Our Katrice is still alive

A FAMILY still live in hope that their loved one will turn up - 25 years to the day since she went missing. And today it emerged that a suspect was arrested in the case of Katrice Lee.

Katrice was born in Germany, where her Hartlepool-born father Richard Lee was a serving Army officer near Dortmund.

She disappeared 25 years ago today, when shopping with mum Sharon in a forces supermarket on the Army base where they lived.

Katrice's older sister, Natasha Lee, spoke to the Mail today - on what would have been her 27th birthday - and revealed significant twists in the case.

Natasha, 32, said detectives investigated claims from a woman who said she knew a man who had admitted killing a young girl.

Natasha said: "When the case first re-opened, a lady phoned the military police. She was on her death bed. She confessed she knew somebody, her boyfriend at the time, who admitted abducting a girl and killing her. He was British."

The Ministry of Defence today confirmed the new inquiries led to an arrest - but the suspect was released without charge due to insufficient evidence.

In a separate twist, Natasha appeared on Crimewatch to highlight the appeal.

Natasha, whose father still lives in Hartlepool, said: "When I first went on Crimewatch a lady phoned up and left a message on my dad's answer machine. It said 'look for your daughter in France'.

"The police took the tape away, but there was nothing more."

Neither lead solved the mystery, but Katrice's family still hope she may be still alive, possibly abducted and brought up by another family.

Natasha, a civil servant who now lives in Portsmouth, said: "I've had a letter to say the investigation will always be open, but we've never heard anything.

"They said the investigation would be worldwide, but it wasn't."

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said: "The case remains open, but there are currently no other significant lines of inquiry."