Experts analyse accent of boy who lived in woods for 5 years
Published 19/09/2011 | 05:00
The story of an English–speaking boy who emerged after five years living in a German forest is "credible" and his accent may prove the key to establishing his true identity, German police said.
“His story is highly unusual and raises some questions,” a police spokesman told The Daily Telegraph. “But we believe it is credible – that is why we are investigating.”
The teenager, who gave his name only as Ray, turned up at Berlin’s City Hall on Sept 5 claiming to have been living in the forest with his father for five years.
He speaks a little German and is fluent in English.
Linguistic experts are working with the youth, who is in the care of child welfare authorities, to analyse his accent in the hope that it will reveal his origins.
The spokesman said: “We have people trying to work out exactly where his accent is from.”
British Embassy staff in Berlin will offer assistance over the coming weeks.
Interpol is investigating whether the boy, who is blond, blue eyed and 5ft 11in tall, may match the description of any missing child across the world.
The boy says he and his father, Ryan, moved to the forest about five years ago after his mother, Doreen, died in a car crash. He claims to remember little of his life before that time but has given police what he thinks is his date of birth.
Father and son were perpetually on the move, he said, sleeping in tents and dugouts and hunting and foraging for food.
He told police that his father had died after a fall in the woods and he had buried him in a shallow grave piled with stones, before walking north for two weeks to reach Berlin to seek help.
Police have not ruled out that he may have suffered mental trauma and he is undergoing psychiatric evaluation.
Investigators said they would consider making a public appeal if the mystery continued.
“We are determined to find out the identity of this boy but at this time must also ensure his protection and his privacy,” said Miriam Tauchmann, of Berlin police. “However, if over the coming days, we haven’t progressed it may be that we have to release a photograph of him to see if anyone can identify him.
“We’ll do everything we can to find out who he is,” she said, refusing to rule out eventual DNA testing to work out his origins.
The boy is unable to tell them exactly where he buried his father only that he “followed his compass northwards” and walked to Berlin as his father had instructed him to do in the case of an emergency.
From his scant description, police believe he could have been living within the Bayerischer national park, parts of which stretch into the Czech Republic, or the Erzgebirge region, both of which are south of Berlin.
He arrived at City Hall wearing winter clothes and carrying a knapsack containing a tent, sleeping bag and some survival tools, including a compass.
Authorities said “Ray” appeared dishevelled but in good physical health.
Miss Tauchmann said: “He looked very good – not like a wild man or anything like that.”