For the first time since he arrived in Berlin last September claiming he had been living in the woods with his father for five years but doesn't remember anything else, the mysterious "Forest Boy" has allowed police to release a photo of his face in the hopes that someone will come forward and provide new insight into his identity.
"Nearly a year after he first arrived here, the whole thing is still a mystery," Berlin police rep Thomas Neuendorf said. "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."
Also known as "Ray," the young man — who claims he was born in June of '94 — told authorities he and his father Ryan started living in the woods after his mother, Doreen, died in a car accident. He left the forest following his father's death, heeding his instructions to "walk north until you find civilization."
Though he initially communicated in English, police say it is not Ray's mother tongue. They also noted several inconsistencies in his story: "He was relatively clean and the tent he had with him did not look like it had been used for five years," Neuendorf said. "It was also simply unimaginable that someone could live near Berlin for such a long time without being seen."
Ray claims he and his father would occasionally go shopping in towns using money he took "out of the wall," and he recalls seeing the word "Lidl" — which is the name of a German discount supermarket chain.
Most baffling to police is the boy's "astounding lack of interest in finding out who he is." They are hoping the photo — which Ray agreed to release only "after intense discussions" — will bring someone forward who knows more about who he is and where he came from.
"We haven't managed to get anything in all this time," Neuendorf said. "It really is a mystery."
[photo via Berlin Police via Der Spiegel]