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