• 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
EU investigates Germany over airport security
Photo: DPA

EU investigates Germany over airport security

The European Commission said on Thursday that it had referred Germany to the EU Court of Justice for failing to regularly check up on its airport security measures at some airports. READ  

Germans want to keep their hands on cash
Germans still trust cash over other forms of payment. Photo: DPA

Germans want to keep their hands on cash

Confirming conservative stereotypes, Germans have come out strongly in favour of sticking to hard cash in conducting transactions, a survey published on Thursday showed. READ  

This week in history
Fassbinder: New German Film's Enfant Terrible
Rainer Fassbinder on set in 1977. Photo: DPA

Fassbinder: New German Film's Enfant Terrible

On Sunday May 31st, Rainer Weiner Fassbinder, one of the most influential German film directors, would have turned 70 - had it not been for his death at the age of 37 in 1982. The Local takes a look back at the life and work of the enfant terrible of New German Cinema. READ  

Cool caps reduce hair loss during chemo
Photo: DPA

Cool caps reduce hair loss during chemo

German scientists are trialling a special scalp-cooling cap which helps reduce hair loss for cancer patients going through chemotherapy. READ  

Industry: 'doped' growth boosting economy
A man assembling food processors in a Wuppertal factory. Photo: DPA

Industry: 'doped' growth boosting economy

The German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) warned on Thursday that a fresh burst of economic confidence might be unfounded, even as they raised their growth projections for 2015. READ  

Slow-moving fighter jet blocks Autobahn traffic
A Eurofighter jet stopped up traffic on Thursday because it was so wide. Photo: DPA.

Slow-moving fighter jet blocks Autobahn traffic

A damaged Eurofighter plane being pulled by a truck along the autobahn was so wide that it blocked three lanes of traffic on its way to being repaired in Bavaria on Thursday, drawing the ire of fellow drivers. READ  

Right-wing leader suffers restaurant attack
AfD co-leader Frauke Petry. Photo: DPA

Right-wing leader suffers restaurant attack

Frauke Petry, co-leader of Alternative for Germany (AfD), was attacked by masked assailants while eating in a restaurant on Wednesday evening. READ  

Court rejects case against US drone strikes
An American MQ-9 "Reaper" unmanned drone. Photo: U.S. Air Force/Paul Ridgeway/dpa

Court rejects case against US drone strikes

A German court on Wednesday rejected a complaint by three Yemenis demanding that Berlin bar Washington from using a US base on its territory to operate deadly drones. READ  

Gay marriage: Germany still says 'No'
A gay couple in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA.

Gay marriage: Germany still says 'No'

Germany's cabinet on Wednesday approved a raft of draft measures to extend the rights of same-sex couples, but faced criticism for allowing only civil unions, not full gay marriage. READ  

Spectre of Greece haunts G7 Dresden meeting
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble welcomes his G7 colleagues to Dresden. Photo: DPA

Spectre of Greece haunts G7 Dresden meeting

Finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of Seven wealthiest nations gathered in Dresden Thursday to discuss the global economy and tax evasion, but the Greek crisis was also high on everyone's minds. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Travel
Why the train strike is bad for passengers and workers
National
Meet Germany's Eurovision hope
Business & Money
Is 2015 a new moment for jobsharing?
Features
How the LGBT rights movement was born in Germany
National
Why you don't make bomb jokes at the airport
National
Why Germany needs a little less tipple
National
Who Germans and Americans trust... and don't
Politics
What the UK election means for Germany
National
Why Germany is great for mums
Features
The Germans with GI dads
Five ways Germany falls short on gay rights
Travel
Giant tortoise found riding Munich rail
National
FCK CPS? A-OK with court
Politics
Opinion: Brexit's dangers for Germany
Features
Smart kids all want to work for BMW
National
Minister shows off top Denglisch
National
Germany's 'other genocide' in Africa
National
Arms firms get a 'must do better' mark on ethics
Sport
Bayern's anticlimactic 25th Bundesliga win
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
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

6,698
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd