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'Murdered' Man Lived in Woods for 5 Years

Newser — Rob Quinn

When Ricardas Puisys vanished in September 2015 shortly after authorities received a warning from a resident concerned about his safety, police in Cambridgeshire, England, feared the worst.

A murder investigation was launched and a man was arrested and then released. It turns out there was no murder. Police now believe the now-40-year-old casual worker spent years living in a wooded area, the BBC reports.

Police say the disappearance "was almost a complete mystery" until information they received in June led them to his hiding place near the town of Wisbech.

They believe the Lithuanian national, who had last been seen leaving his workplace in a leek factory with a group of men, was hiding to escape people who had been exploiting him; officials had previously said "modern slavery" could have been an element in the case.

Puisys was "found living in undergrowth, very well concealed after having deliberately hidden and having not spoken with anyone for some time," says police spokesman Rob Hall.

He says Puisys is now receiving "the support he needs after having lived through extremely difficult circumstances during the last five or more years." Investigators say the citizen who contacted police in 2015 raised concerns that Puisys, who had no family and few friends in Britain, was being exploited and may have been forced to change addresses against his will, Cambridgeshire Live reports.

They say the case took an "extraordinary twist" last year when a Facebook page was set up with the man's name, but investigators were still unable to verify that he was alive.

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This article originally appeared on Newser: 'Murdered' Man Lived in Woods for 5 Years