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Do You Recognize This Kid Who Claims to Have Lived in the German Woods for Five Years?


Last September, the kid pictured above appeared in Berlin, Germany and asked for help at City Hall. He said that his name was Ray, that he had no memory, and that he had lived in some woods for five years. German police are now releasing his picture hoping to find anyone who may recognize the young man. More importantly, does anyone remember the story of Kaspar Hauser?

First, about Ray. According the Sydney Morning Herald, Ray’s story is more than a little bit vague. He provided no family name, but said that his birthday was June 20, 1994. Despite speaking English and little German, he claimed to have lived with his father in the woods for five years, until his father died in August. As far as personal details go, that’s it. From the SMH:

Ray told police he had buried his father “in a hole in the forest underneath some stones” but, after “walking north for five days” to Berlin, could not explain how he had died or where authorities could find his body. […] Ray said his mother Doreen had died in a car accident, which he also did not remember, when he was 12 and that he assumed scars on his face were incurred in the crash.

In addition to some camping gear and a gold chain with letter “D” pendant — presumably for Doreen — the boy had no other possessions. Police have placed him in a foster home where he is said to be doing quite well, but have failed to find any DNA match to a missing person. Though he claimed to have buried his father’s corpse in the woods, nobody has since been discovered.

Though he has been in the care of the state for some time, officials are only now releasing his photo.

Now, Kaspar Hauser. In late May 1828, a teenage boy appeared in the streets of Nuremberg with a letter addressed to a member of the local cavalry. Hauser appeared to have little grasp of language and, in time, claimed that he had spent nearly all of his life in a basement — receiving little education or interaction with other people. He was at various times declared to be mentally handicapped, a fraud, an object of pity, a compulsive liar, and the lost Prince of Baden. He died under mysterious circumstances in 1833. The German director Werner Herzog immortalized the story in his 1974 film The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser.

Shockingly similar, no?

To their credit, the German police appear to be extremely suspicious of Ray’s story. However, law enforcement seems to be focusing more on returning the boy to his family — if he has one — than in determining the veracity of his story.  CNN quotes a statement from Berlin officials saying:

“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[.]”

Ray is believed to be between 16-20 years old, about five feet and 11 inches tall. He’s described as being “neat” and “well groomed” with “an athletic physique.” Fraud or feral child, if you recognize this kid, the Berlin police want to hear from you.

(Sydney Morning Herald via BoingBoing, CNN, image via SMH)

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