Missing woman who pretended to be 13 year-old girl turns up in Denmark

Barbora Skrlova, photo: Tomas Hajek, Lidove noviny, 16.6.07

On Friday, a woman under the name of Barbora Skrlova walked into the Czech embassy in Denmark. Accompanied by her father and lawyer, she asked for a Czech passport and presented samples of her hair and saliva for DNA testing. The 32-year old woman claimed to be a 13-year-old girl named Anicka, who police have been looking for since she disappeared from a children's home over a month ago.

In early May, an eight-year-old boy was found by chance bound and naked in a broom cupboard. He, his brother, and their 13-year-old adopted sister, Anicka, were taken to a children's home. Since then, their single mother Klara Mauerova and her sister Katerina, have been in custody on child abuse charges.

But this investigation has been overshadowed by another linked mysterious case. The 13-year old Anicka, who was legally adopted earlier this year, turned out to have no identity. There were no official records of her having ever existed. A few days later, the girl disappeared off the face of the earth. After someone recognised her as 32-year old Barbora Skrlova, DNA tests confirmed that the little girl was in fact an adult woman.

On Friday, Barbora Skrlova finally turned up in Denmark. In an exclusive interview for the Czech daily Lidove Noviny she explained that she first "invented" little Anicka at a scout camp. Since she found it difficult to get used to the life of an adult, she often escaped by being with children and sometimes pretending to be a child herself. Barbora Skrlova says she met Ondrej and Jakub Mauer - who later became her adopted brothers - at one of the scout camps and they became best friends. She already knew their aunt Katerina, as they had worked together in a children's home in the Moravian town of Brno. In the interview, she speaks about both her adult self and 13-year old Anicka in the third person and her behaviour shifts between that of a child and that of an adult.

"I never had a problem managing both lives - that of Anicka and that of Barunka. Now that Anicka no longer exists, it is much harder for me. I'll see what the people will do with me. I do not trust people and feel no need to make any contact with them - only with those who I know well."

When asked whom she misses in Brno, she mentions Katerina and Klara Mauerova, little Jakub but not little Ondra. Upon the question why, she says she finds it a shame that he did not tell the truth. "He said that he was locked up for a year and God knows what else. But I know that it simply wasn't like that," she tells the paper.

After she escaped from the children's home, Barbora Skrlova hid in the forest before she took a train to her relatives in Denmark.

"As far as the Klokanek children's home is concerned, the staff failed in many areas. When I got there, they said that I look like a nine-year-old but when it all happened, they started claiming that they suspected that I was much older. They also never admitted that they allowed me and Jakub to watch television. Jakub watched the news twice. When I heard in the news that Klara would be in prison for eight years, I decided to leave."

Psychiatrists have been sceptical. While some say Barbora Skrlova needs to undergo psychiatric therapy, others believe that her two identities are part of a master plan to influence the child abuse investigation. Barbora Skrlova does not intend to return to the Czech Republic. She says she fears the reaction of the media and the general public.