(CBS News) ATHENS—She answers to the name Maria and has blond hair and emerald-green eyes.
That’s what made the Greek police suspicious when they visited her home during a search for drugs and firearms. The little girl bears no resemblance to the family she was living with in the central Greek town of Larissa, a community of Romas, or Gypsies, as they’re often known.
DNA tests proved that Maria isn’t biologically related to the couple who said she was their daughter; both were charged in court Monday with child abduction.
They and others in the Roma community claim Maria was adopted from parents who didn’t want her. But Kostas Yannopoulos, the president of the charity that is now caring for Maria, said she may have been abducted by the Romas because of her unusual looks.
“When you have a good commodity like this one, they’re trying to find a better price, because they will use also this little girl in the streets of Larissa to beg, because she was blonde, and everybody say she was cute,” Yannopoulos said.
If Maria was abducted, it could have been years ago. Home video found in the Roma community seems to show her as a toddler. It’s believed she’s now five or six years old.
The charity has taken thousands of phone calls and told CBS News Monday that they have information on eight missing children that they believe could be Maria.
The Greek police say the woman they’ve charged had documents showing she’d given birth to 10 children in a six-month period, which adds to suspicions that she was involved in buying and selling children.
The fact is, Maria may have been sold or abandoned by her birth parents. Maria doesn’t match any of the missing children listed by Interpol, and American law enforcement officials in Greece told CBS News they are not pursuing any U.S. connections.