• Germany's news in English

'Forest boy Ray' actually Dutch man Robin

The Local · 15 Jun 2012, 16:52

Published: 15 Jun 2012 16:25 GMT+02:00
Updated: 15 Jun 2012 16:52 GMT+02:00

"We are 100 percent certain that he is this 20-year-old boy, because his stepmother positively identified him," a police spokeswoman told Die Welt newspaper.

"We have made contact with his family and friends," she said. "A photo where you could see him with a chain round his neck showing his name provided the proof. We are very glad that we have found out who he is."

Van Helsum showed up in central Berlin on September 5, 2011 and told astonished officials he had no idea where he was from – but that he had walked for five days to reach them after his father had died in a forest.

Since then, he was kept in state care as the police tried to puzzle out who he was.

According to Die Welt, it emerged Friday that van Helsum had been officially been reported missing on September 2, 2011 by his separated parents.

"His parents called the police, but the search was not made public, as he was not a minor and there was no danger that he would harm himself or anyone else," the Dutch police spokeswoman said.

The parents wrote a message on Twitter in December 2011 that read, "Who knows where Robin van Helsum is." The Dutch police also said the boy wrote his parents a letter from Berlin. His father then really did die in February of this year.

According to Die Welt, van Helsum completed an internship at a telecom company in Hengelo at the start of last year, and that he had dropped out of a training programme.

Though his identity has now been established, the motivation for absconding remains a mystery. "He'll have to explain that himself," the Dutch police spokeswoman said.

"He had personal problems and this was his way of starting a new life," friends of van Helsum told the Volkskrant. Several of them identified photos of him released this week.

His own story, that he had been living in a forest with his father for the past five years, after his mother died in a car accident, has now been exposed as a lie.

Berlin authorities, who have been taking care of him for the past ten months, had assumed he was around 17 years old.

He spoke very little German, and only broken English and only allowed police to release a photo of him on Tuesday.

"This is no joke anymore," Berlin police spokesman Michael Maaß told Die Welt. "If this is true he made right fools of us. The costs could come down to him."

Story continues below…

“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," Thomas Neuendorf of the Berlin police told The Local when they released van Helsum's picture on Tuesday, and his identity was still a mystery.

"We thought all sorts of things at first – that he was doing it for a bet or something."

"It was also simply unimaginable that someone could live near Berlin for such a long time without being seen," he added.

The Local/AFP/bk/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

10:28 June 15, 2012 by floridaboy
Nice that the immediate police reaction is now they know where they can allocate the costs for putting up the kid.
10:38 June 15, 2012 by pepsionice
The 'kid' is over twenty.....so he won't be treated as a minor, and he could face some charges. My guess is that he'll go back to the Netherlands for six months....write some book and sell it, then return to Berlin as some wannabe 'star'. We might even see a movie over this one day.
10:47 June 15, 2012 by ND1000
Who was the genius on here that said he had obvious Slovak features?
11:09 June 15, 2012 by reichefraufinden
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
11:42 June 15, 2012 by AndyZizkov
The Lying Dutchman!
12:14 June 15, 2012 by lucksi
Amazing that hey waited 10 months to do this.
12:58 June 15, 2012 by DoubleDTown
Lucksi's got it right. The only fools are the ones responsible for holding his photo back all this time. Look how fast they identified him once releasing the photo.
14:58 June 15, 2012 by BobbyBaxter
Any English language expert that had spent ten minutes talking with this guy wold have been able to tell he was Dutch. Dialects are very hard to disguise - no matter how good you think you are.
16:10 June 15, 2012 by thabit
They say: "The costs could come down to him".

Is it legal to call the German police stupid?

Why haven't they been publishing his photo for these months?

Only one photo - and now he is indentificated. Indeed, it was their fault.
16:46 June 15, 2012 by Leo Strauss
If only he would have been found first as a Schwarzfahrer on the subway. No ID? Can`t remember your name? In this case our little green friends get the answers they need and fast.

10 months to find out he`s from Holland?

Het is ongelofelijk :(
17:09 June 15, 2012 by JAMessersmith
My guess? Someone told him about what happened to Kaspar Hauser and he came clean.
18:59 June 15, 2012 by Englishted
You would think the wooden clogs were a give away.


Good one :-)
19:08 June 15, 2012 by Bilderberg
The police were stupid for withholding his picture. He should have been given a choice immediately......you can either fend for yourself...or if you choose to have us provide your care we are going to publish your photo. Make a choice.....

You have 5 minutes to decide.

He needs consequences for this, or, you can be certain he will feel free to engage in another equally stupid freeloading venture.
19:23 June 15, 2012 by Nina Williams
From what I remember, he told police that he was 17 and born on June 20th. If he did not give them permission, then perhaps they waited until he was 18 and they could legally release it without any potential problems? Just my half cracked attempt to explain the assumed stupidity of the police.
21:24 June 15, 2012 by raandy
I would think that when he told the police his ridiculous story and said he did not know his name and he was 17 that would have circumvented any law that required perental permission to publish his photo.
Today's headlines
I’m ashamed of Germany’s refugee failure: Green leader
Cem Özdemir. Photo: DPA

The head of the Green Party has responded angrily to Angela Merkel’s speech on refugees on Friday, saying he feels “ashamed at Germany’s failure".

German satirists mock Erdogan (and his penis)
Photo: DPA

Tempting fate?

Huge pro-Erdogan rally puts strain on Turkish community
Erdogan supporters at a rally in 2014. Photo: DPA

Tens of thousands of supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plan to rally in Cologne on Sunday, as tensions over Turkey's failed coup have put German authorities on edge.

How the Berlin startup scene is wasting its potential
Photo: DPA

"The truth is, there really isn't a truly successful international Berlin startup."

Five years' jail for German darknet weapons dealer
Photo: DPA

He had sold weapons to known Isis-sympathizers and far-right extremists.

Prickly Bavarian calls out cops on hedgehogs' noisy sex
Photo: DPA

Caught in the act.

International or German state school - which one's best?
Photo: DPA

Deciding between sending your child to a German state school or a private international school isn't easy. Max Bringmann has experienced both.

13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make

Sure-fire ways to get off on the wrong foot in the German language.

Captain Schweinsteiger retires from international football
Bastian Schweinsteiger. Photo: DPA

He has won a World Cup with Die Mannschaft and captained them at Euro 2016. On Friday Bastian Schweinsteiger announced his retirement from the national team.

Woman accused of false rape allegation at Cologne NYE
Cologne on New Year's Eve. Photo: DPA

According to latest reports, the woman was not even in Cologne on New Year's Eve.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Five things to know about guns in Germany
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd