TODAY marks the 32nd anniversary of the disappearance of Hartlepool toddler Katrice Lee – but her anguished dad still has hope she will one day be found.
Katrice vanished on her second birthday in Germany where dad Richie Lee was serving with the British Army on November 28, 1981. Today, her family should have been celebrating her 34th birthday.
Richie said Katrice will be in his and the family’s thoughts even more than usual on the anniversary, but remains positive the ongoing search for her will eventually lead to her being found.
Richie, who turned 64 last week, said: “She is always in my mind, however it is hard not to think of her today.
“It is also the birthday of my nephew’s twins the same day, so on the one hand I am grateful to have family and relatives around and on the other saddened that it is the anniversary and birthday of my missing daughter.”
He added: “The search is still ongoing. The military police are still working on leads and I’m trying to look on the positive side and not the negative.
“As a family, we are still pursuing our goal which is to get the return of Katrice.”
Today, Katrice’s sister Natasha, 39, who lives in Hampshire, will release balloons with Katrice’s face on as she does every anniversary.
Richie, of the Stockton Road area of town, has been heartened by a new investigation into Katrice’s disappearance by the Royal Military Police (RMP).
Last year, RMP chiefs issued an apology after admitting a string of failings in the original investigation into his daughter’s disappearance.
“They have actually listened to what the family wanted,” he added.
“Had the person who is in charge now had been when Katrice first went missing we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
This summer, Richie appeared on Germany’s version of Crimewatch to help spread awareness of Katrice’s case across Europe.
“I will never give up hope,” said Richie. “My glass is always half full.”