He turned up in Berlin nearly a year ago claiming he had been living deep inside the German forest with his father for five years. Blond and blue?eyed, the English-speaking teen known only as Ray told Berlin police that his parents were now dead and that hadn't a clue as to his own identity.
"There is no one to appeal to; all my family are dead," he told the legal guardian appointed to him, according to Berlin police, who say he's refusing to make any public appeals to find any relatives.
Now, after lengthy investigations by German police and the international police organization Interpol, Berlin investigators have released a photograph of the mystery boy in the hope that someone would come forward to finally help authorities discover his identity.
"We have conducted all the investigations we know how," Berlin police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf told Berlin's online English language news site The Local. "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."
"Forest boy," as he is known in the German press, wandered into the city nine months ago carrying only a tent and a backpack. He told police he had been walking for five days to get to Berlin. He called himself Ray and told authorities that both of his parents were dead. He's believed to be about 17 years old and says that his mother, Doreen, had been killed in a car accident, and that he had lived in the forest with his father, Ryan, until his death last summer.
Because he spoke English with an accent, German investigators have not ruled out the possibility that one or both of his parents could be American or British. Interpol is investigating the case and German authorities have already performed a DNA profile, comparing his fingerprints with databases worldwide.
"Investigators will have to be very enterprising in this case," says Brad Garrett, a former special agent at the FBI with expertise in missing persons cases and behavioral patterns. "They will need to go outside the normal areas of law enforcement to try and get results."
Garrett says because police have so far been stumped to uncover firm details of the teen's identity, they will need to go beyond law enforcement circles to drum up clues. "They'll need to circulate this photo and any other details far outside the normal areas of policing a missing persons case," says Garrett, an ABC News consultant. "Any possible link to who he may be will need to be consulted."
Garrett adds that an intensive physical and psychological examination would reveal if the boy's story is authentic. "They will need to know that he is mentally stable to ensure that his story appears true."
Police describe Ray as being about 5-foot 11-inches tall with dark blonde hair and scars on his forehead, chin and right arm. Though he speaks English, investigators don't believe it's his native language. He has told police that he was born on June 20, 1994, but otherwise knows nothing about his identity.
According to German police, the teen has insisted that he buried his father before starting his five-day trek that landed him in Berlin nine months ago. Yet he doesn't know where his father died, police say.
He has a complete set of teeth and no obvious dental work, and his hands, fingernails and teeth appear "well kept," police say.