Five-year-old still missing, mother attempts suicide

A police search for Terezka Cermakova

Five-year-old Terezka Cermakova from Kladno near Prague has been missing for a week now and hopes of finding her alive have dimmed. One of the biggest ever police operations launched to find a missing child ended unsuccessfully on Tuesday and in an act of desperation the child's mother attempted to commit suicide by jumping from a third floor window. Daniela Lazarova has more.

A police search for Terezka Cermakova
Six hundred police officers and an army of volunteers, including local school children, combed the Kladno region on Tuesday. Police dogs, divers and a helicopter with thermal vision were employed to no avail. The five-year-old, who was last seen in her mother's arms at midday last Wednesday, appears to have disappeared without a trace. The work of the police has been complicated by the fact that her mother was - by her own admission - drunk at the time of her disappearance and has not been able to recall the events of that fateful day. As a result the police have had to rely on information gleaned from neighbours and the public at large and admit that they have very little to go on.

According to Jana Detska, spokeswoman for the Kladno Police Department, the letter that Tereza's mother wrote prior to her suicide attempt contains nothing which would indicate that she knew more than she has already told the police. As a result all the options of what could have happened to the child remain open. The police have not been able to rule out the possibility of her having been murdered, abducted or killed by a driver who may have attempted to hide the body far from her home town. Police say she may no longer be on Czech territory. The only theory they have been able to rule out is her wandering off on her own and having an accident. In such an event, Tuesday's police search would have unearthed the body. As of this moment the case which the nation has watched with bated breath is going to slide into an anti-climax.

Police statistics reveal that over the past 8 years the number of children reported missing nationwide has doubled. Many simply run away from home but there are cases of children whose disappearance remains a mystery. Nine-year-old Jan Nejedly disappeared in 1998, on his way to a friend's house, never to be seen again. Five-year-old Jana Placha disappeared without trace in 1996. Like Terezka's relatives their families find it difficult to live with the fact that they have no idea what happened.