Anton Pilipa disappeared in 2012 from suburban Toronto without a trace. Now the 39-year-old is back home, thanks to a police officer's online sleuthing in another continent. The officer picked up Pilipa wandering along the side of a highway in Brazil, and though he had no ID and was in rough shape mentally and physically, he was able to let her know in English that he was from Canada, reports the CBC. "I thought, if he says he's Canadian, I'm sure I can find his family," says the officer. She went online and eventually connected with Pilipa's family, who had been searching for him for five years. "Amazed," says brother Stefan, who thinks his brother walked and hitchhiked across the US and all the way to South America.
“I know that I am so lucky to still be alive, for someone to have found me and listened to me," Anton is quoted as telling BBC Brasil, per a blog post at Plus 55. Gaps remain in his story, and his brother says the family is holding off on pressing for details until Anton can get a full medical evaluation. He'd been treated for schizophrenia before his disappearance in 2012 and still faces unspecified assault and weapons charges in Canada. The only snippet on how he managed to survive all this time on the road: “I never felt alone," he told the BBC. "It’s very simple to survive; we don’t need many things." (The miraculous return of a missing US soldier from Vietnam turned out to be an elaborate sham.)