The dad of Katrice Lee - who went missing in Germany more than 36 years ago - says he remains hopeful she will be found alive after a five-week search for clues uncovered ‘nothing of significance’.
Royal Military Police investigators carried out a forensic excavation of the bank of the River Alme, near Paderborn, where it was believed her body could have been buried.
A press conference in Germany yesterday heard investigators had found bone fragments but they are not believed to belong to Katrice, who went missing from a NAAFI supermarket on her second birthday on November 28, 1981.
Katrice’s father Richie Lee, 68, who lives in Hartlepool, said that the result of the excavation confirms the family’s conviction that Katrice was abducted to be a surrogate child for another family and that they he will one day learn the truth of what happened to her.
Richie told the Mail: “The Royal Military Police turned round and said they found bone fragments they believe not to be that of Katrice, however, they have to send that for DNA testing and if necessary carbon dating.
“I told the media that I will get Katrice back if the correct information is put out there.”
Katrice had a condition known as “lazy eye” in her left eye which would have needed surgery to correct when she was a youngster and as a teenager.
Richie, who was based in Germany with the British Army when Katrice went missing, added: “You have got missing peoples bureaux that need to talk to each other across Europe and exchange information on children that are missing and maybe I will get the answers to where Katrice is.
“I get the impression the Royal Military Police are waiting for something to come forward. We can’t do that because time is marching on.”
Richie earlier told BBC Breakfast: “You can’t imagine what it is like until you have walked in my shoes.”
The Ministry of Defence said the excavation did not find anything of significance.
A spokesperson said: “We thank the Royal Military Police and the soldiers that worked tirelessly on this five-week excavation and share the deep disappointment and frustration that the Lee family must feel.
“This is not the end of the investigation and efforts will continue.”
Anyone with potential information is urged to call investigators on the UK helpline 0800 616888.