The mysterious "Forest Boy" in Germany has finally been identified after nine months of puzzlement. It turns out the story the man told when he arrived in Berlin in Sept. 2011 was a hoax.
Yesterday, Digital Journal reported Berlin officials had released the image this week of a "teenager" that had wandered into the city last September, claiming both his parents had died, his mother several years prior, and that his father had recently deceased in August. He said he'd buried him in the woods, but police never could find a body.
He gave his name as "Ray" and said he was 17 years old. Police were hoping by publicly releasing the photo this week, his identity could finally be obtained.
It turns out "Ray" lied and did not live in the forest for any length of time.
According to the Daily Telegraph, "Ray" is actually Robin Van Helsum, a 20-year-old individual from the Netherlands.
"He has admitted that he is a fraud," Thomas Neuendorf of the Berlin Police told the Telegraph.
His family had reported the then 19-year-old missing on Sept. 2, just prior to his arrival in Berlin on Sept. 5. The search was not made public since Van Helsum was not a minor.
Officials were stumped to his identity, having checked through various sources globally and coming up empty. Authorities had finally convinced "Ray" to allow them to release his photo in the hopes of finding out his identity.
Friends of Van Helsum's had recognized the photo and contacted Dutch police. The 20-year-old's stepmother confirmed his identity.
"We have made contact with his family and friends," a police spokesman told Die Welt newspaper (courtesy of The Local). "A photo where you could see him with a chain round his neck showing his name provided the proof. We are very glad that we have found out who he is."
Police approached the mysterious individual with the information they'd learned and Neuendorf told media he'd said, "OK, you got me – I am Robin and I made the whole story up."
Reportedly, the man wanted a new life and hopped a train to Germany, which explains why his tent and other gear looked to be in lightly used condition. Van Helsum never spent any time in the German forest, as he'd claimed.
Officials say they do not know why the man wanted a new life or what inspired his elaborate story. Friends of van Helsum told the Volkskrant that he had "personal problems" and leaving his home was "his way of starting a new life."
The Local did mention his parents were separated. Sadly, Van Helsum's father did pass away in Feb. 2012.
Over the past nine months authorities did say his story didn't quite add up, and with this admission these earlier suspicions have been confirmed.
While the man's future remains uncertain, police are happy to finally be able to close this case. At this time he is not being charged with a crime, but at this time he is free to leave, reported MSNBC.
Van Helsum now potentially faces charges for "social fraud", as during the time he lived in Germany, he was given a home, education, clothing and perks, such as a cell phone, courtesy of the Berlin taxpayers.
CNN reported Ed Koch, a spokesman for the youth services office of Berlin's Tempelhof-Schoeneberg district where Van Helsum has been living for months, is angry. He'll be kicked out of the home.
"He received funds from us for seven months that could have gone to other people in need," he said. "He will get some time to prepare. We might also just put him on a train to the Netherlands. We are not sure yet."