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Missing Swiss teenager rescued after living off-grid in Spain

Missing Swiss teenager rescued after living off-grid in Spain

A 17-year-old Swiss girl declared missing for several years has recently been found alive in Spain. The girl was originally taken by her father to live off-grid in the woods, but has now been safely returned home.

Missing Swiss teenager discovered near Malaga

According to a report from local newspaper Diario Sur, the story begins on March 18, when police checked what was described as a “very dirty” car with a flat tyre parked near a shopping centre in Coín, Spain. After searching the vehicle, the emergency services found a man and a teenage girl.

Once an ID check was made, Spanish authorities discovered that the girl was the subject of a wanted notice issued by authorities in Switzerland. They were then sent to a police station in Málaga. 

Girl had no idea how to interact with others

It turned out that the girl and her two older sisters were originally taken by their father to live in the woods of Switzerland. The father, described as suffering from psychological problems, did not believe in social institutions and so wanted his daughters to live off-grid. However, as he was declared a danger to his family, he was accused of kidnapping his children to Spain.

The girl was said to be in a neglected condition and was unaware of “basic norms of civilisation” such as how to interact with other people or cross the street. She also never went to school, had no contact with the outside world and had never visited a doctor. This detail led the Spanish newspapers to describe the three girls as “wolf children”.

Missing Swiss girl repatriated on May 3

Spanish and Swiss authorities have so far been unclear as to when the family moved to Spain, nor how long they were living in the forests of Switzerland before the alleged kidnapping - though the Swiss media have said that the girl was missing for years before being discovered. In a statement, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed to the Tages-Anzeiger that the girl was moved to a child protective facility in Málaga, before a “Swiss citizen” was repatriated from Spain to Switzerland on May 3. 

With the extradition occurring one month before she turned 18, this was likely the last chance Swiss authorities had to bring her home.

Jan de Boer

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Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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