German police baffled by case of English-speaking boy with no identity?
Published 17/09/2011 | 11:06
Detectives in Germany were today no closer to identifying an English-speaking teenager who claims to have been living wild in a forest for the past five years.
The 17-year-old, who turned up at Berlin’s city hall, said he had been walking for two weeks but had no idea who he was or where he was from.
He told officers that he and his father moved to the forest about five years ago following the death of his mother and had lived off the land since, sleeping in a tent and remote huts.
He said his father had also died recently and that he had buried him in a shallow grave before setting off to find help.
Detectives said the teenager, who gave his name as Ray, spoke a little German, but his first language appeared to be English.
He was able to tell officers his name and his date of birth, but claimed not to remember either of his parents’ names or anything of his life before he entered the forest.
Despite being dishevelled, he was described as being fit and healthy and showing no signs of malnourishment or abuse.
The German police have issued a Europe-wide appeal in the hope that someone comes forward to identify the boy. Klaus Schubert, a spokesman for the Berlin police department, said: “He can speak English very well, fluently in fact, but only speaks basic German.
“It might be possible that he comes from Britain because he’s speaking English very fluently.
“We only know what he told us; that he is 17 years old, and he said that he lived in the forest, that he lived together with his father in the forest for the last five years, but he doesn’t know where.
“He says his father died two weeks ago, and then he travelled alone, and suddenly he was in Berlin. We don’t know how he reached the town hall, he cannot explain it. The staff at the town hall brought him to a youth welfare office, and they are now caring for him. He is healthy, there are no signs of abuse or that he has been the victim of violence.”
Police psychologists are gently asking questions of the teenager in the hope of extracting more information that will offer a clue as to his origin.
Mr Schubert said: “Perhaps he has trauma but we don’t know why, so we have to be very careful with him and work day by day.
“If we can make him more relaxed and comfortable, perhaps he will remember something which he can tell us.”
Police have been unable to establish which forest the boy claims to have been living in, but it is thought he arrived in Berlin from the west.
He arrived in the capital on Sept 5. So far his description has not matched any missing persons report and police are searching their records for cases dating back as far as the late 1990s.
If no one comes forward to identify the teenager, Interpol could issue a so-called Yellow Notice, which is used to help locate missing persons, often youths, and to publicise the cases of people who cannot remember who they are.
Detectives are understood to be trying to find the body of the boy’s father, but the teenager has been unable to give them any indication where he is buried.The case has echoes of that of the so-called Piano Man, when in 2005 a German man was found wandering the streets of Sheerness, Kent, apparently without any knowledge of who he was or how he got there.
He was unable to answer questions for four months, but played the piano to a high standard, leading to him being called The Piano Man.
Following a Europe-wide hunt, he was identified as a 20-year-old German, Andreas Grassi. He maintained he had no idea what happened to him and it has been claimed he suffered a psychotic episode.