Moment man, 35, feared to have been murdered found living in a TENT in Cambridgeshire woods five years after vanishing

THIS is the shocking moment a man feared to have been murdered was found secretly living in a woodland camp five years after he vanished.

Police launched a murder investigation in November 2015 after believing Ricardas Puisys, then 35, was a victim of modern slavery.

But incredibly, Ricardas, now 40, was found living in undergrowth in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, after cops received information he was still alive.

Shocking new footage has now been released showing the moment cops probing his disappearance found his makeshift hiding place in July last year.

Officers can be heard shouting "We got him!" as Ricardas was escorted from his dilapidated camp.

Cops reassured him he was safe before he was handed his missing persons poster in the back of the police car.

Officers described the discovery of Ricardas as a "euphoric moment" after desperately searching for him for five years.

New details about the case have now come to light in an episode of 24 Hours in Police Custody on Channel 4. 


Police said Ricardas had "deliberately hidden" himself away in woodland having previously been a victim of crime.

The makeshift home in deep undergrowth in woodland off a residential street was described as "very well concealed".

Detective Chief Inspector Adam Gallop said Ricardas had been forced into a form of modern slavery by a man with links to organised crime, according to Mail Online.

Speaking to officers after he was found, Ricardas said he was violently beaten with a set of keys and a barbecue on two occasions by a man after arriving in the UK for work.

The man reportedly confiscated Ricardas' passport and bank card and took money from his wages at the farm where he worked.

DCI Gallop said Ricardas had been "keeping himself a prisoner in the woods" after fearing for his life.

He told Mail Online: "It's extraordinary to think that he has been living there entirely undetected so close to where all the activity was taking place.  

"We contacted every police force, every local authority, every health authoritiy, over 250 hostels, 600 employment agencies, gangs – it is very hard to live without leaving a trace.

"But we were miles from him all the time." 

He added: "When we found him there was a tremendous amount of relief.

"Then to consider how he has lived his life for five years is really quite sad really." 

Ricardas was last seen on September 26, 2015, at Nightlayer Leek Company in Chatteris where he worked.

Witnesses claimed he was seen in the company of a small group of Lithuanian men before disappearing.

The alarm was raised when he failed to turn up for a shift two days later and his identification badge was found in a park.

A murder probe was launched despite no body being found as officers had "genuine concerns Ricardas came to harm that evening".

Police followed up a number of leads and tirelessly worked to unravel the disappearance.

In December 2015, a man aged in his 30s was arrested on suspicion of murder but he was later released with no further action.

The mystery deepened in 2018 when a Facebook page using pictures of Ricardas was set up.

This led officers to shift their investigation and believe the Lithuanian could in fact be alive and potentially in hiding.

The puzzle was finally solved in July last year when officers received information he was living in Wisbech.


Describing the moment he fled in fear of his life, Ricardas told cops: "He had a bunch of keys in his hand and he was playing with them, playing with them.

"Then he hit me with those keys in my head. Blood was pouring out and he was threatening me with a knife. He said: 'Where do you want me to stab you?'"

Ricardas said he was then subjected to a violent beating with an aluminium pole pulled from a wardrobe.  

"It was very painful, I couldn’t stand up," he told cops in interviews, according to Mail Online.

"He told me, 'go downstairs, get a cloth and clean the blood'. I could barely stand and barely walk downstairs. 

"I turned around to the door and [ran]. I didn’t know where to go. I turned left, there was a little park. I went into the park and hid in the bushes. 

"And then I lived in the woods for five years. I found a tent, somewhere to sleep that someone had left behind and I was there all winter.

"Then I found that place in the woods and I stayed there. I was scared of being found again."

Who is Ricardas Puisys?

RICARDAS moved to Wisbech, Cambs, from Silute, Lithuania, a number of years before he vanished.

He left behind a mother in Lithuania and has a sister living in Germany and cousins in Ireland.

Ricardas was a casual land worker and lived from hand to mouth while in the area.

He had no car, no close family in the UK and very few friends. Due to his lack of English, he mostly operated within the local Lithuanian community.

Ricardas was last seen alive leaving Nightlayer Leek Company in Dean Drove, Chatteris, on Saturday, September 26, 2015.

He did not return to work when he was supposed to and the alarm was raised.

His ID was then discovered in a park in Wisbech and police launched a murder probe beginning he had come to some harm.

Locals said he may have been exploited and forced to move addresses within Wisbech against his will.

Police also said it was "absolutely a possibility" Ricardas may have been a victim of modern slavery.

In December 2015, a man was arrested on suspicion of murder but later released with no further action.

But in August 2018, an "extraordinary twist" came in the case in the form of a Facebook profile bearing Ricardas' name and picture.

The account had 69 friends – all Ricardas' friends and family – leading police to suspect he may be alive.

This was confirmed in July when officers received information he was alive and discovered Ricardas living in woodland.

DCI Gallop said Ricardas was a "victim of coercive and controlling behaviour".

"It is quite extraordinary when he goes into detail of how he survived. It’s a real old-fashioned hunter gathered existence," he told Mail Online.

"He keeps his head down during the day time and then at night he can go out and scavenge for food."

He added: "He was desperate. It very difficult to understand what that particular mind set is, but I think he felt completely helpless.

"He's a victim of that coercive and controlling behaviour in a country where he does not have family, or friends, or any escape route.

"I suppose it’s the natural fight or flight instinct, and his response has been to run off and hide."

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

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

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.

"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."

Ricardas has now started a new life in another part of the country he is receiving counselling, cops said.

Two areas of woods in Harecroft Road, Wisbech, have been regularly used by Eastern Europeans living in an array of tents and makeshift shelters in recent years.

It is believed other men sleeping living rough in the two areas either did not know of his existence or were seemingly unaware that he was supposed to be dead.

The 24 Hours in Police Custody episode airs on Channel 4 on Monday, April 5 at 9pm.

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