Over the past few days images of a young English-speaking girl spread like wildfire across the Internet after the possibility that she could be Madeline McCann came to light.
The blonde girl was spotted sleeping rough in a Piazza in Central Rome as well as walking alone through the streets of the capital, reports the Daily Mail.
Internet detectives were quick to suggest that the young girl could be Amanda Adlai who was abducted in Michigan in 2008 or Maria-Brigitte Henselmann who disappeared from Germany in 2008 – but the most popular suggestion is that the homeless girl is Madeleine McCann, who vanished in 2007 and has never been seen since.
However the mysterious girl has now been identified as a Swedish woman who has been missing for more than six months and suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome.
After going viral overnight the young woman’s father reached out to police to explain that she is his missing daughter, Embla Jauhojärvi, who disappeared from their family home in Stockholm in May.
Her father explained that he is currently waiting for Embla to be found by police who will send her home to Sweden for a family reunion.
He told the Daily Mail:
She has been missing for six months since May. I knew she was going to Italy and to study Italian as a language. I’ve tried for six months to get help from police in Sweden, but they have been no help.
I had hopes that she was going to do what she went there to do. I want her home.
He added that he had tried to get the police involved in the past but because his daughter was an adult there was nothing they could do.
Earlier on, Italian police revealed that they had taken the girl back to one of their stations when they were told by a member of the public that she needed help.
We brought her in and she told us her name is Maria and that she is English and said she was 20. But the date of birth she gave us would make her 21. We let her go because she hasn’t done anything wrong.
There has been speculation that she is Madeleine McCann. But Madeleine would be 13 now and this woman is much older. It’s not her.
When we asked her why she was here she simply said she left her family in England, without giving a precise reason.
Let’s just hope Embla gets home in time for Christmas!
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.