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Katrice Lee’s father speaks after arrest made over 1981 disappearance

Katrice was aged two when she vanished from a supermarket near a British military base in Germany.

Katrice Lee before she went missing on her second birthday (Family handout/PA)
Katrice Lee before she went missing on her second birthday (Family handout/PA)

By Claire Hayhurst, PA

The father of Katrice Lee has said the arrest of a person in connection with her disappearance 38 years ago has made it “feel raw”.

Katrice disappeared from a supermarket near a British military base in Paderborn, Germany, on November 28 in 1981, her second birthday.

She was out shopping with her mother Sharon and aunt Wendy at the Naafi store close to where her soldier father Richard was stationed.

Neighbours said police began searching a terraced house in Abbey View Road in the Moredon area of Swindon on Monday.

One woman, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s quite concerning.

“Loads of vehicles and police turned up on Monday lunchtime but they wouldn’t say what they were doing.

“They searched the cars on the drive and took one of them away. This is a nice area – you don’t expect anything like this.”

Four unmarked white vans were near the property on Wednesday, with officers in black uniforms seen entering and leaving through two doors at the front of the house.

There was police tape across the drive, where a red Suzuki Alto was parked.

A blue and white tent was erected in the garden on Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday, an Army spokesman said: “We can confirm that an arrest was made on September 23 by the Royal Military Police in connection with the disappearance of Katrice Lee in 1981.

“As this is an ongoing investigation we cannot comment further at this stage.”

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A photo of Katrice Lee as a toddler and an age-progressed image of how she could look now (Missing People/PA)

Katrice’s father, a retired sergeant major, told the Mirror that he had been made aware that an arrest would be made.

“This arrest brings it all back and makes it feel raw,” he told the Mirror.

“As with parents in all cases of missing children, we want a happy ending but that might not be the case and we just hope we will get answers.”

In a post on Twitter, the Help Find Katrice account said: “Following recent events in Swindon we will be making no comments until we know for sure what is happening.

“The family ask that people refrain from speculation at this time so as not to jeopardise any future proceedings. #WeLiveInHope #KatriceLee”.

Royal Military Police launched a re-investigation, named Operation Bute, into Katrice’s disappearance in 2012.

Last year, a forensic search took place on the bank of the River Alma, near where Katrice was last seen, but nothing was found.

Katrice went missing while shopping for treats for a birthday party with her mother Sharon, from Gosport, and aunt Wendy.

Her mother realised in the checkout queue that she had forgotten crisps and asked her sister to watch Katrice.

When she returned in what she has estimated was less than a minute, Katrice was gone.

Her sister said Katrice had run after her and she believed they were together.

PA

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