German officials are actively seeking the identity of a boy that showed up in Berlin after he'd wandered out of a forest.
While the teenager, dubbed "Forest Boy" in the media, actually emerged from a German forest last September, authorities did not publicly release a photo until just this week.
Note: This story has been updated.
For many months police have been trying to unravel this unusual case. No one knows if the (estimated) 17-year-old boy has been telling the truth about his upbringing and/or if he has any family members still alive.
When he came out of the forest, the boy told police his name was Ray and that he had been living with his father, Ryan, in the forest for about five years. He said his father had recently passed away. He arrived in Berlin following his father's last instructions to "walk north" and "find civilization" in the event something happened to him.
“Nearly a year after he first arrived here, the whole thing is still a mystery,” Thomas Neuendorf from the Berlin police told The Local.
“We have conducted all the investigations we know how. We have compared his DNA with international missing persons lists, we’ve made public appeals, we’ve sent his fingerprints around the world to see if he was involved in anything picked up by authorities anywhere but have come up with nothing," Neuendorf said. "He has now – after intense discussions - finally given us permission to release a photograph of him and we are appealing for information about who he is."
When he came to Berlin in Sept., he spoke English and also very broken German, but months later is now fluent in the language. No one is sure of his heritage, but it is believed his country of origin is somewhere in Europe. Authorities suspect his native tongue is not English.
He also shared with authorities his birthday was June 20,1994 and had said he had a mother named Doreen who had died in a car accident when he was 12.
Authorities are suspicious of Ray's story because when he emerged from the forest after claiming a five-day walk, he was "relatively clean" and his tent did not appear to be worn from years of daily use.
While officials are still mystified of Ray's background and history, a few new details have emerged from Ray's story. He told his current caregivers that he saw his father getting money "out of the wall" and they'd go shopping.
“He remembers the word Lidl, and it would seem the pair of them went shopping – they didn’t just live off berries. But he says he cannot remember anything like a town name or a street name,” Neuendorf told The Local.
Neuendorf noted that any time anyone tries to dig into the details of his past, Ray clams up and says his parents are both dead, no one knows him and he remembers nothing else.
"The Youth Office and the Berlin Police have great doubts on the boy's story. That is the reason why the Youth Office now decided to publish a photo of 'Ray' and ask for your help," authorities said in a statement, reported CNN.
With the recent release of Ray's image, officials are hoping for more clues. If not a family member or friend, perhaps someone who saw the teen with his father shopping.
Authorities have also not been able to find Ray's father's body in the forest and he cannot seem to explain where he buried his father last August, reported the Vancouver Sun. This also raises doubts as to the credibility of Ray's story of how he came to Berlin.
“We are now appealing for witnesses who may have seen him – perhaps with his father – when they were in a shop or something. We haven’t managed to get anything in all this time. It really is a mystery,” said Neuendorf.
Ray is currently residing in a youth housing project, reports ABC News, but this cannot remain indefinitely, note authorities. Officials say according to law he must be given a citizenship and other identity information at some point. If they can't unravel his past, he may have to receive a new identity.
Updated June 15: Police found out the mystery was a hoax and the "teenager" had not told the truth. Digital Journal has the story here.