Wearing a pink long-sleeved t-shirt, her dyed hair pulled up into a bun on top of her head and nervously sucking her index finger, a teenage girl stares into space on a city centre street in Dublin, Ireland. It is a picture that could easily be mistaken for any ordinary snapshot, although perhaps the careful observer might claim to be able to spot a haunted, anxious note in the girl's eyes. If so, it is the only suggestion of the immense trauma that lies behind this seemingly everyday picture.
For although the girl was found almost a month ago, in what police say was a ‘distressed state’, on one of Dublin’s busiest shopping streets, she has steadfastly refused to disclose her identity to police investigators, in Europe's latest child identity mystery. Irish police said today that they had spent over 2,000 man hours trying fruitlessly trying to identify her. After getting special approval from the courts, they today took the unprecedented step of releasing these pictures of the girl, who has since been taken into state care, in a last-ditch attempt to find out who she is and how she came to be found, alone and abandoned, on the streets of Dublin.
Speculation is now growing that she may be a teenage victim of sex trafficking, with Irish media being briefed that she drew pictures depicting herself being raped, and traveling on an airplane with men. The Daily Beast was told by sources that the reports were believed to be accurate.
Superintendent Dave Taylor told a press conference in Dublin today that the girl has limited English, as he detailed the efforts police have made to identify her, including door to door inquires, street vehicle and pedestrian checkpoints in the vicinity of where the girl was discovered, examining CCTV records from the city centre and the extensive canvassing of child protection and homelessness units. Images have been provided to Interpol, and ports, airports and train stations have all been canvassed with images of the girl.
Paediatric orthodontists across Ireland have also been contacted as she has a fitted brace.
The mystery girl is described as five foot six inches tall, of slim build, with long blonde hair. When she was found, she was wearing a purple hooded top, tight dark coloured jeans, flat black shoes and a grey woollen jumper.
It is believed her clothes were bought in major retailers in Ireland, but detectives could not determine when they were purchased.
In a move never before undertaken, the police went to the High Court last week to seek permission under the Child Care Act to release a photograph of the girl.
Lawyers argued that it was in extraordinary circumstances after the investigation "hit a brick wall".
Taylor said the girl was being well treated under an interim care order by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Ireland health authorities.
"Obviously we have concerns as to her welfare," he said.
"She was found in a distressed state, she is being cared for very well at the moment by professionals but obviously we're at an impasse at the moment.
"We can't identify her."
Detectives came up with 15 possible names for their girl through their inquiries but they were "fully checked" and led nowhere.
If you know who the mystery girl is, please call +353 1 666 8100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org