Missing Katrice Lee: Hartlepool dad says arrest is 'totally unexpected'
The father of missing toddler Katrice Lee has called the arrest of someone in connection with her disappearance “totally unexpected”.
The Military Police revealed on Tuesday that a person was helping with their inquiries into how the Hartlepool girl vanished from a military supermarket in Germany on her second birthday nearly 38 years ago.
Few details have been released about the arrest although officers are believed to have been searching a house in the Moredon area of Swindon since Monday.
Richie Lee, 69, who was serving as a soldier In Paderborn when his daughter disappeared from a NAAFI store in November 1981, has repeatedly campaigned for the authorities to re-examine the case.
Speaking on Wednesday morning from his home in Hartlepool, he said: “I got a telephone call from the police to tell me that the arrest was happening and it was totally unexpected.
“They have told me very little else about it all although I am not putting all my eggs in any basket until we are a lot further down the line.
“Experience has told me to be cautious.
“My logic as a soldier, and I don’t know this for certain, is that this has come from re-examining the evidence that is on file.
“I don’t even know the sex of the person involved. But I am assuming it is a man and someone who is ex forces because a lot have settled in that area down south and it is the military police who seem to be handling things.
“If it was a civilian then I think it would be the ordinary police who would be involved.”
Katrice was out shopping with mum Sharon at the store, near to where her dad was stationed, when she went missing on November 28, 1981.
Her mother realised in the checkout line that she had forgotten crisps and asked Katrice's older sister, Natasha, to watch her.
When she returned in what she has estimated was less than a minute, Katrice was gone.
Natasha said Katrice had run after her and she believed they were together.
Retired sergeant major Richie has been critical of the Royal Military Police, who are leading the inquiry, particularly over their handling of the initial search.
Military police chiefs admitted in 2012 that the original investigation was flawed and started re-examing evidence.
A large-scale excavation of a river bank in Paderborn failed to find any evidence last year.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said on Tuesday: “We can confirm that an arrest was made on September 23 by the Royal Military Police in connection with the disappearance of Katrice Lee in 1981.
“As this is an ongoing investigation we cannot comment further at this stage.”