(ATHENS, Greece) — DNA from a little girl found living in the squalor of a Gypsy encampment in central Greece does not match an international database of missing persons, Greek authorities told ABC News.
The setback only deepens the mystery as to the identity of the blonde-haired girl known only as Maria, who was discovered in the camp by Greek police last week during a nationwide crackdown on Gypsies, also known as Roma.
The findings by Interpol initially suggest that the girl is not one of the hundreds of children reported missing every year in its database.
That database does not include reports of missing U.S. children, and several American families whose kids have disappeared — along with hundreds of European families with missing kids — have had their hopes kindled by the mystery of the blonde girl.
Maria, believed to be between 5 and 6 years old following a dental examination, is currently in the care of the charity The Smile of The Child and is being held at an undisclosed Greek hospital, officials said.
“The kid is happy, plays with her dolls but doesn’t seem to like the food that they give her,” Costas Giannopoulos, the charity’s director, told ABC News.
A child psychologist and a Roma translator will soon interview the girl, following a court order, Giannopoulos said. Despite only speaking Roma, the girl has picked up a few Greek words since her discovery, he said.
Authorities hope that further genetic testing will reveal her exact age and ethnicity.
Maria was found living with a Gypsy couple, who initially claimed to be her biological parents but who later claimed to have adopted the girl from a Bulgarian Gypsy “in a non-legal way,” according to their defense attorney, Marietta Palavrasa.
A prosecutor accompanying police became suspicious of the child’s paternity because Maria, with blonde hair and blue eyes, looked nothing like the pair claiming to be her parents.
The couple — Christos Salis, 39, and his partner who was carrying two identification cards and is either Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, or Selini Sali, 41 — have been charged with kidnapping a minor and falsifying documents. Salis was also charged with possession of drugs and firearms.
A police source told ABC News that the girl was one of four children found with the couple, including two other girls and a boy. The police source said the couple had registered 14 children for welfare benefits, but it was not clear whether the other children existed.
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