Police probing the disappearance of Hartlepool toddler Katrice Lee search European DNA databases

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POLICE investigating the disappearance of Hartlepool toddler Katrice Lee are now searching thousands of medical databases in Europe for a potential DNA match.

Katrice’s dad Richie Lee has told the Mail that advances in DNA and genetics means that investigators are currently using the latest technology in a bid to find his daughter who vanished from a German supermarket 32 years ago.

Richie with a picture of his daughter Katrice

Richie with a picture of his daughter Katrice

The 62-year-old was paid a visit by the Royal Military Police (RMP), who are investigating the case, and was told that experts have been able to come up with a ‘DNA genetic marker’ by using tissue from Richie, Katrice’s mum Sharon and her sister Natasha.

And the ‘marker’ is being compared against medical records containing DNA belonging to people from countries in Europe, such as those with criminal records, or who have had surgery.

Richie, a retired post man from the Stockton Road area of Hartlepool, said: “They’re trawling these databases hoping that a ‘marker’ matches basically.

“Unfortunately it’s not everybody in Europe that’s going to be on the database, only those that have had their DNA recorded, but from little acorns great oak trees grow.

“We are moving in the right direction and things are nudging forward slowly.

“There have been some legal complications with certain countries wanting the RMP to produce warrants to gain access to the medical databases but at least momentum is picking up again.

“That makes me feel brilliant.”

Richie was also happy with another development by the RMP who re-investigated the line of inquiry which suggested Katrice, who would now be 34-years-old, may have drowned in a river near to the supermarket, by saying it was “highly unlikely” that she had ever gone into the water.

He said a water specialist came to that conclusion after examining the water conditions on the day the town youngster went missing, the amount of rain that had fallen and the speed of the river.

“We’ve always refuted any claims that suggested Katrice had wandered to the river and fell in because firstly she was terrified of water and wouldn’t have gone anywhere near,” he said.

“Secondly the water was only ever a few feet deep, up to my hips, and it flowed into a canal which wasn’t much deeper, so if she had fallen in there, she would have been found.”

Little Katrice went missing on her second birthday in 1981 during a trip with her mum to the supermarket in Paderborn, Germany – where Richie was stationed with the British Army at the time.