“Blonde Angel” Girl Maria Was Treated like “Dancing Bear,” Could Be American

September video of 4-year-old girl found in Gypsy camp in Greece emerges online

By on October 21st, 2013 08:41 GMT

The little girl who was found in a Roma Gypsy camp in central Greece, whose identity authorities are now working to establish, could be American, a new report in the Daily Mail suggests.

The girl, dubbed “Blonde Angel” in the media after her photos were circulated worldwide after her discovery under a blanket in the camp, during a police drug raid, is believed to be called Maria.

Maria’s real parents, not the couple with whom she was living when she was discovered, could be from the US or Scandinavia, the first leads indicate.

The girl is now with the charity Smile of the Child, which has received thousands of calls about her since her case went public. Of these, only a handful are actually promising.

“Eight of them have been described as promising and four of those are from the United States, raising the possibility that the child is American or related to someone living in the country,” the Mail writes.

Meanwhile, a video of the “Blonde Angel” dancing at a party in the camp has emerged online, further fueling reports that the couple who had her, Hristos Salis, 39, and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, 40, were using her to make money.

One theory is that they stole her from her real parents and had her begging on the streets. The video in which she dances (embedded below) has prompted talk about how she was used “as a dancing bear” to amuse crowds.

The two were also making money off the girl in the form of state benefits: documents indicate they received $3,420 (€2,500) a month to care for her. Assuming they had her since she was just a toddler, that amounts to quite a lot.

The Mail also spoke with members of the Gypsy family, who insist they did nothing wrong: they found the girl and raised her as their own. They never exploited her in any way, and videos like the one below are more innocent than they appear.

“Her mother sent her to join us on the stage. She liked dancing – she was not treated badly. Maria likes dancing. There is no way we would use her for money – that is a lie. We took her in because her mother could not look after her,” one family member tries to explain.

The couple have been arrested for abduction of a minor. They have already changed their story about how they came to raise Maria several times.

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