Crucially, the Bulgarian couple are Roma themselves.
This is a grim twist in an already dark tale. The discovery of Maria earlier this month prompted a Europe-wide freak-out about the possibility that Roma — gypsy communities who descended from Indian nomads and are some of the continent's most persecuted minorities — were involved in the kidnapping and trafficking of children. How could a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes end up in a community that usually features dark complexions?
People assumed the worst. A spokesperson for the family of missing child Madeleine McCann told the Daily Mirror that it gave the family "great hope that Madeleine could be found alive," and the Daily Mail accompanied a story on "Maria" with a section about "How Roma gangs 'traffic children across Europe to steal.'"