• Germany's news in English
 

Forest boy 'was in adolescent crisis'

Published: 17 Jun 2012 14:01 GMT+02:00

Van Helsum's story - that he had been living in the woods with his father for five years - before throwing himself on the mercy of Berlin police last September was exposed as a pack of lies on Friday, when he was identified by his family and friends.

He is a shy boy who rarely went to parties, former friend and flatmate Mo Rahimi Rigi, 21, from his hometown of Hengelo in the Netherlands, told the Berliner Zeitung am Sonntag on Sunday.

“He actually preferred sitting at home and playing on the computer,” said Rigi, adding that van Helsum was a fan of American cartoons such as South Park and Family Guy.

“Robin is actually a completely normal boy,” Rigi told the paper. “He was good at keeping himself entertained. But his computer was almost always on.”

Rigi moved into a shared flat with van Helsum in 2010. They had attended the same college, after which van Helsum began vocational training, but dropped out after three years.

According to Rigi, van Helsum had then been bored as an intern at telephone company Voicedata. “It wasn’t much fun, but he didn’t really know which direction his life should go in. Maybe it made him a bit depressive,” he told the paper.

It was at this time that the 20-year-old decided to run away and start a new life somewhere else. “Last time I saw him was at the beginning of September,” Rigi said. “I used to make him a sandwich every morning and when I came home it lay there untouched.”

That was when van Helsum disappeared without trace to become Ray, the forest boy.

Meanwhile, psychologists have been musing over Van Helsum’s motive for keeping up his fake identity for so long.

“It’s a real achievement,” child psychologist Michael Günter told Focus magazine on Sunday. But he added that it was not an uncommon phenomenon in young adults, who often escape into a fantasy world if going through an “adolescent crisis.”

Relatives identified van Helsum - who had been reported missing since September - after police persuaded him to allow them to release his photograph on Tuesday, solving the mystery that had foxed press and authorities for ten months.

Van Helsum, who is now being dubbed the “Holland Pinocchio” by the German media, is likely to remain in Berlin for the time being, local police said on Saturday evening. He has so far failed to get in touch with his Dutch friends, according to newspaper reports.

The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

08:56 June 18, 2012 by puisoh
If Germany can throw billions into Greece and also take in immigrnats who refuse to integrate, I think they can help save a soul by really giving this boy a new life here. The breakup of family leading to children without directions in the western society is getting more common, children did not ask to be born and therefore should be provided with love and care and guidance.

Besides, he is Dutch, a EU member country, will learn German easily ... OTOH, if he is sent back to his home country without perspective, he might go on a shooting spree. Then Germany gets blame again.
11:31 June 18, 2012 by charlenej
I don't know his life, but I do know that there are people in the world who have had to go through horrific things as children and they have never done anything like this. This is not normal behavior and he needs a psych eval at least. If he is not mentally ill, and if this was an "I don't know what to do with my life moment" then this is one of the most outrageously spoiled acts ever. If he is not ill, he needs to get over himself and grow up fast. Life gets a lot harder than, "I'm bored."
14:38 June 18, 2012 by Grebo
At 20 years old he is no longer an 'adolescent'. He is a man and ,barring and real physiological damage, should act like one!
Today's headlines
Strong economy shrinks debt as share of GDP
Workers in a Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg. Photo: DPA

Strong economy shrinks debt as share of GDP

Germany's total debt increased slightly in 2014, but because the economy grew, its proportion of overall output fell, the Bundesbank (central bank) said on Wednesday. READ  

Seven lives claimed by Storm Niklas
Photo: DPA

Seven lives claimed by Storm Niklas

Germany woke up on Wednesday morning to the chaos which hurricane-strength winds brought to the country for much of Tuesday, killing seven people and causing major damage to travel infrastructure. READ  

Kaiser to rule again from Berlin
The Berliner Stadtschloss (city palace) in 1904. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Kaiser to rule again from Berlin

In a shock decision, the German government announced on Wednesday that it had asked civil servants to re-draft the constitution to restore the monarchy. READ  

Post, Amazon face Easter strikes
Photo: DPA

Post, Amazon face Easter strikes

The trade union Verdi has announced strikes for Wednesday at the Deutsche Post (German Post) and Amazon, meaning that Easter cards and packages might not arrive on time. READ  

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  

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