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Mystery of the boy ‘who lived in German forest’

DNA tests may help identify English-speaker who turned up in Berlin after burying his father

By Andrew McCorkell

German police are to use DNA tests, fingerprinting and circulate photographs to try to identify an English-speaking boy who turned up at Berlin City Hall claiming to have spent the past five years living in a forest.

The youth, aged between 16 and 18, has no passport or identification, and claimed that he and his father had lived on the move, sheltering in a tent, earthen dugouts and huts.

He said his father had died in a fall, and that he had spent two weeks walking to Berlin, where he arrived on 5 September. The boy, who gave his name as Ray, is being looked after by youth welfare officers.

The British Embassy is to make inquiries tomorrow to discover if he has any connection to Britain. German Police have been unable to establish his nationality.

The teenager told police he had buried his father in a shallow grave covered with stones, and used a compass to make his way out of the forest. Police now intend to examine the grave.

Detective Claudia Elitok, of Berlin Police, said a number of methods could be used to discovered the youth's identity. She declined to discuss investigation, but confirmed that police would examine the burial site. "Of course. We will just try to confirm what he said and try to find his father too. We will search for any information that will help to identify him."

According to Ray, his mother, Doreen, died five years ago in a car crash. At about that time, the father and son started camping out in the forest.

Martin Otter, a Berlin police spokesman, said: "His father died about two weeks before 5 September. Before he died, his father told him to go north. So he did, and, after the walk through the forest, came to Berlin.

"We were a little astonished that he just arrived in the city centre, and asked him why he had not spoken to anyone before he came to City Hall.

"We don't know what the right story is about him. It's not normal. We were astonished that he was well and with a good constitution after living in the forest for five years."

Police have not ruled out that the boy might be suffering from some sort of mental trauma.

Mr Otter added: "We don't know if he speaks in an English accent. He is not a native speaker, but perhaps he learnt English from his father. It's not clear."

The Foreign Office was only made aware of the situation on Friday and officials have not yet established whether he is British.

"We are aware of the reports and we are looking into it," said a Foreign Office spokesman.

Adding to the problems of the German police is the distance Ray may have walked in two weeks. This would put him within range of the forests of Nationalpark Bayerischer, south of Berlin, parts of which extend into the Czech Republic. Alternatively, he could be referring to the Naturpark Erzgebirge, which is also south of Berlin.

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