Tuesday 24 April 2018

'Forest boy' unmasked as runaway

The youth who claimed he had been living in the forest has been identified as 20-year-old Robin van Helsum, from the Dutch town of Hengelo (AP)
The youth who claimed he had been living in the forest has been identified as 20-year-old Robin van Helsum, from the Dutch town of Hengelo (AP)

A boy who walked into a police station claiming to have buried his father after living in the woods for five years has been unmasked as a Dutch runaway.

The youngster, known as the "forest boy" of Berlin, told German police in September that he was called Ray and was 17.

His mother, "Doreen", was thought to have died years earlier in a car crash and he told detectives, in fluent English, that he had lived with his father in the forest until he died from a fall.

Officers issued world wide appeals for help tracing the boy's family and friends but the teenager refused to let the authorities issue his photograph.

This made detectives even more suspicious after not finding his father's body in the forest outside the country's capital.

Police finally published the boy's picture earlier this week, and a former girlfriend came forward identifying him as a 20-year-old from the Netherlands who was reported missing last September.

When confronted with the details, police said the boy confirmed the story.

The authorities confirmed his name was Robin but would not give his last name.

But he was named on Netherlands state broadcaster NOS, which interviewed several of his friends, as Robin van Helsum, from Hengelo, near the German border.

It is not clear what will happen now, but police are checking whether he could be charged with fraud.

Press Association

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