After 10 years Madeleine McCann went missing during a holiday apartment in Portugal, police still have no idea to what really happened to the girl in 2007. There is, of course, myriad theories about the case: she could have been killed, kidnaped, suffered an accident. Regardless if the information is true or not, anything related to the case makes headlines all over the world.
To remember the case:
Kate and Gerry McCann were on holiday in Praia da Luz, Portugal, together with their three children. On the night of May 3, they put them into bed and went to a tapas restaurant 50 yards from their apartment to have dinner with friends. They went back to the apartment in each half an hour to check if the children were ok.
At 10 pm, Kate came back to the restaurant and told Madeleine was missing. The group search at the resort and in the apartment. Madeleine was reported missing to the police at 10:14 pm that night. Their life would never be the same again and the British couple spent the last decade looking for Madeleine.
Here are important 15 facts to know to understand Madeleine McCann’s case.
Four months after Madeleine’s disappearance, her parents Kate and Gerry McCann were formally considered suspects of the crime.
The police believed that, before leaving to the tapas restaurant near the hotel, the couple gave sedative to the girl so she would sleep while they were out. However, the dose was too strong and they have accidentally killed their daughter.
According to this theory, the parents have hidden the girl’s body and claimed she was abducted. Weeks later, they put the body in the trunk of a rented car and disposed it in unknown location.
However, in 2008 the investigation concluded that the parents weren’t involved in he case. In an interview this year. During an interview this year, Pedro do Carmo, deputy director of the Judiciary Police said “ (...) What I can say, just as I did back in 2011 and 2013, is that Maddie's parents are not suspects. That statement remains: the parents are not suspects. Period.”
A few months after Madeleine went missing, the Portuguese police faced a lot of criticism because they failed to collect evidences from the apartment properly.
Portugal's National Institute of Legal Medicine claimed that they just received samples from the scene, but didn’t receive items. The detectives in charge of the case, simply didn’t collect items such as blankets, pillows and sheets where Madeleine was sleeping. So there are great chances they missed important evidences.
On the top of that, it took hours to the police arrive at the apartment when they were called. In the meantime, many people entered the crime scene and left DNA traces and changed the original scene.
The police was also slow in asking CCT images from restaurants and shops in the area. With those videos, there were chances to see suspects and find more clues to what happened to Madeleine.
Another theory claims that, after the parents left the apartment, thieves assumed it was empty and decided to break in. When they entered, Madeleine woke up and the they killed or abducted the girl.
The idea of thieves panicking and acting by impulse sounded as a real possibility to the police. Four Praia da Luz locals were considered suspects - their phone location matched the time Madeleine has disappeared and investigators considered that it was a robbery that went wrong.
During an interview, Paulo Ribeiro, one of the suspects told that he was completely in shock when he was approached by the police as one of the suspects.
In 2014 they were investigated and this year Scotland Yard said they didn’t find evidences to link the men to the case and therefore they aren’t considered suspects. The Portuguese police never thought they were involved in the crime.
Recently Scotland Yard Police said that a woman was spotted near McCanns’ apartment in Portugal near the time the girl's disappeared. The police believes that the woman can help or even have the answer to what happened to Madeleine. A source said that the police has many questions to that woman.
"Detectives have scoured Europe looking for this woman who is thought to hold the key to solving the entire case, told a source to the Sunday Express
"After months of tireless police work they will soon be in a position to move in and finally get some answers after a decade of dead ends. It is a hugely significant line of inquiry that officers hope could lead to an arrest”, added.
The importance gave to that woman raises some questions: why she seems so crucial just 10 years after the crime? Why we just heard about her now?
Besides the theories around case, now and then there are headlines claiming that Madeleine has been found. The most recent “Madeleine” was found in November 2016, when people assumed that an English speaking homeless girl walking in the center of Rome was Madelaine. Her pictures took over the internet. It turned out that she was a 21-year-old from Sweden who vanished from home six month before. She was Recognized by her father.
Headlines also spotted that Madeleine was found in U.S, Paraguay, New Zealand and the list goes on. Unfortunately, as we know, none of those news were true. Almost every year, the police releases a picture of how Madeleine would look today, showing the age progression. The girl would be now 14-years-old. Despite all the fake news and lack of clues, the family never lost the hope to find Madeleine.
According to reports, Algarve had several paedophile cases when Madeleine’s disappear. “There are 38 known offenders in the Algarve. The area is a magnet for paedophiles. There have been seven assaults involving the children of tourists in the Algarve in the last four years”, said an anonymous source in an interview about the case.
It’s true that in Algarve many people believe that Madeleine was victim of a violator, since five cases happen before the girl disappearance. But why he would bring the girl and how there is no trace of him at the apartment?
Many names were presented to the police, but no one was formally considered suspect. A bizarre coincidence is that the broadcaster Sir Clement Freud, who was paedophile who abused countless girls for decades, had a holiday residence at Praia da Luz and knew Madeleine’s parents.
Of course if a child goes missing, parents want to know that investigators are doing everything that could be done to find their son or daughter. According to Scotland Yard, the search for missing Madeleine McCann has cost more than £11 million ( approximately US$14 million) until today. Earlier this year, the Home Office announced that UK-based Metropolitan Police would receive additional £85,000 ( US$ 110 thousand) to cover the fees for Madeleine Mccann case until September 2017. Many people criticise the amount spent in the investigation.
'I think some of that criticism is really quite unfair actually, because I know it's a single missing child, but there are millions of British tourists that go to the Algarve, year-on-year, and essentially you've got a British subject who was the subject of a crime”, said Gerry McCann. “There were other crimes that came to light following Madeleine's abduction, that involved British tourists, so I think prosecuting it to a reasonable end is what you would expect.”
With the investigation from Portuguese and British police going nowhere, Gerry and Kate McCanns hired their a private detective to find out what happen on their daughter on May 2007. Parents didn’t seem to trust the local police and also had a troubled relations with them. The parents refused to share the information they got from the investigator with the police.
The Portuguese police left the parents without updates for long periods and sometimes they were taken to the police station where they had to wait hours to speak to someone who never showed up. The McCanns felt there was a lack of clarity from the Portuguese police.
The parents described in a In May 2011 the Home Office launched the Scotland Yard review of the case. the behavior of the Portuguese police as “inhumane, with no real consideration for their emotional and physical wellbeing.”
According to that theory, the little girl was taken by a very organized gang based in Belgium. But there are many versions of how they did it and where she was taken.
A year after her disappearance, in 2008, rumors said that the british girl was taken to Belgium, as a demand of the gang’s boss. Others say that she was taken to Morocco on a boat.
Morocco is part of the human trafficking rout. Rumors says that many children are sold to rich families in Mauritania. They arrive in Morocco, cross desert until they arrive in the country. Some people believe that it could have happened to Madeleine. But nothing was proved until today.
Some people said that have seen a girl who would fit Madeleine’s description. Following those information, her parents went to the African country looking for their daughter. As we know, they never succeed.
Two years ago the press spotted that the troubled relation between Portuguese authorities and British Police might have affected the case’s investigation. In a secret Home Office report, Jim Gamble, who used to be head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) , said that government "does not understand the complexities of child abuse".
The unpublished report also said that the local police did not have the tools to deal with a such demanding and complex.
“Everyone came with best intentions. That created a sense of chaos and a sense of competition, people putting their hand up and wanting to help, and in many instances, in my opinion, wanting to be seen to help”, said during an interview for Sky News.
"If we look at it honestly, there were some in leadership roles who wanted to represent their organisation, to be seen to take a lead role and to be seen to provide critical input in this – and that made it difficult for a small, regional force like Leicestershire”, added.
In an unlikely theory, there are chances that Madeleine have woken up in the middle of the night, went look for her parents outside the apartment and then suffered an accident.
Some people believe that Madeleine might have taken the opposite direction and reached the road, that was being fixed. There was a 6ft-deep trench in the road near McCnn's apartment and, according to this theory, she felt on it. The trench was filled the day after and the workers didn’t notice the girl’s body there.
The engineer responsible for the work firmly denied that hypothesis and said the area was checked by them and by the police.
She could also have been hitten by a car and the driver got rid of her body, some people say. But how a 3-year-old would wake up, leave the house in the middle of the night and walk around without leaving a trace?
A woman who looked after Madeleine and her brothers in different recently gave an interview to The Mirror giving her version of the girls vanishing. The nanny, who requested to don’t have her name revealed, said that the image of the desperate father looking for the daughter haunted her for years and that the inconsolable mother kept repeating “They’ve taken her.”
She said that in the morning a parent told her that a child was missing, but just when she saw Madeleine's parents she understood it. However, when she was told to look into bins to check if there was a body, she realized how serious the case was.
The woman also criticises the police, that took 90 minutes to arrive. It was enough time to people go into the apartment and contaminate the crime scene.
In the last decade, investigators seem to have covered all the possible theories about Madeleine’s vanishing. Apparently the police is back to the original theory that Madeleine was killed during a burglary that went wrong.
Rumors says that Met want to interview again the three men who were near the crime scene in the night Madeleine has disappeared. Jose Carlos da Silva, a driver who often drove guests into Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz.
The three Portuguese men have admitted that they were involved in small crimes in the resort, but denied to be involved at the case. The police found out that they were near McCann’s apartment analising their mobile phones, but they have being released without being charged.
The parents still believe their daughter is alive.
The book Madeleine by Kate McCann was released in 2011, on the day of her eighth birthday. The publication details the parents hunt for their missing daughter and it became a bestseller and Kate raised US$ 1.29 million that went straight into Madelaine’s search funds.
In the first pages of the book Kate explains why they decided to leave the girl alone while the parents went to dinner: “'I could argue that leaving my children alone with someone neither we nor they knew would have been unwise, and it's certainly not something we'd do at home, but we didn't even consider it. (...) 'It goes without saying that we now bitterly regret it.'
But not only the parents have something to say about the case. In 2008, the former police officer Goncalo Amaral, released a shocking book claiming that parents were covering up for the girl’s death. Early this year, amaral announced that he would release a second book about the case.
Kate and Gerry McCann are still convinced that they will be reunited with their missing daughter. In a touching interview for BBC in April this year, they assured that “there is still hope that we can find Madeleine”.
In a previous interview kate said that she believed that her daughter was kidnaped and that she is still in Portugal. "That's where she last was and I don't think she's been taken a million miles from there", said to The Sun.
The father said that this type of "stranger abduction" was "exceptionally rare", and that is why people are so interested in the case.
“It might not be as quick as we want, but there's real progress being made and I think we need to take heart from that, and we just have to go with the process and follow it through - whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, said.