and they would go shopping - possibly in one of Germany's discount Lidl supermarkets.

“He remembers the word Lidl, and it would seem the pair of them went shopping – they didn’t just live off berries. But he says he cannot remember anything like a town name or a street name.”

Ray also said they once saw a “vehicle on rails” and said he had wanted to go on it, but that his father said it was too expensive, said Neuendorf.

“There is something strange about this whole story,” he said. “Whenever we want to go into details with him, he breaks it off, saying both of his parents are dead, and that no-one else knows him. He seems to have an astounding lack of interest in finding out who he is.”

But Ray is healthy, and seems to be happy enough in the youth housing project where he is living – and although no-one is sure how old he is, it is clear he cannot stay there forever.

“At some time he will have to be given a family name, a nationality and an official date of birth – that is the law in this country,” said Neuendorf.

“So we are now appealing for witnesses who may have seen him – perhaps with his father – when they were in a shop or something. We haven’t managed to get anything in all this time. It really is a mystery.”

Ray is described as being between 16 and 20 years old, 1.80 metres tall with dark blonde hair and blue eyes. He has three scars on his forehead and three smaller ones on his chin as well as a 1cm scar on his right arm. His teeth show no sign of dental work.

When he showed up in Berlin he was carrying a two-man tent and a sleeping bag in a new-looking black rucksack – and wearing a golden chain around his neck with a pendant in the shape of the letter D – which he said signified his mother’s name.

On Wednesday afternoon a police spokeswoman told The Local, "Since releasing the photographs we have had 12 calls with advice or suggestions, but no hot clues yet."

Hannah Cleaver (hannah.cleaver@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

17:09 June 12, 2012 by heathen
¦quot;Certain aspects of his DNA indicate he most likely comes from Europe.¦quot;

Duh, ya think?

Though I was born and raised in California (at least 5th generation), if they took a DNA sample from me, it would most certainly say that I'm of European descent, doesn't mean he was born in Europe.
17:14 June 12, 2012 by LIMA
Mork from Ork
19:07 June 12, 2012 by Leo Strauss
Run Forest, run!
19:27 June 12, 2012 by hankeat
The reincarnation of Kaspar Hauser?
03:46 June 13, 2012 by franconia
So , he walked 5 days north to Berlin. That puts him in a line, west, from the " Bayerischer Wald " to the Bohemian Woods to the Tatra Mountains. Neat places to hide. And , he also can not hide his Czech or Slovak features very good, and all that will be the final answer. Wanna bet????
06:36 June 13, 2012 by initialgirlchild
Frederic Bourdin! Serial child impersonator. Faces match, facial scarring is consistent, and it 100% matches his pattern of behavior.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/08/11/080811fa_fact_grann
08:50 June 13, 2012 by ND1000
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
10:02 June 13, 2012 by bryansutton
Ray is described as being between 16 and 20 years old, 1.80 metres tall with dark blonde hair and blue eyes. He has three scars on his forehead and three smaller ones on his chin as well as a 1cm scar on his right arm. His teeth show no sign of dental work.
10:42 June 13, 2012 by Voight-Kampff
An isotope test would determine where this kid grew up
14:32 June 13, 2012 by Leo Strauss
Call Eric Bana. This guy could be Hanna`s brother.
16:58 June 13, 2012 by raandy
His reluctance to give permission to allow them to make his picture viral and his reluctance and refusal to discuss things in more detail, all point to the fact he is hiding something.His story is preposterous.
18:01 June 13, 2012 by violette_35
Have a look at the movie "Alabama Moon" ... Same exact story!!!!
19:18 June 13, 2012 by jaxsun72
Military Deserter? He is creepy looking too, like someone who could b 30 yrs old, but looks younger!
22:11 June 13, 2012 by She1wylie
There is a book called 'ALABAMA MOON' by Watt Key. There was even a movie made of the book. I think "Ray" read the book and is living the role. WOW! '

Is he really unable to recall information of his past? Check out the book 'Alabama Moon' and see what you think. I think "Ray" read the book!!!!!
13:46 June 14, 2012 by C Robert
Humm.... This does not look like per-marital Angela's son, hidden away in the woods.
21:50 June 14, 2012 by Bilderberg
Just stop giving him all this attention. Turn him loose. Let him fend for himself. He is lying if he says he does not remember. Just think back to when you were 15 years old......you did not forget your history in the next few years. Why should anyone leieve that this youngster forgot his.

Why are officials so stupi and gullible?
22:47 June 14, 2012 by sleepingcat
"Ray's" story is highly implausible, but not necessarily untrue. After all, the authorities should have been able to come up with something by now — those guys aren't amateurs! Add to that, even if what "Rays" says is true, it's a given that there's likely much, much more to the story than "Ray" is volunteering. Other clues: does he speak his "learned" English with an accent? A decent linguist should be able to tell even with most accurate English accent effected. Does "Ray" exhibit certain cultural behaviors and preferences specific to a geographic region? If the answer to both of those questions is no, then it's a pretty fascinating case. It is not unheard of that some kids are kept in an adult's prison. Just had a case on the U.S. West Coast where a kidnapped little girl turned up as young woman years later, kept the whole time in a back yard, no dental work, no schooling.
01:01 June 15, 2012 by Bilderberg
@sleepingcat.........The US case that you reference proves my point. The young woman, when she reached the authorities, had not forgotten her family and her history. Although she had been living an extremely traumatic existence , in a backyard shed, being sexually exploited for years on, she did in fact recall the essential facts.

It could be possible that something very horrifying happened and abused this young person to forget but the story would have one believe he is avoidant of certain issues.
02:30 June 15, 2012 by BerlinBlue
In meantime, the "Berlin Waldjunge" has been identified as a 20 years old Dutchman, from Hengelo.

Although, already confirmed by Dutch police (https://twitter.com/ChantalW_/status/213369887127633921), it's quite strange to see that so far, not any German media announces the latest news...

Dutch media report: http://bit.ly/MLcJ07
05:14 June 15, 2012 by katy schalles
He's obviously from Mars or some other planet!
08:59 June 15, 2012 by martijncoenen
If you call the Netherlands Mars, you could be right Katy!

He has been recognized as 20 year old Robin by some of his former classmates after Dutch TV ran this story with his picture. He went missing from Hengelo a few days before showing up in Berlin. According to Dutch broadcaster NOS this young man had some 'personal problems and this was probably his way to start over'.
10:55 June 15, 2012 by ND1000
@franconia, guess you were wrong pal. I hope you actually took a bet on this. It would be funny to see you have to pay.
Today's headlines
Arsonists hit pro-refugee art project
The burnt ruins of the art project. Photo: DPA

Arsonists hit pro-refugee art project

An art installation dedicated to refugees was burnt down in Berlin early on Tuesday, with police suspecting it to be an arson attack. READ  

Hurricane Niklas
Storm Niklas kills at least three, stops trains
This train in Lower Saxony had to stop after striking a fallen tree. Photo: DPA

Storm Niklas kills at least three, stops trains

Hurricane “Niklas” has reportedly claimed three victims, while trains have been cancelled across Germany as the storm rages. READ  

Stuttgart worst city for traffic jams
Photo: DPA

Stuttgart worst city for traffic jams

GPS company TomTom released data on Tuesday showing which cities have the worst traffic problems. The conclusion: Stuttgart is Germany's worst city for commuters. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Lufthansa cancels 60th jubilee celebration
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa cancels 60th jubilee celebration

Germany's national airline Lufthansa announced on Tuesday that it would cancel celebrations for the 60th anniversary of its founding in 1955. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Doctors warn against snap crash reaction

Doctors warn against snap crash reaction

The president of Germany's Council of Psychotherapists said on Tuesday that there was no reason why the country should loosen its rules on doctor-patient confidentiality in the wake of the Germanwings crash. READ  

Merkel urges Germans: Give Greece a chance
Chancellor Merkel speaking in Helsinki. Photo: DPA

Merkel urges Germans: Give Greece a chance

On a visit to Helsinki on Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel showed a patient side to the German government as the Eurozone continues to wait for a new list of economic reforms from Greece. READ  

Unemployment at new post-unification low
Photo: DPA

Unemployment at new post-unification low

German unemployment fell in March to the lowest level since the country reunited in 1990 as growth in Europe's biggest economy continues to pick up, official data showed on Tuesday. READ  

Trabi project aims to electrify 'Ostalgia'
A Trabant being converted into an E-car. Photo: DPA

Trabi project aims to electrify 'Ostalgia'

Its chuntering motor and belching exhaust once heralded the coming of the communist utopia. Now the east German 'Trabi' is leading a new revolution, and this time you won't hear it coming. READ  

Gun maker denies problems with army rifles
A German soldier aims a G36 rifle. Photo: DPA

Gun maker denies problems with army rifles

Update: Weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch denied on Monday evening that the G36 rifles it supplied to the Bundeswehr (German army) lose their accuracy when they are too hot. READ  

Germany, France, Italy want Euro drones
An American Reaper drone. Photo: DPA

Germany, France, Italy want Euro drones

Germany, France and Italy plan to push forward with plans for a European-made military drone, the German government told MPs on Monday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Germany
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,999
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd