Real-life "Encino Man" caught in Australia


The strange saga of a 32-year-old barefoot and bedreadlocked gentleman named James D'Zilva appears to be at an end.

Wanted in the stabbing of a policeman, he has evaded police for a month by running barefoot through the wilderness, covering 30km (19 miles) a day, traveling with nothing but the clothes on his back. Police say he suffers from schizophrenia, and is off his medication. The constable he is believed to have stabbed survived the attack.

The Age has more here, and reports that he is "suspected of breaking into numerous homes and businesses in the Dandenongs in the past month, escaping with items including clothes, ice cream and chocolate."

We will presume that Mr. D'Zilva does not bathe with soap.

(Via Submitterator, thanks imorgan73)


  1. Stabbing a policeman is serious stuff, but I can’t help it, dude reminds me of one of the Sizzler Sisters on Kids In The Hall.

    1. You know, I considered a paleo LOL, but he consistently stole ice cream and chocolate from the houses he raided, according to reports.

    1. “Virtually identical”?

      Just how many deadlocked schizophrenics are there running around barefoot in the woods down there?

      1. Anon #7 “Just how many deadlocked schizophrenics are there running around barefoot in the woods down there?”

        Lone deadlocked schizophrenics running around in the woods usually travel in pairs down here.

    2. Apparently the wrong guy they arrested before was another dreadlocked schizophrenic who lived in the bush, but the giveaway was that he had shoes on.

      This is definitely the right guy, they think, maybe…

    3. Yeah this is the guy who had the fight in Healsville but they arrested him close to the Melbourne CBD and now I wonder how many of the sightings since then were of this other guy.

    1. There seem to be a few Melbourne locals here, I’m one myself, and following Anon #8’s Wikipedia link introduced me to a name I’d never heard before for Mt Dandenong, as if it was the commonly accepted name — Mt Corhanwarrabul, which the Wiki writer insists twice is “the most relevant name” (perhaps a little defensively?)

      Google Maps shows me “Mt Dandenong”, of course. Searching maps on “Mt Corhanwarrabul” brings up almost everything called “Mt Dandenong” but the word “Corhanwarrabul” is nowhere to be seen! What gives? Anyone else know it as, or have ever heard of, “Corhanwarrabul”?

      1. I’d never heard the word ‘Corhanwarrabul’ before I moved to the area, and it’s not even really used up here. It appears to be a local dialect word that somehow relates to the hills, but since no one seems to have been recording or properly translating what the original inhabitants were saying at the time, no one’s quite sure exactly what it means.

  2. I know it’s easy to take a crack at this guy’s appearance, but remember that in the no soap experiment post from earlier, you have to wash (scrub) with water EVERY DAY. It’s not no soap= no washing. If you don’t wash with water often, and brush your hair, it will look like his.

  3. From now on, instead of excusing myself to see a man about a mule or other such proclivities, I shall claim to have business in the Dandenongs.

  4. Ice cream and chocolate? WTF kind of walkabout is that? You’re supposed to eat what fruit and flesh nature provides. Raiding Fridigdaires is against the rules.

  5. Man I feel sorry for this dude.

    Sure he stabbed a policeman and needed to be brought in to make sure he wasn’t a threat to anyone else, but this guy was clearly really unwell and then spent a month on the lam paranoid as all hell, evading police, avoiding anyone else and without a doubt the whole time having his mental health just getting worse and worse while he lived without proper contact with anyone knowing that authorities he was already fearful of were after him.

    There’s been one article I’ve read on The Age that has summed it up best.
    Beloved kelpie may be the lure for fugitive wildman.

    “initially, at a local level, there was a lot of anger” says Superintendent Forti. “But as it’s unfolded, we’ve discovered we’re not dealing with a violent criminal. We’re dealing with a person who is unmedicated and unable to make rational decisions.”

    “I have said all along we are not hunting a monster. We are hunting a person who is very confused and frightened.”

    Superintendent Forti doesn’t believe D’Zilva is naturally inclined to violence except as a measure for self-preservation. “My personal view is he’s got a distinct preference for flight rather than fight. If he can get away, he will.”

    I’m glad he’s finally been caught, and that the man in charge of the investigation and pursuit seems to be a good person with some compassion and understanding about the condition this poor bloke is in.

    Hopefully he can now be treated properly, and perhaps one day live a somewhat normal life.

    1. Well said. I live in the area where this man was being pursued, and I’m glad he’s safe now. He’s a man with a serious mental illness who needed help, not a criminal or a joke or a meme.

      1. Yup, certainly didn’t expect to see this story end up on BoingBoing but there you go.

        It’s worth noting he hasn’t been violent to anyone else in the time he’s been on the run. Despite initial reports that he was “a danger to everyone”.

        I just hope the courts and mental health system treat him with the same level of human decency that Superintendent Forti has shown when interviewed about him.

  6. Compassion is good but not everyone feels it when their property has been damaged/stolen. It’s good this person was caught before he encountered an irate homeowner with a firearm.

  7. We will presume that Mr. D’Zilva does not bathe with soap.

    I think he doesn’t bathe at all.

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