Police to excavate site in search for missing Hartlepool toddler Katrice Lee
Police investigating the disappearance of a Hartlepool toddler in Germany more than 36 years ago are to excavate a site in Paderborn.
Katrice Lee went missing on her second birthday on November 28, 1981, from a NAAFI shopping complex while she was with her mother.
Her father Richard was a Sergeant Major in the British Army and stationed in West Germany at the time.
The Royal Military Police (RMP) reopened the investigation in 2012 with re-analysed evidence identifying the bank of the River Alme, in Paderborn, as being of particular interest.
The case featured on the BBC's Crimewatch series last year.
In a statement, senior investigating officer Richard O'Leary said: "On this basis, a team of military personnel and civilian forensic experts will be carrying out a detailed excavation of the site, which is expected to last approximately five weeks.
"The aim of the search is to find evidence that could finally shed light on what happened to Katrice."
He renewed an appeal for information about a man seen at the shopping centre placing a child matching the toddler's description into a green saloon car.
"A green saloon car was also seen on the River Alme Bridge near the NAAFI the day after Katrice disappeared.
It may or may not be the same car, but we are very keen to identify this car," he added.
A photo-fit of the man has been reissued as part of the fresh appeal.
Anyone from the Paderborn area who owned such a car at the time is asked to approach police so they can be ruled out of the inquiry.
But the possibility remains that Katrice is still alive - now aged 38 - having been abducted and raised with little memory of her early years, investigators believe.
She was born with a distinctive eye condition in her left eye which would have required two medical operations to correct.
Mr O'Leary said: "An age progression image of what Katrice may look like now, aged 38, has been produced.
"If anyone feels they know someone who looks like this, or believes they could be Katrice, then we would encourage them to come forward."
We will have more on this development throughout Monday.