Katrice Lee's family issue heartfelt appeal to end agony on 40th birthday anniversary

The family of a girl who vanished 38 years ago have made a fresh appeal to try to find her on what would be her 40th birthday.

Thursday, 28th November 2019, 12:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th November 2019, 2:52 pm
The most recent age progression picture of how Katrice Lee may have looked at the age of 38.
The most recent age progression picture of how Katrice Lee may have looked at the age of 38.

Katrice Lee disappeared from a NAAFI shopping complex in Paderborn, West Germany on her second birthday on November 28, 1981.

Her family, including her dad Richie Lee, from Hartlepool, have been campaigning for answers about her whereabouts ever since.

On the sad milestone of Katrice’s 40th birthday, Richie, 70, issued a new appeal for anyone with information, or who thinks they could be Katrice, to come forward and end the family’s pain.

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Richard Lee (70) with a photograph of Katrice aged 18 months. Picture by FRANK REID

Richie, who was serving with the British Army in West Germany when Katrice vanished, said: “We are appealing to those people whose allegiances may have changed where they have kept quiet in the past now to step forward and put our family out of our agony.

“At the end of the day, we as a family are trying to get the whereabouts of our daughter.

“My belief has never changed from 1981 when I stood in the rainy car park when Katrice disappeared.

“We have always believed she was taken as a substitute child for another family and has been brought up not knowing who she really is.”

Katrice Lee as she looked shortly before she disappeared on her second birthday.

The family are also appealing to people aged around 40 who has an incomplete family history and had strabismus (squint) surgery as a child to come forward.

Katrice was born with a condition in her left eye that would have needed two operations to correct.

Richie said a substitute family could have altered Katrice’s age slightly to avoid suspicion and could easily have been taught another language.

At the time she vanished, Katrice was wearing red wellingtons, a turquoise duffel coat, blue and green tartan pinafore dress over a white frilly blouse.

She had curly brown hair and brown eyes, and a pink birthmark slightly to the right of the base of her spine that resembled a rash.

Richie has approached the Royal Military Police, who are investigating the case under Operation BUTE, to release a new colour age-progression picture of how Katrice may look today.

Anyone who has any information or who thinks they may be Katrice should contact Operation BUTE direct on 0800 616888 or email [email protected]