Via Deutsche Welle

German police may have missed a vital tip-off in the search for a missing boy, about six months before he was found hiding in a convicted pedophile’s cupboard.

A 15-year-old boy, who had been missing for two years, was discovered on Friday in the Recklinghausen home of a 44-year-old man formerly convicted on child porn charges.

However, police were informed the boy may have been in the man’s house in July during a public appeal for information, Germany’s top-selling daily Bild reported on Tuesday.

Recklinghausen police spokesman Andreas Wilming-Weber told Bild that Duisburg police asked for information from the public in July on the television program called Aktenzeichen XY. The long-running show is used by police to canvass for tips on unsolved cases.

“In the course of this broadcast there was evidently a tip-off about the suspect. Now, the question is how this was processed,” Wilming-Weber told the paper.

Read more: Germany: Missing teenager found in suspected pedophile’s closet

Police admit mistake

Wilming-Weber said that the Duisburg police were investigating whether police had properly followed up on this lead.

The Duisburg police admitted to Bild that a mistake had been made. Spokesman Stefan Hausch told the paper: “We have been made aware that there was a tip-off after the broadcast. That was the reason we [requested help on the show broadcast nationwide]. We cannot yet say why the tip was mishandled.”

An 18-member investigation commission has reportedly been tasked with the case over the Christmas holidays.

Read more: Germany plans to use fake child porn to snare pedophiles

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Two years missing

The boy went missing from a youth welfare institution in 2017 and was not seen again until he was discovered, hidden in the cupboard of the man identified only as Lars H.

The boy’s mother earlier told Bild  that she hardly recognized her child when they met, describing him as looking like “a broken old man.”

“The man with whom he was found must have manipulated Marvin,” she said of the boy. “I could go crazy thinking about the things done to him.” 

Before he was taken, friends reported that he suddenly had a lot of money and new things.

One year before Marvin went missing, officers had searched the home of Lars H. on suspicion of child pornography. He was convicted in March 2018 of possession of child pornography.