independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

The curious case of the missing Forest Boy

Robin Van Helsum

ROBIN van Helsum, the runaway dubbed 'Forest Boy', who claimed to be an orphan with memory, has disappeared.

Mr van Helsum turned up in Berlin a year ago, claiming to be a 17-year-old called Ray who had lived in a forest for five years with his father until he died. Aside from that, he claimed to have no memory.



But he was exposed as a scam in June, when he was identified by school friends in the Netherlands, after his picture circulated around the world. His stepmother, seemingly his only family, then contacted the authorities.



He admitted that he made up the whole story, and he was in fact a 20-year-old from Hengelo reported missing the previous September, just days before he turned up in Berlin.



In June, Berlin social authorities said they wanted to sue him for £16,000 in expenses he ran up while maintaining the lie. During his time in Germany he got free bed and board, clothing, German lessons and £200 a month in pocket money.



Social services also complained since his real identity became known he has failed to apologise or even say thank you.



But he reportedly disappeared three months ago, and his whereabouts is unknown.



Speaking to a Dutch newspaper, his stepmother Ellen said she did not know where he was.



"A day after his unmasking he phoned me and asked if he could come home because he needed to rest.



"Of course I said yes, you're welcome.



"He responded with the words: 'I'll call you tomorrow or the day after.'



"But I have heard nothing more."



Berlin police believe that he is still in the city, but a spokesman admitted they had no idea where he is.

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