After 20 Years, 'Dead' Doctor Found Living as Hermit
But the man, IDed as a Spaniard holed up in the woods of Tuscany, is gone again
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2015 2:38 PM CST
Was the hermit in the woods really a long-lost Spanish doctor?   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – For years, locals had reported seeing a "silent stranger" in the forests of Tuscany, Italy, per ITV News. His identity may finally have come to light after two mushroom pickers say they found the camp of a man with a "dirty face and large beard" in a heavily wooded, remote location in the Maremma region, the Local reports. The mysterious stranger, a man in his mid- to late 40s, told the men and a local forest ranger they alerted that his name was Carlos, he was from Spain, and he'd been shacked up in the wilderness since 1997. And sure enough, the ID papers he brought out to show them (the Local mentions a passport, the Telegraph a university library card) listed him as Carlos Sanchez Ortiz de Salazar, a young doctor who had reportedly gone missing from his home in Seville in 1996 during a bout with depression and eventually been pronounced dead in 2010. "I don't want to live among people," the man reportedly told the hikers. "Now that you have found me, I need to get out of here."

The mushroom pickers say the man had strung a tarp in between trees for shelter and set up cans to catch rainwater, the Telegraph notes. No one's sure what he would have eaten all this time, though the Telegraph reports the area he was in is rife with lots of deer and wild boar; other ideas floated in the Local speculate he may have learned to grow food or raided garbage cans in nearby towns at night. The hikers snapped photos of the man's ID and contacted a missing-persons group, which quickly found Salazar's family. They told local media, "That's him—that's our Carlos," when they saw the pics, the Local reports. But when they traveled back to Tuscany with a search party, the man and his camp were no more. His mom just wants one more chance to see him. "He's alive and that is the important thing," she tells local press, per the Telegraph. "We will respect his wishes and his freedom, but we won't go home until we have at least given him a hug, even for a few moments." (A hermit survived in the woods of Maine for 27 years—without ever building a fire.)