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Man thought dead found in UK forest after 5 years

August 4, 2020

A Lithuanian man was found deliberately hiding and had not spoken with anyone for a long period, according to police. Investigators are now looking into his possible exploitation as an agricultural worker. 

Ricardas Puisys
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Cambridgeshire Police

A Lithuanian man who was thought to be dead was found alive in a British forest after being missing for almost five years.

Ricardas Puisys, who is now under police protection, was found near the small town of Wisbech, north of Cambridge.

"For almost five years Ricardas' disappearance has been a complete mystery. That was until we received information at the end of June which led us to finding him," said Detective Chief Inspector Rob Hall, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit. 

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Before his disappearance, Puisys had been working as a contract worker on a farm. His last confirmed sighting was also at work in September of 2015. "Later that same evening he was believed to be in the company of a small group of Lithuanian men, but from this moment he had vanished," according to the police statement released Monday.

He was found to be in hiding and had not spoken to anyone for a long time, said Hall. 

"Ricardas was eventually found living in undergrowth, very well concealed after having deliberately hidden and having not spoken with anyone for some time," he added.

Police assumed that Puisys, who was 35 at the time of his disappearance, was exploited for labor and ran away. 

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"There were genuine concerns Ricardas came to harm that evening," the police statement read. He did not return to work on Monday, 28 September, 2015 as expected, but we now believe Ricardas made the decision to run away as he had been a victim of crime, having previously been subject to exploitation."

Last November, investigators found a Facebook account with Puisys' name and photographs. They could not, however, verify if the man was alive at that time. 

"A team of investigators worked tirelessly following up a number of inquiries, none leading to the discovery of Ricardas," said Hall. 

"That was until we received information that Ricardas may have been alive and still in the Wisbech area."

lc/stb (dpa)