Farm worker feared murdered found living alone in woods five years after going missing

Police discover Lithuanian Ricardas Puisys in woods near Wisbech and now believe he fled exploitation in 2015

Tim Wyatt
Monday 03 August 2020 16:07 BST
Ricardas Puisys's case was re-opened after photos of him appeared on Facebook
Ricardas Puisys's case was re-opened after photos of him appeared on Facebook (Cambridgeshire Police)

A Lithuanian farmworker who police feared might have been killed has instead been found hiding in woodland alive and well five years later.

Ricardas Puisys was reported missing in September 2015 after he failed to turn up for work at his job picking vegetables in Cambridgeshire.

Detectives issued a public appeal, but no trace was found of the then 35-year-old and a murder inquiry into his disappearance was launched.

The case then went cold until last summer, when photos of Mr Puisys were posted to a Facebook account in his name.

Detective Chief Inspector Rob Hall, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire major crime unit, said the case had been a “complete mystery” until the Facebook lead.

Then, last month, officers were given a tip that led them to search woodland near Wisbech.

Eventually they discovered Mr Puisys, who had deliberately concealed himself deep in the undergrowth.

“A team of investigators worked tirelessly following up a number of inquiries, none leading to the discovery of Ricardas,” said Det Ch Insp Hall.

“That was until we received information that Ricardas may have been alive and still in the Wisbech area.

“Following a search of wooded area in Harecroft Road, Ricardas was eventually found living in undergrowth, very well concealed after having deliberately hidden and having not spoken with anyone for some time.”

Detectives believe he might have been the victim of some form of exploitation and had run away secretly to escape.

On the night he disappeared five years ago, Mr Puisys, who was employed through an agency, was known to have been with a group of other Lithuanian men.

Det Ch Insp Hall said: “There were genuine concerns Ricardas came to harm that evening.

“He did not return to work on Monday 28 September 2015 as expected, but we now believe Ricardas made the decision to run away as he had been a victim of crime, having previously been subject to exploitation.”

Police decided not to announce he had been found earlier in July so they could first move him to a safe place. An investigation into his potential exploitation has now also been launched.

“He is safe and we are working very closely with him to ensure he remains safe, but also to ensure he gets the support he needs after having lived through extremely difficult circumstances during the last five or more years,” Det Ch Insp Hall said.

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