Forest Boy finally identified and admits: 'I made it all up'
THE mystery of the 'forest boy' who claimed to have lived wild for five years has been solved with police identifying him as a runaway who made the story up.
He is Robin Van Helsum, a 20-year old from Hengelo in the Netherlands who was reported missing by his family last September, just days before he turned up in Berlin with his incredible story.
"He has admitted that he is a fraud," Thomas Neuendorf of the Berlin Police told the Daily Telegraph.
Berlin police released a photograph of the boy, who identified himself only as "Ray", this week in the hope of finally solving a mystery that made headlines across the world and had baffled detectives for months.
School friends contacted Dutch police after recognising him from the photograph and his stepmother, seemingly his only family, was contacted to confirm it.
"We went to him with the new information this morning and he said: 'OK, you got me – I am Robin and I made the whole story up," Mr Neuendorf said on Friday.
"It seems he came straight from his home town to Berlin by train and wanted a new life. He didn't go anywhere near a forest."
"He hasn't said why he made up the story or where he came up with the details. But we always had our doubts and now, finally it's over for us," said Mr Neuendorf.
Police say he may now face charges of fraud. "He has been looked after by German authorities since September. He received money, clothes, housing and education and all because he told us lies. There may well be a case of fraud."
Reports said his care cost German taxpayers around £5,000 a month.
The boy, dubbed "waldjunge" – meaning forest boy – by the German press, walked into Berlin Town on September 5 and asked for help.
Speaking in English, with a slight accent, he told authorities: "I don't know who I am, I'm all alone in the world. Please help me."
He then told police that he knew only that his name was Ray, that he was 17 years old and that he had been living wild with his father Ryan since his mother, Doreen, was killed in a car crash five years earlier.
He claimed to have walked north for five days to reach Berlin after burying his father in a shallow grave when he died following a fall.
The boy was taken into care and police launched an investigation to discover his true identity. DNA tests and linguistic studies failed to shed any light on who he was and Interpol requests to match him to known missing persons failed.
"We can only assume that because he was actually 20 years old and had no criminal record the link wasn't made," said Mr Neuendorf, who had consistently raised doubts over the boy's story.
"It seems he only has a stepmother who he has now spoken to on the telephone but he doesn't want to return home.
"He is an adult and this is Europe so he can stay in Berlin if he wants but he will no longer be the responsibility of the state," he said. "At last, we can close the book on this case."