THE anguished dad of a Hartlepool girl who vanished 30 years ago is backing a new website that launches today to help find missing children.
Katrice Lee who disappeared in Germany in November 1981 is featured on the site missingkids UK
Dad Richie Lee is supporting the initiative and told of the ongoing pain at his loss on today’s International Missing Children’s Day.
The website is run by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, the UK’s national law enforcement agency for protecting children.
It features a picture of Katrice around the time she went missing and a computer-generated image of how she could look today, aged 32.
Richie, 62, said: “This is what we have been trying to get for a long time. We know from other countries that when all the agencies concerned are alerted and made aware you stand a better chance of getting your children back.
“Without a shadow of doubt, technology has come a long way in the last 30 years with the internet and things like Twitter.
“Anything that helps to get just one child back has got to be a good thing.”
Katrice went missing from a NAAFI supermarket in Paderborn, Germany, on November 28, 1981, on her second birthday.
Richie, of the Stockton Road area of town, was serving with the British Army at the time.
Talking about the daily struggle Richie faces, he said: “Initially, life went on hold. Having her sister Natasha, I was living two lives.
“The only way I can describe the not knowing is when a child goes missing briefly and suddenly your heart is in your mouth.
“Well my heart has been in my mouth for 30 years. Every birthday it hurts, it smarts.
“But the case is not closed and it won’t be closed as long as I draw breath.”
Richie is currently fighting to get the Government to release Royal Military Police files on the investigation and Hartlepool MP Iain Wright has raised questions in Parliament.
But they have so far refused saying it could prejudice the investigation or any future trial.