On Tuesday the internet went pretty crazy when people thought that an English speaking girl wandering the streets of Rome might be Madeleine McCann, even though it was for no real reason at all other than perhaps a slight resemblance. That’s the internet for you I suppose.
These theories were quickly disproved as it was noted that she didn’t have Madeleine’s distinctive blemish on the eye. However, once her identity was revealed, it turns out that her story is pretty strange itself.
The girl is a 21-year-old Swede named Embla Jauhojarvi who ran away from her home in Sweden six months ago to the Italian capital in order to start a new life and learn the native language. Her father Tahvo met her yesterday at the Swedish embassy, but the story gets even weirder from there.
Here’s what Tahvo had to say following the meeting:
She’s a wreck. Embla is not herself. She is a different person. She barely talked to us.
She wants to go back to living on the street. She doesn’t want to come home.
We want to take her back to Sweden but it is so difficult. If she were in Sweden it would be so much better.
She is very shy and finds it difficult to communicate on account of her Asperger’s.
Embla went to Rome last year for one week. She must have fallen in love with the city.
When she got home she started to learn Italian. She would study for five six hours a night.
She has never had any friends, not even one. When she went to secondary school I told her she would make friends.
But after three years she told me I was wrong. ‘She asked me; “Dad, how do I make friends?’
She disappeared from home whilst I was on a business trip.
When I got home from South Africa I found Embla had vanished. She did not tell me she was going away. She did not leave a note. I didn’t know what had become of her.
After a couple of weeks I contacted the police and asked for help to find her. But they said she was over 18 was very little she could do.
I contacted everyone I could think of – her school, her university, banks, everyone. I discovered she had signed up to an Italian language course in the south of Italy.
I contacted Interpol and the Swedish Embassy in Rome and asked for help to find my daughter but again they said because she is an adult there is very little they could do.
This is what I have heard for six months – excuses from the people who should be helping me to find my daughter.
I had a call from Embla’s cousin to say that he has seen her picture on the internet. I saw the picture and I knew it was Embla.
I could not sleep. I have been awake all night. I booked the first flight to Rome. I just wanted to find my daughter.
I mean there was probably more this dude could have done to find her – like go to Rome and look for her himself, or even hire a private detective – but something about the whole story just doesn’t add up to me.
Like why did she love Italy so much? Why didn’t she have any friends and why did he bother mentioning that? Why did she go there without telling him in the first place? Why does she prefer to sleep on the streets wandering around in another country than with her father who seems to care about her a lot?
Very weird situation, hopefully we’ll find out more in the coming days if Embla decides to speak out. I can see it getting even weirder pretty quickly though.
In the meantime, I hope Embla is allowed to do what makes her happy. Maybe she read this list of five reasons why being homeless is awesome and just decided to go for it – it seems as good an explanation as any right now to what she’s been doing.