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New appeal over missing Tees girl Katrice

Original Source: GAZETTE: TUESDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2012
•by Mike Morgan, Evening Gazette
 •Feb 28 2012


A FORMER Teesside soldier is today imploring ex-squaddies to rack their brains to solve one of Britain’s saddest and longest-running disappearances.


Katrice Lee, daughter of former Teesside staff sergeant Richard Lee, vanished without trace on her second birthday from a supermarket near Paderborn, Germany, on November 28, 1981.


The family had gone to the supermarket to shop. Hundreds were about and Katrice disappeared inside in seconds.


The case has chilling echoes of the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal.


Katrice, daughter of former Hartlepool soldier Richard and his former wife Sharon, has never been traced.


Despite a massive hunt and 30-year campaign, no evidence has turned up to solve the mystery


Now ex-comrade Jeff Carroll, 53, of Guisborough’s Buckshees Military shop, wants to help Richard get Katrice’s file released from the Military Police via the Freedom of Information Act.


Jeff was one of the first searchers of thousands who scoured the area day and night around the Naafi supermarket. Jeff, who was a trooper in an armoured recce unit of the 15th/19th Hussars, is telling his story for the first time, hoping to trigger a vital memory from fellow Teessiders.


He said: “Two things could have happened to Katrice.


“Either she was abducted by someone in a vehicle, or she could have fallen into a fast-flowing stream which ran near the entrance to the supermarket.


“There were hundreds of soldiers of various units searching and the Hussars included many from Teesside.


“Someone could have seen something which could help the family. I’ve gone over and over that day in my mind, trying to remember anything I’ve missed.”


The Hussars were based at Paderborn and the supermarket was at Schloss Nuehaus, three kilometres from the base.


Jeff said: “Lunchtime on November 28 was bitterly cold and if Katrice had slipped into the river, she’d have been dead of hypothermia before she drowned in a short time.


“The guard commander came into our block and told us one of the regimental children was missing.


“We grabbed our gear and about 30 of us climbed into a truck and drove to Schloss Neuhaus.


“Hundreds of soldiers and Royal Military Police and German police joined in.


“We searched until the early hours, but realised she wasn’t there.


“Lots of different theories have been put forward. She could have been abducted as the family believe, but she could also have fallen in the river. It was searched by divers, but it led to a lake downstream and a small body like that might not have been found.  



“It’s tragic - one of Britain's most baffling mysteries.”


Katrice’s sister Natasha was seven at the time. She’s now grown up and living down south and is also desperate to know what happened.


The Royal Military Police reopened the investigation to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Katrice’s disappearance.


Jeff said: “If my story jogs a memory of a sighting or any clue at all, people should call Cleveland Police on 01642 326326.” A £10,000, reward failed to provide progress.


Richard, 62, of Belle Vue Way, Hartlepool, said of his attempt to get access to the official files: “The authorities argue release of Katrice’s file could prejudice a future court case. But the McCanns have had access to Madeleine’s file.


“Technology’s moved on a lot since the 1980s, with DNA testing and this file could hold a vital clue which could bring forward a vital witness to end our nightmare.” He has the backing of Hartlepool MP Ian Wright who raised the case in the Commons.


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