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'Forest Boy' mystery solved: Man admits lies over identity

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Known as "Forest Boy," a young man turned to authorities in Berlin nine months ago saying he had lived in a forest for five years and did not know who he was.

Updated at 9:40 a.m.: MAINZ, Germany - Police in Berlin said on Friday the mysterious "Forest Boy", who turned up in the German capital nine months ago claiming to have lived in woods for several years, has admitted inventing his story after he was identified.

Investigators said a woman in The Netherlands contacted Dutch police, saying she recognized the young man as her 20-year old step-son who had gone missing in September.

Police said the man admitted inventing the story about his name, background and supposed 'wild' life in the woods.


"We are 100 percent certain that he is this 20-year-old boy, because his step-mother positively identified him," a police spokeswoman told Die Welt.

The woman said she saw a picture that had been issued to the international press on Wednesday by German authorities seeking clues on the mystery man’s identity.

The boy, who first told police he was called Ray, told authorities he had been living in woods until the death of his father. He said his father told him he was born June 20, 1994 -- which would have made him 17 -- but claimed not to know his last name or where he was from.  

'Forest boy' mystery: Stumped German police release photo

Ursula Kinzel, a spokeswoman for the Berlin police told NBC News: "In the police interrogation today, the young man admitted that his name is Robin and that he had made up the story which he had been telling police and youth authorities for the past 10 months." 

Kinzel added that "officials here are evaluating whether they will launch criminal proceedings over social benefit fraud against the Dutch man".

"It turns out that the young man presented a Pinocchio story,"  police spokesman Michael Maass added. "We now know that the young man turned 20 in April and was reported missing in the Netherlands by his family last September."

AFP / Getty Images

German investigators say a woman in The Netherlands contacted Dutch police to say she recognized "Ray" as her 20-year old step-son who had gone missing in September.

Officials stressed that the young man has not been placed under arrest and that he would be free to leave.

"Ray" told police his mother, Doreen, died in a car accident when he was 12, after which he and his father, Ryan, took to the forest. He said they wandered using maps and a compass, and stayed in tents or caves overnight. 

However, police said he had quickly adapted to city life and technology, using a laptop and cell phone with no problems. "There are many question marks," police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said on Wednesday.

The case echoes that of the 'Piano Man', a mysterious figure who turned up at a hospital in Britain in 2005 apparently unable to speak and with no clues to his identity except a talent for playing the piano. After spending months in a psychiatric hospital he admitted he was a German man who had fled to Britain after losing his job. 

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