German Hermit Missing for 12 Years Leaves Woods

A woman discovered living in an umbrella-and-tarpaulin shelter in Switzerland was picked up by her sister Wednesday and driven back to her native Germany, 12 years after her disappearance.

"I'm so excited," said the 52-year-old woman who has been identified in the Swiss press as Gabriele Schulze.

She was reported missing in 1997 from a village outside Berlin and had been living for the past year in woodlands near the Swiss capital, Bern.

The Bern Citizens' Community that owns the forest said it was relieved Schulze left. It had asked her to vacate the knee-high construction that could easily have been mistaken for a heap of junk.

"The problem has been solved for the community," mayor Rudolf Burger said. "The problems for the woman's family and for herself haven't been," as it is obvious that she will need good care, he said.

Schulze, who was discovered last week, was originally hostile to the idea of reuniting with her family, authorities said. She was identified with the aid of an information system shared by the 25 member nations of the so-called Schengen accord enabling passport-free travel in Europe.