Mystery Boy Emerges From German Woods

Says he lived in forest with father for five years

By Greg Wilson
|  Friday, Sep 16, 2011  |  Updated 2:52 PM PDT
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An English-speaking boy has emerged from the German woods, baffling authorities.

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Police in Berlin are baffled over the identity of a boy who emerged from the forest, saying he'd lived there for five years with his father.

The boy, believed to be about 17, showed up at Berlin's City Hall on Sept. 5. He said he had lived in earthen huts and tents with his father until the elder man died. At that point, the boy, who speaks fluent English and little German, used a compass to walk north for two weeks, finally winding up in Berlin carrying a sleeping bag and backpack, according to The Associated Press.

"He said that he had lived for the last five years wandering around with his father," Police spokesman Michael Maass said. "We don't know where."

Maass said the boy claims he and his father went into the forest after his mother died. The boy says he doesn't remember where his family came from, but said his father called him "Ray" and that his dad's name was Ryan and his mother's name was Doreen. He is in good health and police have issued a Europe-wide appeal to try and determine his identity, though they would not release photos of him.

The German paper The Local said the boy buried his father in a shallow grave, which he covered with stones. His father died after falling, he told authorities, according to Heinrich Walling, an NBC News staffer based in Germany. The boy said his father had told him to travel north until he found help if something were to happen.

Authorities could not say if the boy is American or British, though English appears to be his native language. He does not appear to have been abused, reported The Local, though Interpol and other European officials are investigating whether he had been reported missing, NBC reported.

“We have never seen anything like it,” Maass said. “We have no evidence to contradict what he has told our colleagues at the youth services, although we are still investigating, and very much want to find out who he is.”

The boy is doing well at the youth center, police spokeswoman Miriam Tauchmann told msnbc.com. Specialists have been unable to help him remember his past.

“We only have the information he has given,” Tauchmann told msnbc.com. “We are looking now at what we can do with him and where he can go; we're searching of course for family, or a teacher.”

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