Berlin 'Forest Boy' is actually 20 years old and Dutch

Senior Editor
06.15.12 9 Comments

When a mysterious, English-speaking kid

Police said a former girlfriend identified him as a 20-year-old from the Netherlands who was reported missing last September. Neither Dutch or Berlin police would identify him due to privacy laws, but Netherlands state broadcaster NOS interviewed several friends and said his name was Robin van Helsum.
A German security official with knowledge of the case, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the name. Dutch police spokeswoman Chantal Westerhoff said he was “a 20-year-old man from Hengelo” — near the German border.
When confronted with the facts, police say van Helsum admitted the truth.
A Dutch website on missing relatives carried an entry on Robin van Helsum, saying he was born in 1992 and had been missing since Sept. 2, 2011 — three days before he arrived in Berlin. Robin “left after leaving a farewell note. He was last seen traveling with a friend to Berlin. Since then every trace of him is gone,” the entry on says.
Berlin police said even though he had been reported missing, there was no active investigation into his disappearance because there was no evidence of foul play and he was an adult.
Van Helsum showed up Sept. 5 at Berlin city hall claiming that his mother had died in a car crash when he was 12 and he and his father had been living in the forest outside the German capital. He claimed not to know his last name or where he was from and spoke English but little German. He said his father had died in August and he buried him in the woods. [WashingtonPost]

This guy is kind of my hero. How many times in your early twenties were you working some crap entry-level job and eating ramen noodles, no one even cares enough about you to investigate when you go missing? Who wouldn’t mind a nice vacation from that where you get all your meals and rent paid for and you get to go back to high school as the mysterious orphan boy? And it worked for NINE MONTHS. That’s an entire school year. They’re talking about charging him with fraud, but even so, I think his plan already succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. “Mom, dad, meet my new boyfriend. …He’s from the forest.”

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