Tags: blonde | angel | identity | gypsy

Blonde Angel: Girl Rescued From Gypsy Camp's Identity Still Sought

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Monday, 21 Oct 2013 12:40 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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While the identity of the 4-year-old "blond angel" found in a gypsy camp raided by authorities last week is still unknown, more than 10,000 leads have come in since Greek law enforcement began efforts to identify her.

The child, known as Maria and called the "mystery blonde girl" by Greek media outlets, was found as police conducted a drug trafficking raid at the Roma gypsy settlement in Farsala last Wednesday. The small town is located 170 miles north of Athens.

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The president of Smile of the Child, a charity looking after the girl now, Kostas Yannopoulos told BBC News that Maria was used for begging on streets.

"The calls have come in primarily from within Greece," Panagiotis Pardalis, a communications officer for the charity, told NBC News about incoming leads. "But emails have come in from across Europe, as well as from the United States, Canada, Australia, and South Africa."

DNA tests ruled out the couple — a 39-year-old man and 40-year-old woman who were caring for the girl — as her parents. They told Greek authorities that they adopted her, CNN reported.

Law enforcement arrested the couple for abducting a minor, along with counts of falsifying identity documents, reported Athens-Macedonian News Agency, per CNN. The news agency said authorities were suspicious of a 2009 birth and baptism registration found supposedly connected with the girl.

The 40-year-old woman, who was not identified, had two different identification documents and appeared to have given birth to three children between June and November 1993, and another three children between October 1994 and February 1995, CNN reported.

Thessalia Province police director Vassilis Halatsis told the BBC that the couple gave "constantly changing claims" about the girl's supposed adoption and her birth parents.

"The girl might have been abducted from a hospital, or given up by an unmarried mother," Halatsis told the BBC. "So far we do not have a declared disappearance of a child of this age in Greece. Through Interpol, we will request assistance from the other European countries."

Greek authorities are also investigating the possibility of a child smuggling ring.

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