The FBI is joining the international authorities searching for the parents of the 4-year-old girl now known as "Maria," who was found in a Roma camp. NBC's Michelle Kosinski reports.
ATHENS -- An American couple whose baby daughter vanished from their Kansas City home two years ago has contacted authorities in Greece who are trying to solve the mystery surrounding a blond girl found in a Roma camp.
Lisa Irwin vanished from her home in Kansas City, Mo., in Oct. 2011.
Jeremy Irwin and Deborah Bradley, whose 10-month-old daughter Lisa Irwin disappeared in October 2011, got in touch with the The Smile of a Child charity that is heading up the hunt for the girl's biological parents, a spokesman confirmed to NBC News on Tuesday.
John Picerno, a lawyer for the family, said he had contacted the FBI and the couple’s interest in the girl’s discovery had been registered.
"The (FBI) agent has made an official inquiry through governmental channels with the authorities in Greece," he said. "We are awaiting a response from them, which we anticipate will be forthcoming as soon as possible."
Lisa Irwin has not been seen since October 4, 2011, when her father came home from work to find the door unlocked, the lights on and the crib empty.
The chances of the girl -- who is known as Maria -- being Lisa Irwin appeared to be slim because a dental examination suggested Maria is between five and six years old.
“We enquire about every child that is found and fits the age profile of Lisa,” Picerno told Britain's Telegraph newspaper. “We investigate all leads.”
A spokesman for The Smile of a Child charity told NBC News that of the 10,000 calls and emails they received around eight or 10 were being more closely looked into, including cases in the U.S., Sweden, Poland and France.
Police raiding a Roma – or Gypsy – camp in central Greece found a young fair-skinned, blonde girl who was living with a couple later proven not to be her parents. NBC's Michelle Kosinski reports.
Kostas Giannopoulos, the charity's president, said that although Maria remained in a Greek hospital, she was in "good condition" and making progress.
“She is happy and playing” he said. “She has learned Greek words better than expected so we are very positive.”
Previously, Maria had only spoken a few words in the Roma dialect as well as Greek, although police think she may be of northern or eastern European origin, possibly from Scandinavia or Bulgaria.
Giannopoulos added that she had been a little picky about her food and a little stubborn.
“When communicating she mostly communicates about the present and not the past," he added.
Maria was spotted peeking out from under a blanket last Wednesday as police swept the Roma settlement for suspected drug trafficking near Farsala, a small town around 170 miles north of Athens. Roma also have been called Gypsies, though that term is considered derogatory.
Greek Police via Reuters
Eleftheria Dimolpoulou, left, and Christos Salis, right, are seen with Maria. Officers told Reuters the couple gave at least five conflicting accounts of how the child ended up with them, including that she was found outside a supermarket.
Confused that her coloring did not match that of Christos Salis, 39, and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, who were claiming to be her parents, police ran DNA tests and discovered they were not biologically related.
Officers told Reuters the couple gave at least five conflicting accounts of how the child ended up with them, including that she was found outside a supermarket.
The woman had two different identification documents and other papers suggested the couple had up to 14 children, but six were registered as having been born within less than 10 months. They received 2,790 euros ($3,800) a month in child benefits, a police source told Reuters.
The couple faced magistrates on Monday to respond to charges of abduction and procuring false documents but were ordered to be held in custody until they face trial. A date has not been set.
They denied snatching Maria and said her mother handed the girl to them shortly after giving birth, one of their lawyers Constantinos Katsavos, told reporters outside the court.
She's being called the "blonde angel," and it was a four-year-old girl's blonde hair and pale skin that led to her rescue. The search is now on for her parents. NBC's Duncan Golestani reports.
"It was an adoption that was not exactly legal but took place with the mother's consent," he said, adding that is what the couple testified.
Police have sent Interpol a file with all the evidence they have on the girl, including DNA samples, to seek a possible match with records of missing children.
The possibility of a smuggling ring - in which pregnant women were brought into Greece from Bulgaria and their children put up for sale - was also being investigated, according to Greek state-owned news agency Amna.
Meanwhile, in the Republic of Ireland, police on Monday removed a blue eyed, blonde haired seven-year-old girl from a Roma family.
Officials had gotten a tip-off that a young girl was living with the large family but looked nothing like her brothers and sisters, Ireland's Sunday World reported on Tuesday. The child has been taken into care while the investigation is ongoing, the paper reported.
NBC News' Katerina Voussoura and Reuters contributed to this report. Henry Austin reported from London.
- 10,000 possible clues after mystery blonde girl found in Greece
- Tips pour in after blonde girl 'without an identity' found in Greece
This story was originally published on Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:33 AM EDT