An English-speaking homeless woman found wandering the streets of Rome has sparked an international probe to uncover her identity.
Italian authorities were poring over missing person reports from around the globe Tuesday in their effort to identify the woman, who is believed to be in her late teens and who has given various names to police when questioned, according to reports.
The Daily Mail reported Tuesday that the girl is a 21-year-old Swedish woman who disappered from her home in Stockholm in May and suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. The news outlet identified the girl as Embla Jauhojärvi, after a man called the Daily Mail and said the woman was his daughter — though authorities have yet to confirm her identity.
“She has been missing for six months since May,” the man, identified as Tahvo Jauhojärvi, told the Daily Mail after seeing images of the woman online.
“I knew she was going to Italy and to study Italian as a language,” he said. “I’ve tried for six months to get help from police in Sweden, but they have been no help.”
Social media sites are ripe with theories about the woman. Some Internet users claim she strongly resembles Madeleine McCann — a British girl who disappeared from Portugal in 2007 — while others suggest she might be a missing girl from the U.S. or Germany.
The 5-foot blonde woman, who carries no passport, reportedly told local police she is 20 years old and from the U.K.
McCann was snatched from her parents’ vacation resort in Praia da Luz in May 2007 in a case that has never been solved. The girl, who would be 13 years old if alive today, has a distinctive dark strip on the iris of her right eye.
A Facebook page devoted to the search for McCann dismissed the claim on Monday, saying in a post, “Thank you all for contacting us regarding this child. We have passed on to Operation Grange. They do not believe this is Madeleine.”
“This is someone’s child, so if you know who this child is, please contact the authorities in your country. Please keep sharing too,” the site said.
The Sun newspaper reported that the homeless woman is also being linked to other high-profile missing persons cases, including Amanda Adlai, who was kidnapped in Michigan in 2008, and Maria-Brigitte Henselmann, who disappeared from Germany in 2008.
The teen, who has no belongings and refuses to accept money, has been wearing the same long tan skirt, rain jacket and black male shoes for an extended period of time, according to Yahoo News. She reportedly responds to the name “Maria,” but has given authorities other names.
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