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Guardiano River -- Could this be where Madeleine's body was taken?

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Guardiano River -- Could this be where Madeleine's body was taken?

Post by Lemain on 03.10.11 19:27

I drove to Huelva in 2006 and up the fast-running and massive River Guardiano which is the natural border between Spain and Portugal. There were no customs checks in evidence -- the border posts were un-manned which is not surprising post-Schengen. The Guardiano is popular with yachtsmen but it has a reputation for being fast and filthy with large trees, dead animals (dogs, pigs, sheep and even cattle) often seen....the river is 'wild' -- i.e. there are no locks or weirs. If a body was disposed of in that river it is highly unlikely that it would ever have been noticed and would have been 'absorbed by nature' long before reaching the sea. If a body is disposed of at sea, it often gets washed-up further down the coast. Of all the places I know of in Europe, the Guardiano is the most suitable for disposing of a body.

Just about any other imaginable method of disposal would risk discovery at some time in the future.

So it has often crossed my mind over the years why the McCanns rented a car to go to Huelva -- it's a city, for heaven's sake! What does a Brit hope to do in a foreign city in a country in which the child did not even go 'missing'? Go to the public library? Go for dinner? I don't see what could have been achieved by renting a car to go to Huelva that could not have been achieved by a phone call, especially a call to a Spaniard!? Then it turns out that that there is biological forensic evidence that a cadaver -- a cadaver with a good DNA match to Madeleine's -- was in the rental car.

I should confess that I did not believe the McCanns' story from day one. Haven't we all 'lost' a child at some time? In a shop, beach, party,....the McCanns did not behave in the way you'd expect -- quite the opposite.

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Huelva topic

Post by tigger on 03.10.11 19:43

Have you read the last Huelva topic? Quite a lot of good information on that.
I haven't seen the river ever, so can't make a judgement, but would a body not wash up on rocks or on river bends? Water is quite a risky place to put a body I think.
The Huelva trip is also of great interest to the PJ who have some not-shared information on it.

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Re: Guardiano River -- Could this be where Madeleine's body was taken?

Post by Lemain on 03.10.11 20:01

tigger wrote:Have you read the last Huelva topic? Quite a lot of good information on that.
I haven't seen the river ever, so can't make a judgement, but would a body not wash up on rocks or on river bends? Water is quite a risky place to put a body I think.
The Huelva trip is also of great interest to the PJ who have some not-shared information on it.

The river is well-stocked with fish of all kinds -- from freshwater, brackish and salt, at the estuary. The speed depends on how much rain there has been and the amount let out from the dam further upstream. There are wide, slow-flowing sections and narrower fast-flowing sections. A lot depends on how grizzly one imagines the disposal process...it pains me to even consider that. I suppose smaller pieces would be 'safer'. The entire river is desolate along both banks. I have some photos but not readily to hand...one would not be disturbed for ages and there is little chance of being seen. It's the only place that seems to 'tick all the boxes' and given the McCanns' apparent access to information sources and advice, it would not be surprising if they found out about it quite quickly if they didn't already know it. It is a beautiful drive albeit desolate particularly around dusk and dawn, and at night, of course.

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burial possibly safer?

Post by tigger on 05.10.11 15:05

Lemain wrote:
tigger wrote:Have you read the last Huelva topic? Quite a lot of good information on that.
I haven't seen the river ever, so can't make a judgement, but would a body not wash up on rocks or on river bends? Water is quite a risky place to put a body I think.
The Huelva trip is also of great interest to the PJ who have some not-shared information on it.

The river is well-stocked with fish of all kinds -- from freshwater, brackish and salt, at the estuary. The speed depends on how much rain there has been and the amount let out from the dam further upstream. There are wide, slow-flowing sections and narrower fast-flowing sections. A lot depends on how grizzly one imagines the disposal process...it pains me to even consider that. I suppose smaller pieces would be 'safer'. The entire river is desolate along both banks. I have some photos but not readily to hand...one would not be disturbed for ages and there is little chance of being seen. It's the only place that seems to 'tick all the boxes' and given the McCanns' apparent access to information sources and advice, it would not be surprising if they found out about it quite quickly if they didn't already know it. It is a beautiful drive albeit desolate particularly around dusk and dawn, and at night, of course.

Because the body was probably frozen, there was plenty of time to decide on a permanent disposal site. I would never favour any running water and the sea has a habit of washing up DNA identifiable bones.
The soil around Huelva is very acid, a body would decay quickly without leaving any trace. I don't think they did the burial themselves.
The question is, how would they know of such sites unless it was from sources such as drug smugglers, general underworld contacts, who would know where to get rid of incriminating evidence. Now why does Metodo 3 suddenly come to mind? Spanish, police and drug connections, I'd expect them to be well informed.
My idea is that the site was chosen/recommended, the Renault was used to transport the body but not by the McCanns themselves, they were given information of the burial site. Three months later, according to Catholic custom, they salved their consciences by paying a tribute at the gravesite. Hence the strange and useless trip to Huelva.
Please keep posting, you evidently know the area!

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Re: Guardiano River -- Could this be where Madeleine's body was taken?

Post by PeterMac on 05.10.11 15:29

tigger wrote: .... the sea has a habit of washing up DNA identifiable bones.
Agreed.
Operation Mincemeat, "The Man who Never Was", was targeted on Huelva precisely because the currents and tides WOULD take the body to the shore after it had been dropped off by the submarine.

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Re: Guardiano River -- Could this be where Madeleine's body was taken?

Post by Lemain on 05.10.11 21:40

Because the body was probably frozen, there was plenty of time to decide
on a permanent disposal site. I would never favour any running water
and the sea has a habit of washing up DNA identifiable bones.
The
soil around Huelva is very acid, a body would decay quickly without
leaving any trace. I don't think they did the burial themselves.

Do we know how big the freezer is in those apts? Normally they are tiny ones integrated in the fridge or just a flap covering the evaporator, in holiday lets. Also, if deep-frozen, the body would remain solid for a long while if insulated -- I used to drive legs of frozen NZ lamb down to my parents in north Italy from the UK -- 36/48 hours including the ferry -- and we never had any seepage of fluids. A few hours along the coast to the Guardiana wouldn't defrost a deep-frozen body that size. Indeed, the entire chilling process would have been fraught -- it would have taken a long while for a typical fridge to pull down such a large mass to sub-5C and the body itself would be decaying and generating heat (from the decay) making it harder. You'd need to have bought bagged ice (readily available in that area in all supermarkets) and quick-chilled the body in a bath or large container with ice, then ice + salt then use the fridge -- and you still wouldn't do much better than 5C. That would explain a strong odour.

The weakness in that scenario is that someone might be suspicious or look in a fridge. As for the friends, most successful unsolved crimes owe their success to the perpetrator telling no-one at all. But I suppose one of the seven could have been involved?

I doubt whether anyone would bury such a high-profile body in the earth. You could make a cat's cradle of galvanised steel chain (available in every chandlery along that coast, where even 100 metres would be unremarkable) and I doubt whether any body parts would escape -- bones are heavier than water and really wouldn't be noticed....dead pigs, sheep and even cattle are unremarkable in that region. It is very desolate and quite wild other than the riverside villages; the villages are peasants', not holidaymakers' so nobody smooches along looking at the water (other than a few passing tourists).

As for acidic soil and decomposition, it is a highly technical field which doctors would know is unpredictable. Sometimes bodies become quickly mummified, sometimes they don't but there is always some trace for a long time. IR camera detection would probably have quickly located a riverside grave and the perpetrators could not have been sure what kind of investigation would be made. A watery grave would have been undetectable though the sea is far too risky.

Have a look at the wiki -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guadiana -- which gives some idea of the river. I think that the body would have been eaten by marine life long before reaching the sea.

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PJ investigation

Post by tigger on 06.10.11 7:31

The PJ have information they haven't released yet which concerns a block of flats near the church.
They may suspect the body was stored in one of these flats for some time.

They would never have stored the body in any apartment they were using. Highly unlikely. Don't forget, Murat was an estate agent of sorts there, so had access to empty properties. Murat would also know far more people there than the McCanns, although their story that they knew no one there is a lie.

I simply can't see the McCanns, however much I dislike them, dismembering the body of their child or letting anyone else do such a thing. Neither can I see them or others make a 'cat's cradle' to drop the body in the river. I think, however Maddie died, it happened in such a way that they can absolve themselves from any guilt. The 'letting it happen on purpose' scenario.
So if she died around the 29th, Murat is summoned back from Devon, the body is stored somewhere, an empty house/flat or cellar with a big fridge or freezer. All this may have been presented as an emergency to their 'helpers' but imo it was all planned, so no panic.
At a later date, their hire car was used to move the body. The PJ have a report from a neighbour that the car had the back wide open, day and night (to air it) Perhaps the PJ have the exact date from which this was observed by the neighbour.
They went to Huelva on the 3rd of August. We have a problem, but we also have pointers.
Gerry's blog mentioned that he moved a fridge from the villa to the local dump. This message was whooshed within 24 hours, many posters remember it but it's gone. A message? I believe Gerry's blog was to communicate with various contacts.
They were not followed non stop by journalists, as is clear from the blog and Kate's diary. Photo opportunities were arranged with the press in advance.
On the Huelva trip I don't think there were any journalists at all. See the topic.
If the open car door was observed after that date it's likely that was the day she was buried. Really much safer, acid will destroy a body and all DNA in record time. A skull and long bones can wash up anywhere.
The body could have been buried by others some weeks earlier, perhaps when the fridge was taken to the dump. If that ever happened and was only a method to pass on a message.
For transport the Renault would have had to be used. There is uncommonly high mileage on the car for the three months. See topic on this too.
For me: I can't see Gerry and Kate personally digging a grave, John Corner was with them as well, but still, I think an earlier burial by a third and well paid party is more likely. Someone who knew the area. I still favour Metodo 3 connections.
The Huelva trip was to pay their respects, good for their consciences if nothing else.
In Dr Roberts' analyses of interviews and in the book, the word 'buried' pops up. Kate came up with visions of her being in a cellar, locked. Someone had the 'key' to find her.
Murat didn't personally help I think, other than that he knew people and locations, I expect he knows exactly where the body was stored before burial and perhaps the person who buried her near Huelva.





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Re: Guardiano River -- Could this be where Madeleine's body was taken?

Post by Lemain on 06.10.11 10:05

tigger wrote:I simply can't see the McCanns, however much I dislike them, dismembering the body of their child or letting anyone else do such a thing.

Don't be too sure about that. Doctors go through that sort of thing during training and see plenty of death. Nevertheless, dismemberment wouldn't be required if a cat's cradle of chain was used.....

Neither can I see them or others make a 'cat's cradle' to drop the body in the river.

Don't be too sure about that. Some light galvanised chain, from any marine chandlers, could be wrapped around a body like a shroud, using shackles to 'pin' bights in place. You might then wrap some heavier chain round the entirety. The benefit would be that small marine life could get to work quickly and the body's tendency to float due to gasses from decomposition countered. Gasses tend to be formed in the stomach, bowel and abdomen. Those in the abdomen are released quite early on, but the bowl and stomach are very resilient (the stomach is used for water bags in primitive societies). That's why cadavers float. If you placed a cadaver in a sealed box, it might lie on the river bed for years. It's true that the bones would last for a long while but they would be hard to find. There must be thousands of ferrous objects down on that river bottom so a magnetometer would be reacting to everything down there...truly a needle in a haystack. In any case, stainless steel might have been used which is only very weakly ferromagnetic and probably undetectable unless you knew where to look. I wonder if any so-called 'spy' satellites (think Google Earth and how clear you own back yard can be seen) were looking at the time? Presumably someone has checked? Then again, a couple who can get direct intervention from the Pope, Prime Minister and senior Government ministers must have some very good friends in high places, so would the images even be looked for?

I cannot believe that the body would have been buried in a hidden grave -- far too dangerous. If it was buried then it might have been dropped into a very recent grave, perhaps, but the idea seems too hit-and-miss to be likely if everything else was planned.

Didn't G. McCann say something to the effect "Show me the body" or words to that effect?

However again we quickly get back to the need for assistance particularly regarding custody and possibly refrigeration of the cadaver before disposal. The Tanner woman's evidence seems decidedly dodgy and I don't think anyone could rely on it either defence or prosecution.

So if she died around the 29th, Murat is summoned back from Devon, the body is stored somewhere, an empty house/flat or cellar with a big fridge or freezer. All this may have been presented as an emergency to their 'helpers' but imo it was all planned, so no panic.

I don't see that makes sense. If the cadaver had been moved from the holiday flat to another place, and if it had all been premeditated, then why not dispose of it immediately? Common sense suggests that the greatest searching effort would take place in and around PdL, probably with an exponential decline to near-zero twenty miles away. If premeditated they'd have had an appropriate vehicle to drive along to the Spanish or Portuguese side of the Guardiano. How about a light freezer van of the sort used by fish and meat deliveries locally? I'm sure you can rent them -- without doubt in Lisbon. What policeman would delve into a freezer-van full of fish or meat unless it was VERY suspicious?

I'm not arguing that this DID happen but if you are going to argue that this was premeditated then you need to think of the best solutions for disposal given virtually no limit on resources or the time needed to think it through. The back of a hire car sounds more like an un-premeditated knee-jerk fraught with dangers.

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