x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Berlin baffled by amnesiac teen who lived in forest for five years

Police have now appealed for international help to solve the mystery of an English-speaking boy who says his name is Ray. He said has spent five years living in the wild.

Berlin // A teenager suffering from amnesia walked into Berlin's town hall and claimed he has spent five years living in the wild.

Police have now appealed for international help to solve the mystery of the English-speaking boy, who says his name is Ray.

He approached the Berlin city authorities on September 5 and said his father, Ryan, had died and that he had buried him in the woods.

Ray has provided a surname but police are not releasing it.

"It's an unusual case," said a spokesman for the Berlin police. "He is unhurt, looks well-kempt and in good physical condition.

"He appears not to come from Germany."

Ray speaks fluent English and broken German.

Some experts have cast doubt on his story, saying he looks too well cared for to have spent five years in the wilderness.

"One will have to take a close look at his story," said Werner Greve, a psychologist at the University of Hildesheim. "Five years is a very long time and the young man, judging by the photo, seems in good shape and not unkempt." Mr Greve said it was possible that Ray was imagining his story.

Local media have dubbed the athletic, blonde youth "forest boy".

Police said he may have spent time in other countries as well as Germany in recent years.

Ray said he had been living in the wild with his father since he was 12 and that the odyssey started when his mother Doreen died in a car accident.

He said he had no recollection of anything that happened before then and that he doesn't know where he comes from.

He told the police that he and his father slept in a tent and in holes dug in the ground, and had used maps and a compass to navigate.

When he walked into the town hall in Berlin, he had a rucksack, tent and sleeping bag on him.

He said his father had died in a fall and that he had buried him in a hole and laid stones on it.

He said the last advice his father had given him was to travel north.

Berlin has requested assistance from Interpol to find out the boy's background.

A guardian has been appointed for him in Berlin and he is living in a state-run youth home because he is still a minor.

"At this point there is no reason to doubt his story," said a police spokesman. "We're asking authorities in other countries to check their missing persons registers."

Photos of Ray have been sent abroad in the hope that relatives or friends might recognise him.

Ppolice have refrained from mounting a search for the father's body in the forests around Berlin.

"Where should one start, without any pointers?" a spokesman said.

Cases such as Ray's are extremely rare in northern Europe but they are not unheard of. A fifth of Germany is covered by forest.

In 2007, a 43-year-old American man was found near the city of Koblenz. He said he had spent four years living in the woods near the Moselle river after becoming homeless when he separated from his girlfriend.

 

dcrossland@thenational.ae