German ′forest boy′ mystery solved | News | DW | 15.06.2012
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German 'forest boy' mystery solved

German police have found out the true identity of a 'forest boy' whose story made headlines across the world. The reality is a great deal more mundane than the tales he told.

German and Dutch police say a mysterious "forest boy" who turned up in the German capital, Berlin, last year claiming to have lived in the woods for years has now been identified as a 20-year-old man from the Netherlands called Robin.

German police had released a photograph of the man, who called himself "Ray," on Tuesday, hoping someone from the public might come forward with information.

He was identified after a female friend of his from Hengelo, a Dutch city near the German border, recognized him in the photograph shown on television and alerted the authorities. He has since also been identified by his stepmother.

A police spokeswoman in Berlin told the dpa news agency: "Ray has admitted that he is Robin. Nothing in his story is true."

Wild stories

Dutch police have also confirmed his true identity, saying he left his home in September 2011 without telling his father or stepmother where he was going. They said the couple had alerted police of his absence.

Dutch television quoted people who recognized him as saying that he had had "personal problems."

The young man turned up at Berlin city hall on September 5, 2011, claiming to be 17 years old and to have lived in the woods for five years. He said he had buried his father, who had recently died, in the forest and that his mother had been killed in a car accident when he was 12.

He spoke only English and very broken German.

German police now say he could be charged with welfare fraud, as he received accommodation and care from the Berlin youth services and was even assigned a legal guardian.

tj/mz (dpa, AFP)