A young blonde girl believed to be about 4 years old was discovered by police at a Roma camp in Greece, covered in mud and begging The girl, allegedly kidnapped by the gypsy family she was found with, has been dubbed the ‘blonde angel’ by the international child services organizations that are working to match her to missing child reports to find her family.
A 4-year-old girl only referred to as “Maria,” was found during a police drug trafficking sweep at a gypsy camp near Farsala, Greece on Oct. 16. The girl was found muddy and hiding underneath a blanket when police arrived, prompting investigation into her case. Police found that her suspected kidnappers were making the young girl beg and dance for money.
Blonde Girl Found In Greece Allegedly Kidnapped By Gypsies
Hristos Salis, 39, and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, claimed to be the child’s parents, but police uncovered that they had no relation to the girl — and had conflicting stories about how they took her in.
“DNA tests have shown the couple in the Roma camp with whom Maria was living were not her biological parents. The 40-year-old woman and 39-year-old man have been arrested and charged with abducting a minor, and police are investigating whether the girl was a victim of trafficking,” reported NBC World News. The couple will make their first court appearance on Oct. 21.
The family reportedly exploited young Maria’s innocent looks and allegedly made her beg for money. The girl was reportedly treated like a “dancing bear,” by the family, according to The Daily Mail.
Police found that the woman claiming to be her mother may have been trying to take advantage of the country’s welfare system.
“Police allege the woman claimed to have given birth to six children in less than 10 months, while 10 of the 14 children the couple had registered as their own are unaccounted for,” reported CBC News. They reportedly received 2,500 euros ($3,420) per month in subsidies intended to help their children.
Mystery ‘Blonde Angel’ Discovered
Authorities are searching for Maria’s “origin,” reported NBC News. Police are hoping to match Maria with international missing child reports to bring her home.
Maria is only able to speak a few words of the Roma dialect and some Greek. “Police think she may be of northern or eastern European origin, possibly from Scandinavia or Bulgaria,” reported NBC News.
Maria’s case has sparked hope in missing children cases around the world. Her story has also generated thousands of calls from hopeful parents who believe Maria might be theirs or that her case may provide insight into other unsolved mystery disappearances.