Teen Lives in German Forest for Five Years

It can still be done!

Primitivists, take lessons.


Police say they’re investigating the story of an English-speaking teenager who appeared in the German capital last week saying he had lived the last five years in the woods with his father.

“The boy speaks English and a little German but we really have no idea where he comes from,” police spokesman Michael Maass told Germany’s The Local on Friday.

The boy, who authorities say is in good health and calls himself Ray, showed up in Berlin on Sept. 5 carrying a backpack and sleeping bag, police spokeswoman Miriam Tauchmann told msnbc.com. He said he was 17 and told officials he and his dad were living in tents and huts until his father died recently.

“He has no identity card, no papers, no passport, nothing,” Tauchmann told msnbc.com. “He looked very good — not like a wild man or anything like that. Physically and mentally, everything is OK with him.”

Tauchmann said the boy claimed that he and his father took to the woods after his mother died about five years ago. The boy recalled his mother’s name as Doreen and his father’s as Ryan, but could not remember anything else about his family history, reported The Local.

He and his father were nomads, he said, never staying in one place in the woods for long.

Body covered in stones
He found his father dead two weeks prior to his arrival in Berlin, he told authorities, and buried him in a shallow grave, which he covered with stones, according to The Local.

His father died after falling, he told authorities, according to Heinrich Walling, an NBC News staffer based in Germany.

Maass told The Local that his father had told him to look at his compass and go north, if anything should happen. “And this is apparently what he did, walking for two weeks before reaching Berlin,”

Tauchmann said Berlin police were working with authorities across the country and around the globe to try to gather information on the 17-year-old, but said there were no plans to release a picture of him as of now, since he is a minor.

Government agencies across Germany are aware of the boy’s situation, she said, and authorities are looking to see if they can find his father’s grave to corroborate his story.

‘No evidence to contradict’ his story
It is not clear to police whether he speaks British or American English; Tauchmann told msnbc.com that authorities have not been able to place his dialect.

The teen was taken in by a emergency center for youths in Berlin.

There was no evidence that he was the victim of abuse or violence, or that he was involved in anything crime-related, reported The Local. Interpol and other European officials are investigating whether the boy has been listed as a missing child, 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, Tauchmann said. Specialists have tried working with him to recover his memory prior to five years ago, but have not had luck.

“We only have the information he has given,” she 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.”

Anyone with information should contact the Berlin police through its website, she said.

msnbc.com’s Elizabeth Chuck, NBC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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3 replies »

  1. This reminds me of a father and daughter that lived in Portland’s Forest Park for a number of years until a jogger stumbled upon their camp. He was apparently a homeless veteran, and collected a very modest welfare check once a month with which he and his 12 year old daughter used to buy basic staples and supplies. They found a number of text books at the site and his daughter was fairly well educated. Of course the girl was taken into custody and, just like in this article, the specter of crime and child abuse was there. I don’t recall what became of them, but I’m sure he was institutionalized and she was put in the foster care system, where they both belong!

  2. Oh, and when I was a teen I really wanted to do this. If I had found a group of like minded youth I think I would have done it.

    Nowadays I think about doing it with a small micro hydro electricity generator, solar panels, a lap top, a satellite internet connection, and some power tools. Who’s coming with me?

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