van helsum forsest boy germany conviction forest boy wilderness ray american community service sentence guilty fraud

Photo: EPA

German 'Forest Boy' Convicted of Fraud

Sentenced to community service

Germany's former "forest boy" was sentenced to 150 hours of community service Thursday after admitting to fraud. Robin van Helsum, 21, was found guilty of claiming to be an English-speaking orphan named Ray who had survived for five years in the woods of central Europe.

Not to be confused with Russia's recent "forest boy," Van Helsum showed up at a Berlin town hall in 2011, speaking broken English and claiming to be an orphan. He told authorities that his mother had died in a car accident and that he had been living in the woods with his father.

German authorities sheltered van Helsum for eight months, treating him to numerous benefits including money, clothes, and medical treatment. He was finally exposed in June 2012 after German police began circulating his photo. Van Helsum turned out to be a Dutch native with an illegitimate child waiting back in his hometown of Hengelo. He claimed that he had simply wanted to start a new life.

Court spokesman Tobias Kaehne told the Daily Mail that van Helsum can avoid a criminal record if he agrees to the community service order. "If he fails to carry out the work it will come to a trial and probably a conviction," said Kaehne. "But as it stands now he will not have a record going into the future."


Runners gather for this year's Run for Heroes Marathon, established 2011, to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease.     Photo: Warren Goldswain/Shutterstock

Woman Accidentally Wins Marathon

Planning for a half-marathon, she won the full

Running the half-marathon at the Run for Heroes race last Sunday, Meredith Fitzmaurice planned to take it easy. She wanted to test herself with a 13-mile run in Amherstburg, Ontario, to prepare for her first long marathon in Detroit next month, where she would try to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Her plans quickly changed, however, when Fitzmaurice took a wrong turn.  Instead of finishing the half-marathon, she kept going; 13 miles turned into 20, and she segued onto the 26.2-mile track.

"Once I realized what I had done, I figured, well I'll just run 20 miles and use it as a long run and call it a day," Fitzmaurice, told the Ottawa Citizen.

Then she noticed there were only nine men ahead of her. She checked with race organizers to see if she could transfer to the full marathon even though she had registered for the half. They consulted with the race director, Chris Uszynski, who granted her request. 

Fitzmaurice finished the full marathon with the winning time of 3:11:48, qualifying her for the 2014 Boston Marathon.

"I had only ever run 20 miles, but I think at that point the adrenaline just pulled me through," said Fitzmaurice, now the first woman to win Amherstburg marathon, placing 10th overall.

She blames her mistake on her headphones and being "in the zone."


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African elephants on the Serengeti.     Photo: Ikiwaner/Wikimedia Commons

87 Elephants Poisoned in Zimbabwe

Poachers use cyanide

In a mass-poaching, 87 elephants were poisoned with industrial cyanide, authorities in Zimbabwe told the Associated Press Wednesday. The bodies were found with their tusks removed.

“Industrial cyanide used in gold mining was put in remote water holes and on salty ground that the elephants like to lick after drinking the water,” Park spokesperson Caroline Washaya-Moyo told NBC News. “The poison was killing them and they were taking the tusks.”  

The poison might have also killed lions, leopards, vultures, and other birds who frequented the watering holes.

The World Wildlife Fund reports that 2011 was the worst year for poaching since the 1980s. They expect this year to be even worse.