Stefan Ramin, a 40-year-old German man from Hamburg, was on a round-the-world-trip with his girlfriend when they stopped off on the holiday island of Nuku Hiva in French Polynesia, a group of islands that are an overseas collectivity of France.
Police are looking for Arihano Haiti, a 31-year-old hunter who took Ramin on a tour of the mountainous zone of the island on October 9th, according to local news site tahiti-infos.com.
Haiti returned alone from the trip the same day, telling Ramin's girlfriend, Heike Dorsch, that he had been injured on the trip. Dorsch has claimed she was then attacked and sexually assaulted by Haiti before being tied to a tree. Haiti has not been seen since.
Remnants of skin, bone and teeth were found in a fire on Wednesday. The public prosecutor on the island, José Thorel, confirmed that the remains were those of a human being but said theories that Ramin had been eaten were unfounded.
"It's madness, a non-issue," reported the local Nouvelles de Tahiti newspaper. "Nothing supports this theory."
Several newspapers have been running stories to support the cannibal theory. "Holiday horror on Cannibal island" wrote German newspaper Bild Zeitung, which went on to say that "it is probable that he was murdered by a cannibal and parts of him were eaten."
"Teeth found among charred remains on the south sea island are those of missing German sailor who was 'eaten by cannibals'" wrote the British Daily Mail, which also reported Thorel as saying it was "almost certain the remains we found in the fire are those of Stefan Ramin."
Thorel has insisted that cannibalism has nothing to do with the case and final DNA tests are being carried out to establish the identity of the remains.