Man who 'died' five years ago found hiding in woods

3 August 2020, 13:50

Ricardas Puisys was found alive after five years
Ricardas Puisys was found alive after five years. Picture: Cambridgeshire Police

By Ewan Somerville

A Lithuanian man who police thought was murdered has been found alive in a wood five years later. 

Detectives launched a murder investigation in November 2015 after Ricardas Puisys, then aged 35, from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, had been missing for several weeks. 

But he was found alive in woodland undergrowth in the market town of Wisbech on 1 July 2020, after years of searching for him. 

Mr Puisys is now being safeguarded and police have launched a probe into whether he was being exploited.

“For almost five years Ricardas’ disappearance has been a complete mystery," Detective Chief Inspector Rob Hall, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, said.

“That was until we received information at the end of June which led us to finding him.”

Cambridgeshire Police had launched a murder investigation after the man vanished
Cambridgeshire Police had launched a murder investigation after the man vanished. Picture: Cambridgeshire Police

The last confirmed sighting of Mr Puisys was at his workplace, the Nightlayer Leek Company, on Dean Grove, Chatteris on 26 September, 2015.

Initial concerns for Mr Puisys’ safety had been raised in late August 2015 when it was suggested to police he was being exploited and had moved addresses in Wisbech.

Later on the evening he disappeared, he was believed to be in the company of a small group of Lithuanian men.

After weeks of searching, a murder probe was launched. A man was arrested and released during the investigation. 

“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,” DCI Hall said. 

Ricardas Puisys was found hiding in undergrowth
Ricardas Puisys was found hiding in undergrowth. Picture: Cambridgeshire Police

Last year a Facebook account was set up purporting to show photographs of Mr Puisys, but police could not verify that he was still alive. 

DCI Hall added: “A team of investigators worked tirelessly following up a number of inquiries, none leading to the discovery of Ricardas. 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.

“We made the decision not to publicly announce we had found Ricardas alive until now in order to protect him and put safeguarding measures in place.

“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.”