Friday, June 15, 2012

Forest Boy turns out to be a hoax

I guess it's a common impulse. It might explain the number of movies made by adults about teenagers.

There have been a number of cases over the years of adults impersonating teenagers. I always thought young people wanted to be older, not younger, but we have a recent case in Germany. A teenager appeared. He claimed to be seventeen and to have lived in the woods with his father since he was twelve. Now his father was dead and he came to the city for help.

If he'd lived in the forest since he was twelve, police couldn't figure out where he learned to operate a laptop computer and a cell phone.

The mystery was solved. He was a 20-year-old Dutchman. His step-mother saw his picture in the paper. She said he disappeared a few months earlier.

There've been other cases. A homeless woman in her 30s found it was safer on the streets to impersonate a boy. She got herself placed in foster care a couple of times.

There was a criminal who claimed to be a teenager when he was arrested for burglary. He was placed in foster care, enrolled in high school and was doing pretty well when they found out he was an adult and re-arrested him.

In a much more disturbing case, a man in his fifties called the local high school. His nephew was moving in with him and would need to enroll in school. But his nephew had some terrible health problems that made him look like a man in his fifties. He went to school for one day. The principal felt sorry for the poor middle-aged-looking kid, but the teachers saw right through him. He was arrested the next morning and told police he was doing research for a book.

But, now, here's the really strange case. I don't remember the names.

There was a French con-man. He was in Spain. He had ripped off some dangerous Spanish criminals and realized he'd better get out of there before they killed him. So he found a picture of a missing American boy from Texas. He vaguely resembled the missing kid, so he went to the police and claimed to be him.

The family from Texas flew to Spain. Yep, they said----this was their son! They brought him back to Texas and the guy lived at their house for several months. He spoke with a French accent, he obviously had no knowledge of their family or their life. He needed to ask where his bedroom was. He didn't look that much like the missing kid and the missing kid hadn't been missing that long. They wouldn't have forgotten what he looked like.

Finally, the FBI showed up the door. They had discovered who the imposter was and they arrested him. They took his down to the office, and the conman told them what he thought happened.

The family knew full well he wasn't their missing kid. But they didn't say a word because the kid had been murdered by his step-brother and buried somewhere. The parents knew it. They claimed that this 30-year-old Frenchman, always wearing a hat to cover his receding hairline, was their son in order to cover up the crime.

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