German Boy Missing Since 2017 Found in Child Pornography Raid


BERLIN — The German police, suspecting a 44-year-old man in the western city of Recklinghausen of disseminating child pornography, ordered a raid on his apartment. During their search, they opened a closet and found a teenage boy.

“It was a 15-year-old who had been missing for a long time,” the police said Friday in a statement. According to posters and information that his mother, Manuela Bock, posted to her Facebook page, he had been gone for 922 days.

Ms. Bock had been searching for him since June 2017, when he left a halfway house in Duisburg where he had been living and never returned. She tried to keep his name and image in the public eye, circulating missing persons poster and appearing on a local television show in search of public tips that might lead to his discovery.

All that time, she said, she never gave up hope that her son was alive.

“For two and a half years I imagined what it would be like to see him again,” she told the weekly newspaper Bild am Sonntag in an interview published on Sunday. “But it wasn’t as I imagined. It was crazy! You can’t speak, you just want to take your child with you.”

According to the authorities, her son had spent the entire time in the apartment of the suspect, whom they identified only as a 44-year-old German man. He was detained on Friday and was being held on suspicion of a severe sexual crime.

The case resembled two kidnappings in Austria more than a decade ago. One was that of Natascha Kampusch, an Austrian girl held in a windowless cellar for eight years before she escaped at age 18 in 2006. In the other case, two years later, it was discovered that Josef Fritzl had held his own daughter captive in his basement, where he raped her repeatedly, fathering seven children. She and her children escaped, and he was sentenced to life in prison in 2009.

Prosecutors in Bochum said Monday that the man in the German case, identified by the German news media as Lars H., was convicted of possessing child pornography last year and handed a 10-month suspended sentence.

The police said there was no indication the teenager had been bound or suffered any visible abuse. But Ms. Bock said she hardly recognized her son, who told her that he had not been outside since the day he disappeared.

“I was shocked,” she said. “He seemed to me like a broken old man.”

He is now in the care of psychologists, who were assessing his condition. It was not clear when he would be allowed to return home. Before his disappearance, he had been in the halfway house because of behavioral issues related to the death of his father.

”It is so difficult for me,” his mother told Bild. “We now need to take one step at a time. He needs to work through his experiences of the past two and a half years.”

The authorities returned to the raided apartment on Saturday and confiscated cellphones, computer hard drives and other potential evidence. The home was filled with trash and smelled so strongly of urine that they wore protective masks, they said.

Ms. Bock said that when her son was found he was wearing the same clothes as the day he vanished two years ago, and that she wanted to give him some new clothes as he begins a new start.

“I want to dress him up,” she said, “to celebrate a little Christmas with him.”

Source : Nytimes