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Post by Verdi 12.06.21 16:16

What Happened to Madeleine McCann: A Child Goes Missing, Precious Time Is Wasted and the Nightmare Begins

Madeleine McCann, 3, vanished from her family's apartment at a beachfront resort in Portugal on the night of May 3, 2007, and her parents have been holding out hope for answers ever since.

By Natalie Finn Jun 05, 2021 11:00 AM

Gerry McCann checked on the sleeping children at 9:05 p.m., and they were snug in their beds.

The Glasgow native returned to dinner with his wife, Kate McCann, and five fellow vacationers, the group from England in the middle of a 10-day holiday at the seaside resort town of Praia da Luz—"beach of light"—in southern Portugal. The various members of the party, enjoying wine and food at the Ocean Club's poolside tapas restaurant, would get up periodically to make the 100-yard walk to look in on their kids back in their respective apartments.

It was Kate's turn to go at 9:30 p.m., but Dr. Matthew Oldfield, rising at the same time to check on his daughter Grace, offered to look in on the McCann children. He reported back to the group that all was well.

Shortly after 10 p.m., Kate, a general practitioner who had worked part-time since becoming a mother of three, entered apartment 5A through the open back patio door and headed toward the bedroom where she and Gerry had left 3-year-old Madeleine in her Eeyore pajamas and 2-year-old twins Sean and Amelie fast asleep. As she has remembered in her multiple retellings of that night, Kate felt that the bedroom door she'd left slightly ajar was more open than before. Pulling the door toward her, it slammed, propelled by a breeze coming through the bedroom window that wasn't supposed to be open.

A closer look revealed that Sean and Amelie were snoozing away in their cots, but the bed where she had tucked in Madeleine with her pink blanket and Cuddle Cat barely two hours beforehand was empty.

"I couldn't quite make her out in the dark," Kate wrote in her 2011 book Madeleine (all proceeds from which went to Madeleine's Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned, which has financed search efforts). "I remember looking at it and looking at it for what was probably only a few seconds, though it felt like much longer."

Kate frantically searched the rest of the apartment, including in the closets and under the beds, calling for Madeleine, then ran to the restaurant. She recalled yelling, "Madeleine's gone! Someone's taken her!"

According to journalist Danny Collins' 2008 book Vanished: The Truth About the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a hotel babysitter named Charlotte Pennington (the resort offered complimentary child care night and day) who was watching another family's kids in a nearby room heard the cries and went over to 5A. Pennington remembered the distraught mom screaming, "They've taken her! They've taken her!"

Within minutes the dinner party spread out all over the resort to look for the child, who was due to turn 4 on May 12, and resort management was alerted of the situation. In her book, Kate recalled the staff enacting "missing child search protocol" by 10:30 p.m. When police still hadn't arrived five minutes later, Gerry asked Matt if he would go to the reception desk to make sure that they'd called authorities.

Though it would seem as if a missing child would be a 10-alarm fire, two officers from the Guarda Nacional Republicana—a military force, but they serve as the equivalent of a U.S. city police force or highway patrol—didn't show up until around 11:10 p.m. And their guess was that Madeleine had wandered off, perhaps in search of her parents, into the streets crisscrossing the resort.

The GNR did not immediately cordon off the area around 5A, as protocol often dictates for a crime scene, according to multiple witness accounts. So as word got around that a little girl was missing, guests and curious looky-loos flocked outside (and inside) apartment 5A—the back of which faced the pool and the tapas restaurant—smoking cigarettes and walking right up to the bedroom window, which soon became a hotbed of fingerprints and random DNA.

According to Collins (who in his book thanked police and media contacts, as well as Interpol for aiding in his investigation), as one man ran his fingers over the sill, declaring, "Nothing to be seen here," a British freelance reporter overheard and fired back, "Well, there bloody well wouldn't be now, would there?"

Fellow vacationers did, however, help search for Madeleine until dawn, small groups walking the streets, combing the beach and peering into rubbish bins and anywhere else a small child could have ended up, on her own or by force.

Two more cops, these from the Polícia Judiciária (the lead crime investigation agency in Portugal, akin to the FBI), arrived on the scene about two hours after the GNR. Kate also felt that they were skeptical of her insistence that her daughter had been taken, though she did note that, unlike the GNR, they put up a piece of police tape across the bedroom door and one brushed the room for fingerprints.

Still, a British forensics expert who arrived in Praia da Luz the following week later described it to the Evening Standard as the "worst preserved" crime scene he'd ever observed.

Per transcripts of police interviews posted online, in his first statement to the PJ, given May 4, Matthew Oldfield said that, right before Gerry went to look in on his kids at 9:05 p.m., he himself had done a listening check outside the back windows, all of which were closed, of three apartments, including the McCanns'. He heard nothing amiss. When he went to check on the children again at 9:30, he entered 5A through the closed but unlocked patio door (left unlocked by Kate to make it easier for whomever from their party was making the rounds) and saw the bedroom door half-open.

He didn't go into the kids' room but said he could see the twins asleep by the light he assumed was coming in through open shutters. He acknowledged not actually seeing if Madeleine was in bed or not. In any case, he said, all was quiet, which to him was an indication that all three were sleeping.

Talking to police again on May 10, Matthew affirmed that he did not mention to the McCanns that the bedroom door had been half-open or that it looked lighter in the room than it did the first time he checked. He admittedly didn't think anything of it.

His was one of many witness accounts that contributed to a Rashomon-worthy collection of perspectives from law enforcement, hotel staff, other guests and the group the tabloids would dub "the Tapas Seven."

According to PJ files reviewed by Kate, the Polícia Judiciária brought tracker dogs—the kind that search for live people—to Praia da Luz at 8 a.m. the next day, May 4, but they weren't deployed until 11 p.m. Meanwhile, road blocks went up at about 10 a.m. as the PJ set out alerting border and port authorities about the missing girl. A forensics team from Lisbon showed up during the day as well.

In the 2017 Netflix docu-series The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, Gonçalo Amaral, former chief investigating coordinator of the Polícia Judiciária and a 30-year veteran of the force when the child went missing, called the measures taken to search for Madeleine "inadequate." He said that the first hours of the investigation garnered "what you might call the most 'minimal' inspection in terms of detail."

And in a case when the first few hours are crucial, investigators were relatively late to the scene, Amaral recalled, and "the lateness triggered a delay to the sequence of events."

During those first pivotal hours, however, Gerry called his sister and brother-in-law, Trisha and Sandy, back in England, and they called the Foreign Office in London, the British Consulate in the Algarve and the British Embassy in Lisbon—a guarantee that within hours Madeleine's disappearance would be front-page news back in the U.K.

"He said, 'Madeleine's been abducted, she's been abducted!'" Trisha, also her niece's godmother, relayed to the Press Association on May 4, noting that she was headed to Portugal with their mother, Eileen McCann. "The door was lying open, the window in the bedroom and the shutters had been jemmied open. Nothing had been touched in the apartment, no valuables taken, no passports. They think someone must have come in the window and gone out the door with her."

(Per Collins, investigators determined that the shutters—a metal variety that were over all the back windows of the apartment building and could be raised and lowered from the inside—didn't show signs of tampering, indicating no one had entered the apartment through the window.)

Kate's parents, Brian and Susan Healy, also flew down to Praia da Luz right away.

Asked about Madeleine and her siblings having been left alone in the apartment while their parents went to dinner, Brian Healy told The Guardian, "It is not right to say that they just left them. They could see the chalet from where they were sitting in the restaurant, they were a hundred yards away. They went back every half hour to check on the children. When they returned at the end of their meal she was gone. My daughter can hardly speak. She is distraught, she is crying and in shock."

After being up most of the night, Gerry and Kate headed out at about 6 a.m. on May 4 to keep looking, feeling increasingly on their own despite the dozens of people who'd shown up to aid the search. Fliers with Madeleine's picture had been put up all over the resort and at local businesses in the area.

Later that day, Gerry and Kate sat down for separate interviews at the police station, after which they returned to the Ocean Club at around 8:30 p.m. to find the road outside jammed with reporters, photographers and TV crews. The couple drafted a statement and approached the cameras, Kate holding Madeleine's Cuddle Cat.

"Words cannot describe the anguish and despair that we are feeling as the parents of our beautiful daughter Madeleine," Gerry, a consulting cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester, said to the crowd. "We request that anyone with any information relating to Madeleine's disappearance, no matter how trivial, contact the Portuguese police and help us get her back safely."

"Please, if you have Madeleine," he continued, "let her come home to her Mummy, Daddy, brother and sister. As everyone can understand how distressing the current situation is, we ask that our privacy is respected to allow us to continue assisting the police in their current investigation."

Police followed up by announcing to the press that they weren't "100 percent sure" that there had been a kidnapping.

The Polícia Judiciária, however, maintained their suspicion that Kate and Gerry—and their friends—were hiding something. (All of them fervently denied keeping anything from police, collectively or individually.) At the same time, the rampant finger-pointing continued over leaving their children alone to go to dinner, the media happy to report on every single theory—and there were many—as well as question the McCanns' parenting choices.

Though the rest of their party had to return to their lives in England, Kate and Gerry remained in Portugal for what proved to be the summer from hell, giving interviews and pleading for information. They said they didn't want to leave the country without Madeleine.

This is Part 1 in a three-part series. Part 2 will be published Saturday, June 12.

https://www.eonline.com/news/1275615/what-happened-to-madeleine-mccann-a-child-goes-missing-precious-time-is-wasted-and-the-nightmare-begins



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Post by Verdi 12.06.21 16:24

Part 2.

What Happened to Madeleine McCann: Coverage Spins Out of Control as the Case Takes a Heartbreaking Turn


As months went by following 3-year-old Madeleine McCann's disappearance, local public (and police) opinion started to turn against the child's devastated parents, Kate and Gerry McCann.

By Natalie Finn Jun 12, 2021 11:00 AM

When their daughter Madeleine disappeared on the night of May 3, 2007, Kate and Gerry McCann were sure that she had been abducted from the resort where they'd been vacationing in Praia da Luz. But they tried to remain hopeful that, wherever she was, the 3-year-old was alive and being properly cared for.

The parents of three broke their silence to the media the following evening, having to venture only steps outside their holiday apartment to read a statement into the waiting cameras, pleading for information and their eldest child's safe return.

Immediately, sightings piled up: A gas station employee telling police that she saw a blonde child who looked like Madeleine come into the convenience store with a woman (CCTV footage showed it wasn't her); a man, with a child, behaving unusually in a supermarket; a bald man carrying a young girl toward the marina. Some tabloids actually printed a sketch of a long empty oval with short, side-swept hair and no face, based on a shopkeeper's description, or lack thereof.

Journalists had poured into Praia da Luz from all over the U.K. and Europe, filing hundreds of stories and filming endless footage of the Ocean Club, the nearby beach and surrounding environs, and the detectives as they went about their business, ruing the influx of outsiders.

The Polícia Judiciária preferred keeping their heads down and getting their work done, former chief investigating coordinator Gonçalo Amaral recalled in the 2017 Netflix docu-series The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, explaining that the PJ's usual process is "based on secrecy." The media, with their endless questions and expectations of constant updates, were a huge distraction.

At the same time, Kate McCann had already hitched her hopes to one particular sighting from the night Madeleine was taken.

Their friend Jane Tanner told police right away that at around 9:15 p.m.—when she got up from dinner with their group to check on her own sleeping daughters—she saw a man carrying a small child on the street outside the apartment block where their party was staying.

"As soon as she heard that Madeleine went missing, everything clicked into place and she felt sick," Kate wrote of Jane in her 2011 book, Madeleine. When the distraught mom heard what her friend had seen, however, she was admittedly "strangely relieved," recalling how she felt reassured that "Madeleine hadn't just disappeared off the face of the earth. There was something to work on."

"There was little doubt in my mind then, nor is there now, that what Jane saw was Madeleine's abductor taking her away. But in spite of the fact that she'd reported this to both the [Guardia Nacional Republicana, the first officers to respond that night] and PJ straight away, it would be 25 May before her description of the man and child would be released to the press."

White, dark hair, 35-40 years old, 5-foot-10, medium build, carrying a barefoot child in light-colored pajamas.

In the meantime, a week after Madeleine went missing, detectives questioned and searched the home of Robert Murat, a 35-year-old British ex-pat living in Praia da Luz with his mother in a villa steps away from the Ocean Club. On the night Madeleine disappeared, he had walked over to the scene to offer his translation skills to anyone in need. His ubiquity over the ensuing days caught the attention of a Sunday Mirror reporter, who mentioned him to police.

As Robert remembered in the Netflix series, he soon realized that insisting he had nothing to do with the child's disappearance and clearing his name wasn't going to be so easy. "They wanted me to confess," he recalled.

He was allowed to go home, but word quickly got out that police had an arguido—a suspect. Tabloids proceeded to paint him as a very suspicious person, with headlines ranging from the Daily Mail's "Oddball of the Algarve" to the Daily Express' "His girl is the spitting image of Madeleine!" referring to his young daughter back in the U.K.

Robert, who was never arrested or charged, was officially cleared by Portuguese authorities on July, 21, 2008. Earlier in the month, Britain's high court ruled in the plaintiffs' favor in lawsuits filed by Robert and two acquaintances (who were not suspects but were also questioned by police in Portugal) against four national newspaper groups, which admitted in a statement read in court that 11 of their publications had printed "false claims" about the three men.

According to The Guardian (which was not one of the 11, though the Mail and Express were), News International, Mirror Group Newspapers, Express Newspapers and Associated Newspapers agreed to publish apologies in their papers and pay Murat what amounted in 2008 to $1.1 million in libel damages, plus $190,000 to each of the other two men.

In response to a separate lawsuit, Sky News apologized that November for publishing a story and video containing what the media outlet's counsel acknowledged during a high court hearing were "false allegations." She said the defendant had agreed to pay "substantial damages" as well as the plaintiff's legal expenses. Murat's attorney Louis Charalambous said in a statement afterward, "This settlement represents the final stage of Mr. Murat's claims against those sections of the British media which defamed him so terribly."

Meanwhile, though their dissatisfaction with the local police only increased from day one, it seemed as if all of the U.K. was looking out for the McCanns. Family and more friends flew in immediately. A small contingent of officials and investigate specialists from the U.K., including a crisis management expert who was initially there to represent the interests of the Mark Warner Ltd.-owned resort, but who soon was serving as the parents' go-between with reporters. The British ambassador to Portugal, John Buck, came to town. Cherie Blair, wife of Prime Minister Tony Blair, called Kate to lend her support, mum to mum.

Within another week, the growing group dubbed "Team McCann" launched Madeleine's Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned to raise money for the search, and the Find Madeleine website went up. In her book, the proceeds from which went to the fund, Kate recalled that the media presence only seemed to grow, and she knew that every move she made was being judged: Not smiling made her seem cold and unfeeling, but smiling was callous. How dare she look to be enjoying a beach day with her other children, 2-year-old twins Sean and Amelie? And, from the beginning, what were she and Gerry thinking leaving their children alone in the apartment that night?

But the case had become a cause celebre back home, with the likes David Beckham and Robbie Williams issuing pleas for information and Topshop founder Sir Philip Green lending his private jet. Gerry and Kate, both observant Catholics, met Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican, and traveled to Madrid, Berlin, Amsterdam and other cities to hold press conferences—not for a tour, as they insisted to reporters who asked if they were concerned what impression they were giving off.

As The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann recounts, though largely sympathetic from the beginning, reported sentiment in Portugal was also starting to turn against the McCanns. Journalists were quoting residents who lamented how much time, energy and money was being spent on searching for this one English child, while missing local children were given short shrift. Some U.K. tabloids also didn't discriminate between scraps and real scoop.

Kate recalled a July 22 headline in Britain's Sunday Express: "MADDY'S PARENTS TO FACE INQUIRY." The article suggested they may be facing allegations of child neglect related to the night Madeleine vanished. They were used to such lines of attack, Kate wrote, but mainly she was devastated because she still felt that she and Gerry had "given this predator an opportunity" by leaving the children alone.

(In March 2008, the high court awarded the McCanns close to $1 million in damages—to be paid to Madeleine's Fund—in their libel complaint against Express Newspapers for printing what their spokesman called "grotesque and grossly defamatory" stories. The Daily Express and Daily Star (both owned then by the defendant) also printed front-page apologies. Those papers were hardly alone in their salacious coverage, family spokesman Clarence Mitchell told The Guardian, "but they had the worst track record and were the worst offenders from Gerry and Kate's perspective.")

In August, Portuguese police publicly acknowledged for the first time that the child might be dead. And, despite previous public statements saying they were treating the case as an abduction, it turned out they were also probing the possibility that she'd never made it out of her family's apartment alive.

On Aug. 6, the PJ impounded the Renault Scenic the McCanns had rented on May 27 for a forensics search.

The next day Kate saw local reports that investigators had found blood on the bedroom wall in apartment 5A (which had since been rented out to other guests)—all news to her.

On Aug. 8, after a sit-down in Praia da Luz with BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour (in her book Kate called her response to a question about how she and Gerry were keeping each other going "cringe-worthy"), another BBC journalist approached them and said, "Do you know what they're saying? They're saying that you killed Madeleine."

A week later, The Times in the U.K. reported that analysts at the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham, England, had determined the blood from the apartment was not Madeleine's, but rather belonged to an unknown male. Samples taken from the trunk of the Renault had been sent to the Birmingham lab, as well.

When the test results from the car were shared with the PJ, spokesman Oligario Sousa told reporters they were "very happy" with the results, because "they mean they can go further with the case."

On Sept. 5, investigators called Kate and Gerry back in for questioning. On Sept. 7, they were officially named arguidos.

"They are suggesting that Kate has in some way accidentally killed Madeleine, then kept her body, then got rid of it," Philomena McCann, Gerry's sister, told Sky News in response to the announcement. "I have never heard anything so utterly ludicrous in my entire life." The couple's spokeswoman Justine McGuinness called the cops' allegation that Madeleine's blood was found in the boot of the rental car "ludicrous." And the very idea that Kate was somehow involved in her daughter's death was "clearly ridiculous," she said.

As she recalled in her book, Kate was offered a two-year jail sentence if she'd confess that she'd hidden or otherwise disposed of her daughter's body—far better than being charged with homicide, the police told her.

"Most people find it hard to comprehend how innocent people can confess to crimes they haven't committed," Kate wrote. "Gerry and I don't. Not now."

But they were informed the next day that they were free to leave the country—and they decided to do so immediately.

On Sept. 9, four months after they'd touched down in Praia da Luz for a spring holiday as a family of five, the McCanns returned to England with their twins. Despite what the Portuguese police (who would officially clear them as suspects the following July), the tabloids and all their critics were saying, they maintained their hope that Madeleine was alive.

Or at the very least that they would get answers.

The third and final part of this series will be published June 19.

(E! and Sky News are both owned by Comcast Corp.)

https://www.eonline.com/uk/news/1279351/what-happened-to-madeleine-mccann-coverage-spins-out-of-control-as-the-case-takes-a-heartbreaking-turn

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Post by Verdi 19.06.21 12:47

Part 3

What Happened to Madeleine McCann: Hope Persists as Months Turn Into Years and Police Chase New Leads


After 14 years, Kate and Gerry McCann refuse to give up on finding answers, undeterred by dueling theories about their daughter’s disappearance.

By Natalie Finn Jun 19, 2021

When Kate and Gerry McCann went home on Sept. 9, 2007, they told the reporters crowded around to witness their departure from Portugal that their decision to leave in no way meant that they had given up searching for their daughter Madeleine, who had been missing for four months.

They were reluctant to go, Kate recalled in her 2011 book Madeleine, but going back to their lives in England was "what was right and fair" for their twins, Sean and Amelie, who at 2 years old were still unaware that something so devastating had happened. Their big sister's fourth birthday had solemnly passed on May 12, nine days after she disappeared.

The McCanns and three other families had arrived on April 28 for a sunny holiday at the kid-friendly Ocean Club in Praia da Luz. They were all supposed to go home on May 5.

Instead, when Gerry, a cardiology specialist, and Kate, a GP who practiced part-time, returned to the Leicestershire village of Rothley, Portugal's Polícia Judiciària had just officially named them suspects in their daughter's disappearance, suggesting that Kate at the very least had hid Madeleine's body after a fatal accident in their apartment.

The McCanns adamantly maintained their innocence (then and ever since) and vowed never to stop looking, remaining hopeful that answers would be forthcoming—even if they weren't the ones they wanted.

The PJ also still had questions for the friends the McCanns had been vacationing with. None of them were ever considered suspects, but that didn't stop them from feeling as if they'd been accused of something.

Matthew and Rachael Oldfield, David and Fiona Payne, Dianne Webster (Fiona's mother), and Russell O'Brien and Jane Tanner—the group Kate and Gerry were having dinner with the night Madeleine disappeared, dubbed the "Tapas Seven" in media reports—had been asked by police not to discuss the case with the press. But fed up with tabloid speculation and insinuations, as well as leaks that seemed to becoming from the cops who warned them to stay silent, they released a statement in October 2007 flatly denying that they had done anything other than try to help the investigation.

"We wish to state that there is categorically no 'pact of silence' or indeed anything secretive between us—just the desire to assist the search for Madeleine," they said. "From day one, the police in Portugal told us not to discuss our statements. It is incredibly frustrating for us that the fact we have done as we were asked to by the Portuguese police is still being looked upon as suspicious. Everything we have done, and continue to do, has been to help with the search for Madeleine and to end this nightmare for Gerry and Kate."

Talking to the BBC in April 2008, Rachael recalled, "We were made to understand we could face two years prison for speaking out, so as a group we've not said anything from day one...We would have loved to have put the record straight."

Portuguese police re-interviewed all seven that month (in the U.K.) and once again the common memory from the night of May 3, 2007, was that Kate was hysterical and Gerry was equally devastated.

"I've never heard a man make the noises he made, and Kate, Kate was just...you just can't put into words how they were," Dianne Webster told police.

As Madeleine's fifth birthday approached, Kate guessed that if she had known a year prior that her daughter would still be missing after 12 months, "I'm sure I'd have gone under," she wrote.

But while she shared that it took her years to be able to glean much pleasure from anything, unable to even go to dinner or concentrate on a movie or soccer game, and Gerry too had good days as well as horrible ones, they had to press on sooner than they might have otherwise because Sean and Amelie needed them.

In her book, Kate called the twins, then 6 years old, "remarkably well-adjusted, well-rounded and emotionally in tune."

"Unfortunately for us, a new normality is a family of four," Gerry told the BBC in 2017. "But we have adapted and that's important. The last five years, in particular, has allowed us to really properly devote time to looking after the twins and ourselves and of course carrying on with our work. At some point you've got to realize that time is not frozen, and I think both of us realize that we owed it to the twins to make sure that their life is as fulfilling as they deserve."

Meanwhile, Kate and Gerry were officially cleared, along with fellow suspect Robert Murat, on July 21, 2008, Portugal's attorney general's office announcing there was no evidence that Madeleine had come to serious harm.

At the same time, the PJ said they were halting their investigation.

Kate wrote that she and her husband weren't sorry to hear it, that they were "far from convinced that there was any real investigation taking place anyway." They had already hired private investigators to continue the search.

London's Metropolitan Police formally opened their own investigation into Madeleine's disappearance in May 2011, calling it "Operation Grange"—and Portuguese prosecutors followed suit that October.

In October 2013, Scotland Yard ruled out one once-promising lead: They had finally managed to confirm that a man the McCanns' friend Jane Tanner saw at 9:15 p.m. on May 3, 2007, carrying a barefoot child in light-colored pajamas was just another vacationing Brit with his own kid.

Later that month on an episode of the BBC's Crimewatch, Scotland Yard shared new composite images based on the accounts of another couple who reported seeing a man awkwardly carrying a child fitting Madeleine's description on the street about 500 yards away from the McCanns' apartment, headed in the direction of the beach, closer to 10 p.m. that night. According to the Met, more than 300 calls and 170 emails came in directly after the program aired.

But whatever information was relayed, it did not lead to any notable developments. And so would be the case for years.

Ahead of the 10th anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance, Kate and Gerry told the BBC's Fiona Bruce that they did still have hope that their daughter might be found, noting that sometimes miracles happened—such as the discovery in 2013 of three young women in Cleveland who'd been held captive for a decade, or the fact that Jaycee Dugard, kidnapped at 11 in 1991, was found alive 18 years later.

"We tried everything in our power to not have a long, protracted, missing-person case like this," Kate said. "It's devastating and we really threw ourselves into trying to do everything we could to help find her. It looks like that hasn't worked yet. But you know we are still looking forward...We still hope."

And then last June came the announcement that there was a new suspect: a man in prison in Germany for drug offenses who, according to German authorities, has a long criminal record that includes convictions for child sexual abuse.

On June 3, 2020, Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell said that his office had received information about the man in 2017 and had been investigating ever since in a joint effort with the Polícia Judiciária and Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (the BKA). By then, only a handful of detectives were still on the case, down from the initial 30 investigators assigned to Operation Grange in 2011.

While Cranwell said their job was to "follow the evidence, maintain an open mind and establish what happened on that day in May 2007," Braunschweig state prosecutor Hans Christian Wolters told reporters the next day, per Reuters, "We assume that the girl is dead. The public prosecutor's office in Braunschweig is investigating a 43-year-old German national on suspicion of murder." Wolters told the BBC that they had evidence "strong enough to say that the girl is dead and strong enough to accuse a specific individual of murder—that strong."

However, he added, "One has to be honest and remain open to the possibility that our investigation could end without a charge, that it ends like the others have."

A few days later, Wolters walked his assessment back a bit, telling the Sunday Mirror that "a little bit of hope" remained that Madeleine was alive.

According to the BBC and Associated Press, the suspect, Christian Brückner, was also convicted in 2019 of the 2005 rape of a 72-year-old American woman in Praia da Luz and sentenced to seven years in prison, which he began serving in January upon completion of his drug-related sentence.

Friedrich Fulscher, Brückner's attorney, said last summer that his client denied having anything to do with Madeleine's disappearance and had no plans to cooperate with the German prosecutor's office.

Brückner—who lost his appeal on the rape conviction in November—broke his silence only recently, the now 44-year-old releasing a statement from prison directed at Wolf and fellow prosecutor Ute Lindemann alleging he was being unfairly persecuted. He has not been charged in the McCann case.

"Charging someone with a crime is one thing," began his handwritten message, dated May 8 but released June 14, according to The Telegraph. "It is something completely different, namely an unbelievable scandal, when a public prosecutor starts a public prejudicial campaign before proceedings are even opened. You have proved worldwide, through arbitrary convictions in the past and through scandalous prejudicial campaigns in the present, that you are unsuitable for the office of an 'advocate for the honest and German people who trust in justice,' and that you bring shame to the German legal system."

And that's where the investigation lies at the moment, authorities in Germany voicing their grim suspicions, while Scotland Yard presses on.

When reached earlier this month, a Met spokesperson confirmed to E! News that the McCann case remained open but they were unable to comment further about their active investigation—which is still a missing-person inquiry.

Scotland Yard did say last year that they've yet to see "definitive evidence whether Madeleine is alive or dead"—and that remains the case. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick told reporters in December that they were working "really, really closely" with German authorities, yet she "would not expect necessarily every single piece of material to be shared with us."

"We're continuing to work very closely with our colleagues in the BKA...and the PJ," she continued. "We do have our small team still working on that and there's no significant change for us in terms of our resourcing or posture...We will continue until the time that it is right, either because much more light has been thrown on this and, or, somebody has been brought to justice. Or, if we feel we have exhausted all possible opportunities. We're not any of those stages at the moment, and the team continues."

A source close to the investigation told the Telegraph in January, "At this stage there is no evolution. Of course I would like to see an end to this, but there is no reason to think that [Brückner] could take us to Madeleine, and that is the most important thing." In a New Year's message, the McCanns said the "hope, energy and determination to find her and uncover the truth remain steadfast."

Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' longtime spokesman, didn't respond to interview requests. Gerry and Kate, whose twins turned 16 on Feb. 1, released a new statement in May, still heartbroken, but also still refusing to snuff out that flicker of possibility.

"Every May is tough—a reminder of years passed, of years together lost, or stolen," read their post on the Find Madeleine website, the couple having never joined social media. "This year it is particularly poignant as we should be celebrating Madeleine's 18th birthday. Enough said.

"The Covid pandemic has made this year even more difficult for many reasons," they continued, "but thankfully the investigation to find Madeleine and her abductor has continued. We hang on to the hope, however small, that we will see Madeleine again. As we have said repeatedly, we need to know what has happened to our lovely daughter, no matter what. We are very grateful to the police for their continued efforts.

"We still receive so many positive words and good wishes despite the years that have gone by. It all helps and for that we are truly grateful—thank you."

https://www.eonline.com/uk/news/1281589/what-happened-to-madeleine-mccann-hope-persists-as-months-turn-into-years-and-police-chase-new-leads


Amen !!!



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What Happened to Madeleine McCann: A Child Goes Missing, Precious Time Is Wasted and the Nightmare Begins Empty Re: What Happened to Madeleine McCann: A Child Goes Missing, Precious Time Is Wasted and the Nightmare Begins

Post by Verdi 19.06.21 12:48

Brief summary..

What Happened to Madeleine McCann: A Child Goes Missing, Precious Time Is Wasted and the Nightmare Begins Bidet15

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