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Entries in Forest Boy (3)

Friday
Jun152012

'Forest Boy' Could Face Charges After Story Debunked by Police

berlin.de/polizei(BERLIN) -- Now that he's been identified and his story debunked, "forest boy" is in trouble with German police, which could result in steep fines and even jail time.

Twenty-year-old Robin van Helsum -- who had been known only as Ray -- emerged in Berlin last August claiming he had been living in a German forest with his father for five years and that he had no clue of his identity.

After months of investigative work that included DNA scans and consultations with international police organization Interpol, police released his photo to the public this week. Only days later he was identified by his stepmother as Robin van Helsum from the Dutch town of Hengelo -– about 100 miles east of Amsterdam. Van Helsum was 19 when he went missing nine months ago, German police confirm to ABC News.

"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. A photo where you could see him with a chain round his neck showing his name provided the proof. We are very glad that he has been found."

With his story now revealed as a hoax, officials in Germany say van Helsum has run afoul of the law and could face fines totaling up to $40,000, which would cover part of the costs of his living expenses over the past nine months and funds exhausted in the search to discover his identity. German police estimate that some $100,000 has been spent since Van Helsum emerged outside city hall last summer.

"This is no joke anymore," Berlin police spokesman Michael Maass told Die Welt. "He made right fools of us. The costs could come down to him." Criminal charges could come as early as next week, according to various media reports in Germany.

Van Helsum is still living in social care housing in western Berlin, but may be forced to vacate the facility as early as tomorrow. Because he is not a minor German officials say will not be forced to return to Holland. Though he doesn't seem to suffer from any mental problems, police still have no idea what his motives were for the hoax.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun152012

Mysterious 'Forest Boy' Identified by German Police

berlin.de/polizei(BERLIN) -- The mysterious young man who emerged in Berlin nearly a year ago claiming he had been living inside the German forest with his father for five years has now been identified, according to German police.

The young man, who has since been known only as Ray, has been identified as 20-year-old Robin van Helsum, from the Dutch town of Hengelo.  German police tell ABC News that van Helsum was 19 when he went missing nine months ago, and that his stepmother identified him from the photo released earlier this week.

"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.  A photo where you could see him with a chain round his neck showing his name provided the proof.  We are very glad that he has been found."

Van Helsum's story -- that his mother, Doreen, had been killed in a car accident, and that he had lived in the forest with his father, Ryan, until his death last summer -- is now believed to be a lie.  He was the subject of a lengthy investigation by German police and the international police organization Interpol.

Authorities tell ABC News that van Helsum, who is now living in social care housing in Berlin, seems not to suffer mental problems.  Police have no idea what his motives were with the hoax, and they are questioning him again on Friday.

"Forest boy," as van Helsum cane to be known in the German press, wandered into the German capital nine months ago, carrying only a tent and a backpack.  He told police he had been walking for five days to get to Berlin.  He called himself Ray and told authorities that both of his parents were dead.

Authorities went to painstaking lengths to identify van Helsum, having checked his DNA with international missing person lists, made public appeals, and sent his fingerprints around the world, all to no avail.  It was only this week that he allowed his photo to be released.

"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 German news website The Local.

According to German police, van Helsum insisted that he buried his father before starting his five-day trek that landed him in Berlin. Yet he doesn't know where his father died, police say.

Because he spoke English with an accent, German investigators thought that one or both of his parents could be American or British.

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

There are no immediate plans for what will next happen to van Helsum.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

German Police Release Photo of Mysterious ‘Forest Boy’

berlin.de/polizei(BERLIN) -- Police in Germany have released a photo of Ray, an English-speaking boy who wandered into central Berlin nearly a year ago claiming he had been living in the woods outside of the capital.

Ray claimed to have no idea who he was when he wondered into Berlin, and said that he had been living in the woods for five years. Now, after almost a year later, he’s sticking to his story, confounding German police.

“The whole thing is still a mystery,” Thomas Neuendorf of the Berlin police told thelocal.de. “We have conducted all the investigations we know how, We have compared his DNA with international missing persons lists, we’ve made public appeals, we’ve sent his fingerprints around the world to see if he was involved in anything picked up by authorities anywhere but have come up with nothing.”

The youth originally spoke just English, but in a way that authorities said suggested it was not his mother tongue. Specialists were unable to determine where he was from.

“Certain aspects of his DNA indicate he most likely comes from Europe,” said Neuendorf.

The boy, who says he was born in 1994, is estimated to be between sixteen and twenty years old with dark blonde hair and blue eyes. Ray claims that his mother Doreen was killed in a car accident when he was twelve, and that has father Ryan had taken him to live in the woods for five years where the two sheltered in tents or hunting sheds.

He says his father was killed when he fell over last August, and his final instructions to his son were to walk north until you find civilization and seek help.

And walk he did – for five days he claims — arriving in Central Berlin with nothing but a two-man tent and a sleeping bag in a backpack. He was wearing a gold chain around his neck with a pendant in the shape of the letter D, a tribute to his mother.

A search for the father’s body has turned up no results, leading to further skepticism about Ray’s story.

“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. It was also simply unimaginable that someone could live near Berlin for such a long time without being seen,” Neuendorf told the local.

Yet the mystery endures and the boy is apparently less than forthcoming when discussing his past.

“Whenever we want to go into details with him, he breaks it off, saying both of his parents are dead, and that no one else knows him. He seems to have an astounding lack of interest in finding out who he is,” Neuendorf said.

Ray is currently living in a youth housing project and in good health, but he cannot live there forever and his future is ambiguous at best.

Ultimately, the resolution of Ray’s story may not come with the discovery of a past identity, but with the creation of a new one.

“At some time he will have to be given a family name, a nationality and an official date of birth — that is the law in this country,” said Neuendorf.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio