• 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
Germany holds first national 'mermaiding' championship
Photo: DPA

Ariel would be proud.

15 pics that prove Germany is totally enchanting in autumn
The Max-Eyth-See in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA.

As summer fades into a distant memory and you start to begrudge trading Birkenstocks for boots, these pictures may help change your perspective on the new chill in the air.

Left politician who smuggled refugee could lose immunity
Diether Dehm. Photo: DPA.

Die Linke (Left Party) politician Diether Dehm could lose his immunity as an elected official after he admitted to smuggling a refugee into Germany.

Merkel party leader admits sexism is a problem
Jenna Behrends complained that a member of CDU's Berlin government had called her a "big sweet mouse" in front of a large group. Photo: Sophia Kembowski/dpa

A leader of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party admitted Sunday that it has a problem with sexism in its ranks.

Ethiopia's Bekele nears record in Berlin marathon win
Participants in the Berlin marathon take to the streets on Sunday. Photo:Paul Zinken/dpa

Kenenisa Bekele narrowly missed out on the world record on Sunday as the Ethiopian won the Berlin marathon ahead of former winner Wilson Kipsang.

Europe needs deals to send migrants home: Merkel
Angela Merkal poses with Bulgaria's Prime minister Boyko Borissov (L) and Austrian chancellor Christian Kern (R) in Vienna. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP

Europe needs to secure more deals to send rejected migrants home, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told counterparts in Vienna.

Germany sees 'turning point' in birth rate decline
Children at a a kindergarten in Swabia. Photo: Nikolaus Lenau/Flickr

Is Germany's three-decade decline in birth rate now over?

Trump protesters rebuild and tear down 'Berlin Wall'
The 'Stop Trump' protest at the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: DPA.

US expats gathered at the Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate on Friday "rebuild" the Berlin Wall and protest US presidential candidate Donald Trump's own proposed wall-building.

Accusation of sexism within Merkel's party creates uproar
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Chancellor Angela Merkel, two leading women in the CDU party. Photo: DPA.

A young politician from the ranks of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has caused a storm by suggesting that the party is institutionally sexist.

EasyJet 'in talks to buy German airline' to duck Brexit
Photo: DPA

EasyJet is in talks to acquire TUIfly, a board member of the German carrier said Friday, as the British no-frills airline looks for ways to keep flying freely within the EU after Britain quits the bloc.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
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
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd