The Police of Oldenburg, a city of 170,000 inhabitants in northwestern Germany, tweeted it with big exclamation points: “Eight-year-old Joe is alive!” After a search of several days, and after considering the most reliable clue that he had been the victim of a kidnapping, the agents thus showed their relief when they found the boy alive last Saturday. The little boy, who has learning disabilities, survived eight days stuck in a sewer just 300 meters from his house while hundreds of agents and volunteers frantically searched the surface for clues to his whereabouts.
The case of Joe, identified only by that name due to strict German privacy laws, has had the country on edge for more than a week, since he disappeared on June 17 from the garden of his house while playing. The Police launched a large-scale search with drones, helicopters, sniffer dogs and dozens of agents, joined by hundreds of volunteers. As the days passed, a Homicide team joined the investigation as suspicions increased that he could have been the victim of a violent crime after a witness claimed to have seen him in the company of an unidentified man.
“It was absolute luck,” Steffan Klatte, the Oldenburg police spokesman, said excitedly at an appearance. A neighbor who was walking in the area raised the alarm when he heard “a weak noise like whining” that came from the basement, just under a drain. The agents lifted the manhole cover and there they found the boy, completely naked. He had no serious external injuries, but he was dehydrated and suffering from hypothermia, for which he was rushed to a hospital. He is recovering well, German media reported. “If he hadn’t made any noise, or if no one had heard him, we might never have found him,” Klatte said.
Investigators have pieced together what they believe happened to Joe. After evaluating all the clues, it is most likely that he went down a sewer into the rainwater drainage system the same day he disappeared and “lost his orientation after walking several meters,” police say. it’s a statement. For now, the participation of third parties has been ruled out.
On Sunday, one day after the surprising discovery, the Police commissioned a specialized company to will inspect the sewage system with robots, from the boy’s house to the place where he was found. The cameras of these artifacts found several items of clothing, the ones he was wearing when he disappeared, in a pipe about 60 centimeters in diameter that runs under one of the streets of the neighborhood where he lives with his parents. The robot found, for example, a vest of the minor 70 meters from the entry point.
Near the farm where he was last seen on the day of his disappearance, officers found an entrance to a three-foot-wide drainage channel that they believe the boy got into while playing. That concrete pipe ends 23 meters later in another narrower plastic pipe through which they believe the little boy was advancing, who found several crossings where he could stand up. Joe was eventually found about 290 meters from where he entered the sewer system.
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Police believe that Joe kept getting further and further lost until he could no longer find a way out. “A first statement from the child confirms this assumption,” says the statement, which does not give more details about the conversation he had with the agents. Nothing has been found to suggest that the child surfaced in the eight days that he remained missing. The investigators explain that they have not yet been able to question the child in detail, who remains in the hospital, and ask that, out of respect for him and his family, no questions be asked about his state of health.