THE family of a Hartlepool toddler who vanished three decades ago hope a television appeal beamed out to the nation will reveal fresh clues as to her disappearance.
Hartlepool man Richie Lee – the father of missing Katrice Lee – hopes a reconstruction of his daughter’s disappearance on BBC’s Crimewatch programme tonight, will jog somebody’s memory or conscience and provide pieces to the puzzle which began back in 1981.
Little Katrice went missing from a British Army base supermarket in Paderborn, Germany, where her father was serving as a sergeant major, on her second birthday on November 28 of that year.
Richie, who is divorced from Katrice’s mother Sharon, said: “Katrice’s mother and sister are appearing on the show and will be making an appeal and they’ve also helped with the reconstruction.
“We’ve always had hope basically and that’s something that cannot be taken away from us, hope.
“What you’ve got appreciate though is that the whole family is realistic and what I mean by that is that Katrice is now grown up and may have a family of her own with children.
“She may even speak a foreign language you just don’t know.
“We can’t obviously drag her away from that environment that she has known for so long but at least we would have closure and know that she was alright.”
He added: “I’ve always believed that she was taken as a substitute child, possibly sold, and we want answers.
“We believe somebody out there knows something and this appeal could spark somebody’s conscience. Even if there are people who have heard rumours we need to know, because there’s no smoke without fire.”
Retired postman Richie appeared in the Hartlepool Mail earlier this month after taking Katrice’s case to parliament supported by town MP Iain Wright.
He believes the family has suffered “decades of silence” and a catalogue of unfairness and errors, including the family being denied case notes by the Royal Military Police (RMP) after all these years.
Defence Minister Mark Francois said Army investigators were doing everything they could to find out what happened to Katrice.