TODAY   |  October 23, 2013

Roma couple explains how they got custody of girl

The couple who were found with a 4-year-old blonde girl named Maria who’s unrelated to them have explained how they obtained custody, telling authorities that a prostitute handed them the girl to care for. NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reports.

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>>> we have new exclusive information about the little girl that was unidentified but found in greece. nbc's michelle kosinski spoke to the lawyer that had the child when she was discovered. michelle, good morning to you.

>> where did this mystery little girl called maria come from, really? well, that lawyer talked to us at length at times becoming emotional and saying as a mother herself she never would have taken this case if she did not come to believe this story. the attorney says this couple told her maria 's biological mother was a bulgarian prostitute who with her pimp and boyfriend tried to find a home for her unwanted infant among families in the area. but the couple at first didn't want maria , having five biological children of their own. she says the husband who has a past involving armed robbery told her he felt taking the baby would be, quote, like bringing a bomb into the house. that eventually people and police would ask questions. but she says the wife told her when she saw maria , the child looked like a barbie doll and was trying in her arms and said i can't just leave it. i don't want it to die or go into bad hands. she says the couple who are illiterate and can't write their own names loved maria as their own. it took ten police officers to separate her from them. she says the wife reached her my phone sunday from jail and then the alleged biological mother and boyfriend have gone into hiding.

>> probably because the biological mother of marias is in panic too.

>> reporter: police finally agreed to talk to us by phone confirming this story could be possible. they reported they are now looking for a bulgarian woman but they wouldn't confirm that. they're not ruling out anything but if this story does ring true, that would mean maria was not abducted. not another desperate family's missing child . remember, though, police said this couple officially registered 14 children as their own. their lawyer wouldn't comment. police are investigating but she did imply that some might have been their grand children since roma girls often get married as young as 14. at any rate, this case now prompted the highest court to launch an emergency review of birth certificates over the last six years. matt and savannah, back to you.

>> all right, michelle, thanks so much.