• Germany's news in English

Police to ask public about mystery forest boy

Hannah Cleaver · 19 Sep 2011, 17:12

Published: 19 Sep 2011 17:12 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“We are probably going to release a photo and ask the public for help,” Berlin police spokesman Michael Maaß told The Local on Monday, admitting that he and his colleagues had got no closer to solving the mystery of the boy from the woods.

He said that the boy, who walked into the city’s landmark City Hall carrying a rucksack with a tent in it on September 5, had still not come up with any more information than his first name – Ray – and the first names of his mother and father.

The City Hall civil servant who was summoned by perplexed security guards because she speaks English told the British paper, The Daily Telegraph, “He didn’t look at all like a vagrant – he didn’t smell, he was clean, his clothes were clean but he simply didn’t know anything about who he was.

“He said he needed help, that he didn’t know where to go and had no-one in the world to look after him. I tried as much as I could to find out details about where he was from but he just didn’t know.”

In a case that has attracted international attention over the last few days, he said that he and his father Ryan had left civilisation five years ago – after his mother Doreen was killed in a car crash.

Yet he has not been able to say who he is, nor anything about where he comes from. Whether this is due to a dramatic loss of memory or some traumatic experience is not clear.

“He had only a few words of German was completely fluent in English, and said that his father had told him it was an important language. Although he seemed to be a native English-speaker, I detected some sort of accent.”

Maaß said a translator had been assigned to the boy, who is thought to be about 17 years old. But they have so far been unable to work out what accent his English might have. He only speaks a little German.

An appeal to Interpol for missing persons registers to be checked for cases that might fit that of Ray or his father, has so far turned up nothing, Maaß said.

Ray said his father died while they were in the woods, and he buried him in a shallow grave and covered the body with stones.

Heeding his dad’s advice of what to do in an emergency, he then followed his compass north and walked for two weeks until he got to Berlin, he told carers at the youth emergency workers who are now looking after him.

Story continues below…

Maaß said the boy was physically fit and did not seem to have been the victim of violence or abuse.

Another police spokesman told The Local at the weekend, “We have not immediate indication that he is psychologically unwell, although if his story is to be believed – and we have no indication to suggest otherwise – one would assume he has been affected by his time in the woods and the death of his father.”

Hannah Cleaver (hannah.cleaver@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

18:20 September 19, 2011 by AZKent
Some forms of brain injury can cause memory loss and confabulation. I wonder if this is the case here.

Confabulation is a behavioral problem caused by producing false memories. Confabulated memories may never have happened or they could be a confused combination of events. The event could be real but the people or dates may be completely wrong. There is always an element of truth in a confabulated memory. Confabulators are not liars. The injured brain has fed them bits and pieces of information from an unknown origin. Frontal lobe damage has interrupted the executive functioning of weighing evidence and making a decision about it. The confabulated memory is as real to a victim of brain injury as are other memories.
23:26 September 19, 2011 by pepsionice
I'd nominate for hoax of the year. It's built up in a very clever way and the kid simply acts naive and the naive cops buy the whole thing. How does the kid even calculate time? He tells them five years but unless he has a calendar in his back-pack....he's not tracking days, weeks, or months, or years. He could have been out there twelve years for all we know. Clothing lasts for five years in the wildnerness of Germany? Oh please, it's a five-star hoax.
11:42 September 20, 2011 by jg.
"...he didn¦#39;t smell, he was clean, his clothes were clean..."

That doesn't sound right for someone who has spent 5 years in the forest. I once spent about one week in the outdoors without access to hot water and related facilities in the vicinity of Brecon in Wales - I was not the least bit clean, nor were my clothes.
09:43 September 21, 2011 by AZKent
I'll lay odd of 10 to 1 he is suffering from 'dissociative fugue', a vary rare condition which is usually short-lived (hours to days), but can last months or longer.

The Merck Manual defines Dissociative Fugue as:

One or more episodes of amnesia in which the inability to recall some or all of one's past and either the loss of one's identity or the formation of a new identity occur with sudden, unexpected, purposeful travel away from home.

He has amnesia with the inability to recall his past.

He has loss of personal identity.

He has the formation of a new identity, 'Ray'.

We have sudden, unexpected travel away from home.

The travel was purposeful not aimless wandering.

I would guess he's German or Czech so the best bet would be to look for a recent missing person of his age.
18:00 September 23, 2011 by glenhope
Agreed it seems bizarre in this modern age where everything is so controlled. Has anyone debriefed the boy on how he and his father lived for 5 years in the forest? What he ate, what they had for shelter, how they kept warm in subzero winters. Did they have a permanent campsite or were they nomads? There are no details of this just sensationalist headlines with no substance. With summer and access to water, it's no problem to keep clean if you are disciplined, so of course he didn't smell.
Today's headlines
Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

Eurowings cabin crew union to strike all day Thursday
Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: A union representing cabin crews on Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings has announced that strikes will last all day Thursday as ongoing contract negotiations continue to falter.

Hesse hopes to set example by building Iraqi orphanages
Refugee children in northern Iraq. Photo: DPA

The wealthy central German state of Hesse has set aside €1 million to build a school, family homes and an orphanage in northern Iraq, in an effort to help refugees there.

The Local List
10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
David Hasselhoff. Photo: DPA

Whether it be efficiency, humourlessness or a love of a certain Baywatch star, there are many cliches stuck in the heads of foreigners about Germany. But how true are they?

Fake Germanwings victim relative convicted in Cologne
A torn piece of metal at the crash site in 2015. Photo: DPA

A German court on Wednesday gave a woman a year's suspended jail sentence for posing as the cousin of a victim in last year's Germanwings plane crash and obtaining compensation offered by the airline.

Couple accused of torturing, murdering women go on trial
The so-called 'house of horrors' in Höxter where the couple allegedly tortured and killed women. Photo: DPA.

A couple accused of luring women to their village home with personal ads started trial on Wednesday over charges that they tortured and killed at least two of their victims.

After July attacks, govt drafts new video surveillance law
Photo: DPA

The Interior Ministry is drafting a law which will enable public spaces to be filmed for surveillance purposes as a reaction to deadly attacks in July, according to a newspaper report.

Merkel: murky internet giants distort perception of reality
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for internet giants to make public their closely-guarded algorithms, claiming that they are not giving people diverse enough information.

Pegida leader 'paid court costs with group's money'
Pegida leader Lutz Bachmann. Photo: DPA.

The leader of the anti-Islam movement reportedly used money from Pegida's coffers to pay for two personal court cases, German media reported this week.

Anger as Berlin scraps Turkey concert on Armenia genocide
The Dresden Symphony Orchestra. Photo: DPA

Germany's foreign ministry Tuesday scrapped a planned symphony performance on the Armenian "genocide" in its Istanbul consulate, sparking accusations that it was caving in to Turkish pressure.

10 ways German completely messes up your English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd