Contents acknowledgements & Introduction translated by a
friend of the site.
MADDIE: The Truth of the Lies
1. Rain? Certainly not.
2. Last known of Madeleine Beth McCann.
3. News of the
disappearance. The first 72 hours.
4. The real victim is a child missing.
5. The following days.
6. The arrival of the English police. Portugal is still
7. Suspicious behaviour and contradictions. The case of
8. A man with a child on
the way to the beach.
9. Mallorca, September
10. Rethinking the facts.
11. Analyzing the place of a crime. The apartment 5A.
12. The unbearable lightness and inconsistency of the
scheme to monitor the children.
13. Minor inconsistencies in the testimony or evidence
the parents of Madeleine and their friends.
14. The first signs of death: reaction of parents.
15. A remembered crime: the corpse of Mariana or the
difference between investigating a crime with body or
16. Second signs of death: the intervention of the
17. First conclusions to be drawn from tests made by
EVRD dogs and CSI.
18. The sacred and the
profane that forensic researchers found in the bedroom
of the couple McCann.
19. Preliminary results of the tests referred the
English laboratory. Preparation of interrogations of
20. Preparation of ‘arguidos’ status.
21. A victim in a state of shock.
22. The removal of the investigation co-ordinator.
Conspiracy or doubt?
23. In the Ria de Alvor, a year on, looking at the past
and the future.
To my daughters, Agnes, Rita and Sophia, from the absent
father who dedicated himself to his profession.
To my wife, Sofia, for her trust, understanding and
affection that has always been, particularly in recent
times, difficult and arduous.
To my family and friends, who always understood and
helped me constantly, including my brother Louis and his
wife Cristina, my sister Lucinda, and the family of
Leonel Santos, in Faro.
To my colleagues in the Judicial Police, British Police
and the thousands of anonymous citizens of different
nationalities, who have from the beginning, and in many
ways, expressed their solidarity. Also to Internet
bloggers and surfers and others who defended the cause
of truth and justice.
The National Republican Guard, the Police Security
Service, the Maritime Authority, the Volunteer Firemen
of Lagos, the Civil Protection of the Algarve, and
particularly the staff of the City Halls of Lagos and
Portimao, in particular, its president, Dr. Julio
Barroso and Dr. Manuel da Luz.
A new friend, Dr. Luis Varela Marreiros, who contributed
much with his work and study, so this book could see the
light of day.
Finally, to my
editors, who expressed every confidence in this project
and believed in me from the start.
This book was written to restore my good name which is
in danger of being damaged after 26 years as a Judicial
Police Officer in Portugal because of what is, in
effect, an ‘institutional lie’.
application for official permission to speak received no
reply. As a Judicial Police Officer, I rigorously
conformed to the regulations that I remain silent,
despite that it was excruciatingly difficult for me to
I was subsequently removed
from the investigation and it then became apparent that
my situation required a defence. My retirement
from the police was necessary to provide the
freedom to speak out on matters that seriously concern
A greater purpose of this
book, however, is to contribute to the ‘discovery’ or
public release of relevant material and to contribute to
ultimate justice in the case that has become known as
‘Maddie’. Truth and justice are the basic values
to which I ascribe and which are an obligation of my
conscience; these values reflect back to the
fundamental purpose of the institution to which I had
the honour of belonging. These values were not
extinguished by my retirement and they will continue to
be present and my guide here.
This book in no way
questions the work of my colleagues, of other Judicial
Police Officers, nor does it compromise the current
I am deeply committed in
my understanding and writing that this kind of work must
provide facts that will pass future due-diligence tests
in my attempt to discover the truth. However, the
reader will discover previously unknown facts and
interpretations of facts, always with an honest
interpretation. Naturally, pertinent
interrogations are also included.
A criminal inquiry is
precisely dedicated and committed to the search for the
absolute truth, the pursuit of material fact; it
is not the place to be politically correct.
End of Introduction
Madeleine McCann: The Forbidden Investigation.
The French title of Goncalo Amaral's book, "A Verdade da
Mentira," is, "Maddie: L'Enquate Interdite," The
is the Foreword from the French version.
"Certainly, this book responds to the need I felt to
defend myself, having been discredited by the
institution for which I worked for more than twenty-six
years, without being given any chance to explain myself,
publicly or within the institution itself. I made the
request several times, but it was never heard. I,
therefore, scrupulously respected the rules of the
police judiciaire and I refrained from making any
comment. But this goes without saying: I experienced
that silence to which I was constrained as an attack on
my dignity. Later, I was removed from the investigation.
It was then that I understood that it was time to speak.
To do that, I requested early retirement in order to be
able to express myself freely.
However, the purpose of this work is more important: to
contribute to finding the truth so that justice can
finally be done in the investigation known as the
"Maddie case." Truth and justice are two values strongly
anchored within me, which reflect my profound beliefs:
they always guided the work I did for the institution to
which I am proud to have belonged. Even in retirement,
they continue to inspire me and to be present in my
In no way does this text seek to challenge the work of
my colleagues in the police judiciaire or to compromise
the ongoing investigation. I am convinced that the
disclosure of all the facts may, in the present case,
result in harming the investigation. However, the reader
will have access to unpublished information, to new
interpretations of events - always with respect for the
law - and, of course, to relevant enquiries.
The only objective of a criminal investigation is the
search for truth. There is no place for the "politically
the work of Goncalo Amaral
FEBRUARY 2008, NINE MONTHS AFTER
IT’S CARNIVAL SUNDAY. In the
distance the shots of the hare hunters can be heard,
resounding above the low-growing vegetation of the
On waking, I decide to stay at
home. Recently, I’ve had no wish to go out, to go
walking or to meet people. I yearn instead for peace and
silence. That morning, the sun was shining, promise of a
lovely day: but in the afternoon, the rain began to
fall, ruining the fate and the parades.
From the window I admire the
Algarve countryside: the pink and snowy-white of the
almond trees contrasting with the blue of the sea that
is glimpsed in the distance. Suddenly, the ringing of
the telephone – more and more unusual of late – brings
me out of my lethargy; I have to face reality.
From the receiver, a friendly
voice, swinging between anger and sadness, asks me:
How are you? Have you heard our national director’s
I reply no and wonder what the
clearly perceptible anxiety of my questioner is due to.
- He says we were precipitous. That placing the couple
under investigation was premature….I wonder what’s come
over him. He totally validated that decision. What is he
intending to do? End the investigation?
He is alluding to the
investigations undertaken after the disappearance of a
little English girl of nearly four years of age during
the night of May 3rd to 4th 2007,
at the Ocean Club, one of the many tourist complexes in
the village of Luz in Lagos, Portugal. She was called
Madeleine Beth McCann and she was sleeping in a bedroom
in the apartment block, beside her sister and her
brother – twins aged 2 years. During this time, their
parents were dining a hundred metres away with a group
of friends and holiday companions. This news story was
the beginning of a criminal investigation, unpublished
in Portugal and, I think, in the rest of the world. Even
so, the case benefited from unprecedented international
media coverage. Numerous suggestions were put forward,
mixing truth and lies; at the same time as regular
information bulletins from the police, a campaign of
disinformation was developed with the objective of
discrediting the work of the investigators. For me, the
investigations came to an end on October 2nd
2007, the date on which there seems to have been a new
English ultimatum, incidentally on the same day that the
Treaty of Lisbon was being discussed.
Considering the length of time I
witnessed that media spectacle, including, at its
height, “forcing,” by the McCann family with the
disclosure of a photo-fit sketch of the alleged
abductor, nothing more could have surprised me. - Don’t
worry, it’s carnival… I follow the conversation as if it
was nothing, but deep down, I have the feeling that the
world is caving in.
After hanging up, I go back to
contemplating the almond trees in flower, planted in the
hard soil of the Algarve. I wonder if a body is resting
under that earth and if God, in the end, is not a little
precipitous in making these trees flower in the
winter….And then I tell myself no. A memory comes to
mind of the legend of this princess from a country in
the north, married to a Moorish king. She spent her
winter days pining for the snow of her country, which
she missed. Then, the monarch had the idea of planting
almond trees throughout the surrounding region. Thus,
when winter arrived, from the castle window, the young
woman could contemplate the white mantle of the
flowering trees that covered the countryside, and her
sadness was dispelled.
BRIEF DIGRESSION ON THE ALGARVE
AND ITS INHABITANTS
From time immemorial, the Algarve
has been a region open to the world. Its geostrategic
position, its sky, its climate and the hospitality of
its inhabitants have always attracted people from other
regions. Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Greeks passed
through here; the Romans established themselves here and
set up communication routes. Numerous relics; at Estoi,
Vilamoura, Abicada, Vila da Luz, witness to their
presence. The influence of the Moors, who spread
Al-Andalus (it is thus that they named the region) to
the west of Cordoba, to Al-Gharb, remains very present
in the Algarvian culture.
The history of the relationship
between the Algarve and England is as ancient as it is
turbulent. Between 1580 and 1640, when Portugal lost its
independence and was integrated into the Spanish Empire,
Faro was attacked by the troops of the Count of Essex.
This latter seized, amongst other assets, some precious
property – not less than 3,000 volumes – from the
library of the Bishop of the Algarve, Jeronimo Osorio.
Amongst these books was a Pentateuch (the first five
books of the Bible) in Hebrew, printed in 1487 in Faro
by Samuel Gacon, a Jewish publisher. This historic work
(the first book printed in Portugal) is kept at the
British Library in London. Later, the Algarvians will
help the English to defend Gibraltar, a strategic place
for the fleet of the British Royal Navy.
The Algarvians have always shown
great independence, not hesitating to oppose any foreign
domination attempt. In the 19th century,
during the French invasion, the first reverses suffered
by the Napoleonic troops were inflicted by the
Algarvians. The population of Olhao rose up and drove
the invaders back near Quelfes; young people of the town
set out aboard a fragile barque to inform King John VI,
then exiled in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, of the liberation
of his homeland. Portugal is a country of brave and
warm-hearted people, rejecting arrogance and insults,
proud of their identity and independence, even from the
European Union. It is also a modern state that welcomes
a great many investors and tourists and moreover plays
an important and recognised diplomatic role. Throughout
its history, Portugal has concluded pacts, signed
treaties and built bilateral alliances with many
countries: the Luso-British Alliance is a good example,
proof of the vitality of relations between the two
countries, and above all of a deep understanding.
Nowadays, the Algarve is focused on
tourism; since the 1960s, it is mostly the British who
come to stay there. It is on this welcoming soil that
little Madeleine disappeared.
AN INVESTIGATION DESTINED FOR
I feel it; with that television statement, the national
director has the intention of preparing public opinion
for the inevitable, that is to say, the end of the
investigation and the closing of the case.
I get the impression that that decision was hatched on
October 2nd and that all actions taken after that date
were only a matter of form, with the sole purpose of
sticking to the pre-established schedule. I fear that
challenging all the previous work of the investigation
is only a pretext for closing a case that was beginning
to undermine the police judiciaire, the investigators
and Portugal. Perhaps that was why it had to come to a
Placing Madeleine's parents under investigation - Kate
Healy and Gerald McCann as arguidos - must have
marked a turning point in relations between the police
in charge of the investigation and the couple. The
Portuguese police officers began to consider the McCanns
as potential suspects, which their British counterparts
did not. At that time, the two police forces seemed to
agree about exploring the hypothesis of the child's
death inside the apartment. But the English police -
without any really practical justification - suddenly
stepped back and gave up on following that track. We
have always found it strange the way the couple were
treated, even after they were placed under
investigation, and we have often wondered how the
McCanns could have had access to information that had
not been made public.
I recall various moments in the investigation, and the
memories come pouring out; I think of that little girl
who was not yet four years old and who was denied the
right to live.
It would seem that there are
preparations to smother the case, that the importance of
the evidence is being minimised, that it's losing its
force. Thus, the rights of that child are flouted, the
rights of many other children. Who wants to get to that
point? Who required my departure from the operational
coordination of the investigation? Who is it who wishes
to bring an end to the arguido status of the McCanns and
Murat? Those who support the theory of abduction? Those
who maintain - I'd go further and say that they are -
that in England the suspects would already have been
arrested? Or those who perpetuate the lie, in straying
from the search for the material truth? The closing of
the case certainly serves someone's interests.
After my departure from Portimao on October 2nd 2007, I
had decided to forget about this case. Perhaps the best
thing to do, considering the forces at play. If the
authorities of her own country were not worried any more
about what had happened to that child and they satisfied
themselves with the theory of abduction, why worry
myself about it? It's certainly not the unfortunate
statement from a director of police (as perhaps inferred
by the journalist) that will make the existing evidence
be forgotten - I no longer think that was his intention.
The only means of erasing the record of everything that
was done would be the destruction of the official
records. And then, our memory remains, that of all those
set out on this investigation to discover the truth.
I receive another phone call: it's my wife Sofia. She is
worried about me, and has been since May 3rd of last
year, for nine months now. Previously, our marriage
already knew highs and lows; after that date, it was
worse. I had become an absent father and husband. At the
beginning I distanced myself from my family to protect
them from the media pressure, but also because of the
pace of work imposed by the investigation; now I live
alone and I am seized by a certain bitterness; I can't
help feeling betrayed by the institution to which I
dedicated myself for more than a quarter of a century.
Nothing that happened to me seems justified to me,
nothing makes sense. My family did not deserve that.
Sofia is shocked by the national director's statements.
- Come and have dinner with me in Portimao. The children
are with their grandparents. We can talk a little about
all of that.
I decide to go. I need to hear some reassuring words.
From then on I carefully follow all
the details. I become aware of the importance of
statements from the national director, who had always
maintained that all leads in the investigation must be
explored and remain open. That they be left open is
possible, but they have been explored.
Could the fact have been forgotten that we decided to
constitute as arguido a couple suspected of the crime of
concealing a body and simulating an abduction?
A short time later, in the course of a television
interview, I hear my former professor of political
science and constitutional rights, Marcelo Rebelo de
Sousa, explaining the national director's statement. I
remember very well his course on the separation of
power. He maintains that the director's words have
killed the investigation. The death of the
investigation, once again! But this is about the death
of a child! Yes, I affirm it, a child is dead! This
certainty is not fed by vague assumptions, no, I base
myself on facts, details, clues and evidence recorded in
the official records. Many questions have been raised.
But where are the answers?
In trying to find them, I think to myself that it would
be judicious to go back to the beginning of the
investigation - while it's still clear in the memory -
from the moment the little girl disappeared. So much has
been said....It is time for the story to be told by the
one who was responsible for its operational coordination
and who lived it intensely in the company of men and
women who constitute the elite of the police judiciaire.
THE PRUDENCE OF A DECISION
In Portinmao, I meet chief inspector Tavares de Almeida,
a member of the team I directed. We have known each
other since we started in the police judiciaire.
He is worried because of the national director's
statements; he heard that our work was going to be the
object of an investigation. A request in that direction
has allegedly already been placed before the national
directorate of the police judiciaire. According
to him, that would allow the truth to be re-established
and would lead to recognition of the quality of our
During the five months that the investigations lasted,
we had heard all sorts of comments, but we had got on
with our job. We remind ourselves of everything that was
accomplished, with a great deal of effort, rigour and
honesty, and we are certain that nobody could have done
better. That might seem presumptuous, but it's just fair
recognition of the conscientious attitude of all the
police professionals who worked on the case.
- They can't count! How can they accuse us of being
precipitous when the couple were only declared suspects
four months after the events! Don't they know the
principle of non-self-incrimination?
It is legally impossible to continue to take statements
from someone as a witness if these statements risk later
turning against him. While a witness is making a
statement about an ongoing case and at a given moment it
is realised that he could himself be involved in an
illegal act, he is constituted arguido. Thus,
from then on, he has rights and duties. Contrary to what
one reads in the press - above all the English -, the
arguido is protected and acquires the right to
silence which no one can reproach him for - which would
not be the case if he were being heard as a witness.
- I agree with you. If a mistake was made, it was in
taking so long to make the couple arguidos. Too
much politics, that's what there was, too much politics
and not enough policing.
- I'd say rather that the mistake was in treating the
McCanns "with tweezers." From the start of the
investigation, we realised that certain things did not
add up and yet, they continued to benefit from
favourable treatment; that's what's not normal!
- Does the national director perhaps think that the
couple only left Portugal because they had been placed
- In fact, the McCanns stayed in Portugal as long as we
stuck to the theory of abduction; from the moment that
was placed in doubt, they talked about returning to
- From which can be concluded that their being placed
under investigation gave them an excuse to leave the
- You know, certain English
journalists consider Portugal to be a third world
country. Of course, I don't agree with that definition.
And yet, if it's not a third world country, why is the
head of an ongoing investigation dismissed when the
quality of his work is not in doubt....
- There is a lot of talk about the "politicising," of
the law....they forget the extent to which a police
investigation can be influenced.
- It's a matter of either: either the investigation is
entrusted to trustworthy people, or, if things go wrong
those responsible are replaced with more "reliable,"
- I don't believe that was the main reason.
- There are always reasonable and perfectly legal
arguments. In fact, those who should stand in the way of
this almost political management of the investigation
are the most senior police managers. They should object
to any situation or action that risks bringing prejudice
to the investigation and to its correct operation. They
can't agree to everything under the pretext of being
afraid of losing their jobs.
- No, you are aware that you don't direct the police
according to personal interests but properly according
to public interests. It is only thus that we can
conceive of a police force in a democratic state.
- OK, but look where we are! You will see, soon the
arguidos will be choosing who leads the
investigation. Maybe that's the modern way..
- The modern way....Rather self-interests, you mean!
- Speaking of deplorable, have you seen any of the
Benfica game recently?
- It's not football any more, it's I don't know what.
Incidentally, you've met Gaivota?
Gaivota is the surname of a former Benfica player who
was living in Portimao at the time of the investigation.
A real companion who shared the good and the bad times
with us. I remember his kindness, and the patience with
which he showed his support for me.
- If he was still at Benfica, maybe their defence would
be up to something.
BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE
INVESTIGATION: THE CRISIS UNIT
Sofia is listening to our conversation. She knows the
importance of the work carried out by Tavares de
Almeida. It was he who kept the crisis unit operational
throughout the investigation, until the departure of the
last English police officer, when the McCann family
returned to England. As if, from then on, it was no
longer necessary to continue the investigations where
the disappearance took place.
It was he who, nearly every day, opened the local office
at 6 o'clock in the morning, not to leave it until after
midnight. All the information passed through there:
there we centralised all the data we received, emails,
telephone calls, communications from the police officers
working on the case. That room was the real nerve centre
of the investigation. The bits of information were
analysed there in order to distinguish those that were
of real interest from the many others - reports or
witness statements - raising pure speculation. A great
deal of sorting out had to be done, notably concerning
the eye-witnesses, who multiplied as the media coverage
took on enormous proportions.
The English investigators occupied the adjoining room:
between the two areas, information circulated in an
uninterrupted flow. The British investigators
participated in our meetings, taking notes in their
record book, Major Incident Enquiry Officer's Rough
Another room was dedicated to
dealing with information of a more practical nature,
like, for example, the register of all paedophiles
present in the region, in order to look for actual links
to the case or the creation of diagrams of connections;
difficult and meticulous work of great value, which was
later sent to the crisis unit.
Amongst other duties, Tavares prepared the documents -
many of which had to be translated - so as to allocate
the jobs between the various teams who, on the ground,
executed the operational orders for the proper
management of this lengthy work of verification. The
revolt they now feel is legitimate. They suffer a deep
sense of injustice: not only did the police
judiciaire not know how to protect them, but it
called into question their reliability.
In the days following the national director's statement,
rumour had it that he himself was going to be dismissed.
Once again the police judiciaire were in crisis; once
again this crisis was going to be resolved by a series
of resignations in the highest spheres of the hierarchy.
Yet, stability is one of the essential conditions for
the success of its mission, totally dedicated to the
service of the community.
How come a criminal investigation - in this case, the
research undertaken following the disappearance of a
little English girl - could have upset so much,
Portuguese justice, the police judiciaire, and
compromised the cooperation that existed for such a long
time between the police of the two countries?
What are the powers that made the investigation so
difficult to the point of stopping it abruptly? In
recounting its operation, perhaps a response could be
outlined and new light thrown on the events.
I invite researchers in communication sciences to look
into this case in order to understand how a dramatic
event could be transformed into one of the most media
covered happenings of our time.
End of Chapter 1
MADELEINE BETH McCANN'S HOLIDAY
Saturday April 28th
MADELEINE BETH McCANN'S HOLIDAY
Saturday April 28th
At the end of April 2007, it's spring in the Algarve,
even if the weather is particularly gloomy. It rains
often. While the sun shines, the temperature becomes
pleasant, but the nights are cold and windy.
On the morning of April 28th, Madeleine, aged 3, goes to
Leicestershire airport to board a flight for Faro,
accompanied by her parents, Gerald McCann and Kate
Healy, both 39, doctors, living in Rothley, England, and
by her brother and sister, Amelie and Sean, twins aged
The family is taking a short holiday - one week - until
the following Saturday, May 5th. Madeleine seems at the
same time happy and anxious. In Faro, where she arrives
at around 2pm, she boards the minibus provided for
tourists by the tour operator, to travel the 70
kilometres that separate her from her destination: the
Ocean Club holiday complex at Vila da Luz, not far from
the town of Lagos.
The McCanns are traveling in the company of the Payne
family, composed of David Payne (41) and his wife Fiona
(35), doctors, their daughters Lilly and Scarlett (aged
2 and 1 respectively) and Diana Webster, aged 63, credit
manager, Fiona's mother. One hour earlier, at around
1pm, the other members of the group of holiday-makers
had arrived from London: the Oldfield couple - Matthew
Oldfield (38), doctor, Rachael Mampilly (37) human
resources manager, and their daughter Grace (19 months)
- as well as the O'Brien couple - Russell O'Brien (37),
doctor, Jane Tanner (36) marketing manager, and their
daughters Ella and Evie (aged 3 and 1 respectively)
David Payne is the organiser of the trip. These couples
have spent their holidays together for several years. In
January 2005, while Kate was pregnant with the twins,
they stayed for a week in Lanzarote, an island in the
Canaries. In September 2003, the McCanns and their
friends Matthew Oldfield, Rachael Mampilly, Russell
O'Brien and Jane Tanner spent a week in Umbria in Italy,
where they went to attend David and Fiona Payne's
wedding. In September 2005, Gerald, Kate and their
daughter Madeleine, then aged 2 years and 4 months, went
to Majorca, in Spain, for a few days of relaxation with
the Payne's and other friends.
On their arrival at the Ocean Club, the McCanns are
allocated apartment 5A, on the ground floor of one of
the apartment blocks, the back of which looks over the
swimming pool, the tennis court and the Tapas
restaurant. This apartment is on the corner of the
building with a public road running alongside. The other
couples are accommodated in apartments 5H (Payne
family), 5D (O'Brien family), and 5B (Oldfield family);
5B adjoins 5A and is close to 5D. Except for 5H, on the
first floor, they're all on the ground floor.
Access to the front door of apartment 5A is through the
car park in front of the building. It is surrounded by a
1 metre high wall, with an opening in the middle.
Another wall, of the same height, separates the building
from the car park with an alley facing the central part
of the building. You have to go along the road that runs
alongside this wall to get to the front door of
apartment 5A. It's a very basic wooden door without any
specific security system, fitted with a lock that opens
with a key. Anyone approaching this door has to go past
the window of the bedroom where Madeleine, her brother
and her sister sleep.
Behind the ground floor apartments there are small
gardens whose side gates open onto a walkway that
separates the building from the leisure area of the
Ocean Club. Apartment 5A's small garden opens directly
onto the public road. From inside the apartments, the
gardens are reached via French windows which have very
little security, and only a blind shutting them off from
The resort complex of the Ocean Club does not stand in a
private area; the various buildings of which it is
composed are spread throughout the village. The roads
serving the club are public. Some of its properties are
separated from each other by 2 kilometres - this is the
case with the Millennium restaurant. There is no video
surveillance system or private security; access to the
leisure areas is not controlled either.
Vila da Luz is one of a number of villages built in the
years 1960-1970, when the Algarve became a very popular
tourist destination, particularly with the British.
Drawn by the mildness of the climate and the hospitality
of the inhabitants, they built lots of little white
houses, interpreting in their own way the architectural
style of the region. They took an interest in the
Algarvian culture and society and their relations with
the local population developed in a harmonious way.
BRIEF DETOUR VIA THE HISTORY OF VILA DA LUZ
The predecessors called it the beach of Our Lady of
Light. It was a little fishing village standing in a
bay, benefiting from the fact of an advantageous
geographic situation. The fine sandy beach stretches as
far as the famous volcanic rock - Rocha Negra - with
vivid sandstone cliffs in the background. The remains of
an ancient fort dominate the highest points, probably
erected to protect the villagers from potential
attackers coming from the sea.
A paved walkway bordered by palm trees runs along the
If you take the road that links the Luz church to the
beach, you notice on your left the ruins of the Roman
thermal baths; through their cellar run numerous
tunnels, which for more than fifty years, have been used
by children to reach the beach. A good part of Luz is
built over remains from the time of the Romans. Under
the reign of King Alphonse III, there was whale hunting
here; more recently, there was an active tuna processing
factory. With the explosion of mass tourism, the region
has become a particularly popular holiday destination
and most of its revenue comes from this fast-growing
industry. That sector nowadays employs over 80% of the
The inhabitants of Lagos have made it their main holiday
place. Legend has it that in May, a clever knight came
to steal gold from the ladies of Lagos and fled after
having accomplished the deed. For the inhabitants of
Lagos, the humiliation was so great that they decided to
ban the word designating the month from their
vocabulary. Thus, after April comes the month....that
has to come.
It is in this peaceful seaside resort that Madeleine
began her brief holiday.
GOING BACK TO THE OCEAN CLUB
On the day of arrival at the Ocean Club, a small welcome
ceremony is organised at the Tapas restaurant, from 5pm
- 6.30pm. Everybody participates, including the
children, who spend their time enjoying themselves in
the play area. After this reception, the holiday-makers
go to the Millenium restaurant, situated nearly 2
kilometres from the apartments, at the entrance to the
village of Luz. It's a long way and Gerald and Kate have
to carry the twins. Madeleine walks all the way. Between
7 and 8pm, they dine in the restaurant with other
members of the group. The return journey is also on
foot. At 9pm, the children are in bed. This is how the
first rather tiring day goes. The parents realise that
it won't be easy to walk that distance every day at meal
times and start to consider other alternatives.
THE ROUTINE IS ESTABLISHED
Sunday April 29th
On the morning of Sunday April 29th, at around 8.40am,
the McCann couple and their children again walk the 2
kilometres that separate them from the Millenium to have
breakfast. Then, the children are entrusted to the play
leaders - Madeleine to the day-care centre in the
building that houses the main reception of the tourist
complex, while Sean and Amelie stay at the playgroup,
near the Tapas restaurant, that takes the youngest
children. At around 12.30pm, the parents come and fetch
them for lunch, play with them sometimes in the swimming
pool or in the play area, then, at around 2.30pm, take
them back to the play leaders, with whom they stay until
5.30pm. Sometimes the children have dinner with them.
From the first evening, the routine is established.
Between 7.30 and 8.30, it's relaxation time for the
parents. After having put the little ones to bed, they
have a bath and drink some New Zealand wine as an
aperitif. Then, they join the other adults of the group
for dinner at the Tapas restaurant. The meal starts at
around 8.30 and ends at around 11pm. Meanwhile, every
half hour, the parents go in turn to the bedrooms to
check that everything is OK.
Madeleine will not go back to the Millenium because
breakfast from now on is taken in the apartment with the
family, with items purchased at the Baptista
supermarket, a few metres away. The rest of the day
follows what is, from then on, its usual course: 9
o'clock, the children are dropped off at the playgroup
and the parents go to play tennis or run on the beach.
MADELEINE CRIES IN HER PARENTS' ABSENCE
Tuesday May 1st
In the Algarve, May 1st is celebrated by organising
family picnics; the first snails are tasted and, above
all, maios are displayed - life-sized rag dolls
stuffed with straw - on the sides of the roads, in
windows or on the doorsteps of the houses. They
represent scenes from daily life or from social satire.
This popular, one hundred-year-old tradition is carried
on and joyously enlivens these first days of spring.
It's not known if Madeleine could see the maios
that day. Between 10 and 11am, she plays minitennis with
the children from the day centre. In the afternoon, from
1.30, her parents take her to the beach with her brother
and sister, but they only stay there for twenty minutes,
because the sky clouds over and the temperature falls.
She eats an ice cream on a terrace. Close by, a
guitarist, who looks like a tramp, is playing Latino
music and collecting money. From there, Madeleine and
the twins are taken directly to the day centre. Tennis
court number 1 is booked by the McCanns for 2.30 to
3.30. At around 3.30, the play leaders take the children
to the beach. They proceed in single file, each holding
onto a long rod in the shape of a serpent, Sammy Snake.
They play on the sand until 4.30 and participate in
various games that are suggested to them.
During the parents' dinner, the children again sleep
alone. A restaurant employee notes on the reception
register that certain members of the group get up in
turn to go and make sure they are OK.
For an hour and a quarter, between 10.30 and 11.45pm, in
the apartment where she is in the company of her brother
and her sister, Madeleine does not stop crying and
calling out for her father. She does not calm down until
after her parents return.
Wednesday May 2nd
At breakfast, Madeleine asks her parents why they left
her to cry the night before, and did not come back
immediately. At 9 o'clock, the children are back at
their respective playgroups. For an hour, between 3.30
and 4.30, like the day before, Madeleine is taken to the
beach, following the usual route. In the evening, when
the parents go out for dinner, between 8 and 8.30pm, she
is already asleep, like her brother and sister.
Thursday May 3rd
At 9.10am, Madeleine arrives at the day centre,
accompanied by her father. Between 10.30 and 11 o'clock,
the day centre leaders again take Madeleine and her
little classmates to the beach. She then goes on a boat
trip in a yellow catamaran-type boat, which does not go
very far from the shore. At 12.25, her mother fetches
her for lunch and takes her back to the day centre at
2.50. At 5.30, after a jog on the beach, she goes back
to fetch her, as well as her brother and her sister, and
they all go back to the apartment.
End of Chapter 2
ANNOUNCEMENT OF A DISAPPEARANCE:
THE FIRST SEVENTY-TWO HOURS
On this evening, May 3rd 2007, I decide to dine at the
Carvi Brasserie, in the centre of Portimao, before going
home. I have been living for a year in this town, where
I lead the Department of Criminal Investigation of the
police judiciaire. In 1982, when I was 23 and I
had just taken up this career, I had already gone there.
There, I had made the acquaintance of someone who was to
become my friend, Manuel Joao. Former local official and
sporty, a charismatic person. He always lent a hand to
members of the police judiciaire who went to the
town for the purposes of an investigation. As an elected
local official, he originated the creation of a
police judiciaire department in Portimao. Thus, that
evening, while savouring fruits de mer, we
discuss the problems of Portuguese society.
It is midnight when I receive the news about the
disappearance of a little four-year-old English girl.
The police officer on call was informed about it by the
National Guard of The Republic (GNR) At the time of her
disappearance, the little girl was supposed to have been
sleeping in an apartment while her parents were dining a
hundred metres away. An inspector is sent to the scene
immediately to establish the initial facts. A forensic
expert assigned to security of the premises will join
him. All precautions are taken to preserve possible
clues and elements of evidence. I demand to be informed
very regularly and, before going home, I call on the
police on duty to check that all urgent measures are
underway. The head of the Guard has already alerted the
police authorities at Faro airport and the control post
set up on the Guadiana* bridge.
(*The river on the frontier between Portugal and Spain.)
THE REPORTS LEAVE A LOT TO BE DESIRED
The examination of the premises by the investigator and
the representative of the forensic police just after the
announcement of the disappearance turns out to be quite
unproductive. A concise report, where their observations
are written up, is accompanied by numerous photographs
taken inside and outside apartment 5A - which don't give
an account of, according to us, everything they could
have observed. This error is explained by the absence of
procedures in case of a child's disappearance, notably
concerning the actions to be taken when examining the
Lots of people were already in place; however, nobody
appeared in the photos. We don't know, for example, how
they were dressed. Such observations can turn out to be
important later on. The report mentions that the twins
were asleep in their bed, but there is no proof to
confirm it; on the contrary, in the photographs, you can
see empty cots, where only the mattresses remain - the
sheets and blankets having been removed. Why have their
beds been stripped? If the sheets had not been removed,
traces of their presence could have been found there.
That evening, on arriving home, I see Inès, my younger
daughter, who is sleeping close to my wife, Sofia. In
silence, in the dim light of the bedroom, I sit on the
edge of the bed. Outside, far from her mother's warmth,
a child of the same age is lost. Sofia wakes up and asks
me what is happening. I tell her about Madeleine's
disappearance and instinctively, she holds our daughter
tightly in her arms and makes room for me.
I make lots of phone calls and send a text message to
the director of the Faro Department of Criminal
Investigation (DIC): child, English, aged 4, disappeared
from a Praia da Luz hotel. It's sufficient. Reading the
message, he will understand the gravity of the
situation. Three years before, we had dealt with a
similar case, a few kilometres from Praia da Luz. We had
not been informed at the time of that disappearance, and
we are convinced that if the investigation could have
been started immediately we would have been able to
discover some physical evidence. The police response is
fundamental. The first 72 hours are essential.
FIRST INTERROGATIONS AND REQUESTS
TO THE BRITISH POLICE FOR INFORMATION
Friday May 4th
This morning I am worried; something isn't right in the
account of the events: the little girl allegedly
disappeared at 10pm while she was sleeping close to her
brother and her sister. They were alone in the apartment
because their parents were dining with friends. A system
of checks had been put in place by the adults. Every 30
minutes according to some - every quarter of an hour
according to others -, someone went to have a look at
the children. It is Madeleine's mother who realised she
was gone and is immediately talking about abduction.
We need information about the parents and their friends,
to know who they are, what they do, if they have
problems in their country, if the children were victims
of abuse, if the family, neighbours, friends could have
noticed any suspicious behaviour, what are their jobs,
if they work full-time, etc. Is any member of their
family depressed or suffered from depression in the
past? Do the couple maintain good relationships? Are
they implicated in serious litigation? Do they have
enemies? For what reason? So, I telephone Glen Powers,
the English liaison officer in Portugal, inform him of
events and request that he relay our requests for
reports. We consider these to be of the greatest
importance and await sensitive responses to guide our
While I am on the phone and my daughters are sleeping,
Sofia makes breakfast for me. She is quiet and regards
me with a questioning look, as if she suspects that from
today, she won't see much of me. It's not the first time
this has happened: she knew that I wouldn't count my
time in a case like this.
THE ORGANISATION OF THE INVESTIGATION
Since dawn, chief inspector Tavares de Almeida has been
getting down to the job at the Department of Criminal
Investigation in Portimao. He is following through with
the first measures taken within the context of the
investigation. At this time, he should have been going
on holiday, but faced with the gravity of the case, he
has decided to put it off until later. Neither the
director of the Faro police judiciaire nor myself are
going to have the time take our holidays anytime soon.
The disappearance of a child must be flagged up as
widely as possible, on the national as well as on the
international level. All Portguese police are already on
alert, as well as Interpol. During the night, the
National Guard, supported by the civilian population,
has started to organise searches. They will be continued
and widened tomorrow.
The search and examination of the scene were carried out
in difficult conditions: when they arrived, the police
were met with a large number of people coming and going
- family, friends, resort employees, including dogs and
members of the National Guard. The contamination of the
premises risks bringing serious prejudice, as a
consequence, to the investigation. We must ask ourselves
if that contamination has been deliberate or not - it
can make the search for clues particularly complicated.
The Lisbon scenes of crime technicians come as
reinforcements to start the examination of the
residence, which is from now on empty.
On arrival at the Portimao Department of Criminal
Investigation, I call in chief inspector Tavares de
Almeida to take stock of the situation and take the
measures that are necessary in the immediate future.
After the searches undertaken in the surrounding area -
dustbins, containers, sewers -, it is necessary to
proceed with the interrogation of certain potential
witnesses. The parents and their friends will be heard
quickly. The first statements are of prime importance:
memories are still vivid and crucial details could thus
be obtained, which would risk being lost later. The
witness statements of the restaurant employees, those
from the day centre and the playgroup where Madeleine
and the twins spent their day are also all important.
The search for witnesses will be widened to all the
tourists present, whose names must be submitted to the
parents and friends. Perhaps they will recognise
someone....The English police are involved: they are
being asked to cross-check that list with their files in
order to pick out individuals known to their services.
All of the video recordings from the tourist complex -
hotels, banks, pharmacies, supermarkets and service
stations -, including those from the CCTV cameras of two
motorways - one leading to Lagos and one linking Lagos
and Spain -, will be viewed. The Spanish customs service
has been asked to increase vigilance at the two ports
maintaining links with Morocco,Tarifa and Algeciras. The
Algarvian coast, very popular with sailing enthusiasts,
is bordered by a large number of marinas. Pleasure boats
from every province berth here. Situated 120 nautical
miles from the African continent, between the
Mediterranean and the Atlantic, it is the most
accessible coast for entering the continent of Europe.
It attracts many yachtsmen, who appreciate the beauty of
its beaches and its inlets, but it also attracts all
sorts of traffickers.
- Make contact with the marinas and the maritime police;
we must have access to video recordings as well as the
registers of boats entering and leaving in the last few
- I am going to contact them and make sure they have
started the sea searches.
In anticipation of the volume of information we are
going to have to deal with, we decide to fit out a room
dedicated to the investigation, our crisis unit.
THE INFORMATION SOUGHT IS SOMETIMES UNOBTAINABLE
We need reliable information. Apart from all the
searches already undertaken, we must also examine the
photos and films taken by the McCann family and their
friends. From amongst the onlookers, these images could
help to identify a suspicious-looking individual or
someone whose attitude might be suspicious. Trivialised
since the general use of computers, photography is a
source of information which the investigators know not
to neglect: each holiday-maker takes, in general,
hundreds of photos. The McCanns and their friends who
were in Vila da Luz make all of theirs available to the
investigators, but none of those dating from the evening
of the disappearance help us to understand what
NO SIGN OF A BREAK-IN
At this stage of the investigation, the hypotheses are
numerous, and each one must be considered. It is
necessary to locate and identify all the paedophiles who
live in or who have passed through the Algarve, in order
to check that they were not in the proximity of Vila da
Luz on the days preceding the disappearance.
The idea of a robbery gone wrong is not to be ruled out
either. During the holidays, burglaries are not rare,
and the police are not always informed, because hotels
avoid spreading this kind of information. Even if the
examination of apartment 5A reveals no trace of a
break-in - contrary to what the parents insist and that
Sky announced - we have to take stock of the petty
crimes committed in the seaside resort and at the
tourist complex. We are counting on the management of
the hotel so that no incident of this nature remains
hidden. Even if we don't have much belief in the
scenario of a burglar who enters the apartment for a
burglary and leaves it with the child, dead or alive,
this hypothesis, as ridiculous as it may be, must not be
FIRST MORNING OF THE INVESTIGATION;
Still May 4th
When drawing up the report of the first observations,
which must be forwarded to the district Judiciary Court
of Lagos, we are undecided about the legal denomination
of the events. Finally, we opt for "abduction??," adding
two question marks after the word to express our
uncertainty. The decision was not taken lightly. That
decision preserves the interests of the various opposing
parties, those of the parents, those of the child, not
to say those of the investigation itself.
When drawing up the report of the
first observations, which must be forwarded to the
district Judiciary Court of Lagos, we are undecided
about the legal denomination of the events. Finally, we
opt for "abduction??," adding two question marks after
the word to express our uncertainty. The decision was
not taken lightly. That decision preserves the interests
of the various opposing parties, those of the parents,
those of the child, not to say those of the
The report by the team who conducted the analyses of the
apartment records all observations carried out and
statements gathered. It sets out the list of people
present and potential witnesses. It also includes
fingerprints taken as well as photographic
On reading this report, which was given to me on the
morning of May 4th, I understand that there is no
evidence sufficiently convincing to tip the
investigation in one direction rather than another.
There are many possible leads: voluntary disappearance -
the child could have wakened and not seeing her parents,
gone off to look for them; accidental death and
concealing of a body; physical abuse causing death;
murder by negligence or premeditated; an act of
vengeance; taken hostage followed by a ransom demand;
abducted by a paedophile; kidnap or murder committed by
The hypothesis of abduction widens and complicates the
investigations; it allows the mobilisation of means and
resources that would have been difficult to obtain
otherwise, such as the arrival of reinforcements,
absolutely indispensable faced with the magnitude of the
task, notably in the course of the first 72 hours. In a
more calm climate, we could have got down to the search
for evidence more effectively, allowing us to understand
how that child disappeared, without worrying that
suspicion might fall on the friends of the family.
THE VISITS BY THE CONSUL AND THE AMBASSADOR; INFORMATION
IS TAKING A LONG TIME TO COME FROM GREAT BRITAIN
At ten in the morning, twelve hours after the
disappearance, the British Consul to Portimao goes to
the Department of Criminal Investigation. We inform him
of the actions taken up to then and the next stages
being considered. He doesn't seem satisfied. Someone
hears him on the telephone saying that the police
judiciaire are doing nothing. Now, that's strange!
Why that untruth? What objective does he have in mind?
Giving another dimension to the case? Perhaps, I don't
know a thing about it, but this is not the time for
conjecture; we have to concentrate on our work, of
finding the little girl.
We're not getting any response from Great Britain. We've
had no reports on the subject of the couple, their
children and their friends, which doesn't help us to
tighten up the investigation. We would like, for
example, to know if Madeleine was adopted by the couple,
which would allow us to eliminate the hypothesis of
parental abduction. If the information is not reaching
us, it's obviously reaching the British Ambassador. We
are astonished by this prompt mobilisation of the
English authorities. So, who are the McCanns? Who are
their friends? We don't need diplomatic intervention:
what we would like, is answers to the questions sent to
the British police authorities by Glen Power.
THE SEARCHES CONTINUE; THE ASTONISHING INVASION BY THE
The searches on the ground continue, with the help of a
helicopter from Disaster Management. Interviews of
holiday-makers and the resort's employees multiply.
We're worried, aware that it's a race against the clock:
tomorrow, many tourists will be leaving the resort. As
for the McCanns and their friends, who should also be
leaving on this date, we are totally unaware of their
plans. For the needs of the investigation, it is
imperative that they stay put, but we have no legal
means of preventing their departure. During the morning,
the deputy director of the Faro police judiciaire joins
us. Until the end of September, his life will be split
between Faro and Portimao, where he will travel to every
day. He asks how the searches are going and decides to
go to Vila da Luz to check for himself the operations
that have been set up. I go with him. When we arrive, we
find that the media, Portuguese as well as English, are
present en masse. It seems that the McCanns' friends
have reported Maddie's disappearance to the press before
informing the police about it. Another point which we
Inside the apartment, police forensic specialists
proceed to lift finger and palmar prints, a job that is
preferably carried out during daylight hours. Others
look for traces of blood, samples of fibres and hair. We
notice with dismay that one of the technicians, who is
working on the outside of the McCann children's bedroom
window is not using the regulation suit, thus risking
contaminating possible clues. These images of negligence
start to circulate world-wide; this isn't, however, the
usual behaviour of police judiciaire technicians.
It's obvious that no one has broken in and the lock has
not been forced. No prints are lifted that are likely to
belong to an unknown person, nor the slightest trace of
gloves which could have been worn by a hypothetical
abductor. In the middle of this desert of clues, two
prints are perfectly easily found: the very distinct
mark of a palm print on the balcony window at the rear
of the apartment, and a clearly visible one of fingers
on the window pane of Madeleine's bedroom. The excellent
quality of the palm print seemed suspicious to us.
Later, analyses confirm our suspicions: it belonged to
one of the officers who were present the previous night.
In Portugal, no protocol exists for coordinating the
work of the different police services in the event of
the worrying disappearance of a child, perhaps because
until now this type of case has been rare. We have been
fighting for several years for the creation of just such
a resource. However, we don't have to invent anything:
it would be sufficient to adapt the protocols already
existent in other countries more used to cases of this
type - Great Britain, for example.
A SUSPECT WHO, VERY QUICKLY ISN'T; THE SEARCHES CONTINUE
While we continue to gather statements from resort
employees, we are informed of the presence in the region
of an individual suspected of abusing children. Of
British nationality, he would frequent a pub situated
150 metres from Madeleine's apartment. In 2005, sought
by the police in his own country, he fled abroad and the
English authorities had then lost track of him. But we
discover that the pub in question doesn't exist any
more, and that the information that the man is in the
area has no basis in fact. His step-father, contacted by
the police, states that he is currently in Iraq,
information later confirmed by the British police.
In the main street of Vila da Luz, there are open
trenches because of improvement works. They leave the
waste water mains exposed. On the night of May 3rd
searches were conducted there, with the help of sniffer
dogs from the National Guard of The Republic. (GNR) We'd
like to proceed with another inspection, but the site
foreman assures us that access to the mains is closed
during the night and the workmen noticed nothing
abnormal when starting work the next morning.
STATEMENTS FROM THE PARENTS AND FRIENDS; FIRST
Still May 4th
Madeleine's parents and friends of the family go to the
Department of Criminal Investigation to be interviewed.
Their statements should help us to better understand the
circumstances surrounding Madeleine's disappearance.
Each must be questioned at the same time, but
separately, in order to avoid "contamination," of the
witness statements - which happens often when witnesses
have the opportunity to exchange information. Sometimes
an important detail is held in the memory, but can be
lost after a conversation with another witness. This is
the usual procedure. In this way, we can establish
relevant cross checks, confirm or invalidate certain
assertions. But that was not possible today, certain
adults having stayed at the resort to look after the
We have to retrace their comings and goings very
precisely as well as those of the children. What they
did during the holiday, where they went...In possession
of this information, we will attempt afterwards to
collect photos and films taken by holiday-makers who
were in the same places: we will succeed perhaps in
pinpointing a detail that could be of significance.
These same tourists might quite simply help us to better
understand the way in which the group of friends was
The personality of the victim and of the parents has
significance. We have to find out if they were
threatened in the past, if they have enemies. We must
consider the possibility of a mistake: the target may
not have been Madeleine but another child of the group
of friends. Therefore, they too must give answers to
None of the adults possessing a vehicle, they never go
very far and in general stay within the confines of the
resort. Their knowledge of the surrounding area is
limited and we assume that they limit themselves to the
roads linking the beach and their apartments.
During the morning, only Madeleine's father, Matthew
Oldfield and Jane Tanner are interviewed. However,
already contradictions and improbabilities are appearing
from one to another of the statements, notably
concerning access to the apartment.
An example: during the course of the evening, Jane
encountered Gerald McCann and Jeremiah busy chatting in
the street. At that time, Gerald was coming back from
his apartment, where he had gone to make sure the
children were sound asleep - which he confirmed in his
statement. Jane asserts that she noticed a suspicious
individual carrying a child in his arms - probably
Madeleine, according to her - immediately after having
passed the two men. Gerald and Jeremiah should also have
seen her, but that was not the case.
The mother of the missing little girl, Kate Healy, and
all the other members of the group, David Payne and his
wife Fiona, Rachael Mampilly, Russell O'Brien and Diane
Webster, are heard later. They might already be aware of
the questions put to their friends and of their
responses. In that case, there won't be the element of
surprise. The presence of an interpreter doesn't make
the interviews any easier either. The witnesses benefit
from the translation time to prepare their responses.
Madeleine's parents are insisting on the theory of
abduction. They want to convince us of it at all costs.
Gerald stresses that the front door was locked; Kate
states that she entered the apartment through the rear
sliding doors, which weren't locked, and that the window
was wide open with the shutters raised.
theory does not hold water, which will be observed
during other interviews. The only witness statement
corroborating that assertion is Jane Tanner's.
Everybody knew they were looking for a little girl of
nearly four, bare feet, dressed in light-coloured
pyjamas on which there was a pink animal design. This
description was relayed to all those who mobilised to
find the child. How come Jane Tanner took no notice, she
who, at that time, was the main witness in the case?
From now on it's important to shed light on the
contradictions raised in these first witness statements.
Here is the chronological sequence of visits to the
- 21.05: Gerald McCann (the children are fine);
- 21.10/21.15: Jane Tanner (states having observed the
alleged abductor with a child in his arms);
- 21.30: Matthew Oldfield: (goes into the apartment, but
doesn't go into the bedroom. He only sees the twins);
- 22.00: Kate Healy (goes into the apartment, and finds
that Madeleine has disappeared).
If, as Kate states, the window was open when she went
into the apartment, how come Matthew didn't notice? At
the time when the latter went in, Jane had already seen
the alleged abductor with the child. So, logically, if
the crime had already been committed, the window should
have been open.
Matthew says that the bedroom door was half open, Kate
that it was wide open. It can be concluded that
Madeleine was already no longer in the room - which
Matthew should have noticed, if the other witness
statements are to be believed.
Another inconsistency - unexpected - appears. When Kate
refers to the individual who allegedly abducted her
child, she has no information other than that given to
her by Jane, since she, herself, did not see him. But,
the description she gives of him differs from that of
Jane Tanner. The latter - extremely sure of herself, and
who will be interviewed on several occasions - portrays
a man dressed in light-coloured trousers, with hair down
to his collar. Kate refers to long hair and jeans.
Gerald tells the police that Jane described to him -
after midnight, during the night of May 3rd to May 4th -
this stranger she allegedly saw going up the road; his
hair was brown, he was between 30 and 40 years old and
he was wearing light-coloured trousers. The first police
officers to arrive on the premises are convinced that
the parents put forward the hypothesis of abduction
because Jane had talked about this man with the child.
In their report, Jane's description is as follows: it
was an individual dressed in light-coloured trousers and
a dark shirt, he was 1.78m tall and was carrying a
child, probably in pyjamas. She does not describe the
pyjamas and doesn't mention any other detail.
Later, during the course of the morning of May 4th, the
father gives the same brief description and refers back
to Jane for additional details. The latter appears at
the offices of the police judiciaire in Portimao at
11.30am. This time, the description is very precise: the
individual, aged between 35 and 40, was thin and 1.70m
tall; his hair was dark brown, falling over his collar;
he was wearing cream or beige trousers, probably linen,
a sort of anorak - but not very thick - and black shoes,
classic in style. He was walking hurriedly, with a child
in his arms. He was warmly dressed, the reason she
thought he was not a tourist. The child appeared to be
asleep - she only saw the legs -, had bare feet and was
dressed in pyjamas, which were obviously cotton,
light-coloured, probably white or pale pink, with a
pattern - flowers maybe, but she isn't certain.
Concerning the man, she states that she would recognise
him from the back by his particular way of walking. The
importance of this statement will be seen later.
Hardly fourteen hours have gone by since the child's
disappearance and already Jane's version is known by
many people. The father even referred to it during his
statement, as can be seen above. Jane insists that she
spoke solely to Gerald about this individual and then
without going into details. It is only later that she
related it all to the police.
Again, we notice an inconsistency. She was not aware,
she says, of how Madeleine was dressed, which seems
unlikely: on the night of the disappearance, Kate
immediately gave a precise description of the clothes
the little girl was wearing when she was put to bed.
FIRST EYE WITNESS STATEMENTS; KATE HEALY'S SURPRISING
Madeleine's parents are already back in Vila da Luz when
we receive photos taken on an area of the motorway: you
can make out the figure of a little girl, who looks like
Madeleine, accompanied by a couple. These images come
from a CCTV camera on the motorway linking Lagos to the
Spanish border. The McCanns are asked to come to
Portimao in order to proceed to an identification. It's
the end of the day. Kate Healy seems annoyed at coming
back and made uncomfortable by the speed of the police
car taking her. We are somewhat astonished by her
reaction, as if she was not expecting to get her
daughter back. The identification turns out negative.
A team from the Central Crime Fighting Directorate
(DCCB) arrives from Lisbon, accompanied by their
director. I wasn't informed of this decision, but I
agree with it. The reinforcements are welcomed, because
we must get on very quickly. The experience of these
police officers in the field of abductions and the
taking of hostages is a plus for the investigation and
the ways they operate are largely superior to ours. In
addition, their experts are the most qualified of the
police judiciaire. From now on, two deputy national
directors, assisted by the coordinator of the Portimao
Department of Criminal Investigation, will direct the
investigations. A few months later, chief inspector
Tavares de Almeida was to share one of his convictions
with me: if we had remained solely responsible for the
investigation, we would have advanced more quickly.
In reality, I don't know. I don't think we can rewrite
history with "if." At that time the directorate of the
police judiciaire had decided on it, and we had
favourably welcomed the arrival of that team. It was
about doing our best with these new participants and
taking advantage of their ways of working. The
motivations behind that decision, whatever they are
don't interest us in the slightest.
MISSING PERSONS POSTER IS ISSUED
In the afternoon, we ask the Public Minister for
authorisation to issue a missing persons poster to the
press. It is published on May 5th, accompanied by a
photo of the child and telephone numbers. We, thus, hope
to obtain new information. We are going to be inundated
with witness statements of every kind: people who are
persuaded that they can help us thanks to their psychic
powers; others who have dreamed about Madeleine and
believe they know where she is, and yet others who think
they have seen her here or there...A great number of
reports come to us, that we have to analyse and check
out: none must be neglected, even if most of them, on
the face of it, seem absurd. In the hypothesis of an
abduction, we might imagine that the abductor has tried
to modify the child's appearance to more easily pass
unnoticed. So, we create portraits of the little girl,
modifying the colour and style of her hair.
THE WEAKNESSES IN JANE'S WITNESS STATEMENT
Friday May 4th, at 8pm, we criss-cross Praia da Luz to
take note of the activity in the village at dinner time
and to check the street lighting. We stay there until
10pm while the forensic team from the police laboratory
get on with their investigation.
Certainly, today there are people who wouldn't normally
have been here: police officers and journalists. But,
even so, it is noticeable that there is very little
movement. The place where the abductor happened to be is
dimly lit: how did Jane manage to describe him so
accurately? Witnesses confirm that the streets were also
Why did the potential abductor choose to walk around
like that, in the open, running the risk - in spite of
the darkness - of being recognised by a passer-by? If he
had planned the abduction, he would have taken the time
to study, not only the habits of the family, but also
the topography of the place. If he wasn't from the
village, he would probably have come by car, and he
would have sought to conceal it in a dark corner. But
the darkest area is situated in exactly the opposite
direction to that indicated by Jane Tanner. Did she
actually see that man going towards the east? Wouldn't
he rather be going towards the west? Leaving by car, he
would inevitably have had to go towards the centre of
the village, in which case, he would have to go either
past the entrance to the restaurant where Madeleine's
parents were dining, or by the main road that leads to
(*The road running west out of the village towards
Sagres and east towards Lagos.)
We walk around Vila da Luz, covering all the roads,
trying to imagine the options that presented themselves
to the abductor. Without a car, and not knowing the
place, the safest approach to the village is the beach.
In the few bars, restaurants and cafes open at this time
of year, no one noticed anything at all strange during
the evening of May 3rd, no suspicious behaviour, nothing
out of the ordinary. Most of the establishments had
closed at around 9pm.
DISCUSSION IN THE CRISIS ROOM
The crisis unit has been operating for several hours
now, on the top floor of the building. Basing ourselves
on the details gathered in the course of this first day,
we are trying to understand the sequence of events. The
original hypotheses are still valid: voluntary
disappearance, abduction or death. Divergent opinions
and heated discussions fire with enthusiasm. But we
always finish by returning to an objective analysis of
the facts to refocus the discussions.
We are opening the window to let the fresh air expel the
smoke from countless cigarettes smoked during the
meeting when, suddenly, someone poses a question that
shouts out to all of us:
- Tell me then, what is this story about the raised
shutters in the bedroom where Madeleine was sleeping -
or not sleeping?
We have in mind the statements from Gerald McCann and
When Gerald saw his daughter for the last time, at
around 9.05pm, she was sleeping in the bedroom with the
twins. He entered his apartment by the front door, using
his key. No windows were open, but he cannot say if they
were locked. On the other hand - everybody is in
agreement in saying -, the patio door at the rear wasn't
Then, at 10pm, Madeleine's mother goes in her turn into
the bedroom, she sees the open window, the raised
shutters and the curtains waving in the breeze. This
scenario is highly improbable, since the shutters cannot
be operated from the outside. Normally, that window is
never opened, she says, but she can't say either if it
was locked. This vagueness perhaps serves the interests
of the witnesses, but arouses the suspicions of the
Finally, we were able to conclude with certainty that
the only opening that wasn't locked was the patio door
at the rear of the building, opening onto the area with
the swimming pools and the Tapas restaurant, where the
parents were dining.
You ask yourself why Gerald went into his apartment
through the front door while the one at the back is
closer to the restaurant and doesn't need a key. The
parents insist that it was visible from the restaurant
and that no one could have walked in without being
But that's false, as we were easily able to verify. At
night, with the surrounding vegetation and the opaque
plastic tarpaulin that protects the dining room of the
restaurant, visibility is nil: anybody could have got
into theMcCanns' apartment without being noticed,
particularly as most of the guests had their back to the
We understand their insistence. The parents need to
affirm that the children were sleeping in complete
safety, and they were looking out for their well-being.
But, whatever the arguments, one thing is indisputable:
Madeleine was not safe.
- Strange, all the same, this burglar who enters by the
door and goes out through the window with a
four-year-old child in his arms. It would have been
easier to go back out by the same door.
- In fact, something isn't right.
- Someone is hiding something...
- You could say they were sharing a secret.
Little by little, clearly because of tiredness, everyone
starts speaking at once, words are confused. But,
gradually, calm is restored, and the information
gathered so far allows us to put forward several
- It's hard to understand how a potential abductor would
have had the audacity to enter an apartment and abduct
the child, knowing that the parents could burst in at
- Either or: either the man was informed about the
habits of the family, and in that case we would have to
also suspect employees of the restaurant, or else he
hung around in the vicinity for a while to study the lie
of the land.
- Only, if he had studied the lie of the land, he would
have taken one and the same door for entering and
- The parents say that the bedroom window was open and
the front door was closed at the time they became aware
of the disappearance.
- And if they are not telling the truth?
- Put yourself in their place: you are on holiday in a
strange place which you don't know; you leave three
children under 4 to sleep alone; one of them disappears
while you and your wife are quietly dining at the
restaurant. You would take on the blame? You wouldn't be
afraid of the reaction from the local authorities?
- OK, but if, in one way or another, the parents had
something to do with the disappearance? They would
inevitably have to invent a story, so logically, lie.
- That's not right, is it? Don't forget you are dealing
with well-educated people, nearly all doctors, the
child's father is a surgeon. What a ridiculous idea!
- Right, if I understand you properly, you mean that
family dramas are the reserve of the simple-minded and
- We must not put aside any hypothesis, even if it
doesn't really grab us, cuts in one of our colleagues,
who was listening to our exchanges.
-OK, but for the moment, we must not raise suspicions.
They are totally unfounded in the current state of the
- Apparently, it's the examination of the window that
might provide us with an answer. And the fingerprints?
- In the process of being identified.
- Are there copies of the front door key?
- Yes, of course, they are used by employees responsible
for cleaning and maintenance and kept in a safe.
- Everybody has to be interviewed.
- Yes. And have the English responded to our requests
for reports? We have more and more need of them.
- No, not yet, they are efficiently waiting to collect
all the details before sending us a complete file.
- Well, I hope they won't leave us waiting much longer,
Every hour counts.
End of chapter 3
THE REAL VICTIM IS THE MISSING
In a criminal investigation, knowledge of the victim is
essential. A physical description is not enough. Her
personality, her habits, other interests, her family
background and her friendships allow a better
understanding of the conditions in which the crime was
committed. Knowing about her actions and her movements
before her disappearance or her death also helps to
determine the motive for the crime. The work is made
easier when it's about an adult person with real life
experience. When the victim is a child, the information
becomes more piecemeal, and it's not easy to define a
still evolving personality. All the information about
her comes from her parents, her family, their friends,
employees, neighbours and sometimes educators. It's not
her actions that speak for her, but other people.
According to statistics, including Great Britain,
parents and close relatives are involved in the majority
of cases of missing children. Certainly that does not
constitute proof. A common sense rule, however, says
doubt their word, without this meaning that they are to
be considered as suspects. The information they provide
must be cross-checked against other witness statements,
in order to evaluate their veracity and credibility. The
public in general, deeply touched by the misfortune that
has befallen the family - they can all easily imagine
the anxiety and pain that a mother or a father must feel
in such a situation - take their side right away. The
investigator, however, cannot lose sight of his
objectives. He has to devote all his efforts to the
discovery of the truth in order to bring justice to the
only true victim: the child.
DISAPPEARANCE AND CRIME
In disappearance cases, the first hypothesis to be
considered is that of a voluntary departure. An appeal
for witnesses, accompanied by a detailed description, is
then issued. Searches are organised immediately,
mobilising all the available resources: police forces,
civil population, sniffer dogs, announcements in the
media... In parallel, the investigator must not rule out
the possibility of a crime. The three basic questions to
which he must find answers are as follows: what
happened? where did it happen? why?
Every place likely to be the crime scene, is gone over
with a fine-tooth comb. Searches and inspections are
undertaken to gather evidence. Meanwhile, family
background, relationship with the parents, neighbours.
friends, school mates and teachers are the object of an
extensive investigation. The victim's personality too:
her habits, the games she went in for, illnesses she
suffered from, all information about her might turn out
to be important later on. The objective of these
investigations is to make sure that the child has not
been abused either physically or emotionally and that he
led a normal, happy life.
WHO IS MADELEINE BETH McCANN?
Other than her name and date of birth, the appeal for
witnesses launched in the media to find Madeleine Beth
McCann mentioned the following description: blonde hair,
blue-green eyes, approximately 90 centimetres tall,
nearly four years old, dressed in white and pink pyjamas
at the time of her disappearance. Certain details - as,
for example, the fact that she had bare feet - were not
communicated to the public, because this allows us,
later on, to validate or rule out certain witness
In the course of the investigation, new details came to
enrich what we knew about Madeleine. We knew that she
was wanted by her parents, who had recourse to
artificial insemination. She clearly led a quiet life,
like most little girls of her age. No witness statement,
no detail led us to imagine that she had been
ill-treated. A child psychiatrist explains that there is
a huge difference between wanting a child and later
raising the child. Having been wanted doesn't
necessarily mean being loved and happy. It is quite
possible that a baby, eagerly awaited by the parents,
later becomes a responsibility that the latter do not
manage to assume. Consequently, the child becomes
unwanted. In the course of one of her many interviews,
Kate, the mother, referred to situations where the
little girl seemed to represent an inconvenience: it was
difficult for her to carry out everyday household tasks
and even to cook, because she often had to carry her
around. It was a relief when her husband returned in the
evening. If Kate was experiencing difficulties when she
only had Madeleine, it can be imagined that they
increased tenfold after the birth of the twins. Having
had to face up to these new responsibilities, without
much help, and set aside her career to fulfill her role
as mother, it can be accepted that she arrived on
holiday emotionally exhausted. Kate stated having had a
bad feeling before leaving England.
The holidays finally arrive: run on the beach, play
tennis, relax with friends...For the parents, this
digression is certainly well earned.
Madeleine's holiday progresses normally: she divides her
time between the play centre, where she participates in
activities and games, and moments in the company of her
parents and the twins. The Portuguese police are
astonished that the parents entrust their children to
the play leaders from morning till night. In fact, the
father - or the mother - drops them off at 9 in the
morning and picks them up at around 12.30 for lunch
together. Towards 3 o'clock, the children return to
their respective play centre where they stay until
5.30pm. The leaders who dealt with Madeleine explained
to us that English people consider this way of doing
things completely normal. They also helped us to improve
our description of Madeleine's personality, seeing her
as an active and sociable child, who loved her brother
and sister very much, always excited as soon as she saw
them coming, and very attached to her father. Other
leaders described her for us as a reserved, happy and
calm little girl. She was very pretty, but what rather
distinguished her from children of her own age was her
reserve and shyness.
On the fateful day of May 3rd, the attendance register
at the play centre indicates that Madeleine arrived at
9.10, accompanied by her father. Her mother came to
fetch her at 12.25 for lunch and took her back at 2
o'clock. After jogging on the beach and going to fetch
the twins, she collected Maddie at 5.30pm. From that
moment on, no other person saw the little girl, apart
from her parents and their friends. What happened then
in the apartment remains a mystery.
MADELEINE SLEEPS BADLY
One of the police officers who went to the McCanns' home
in England, reported that a medical monitoring chart for
Madeleine was posted in the kitchen. This referred to
her sleep problems and made clear that she was waking
several times in the night. The paternal grandfather
stated that Kate gave the little girl - and also the
twins - Calpol, a medication designed to facilitate
falling asleep. That seems to be a common practice in
Great Britain; they even talk about a "Calpol
generation." In recent years, the possible presence of
an antihistamine with sedative effects in Calpol has
aroused great controversy. Recently, the same laboratory
put Calpol Night on the market, whose ingredients
clearly list that it contains an antihistamine.
The mother admits having taken some to Portugal. She
insists though that there is no calming effect, its
being composed solely of paracetamol, and that she did
not give any of it to her daughter during the holiday.
At the time of her disappearance, Madeleine was sleeping
in the same room as the twins. The latter, in spite of
the noise, the mother's screaming and the comings and
goings, did not wake up, as if they had been given
sedatives. Would there not be a link between that
difficulty in falling asleep and Madeleine's tragic end?
Other than her sleep problems, it is possible that
Madeleine suffered from an illness, a hypothesis that
was never confirmed. Immediately after the discovery of
traces of blood in the apartment, the mother, in the
course of an interview with a Portuguese magazine,
revealed that Madeleine had a nose bleed. But the
bleeding could be associated with certain pathologies.
Her parents have always insisted that Madeleine was in
good health. The medical files, requested several times
from Great Britain were never sent to us. These could
have been deciding factors. Why didn't we have access to
them? We never knew the truth of the matter. It's
deplorable that the British legal system could be quite
so uncooperative in this type of situation. In the
course of the investigation, a doctor pointed out to us
that Madeleine had a mark in her eye, described by some
as a coloboma of the iris, which can be associated with
other disorders, for example cardiac insufficiency. In
spite of repeated requests to the British Medical
Association, we were never able to confirm that
hypothesis, a simple photo not being sufficient to
establish a medical diagnosis.
Seventy-two hours have gone by. All those involved in
the investigation are feeling a deep sense of
frustration. But it's not a question of throwing in the
towel. We need to bring new motivation to the teams and
keep the investigation going at the same pace.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE ENGLISH POLICE
On Monday May 7th, we start to welcome our English
colleagues from Leicestershire, the county where
Madeleine and her parents live.
When we requested the collaboration of the English
police, our request was passed on, according to
practice, via the liaison officer of SOCA* We thought
that a case of abduction was within the jurisdiction of
Scotland Yard, who are much more experienced than others
in the fight against violent crime. We learned that in
Great Britain, investigations are consigned to the
sector where the victim resides. Nevertheless, Scotland
Yard will intervene later on.
(* Serious Organised Crime Agency)
In the Zavial area, a few kilometres from Vila da Luz,
there lives a 46 year-old British citizen, who is
suspected of paedophilia by his neighbours. The English
police inform us that he doesn't have a record and that
he is not on file. In Portugal too, there are no
complaints registered against him. He was not seen
hanging about in the areas of Vila da Luz or the beach.
The lead goes nowhere.
Research on thefts committed in the area before
Madeleine's disappearance leads us to the prison in
Portimao. A young man is incarcerated there following a
series of thefts in the region. He turns out to be very
reticent, and the team sent to question him do not
obtain any useful information. Nevertheless, we have to
continue research in that direction. At this stage of
the investigation, the track of a burglary gone wrong
cannot be excluded.
Tuesday March 8th, 5pm, Vila da Luz
The white van seen near the Ocean Club, driven by an
individual who looked like a tramp, ends up being
identified. It belongs to a British music teacher, aged
56, who is spending his holiday playing the guitar and
collecting money on the beach or in the streets of Vila
da Luz. It's certainly him that Gerald McCann passed on
the promenade on the day he bought an ice cream for
Madeleine. It's also he who was seen near apartment 5A
in the vehicle that serves him as living space. The
follow-up investigation totally rules him out.
Tuesday March 8th, 11.45pm, Ocean Club blocks 4 and 5
In the hope of retracing the path that Madeleine would
have taken on the night of May 3rd, we set up a search
operation, bringing sniffer dogs in from Lisbon from the
National Republican Guard. An identical operation had
already taken place on the same night as the
disappearance with dogs from the local police.
The idea is to start from apartment 5A and to follow all
the roads that lead to accommodation blocks 5 and 4.
From the start we are aware of the limits of this
approach. In fact, the GNR dogs are essentially trained
for searching in a rural environment; in addition, the
persistence of bodily odours diminishes after 48 hours.
We get them to sniff a towel which, according to Kate,
was used to dry Madeleine after her bath. When the dogs
finished going along block 5, when, logically, they
should have been heading for block 4, they suddenly turn
to the left. They then follow the path at the back that
separates the apartments from the leisure area. They go
quite a long way in that direction. Even if the reaction
of the two dogs coincides, the trainers cannot draw any
definite conclusions: in fact, it's already been more
than two days since the disappearance. What they can
state with certainty, is that Madeleine went along
there, without being able to pinpoint the date. Gerald
McCann confirms this claim: he took that same route with
Madeleine a few days earlier.
MADELEINE IS SPOTTED ALL OVER THE WORLD
From the moment Madeleine's photo is circulated in the
media, her presence is reported to us from all over the
place. In Portugal first of all, then in Spain and in
Morocco, then all over Europe and even in Latin America,
like a circle getting a bit wider every day, whose
centre is Vila da Luz.
Almost simultaneously, she is in Zurich and on the
corner of a Rio de Janeiro street...Faced with this
tidal wave, rules have to be established, because it's
impossible for us to check everything. So, the local
police have to check the veracity of the witness
statements and take all necessary measures: viewing CCTV
images, lifting fingerprints, DNA profiles...From May
11th the Moroccan saga gets going. A Norwegian woman who
lives in the south of Spain allegedly recognised
Madeleine in a service station in Marrakesh. From then
on, the greatest number of witness statements come to us
from Morocco and, bizarrely, each time someone states
that they saw Madeleine, she is always in pyjamas and
THE LITTLE MOROCCAN GIRL
Leaping forward in time and in the chronology of the
investigation, we come to the end of September, a few
days after the McCanns' return to Great Britain.
Repeated statements from clan McCann, who are not
budging from the Moroccan trail - will we ever know why?
- encourage a young Spanish woman to examine more
closely photos she had taken during her holiday in
Morocco. Before leaving, she had not been aware, she
said, of this Moroccan lead. In one of her photos, taken
from a vehicle, a North African family is seen, walking
along a road. A woman is carrying a little girl on her
back: it can only be Madeleine. Someone tells me about
this witness statement and wants to know what I think. I
have obviously still not seen the photo and even so I
respond, convinced: "Unfortunately, it's got to be a
We ask the chief of Leicestershire police, Stuart Prior,
where he is up to with it. He explains that the English
police, after having seen the photo, immediately
submitted it to the McCanns, asking them if they
recognised their daughter. To which they replied with a,
"perhaps." Incomprehensible to say the least. We are
shocked by the behaviour of the English, who took that
initiative, without consulting us, us, the people
responsible for the investigation, which is all the more
ludicrous given that the McCanns were already considered
as suspects. That way of doing things disrupts the
strategy adopted for the investigation, which the
Portuguese and English police agreed on.
It's only in the morning papers the following day, that
I get to see the photo. There is a group of people,
obviously Moroccan, with a woman whose clothes
practically cover her from head to foot. She is carrying
a blonde child on her back. Those who thought this photo
constituted an important lead were missing an important
detail: this woman's face - it was plain to see - was
white; perhaps she was dressed like that for protection
from the sun. So, the little girl could well be hers.
This will be confirmed later on: the mother, of European
origin, is married to a Moroccan. Once again, it's
wasn't Maddie...Another false hope.
Saturday May 12th, Vila da
The individual seen in the
gardens of the Ocean Club on
Wednesday May 2nd, not far
from apartment 5A is
identified: he's a 53
year-old British gardener
who has worked a few times
for Robert Murat's family's
gardening company. The
searches carried out in his
home and his car produced
nothing. Further, his
presence on the premises was
perfectly justified and
there is nothing linking him
to Madeleine, whichever way
you look at it.
We learn, by chance, that
the McCanns are beginning to
use their connections and
that on May 23rd, they
allegedly made contact with
the future British Prime
Minister, Gordon Brown. We
are convinced that the
investigation is going to
suffer all sorts of pressure
and that Madeleine's
disappearance will be
treated as a political
problem, at least in Great
In spite of our having
hundreds of pieces of
information in our
possession, we begin to
realise that there is still
some missing. At this time,
everybody is aware of the
theory of abduction.
Residents and tourists
present in Vila da Luz on
the night of May 3rd have
heard about this stranger
who was allegedly seen,
going around the streets,
with a child in his arms. It
wasn't ruled out that the
man could be a local,
quietly going home, carrying
his sleeping child. On May
25th, then, we launched an
appeal in the media: anyone
having seen an individual
corresponding to the
description given by Jane
Tanner should contact us. No
When Robert Murat is placed
under investigation, we
review the press photos
taken just after Madeleine's
disappearance: we want to
check what he was wearing
and with whom he was in
contact . On the morning of
May 4th, Murat is seen near
some GNR members in the
company of two individuals
of English nationality - as
we find out later -, one of
them being of Asian origin.
Ocean Club tourists
probably. We also examine
the photos taken by the
McCanns during their
holiday. In one of them,
Gerald McCann is seen
playing with his children in
the Tapas restaurant play
area. In the background, you
can make out an
Asian-looking man, the same
one as was seen in Robert
Murat's company. He seems to
be observing the family. We
then proceed to identify him
and the other holiday-makers
that Murat had been in
contact with. We get this
information to the English
police, who interview them
locally. They conclude that
they weren't involved in
In fact, the man in the
photo was with his daughter
- and there was nothing
suspicious about his
behaviour; as for the
others, they had met Murat
during the searches
organised to find Madeleine.
A few days later, these
photos will be published in
an English newspaper: it is
not known how they were
obtained or for what purpose
they were disclosed.
One of the Ocean Club
tourists states having heard
Gerald McCann saying on the
telephone that there were
paedophile networks in
Portugal, and that it was
they who were responsible
for Madeleine's abduction.
Absolutely astonishing! Just
a few hours after his
the father already knows who
RECONSTRUCTION OR NOT?
In mid-May, we had already
submitted the nine friends
of the McCanns to a second
round of interviews. In
spite of its importance, -
too upset seemingly to
countenance the exercise -
Kate Healy's was left until
later. In view of the number
of inconsistencies raised by
statements, we are thinking
of going ahead with a
reconstruction. This is a
routine procedure, above all
when contradictory details
pile up. Most of the time,
it helps to make rapid
headway with the
investigation. By placing
the various players in the
drama - in this case the
group of friends, employees
of the restaurant, play
leaders and other witnesses
- into a situation that is
identical to what they
between the versions become
obvious. When an
improbability is noticed,
the protagonists must then
The reconstruction was never
to take place. The reasons
put forward to justify that
decision - in spite of
opinions to the contrary -
are multiple. There are lots
of holiday-makers at this
time and sealing off the
perimeter would ruin their
stay; the airspace would
have to be closed; the hotel
complex would be overrun
with hordes of journalists;
people might think that the
parents and their friends
were suspects and, of
course, the field mustn't be
left open for that kind of
deliberation. For all that,
a more discreet
partial, with only the
couple present, might
provide useful information.
No a priori judgment is
implied, quite the contrary.
It's quite simply the
co-operation that we have
the right to expect on the
part of parents faced with
such a situation.
I am convinced that there is
still a need for a
form it takes. The staging
of the events of May 3rd
from the details gathered
from numerous witness
statements would help to
revive memories. It is
difficult to understand why
that is not possible.
AN ATTEMPTED EXTORTION AND
AN UNCONCERNED FATHER
On June 14th, the parents
are contacted by a stranger
who states that he is in
possession of information
whereabouts. Following the
advice of the investigators,
the McCanns set up an email
address in order to maintain
contact more easily and to
better evaluate the
reliability of the source.
In the course of exchanges,
the stranger demands 2
million Euros, of which an
advance of 500,000 Euros
must be sent to a person of
his acquaintance in The
A rogatory letter is
obtained. The Dutch courts
and police are asked for
assistance in locating and
identifying the individual.
The McCanns are anxious and
impatient; they think the
emails sent are credible and
they respond very quickly.
They lived in The
Netherlands with Madeleine
before the birth of the
twins. Would someone they
knew there have kidnapped
their little girl to obtain
a ransom? Kate and Gerald
are convinced they are going
to succeed, thanks to this
lead, in finding Madeleine.
But that conviction will not
last long, as we will find
Informed of these mails, the
Portuguese PJ, acting in
agreement with the English
and Dutch police, engage in
negotiations by email with
the informant. The police
advise Gerald McCann on how
to act in order to obtain
the maximum information. If
the lead turned out to be
credible, Madeleine might be
freed and her abductors
One day, we were all
together at the PJ in
Portimao - inspectors and
negotiators, members of
Scotland Yard and the
Leicestershire police -
waiting for a contact to
define the place and the
conditions for the handing
over of the money in
Holland; when the tension
was at its height and we
were all holding our breath,
Gerald McCann displayed a
nonchalance that surprised
all of the police officers
present, including the
English. The atmosphere got
heavier as the waiting drew
out, but McCann, relaxed,
was reading trivia on the
internet and discussing
rugby and football with the
English police, while
licking a lollipop. On the
telephone, he laughed with
friends who called him.
Perhaps this was
nervousness; sometimes it's
totally displaced, given
what is at stake at the
time. His attitude shocked.
When, two days later the
dutch police informed us
that the individual had been
arrested, that he was not
holding any information and
had lied from start to
finish with the sole
objective of extorting money
from the couple, we were not
Did Gerald McCann know that
this lead would take us to a
dead end? Is that the reason
he appeared to be so
nonchalant? Or was it due to
the coldness that he never
lost throughout the
investigation - an attitude
that made one of the English
police officers say: "Don't
forget he's a heart surgeon
and he cuts people open
before breakfast. "
(Chapter 5 completed)
THE ARRIVAL OF THE ENGLISH POLICE
After Madeleine's disappearance, the first English
police officer whom we welcome to the Portimao
Department of Criminal Investigation, on May 5th, is
Glen Power, liaison officer to Portugal. The brief of
this police official attached to his country's embassy
is to facilitate communication between police forces.
This is one of a number of pivots on which international
police collaboration relies.
I have known Glen Power for a long time. Martin Cox, who
had held the job in Portugal for some years, came to the
Algarve with Glen when the latter replaced him. I had
worked with Glen on several cases of violent crime or
linked to organised crime; I was aware of his skills,
his great capacity for work, his kindness and his
modesty. Our relationship went beyond that of a simple
professional connection. I was a bit worried when he
told me that he wouldn't be around a few days later. He
had a lot to do. He wanted to reassure me by telling me
that the language of investigation was universal and
that his colleagues would have no difficulty in
integrating into the ongoing investigation. No doubt,
but personalities are important, as is the information
committed to memory, knowledge of the details, the
cross-checks that allow us to be responsive to the
slightest indications. It's for that reason that, in
general, the make-up of the team remains the same from
start to finish of an investigation.
Two days later, English colleagues begin to arrive. The
main idea was for the English police to place at our
disposal two specialists in family supervision and
support to be the link between the Portuguese
investigators and the McCanns. The National Directorate
of the PJ had authorised the arrival of these police
officers in the context of international collaboration.
Bob Small, an officer from the Leicestershire police,
and one of his colleagues meet us to take stock of the
situation and evaluate the needs of the investigation
before making contact with the couple.
We insist on knowing what our English counterparts have
come to Portugal to do. I assign one of my investigators
to follow the English superintendent like a shadow and
to keep me informed about his actions. I want to be
informed of everything he learns, the names of the
people he meets and the places he goes to.
Then the two police officers arrive who are assigned to
psychological support and communication with the family.
Little by little, the number of English police officers
grows exponentially. We place at their disposal a room
next to our crisis unit, Task Portugal. These are
specialists from various police services, including
Scotland Yard. Special surveillance teams as well as
information and telecommunications technicians turn up
with their laptops and various high-tech equipment.
Others will come to join us, notably profilers: they
will develop a profile of the alleged abductor from
which a number of possible scenarios will be
constructed. The analysts trace timelines and patterns
of connections based on the witness statements gathered.
They produce giant summary boards that cover the walls
of the offices. They attend all our meetings and
collaborate in decision-making. They are the
which requests for information are sent to Great
Britain, and it is they who receive the responses and
14th, Kate Healy is indignant about the attitude of the
liaison officer, who asks her where her daughter is.
Neither she nor her husband accepts anyone doubting
their word. The officer will be sent packing - and his
colleague too - a week after his arrival. That attitude
is, to say the least, shocking on the part of parents
confronted by such a situation, that, what is more, is
in a foreign country. Those two police officers, who
distinguished themselves through long experience in the
management of situations of kidnap and abduction, were,
all the same, entirely at their disposal; they provided
daily logistical and legal support, and afforded them
all the help they could have needed.
Curiously, the English do not consider it expedient to
disclose the incident and the PJ are not informed.
Myself, I only learn of it indirectly. Finally, a
solution is found quickly: the two men are replaced by a
Portuguese man who speaks fluent English.
During this time, the Leicestershire police continue to
receive a considerable number of enquiries that they
have trouble sorting and analysing. On May 15th,
inspector Ricardo Paiva is sent as reinforcement to the
English, who, he says, welcome him warmly and feed him
on tea and cakes. Most of the bits of information
received from all over the world are of no interest; so,
there is no reason for follow-up. People allegedly
recognise Madeleine or claim to know exactly where she
is, seers, clairvoyants send very confused messages to
the police, some well-intentioned, others less so...
Rapidly, the sophisticated computer system for managing
calls is overloaded. So much effort and so much money
spent financing the appeals in the press for witnesses
leaves us wondering; we are not convinced of the
pertinence of this method that consists of requesting
help from the population to resolve a case.
On Tuesday June 12th, Bob Small and Chris Eyre, head of
the Leicestershire area police, go to Faro for a
meeting, which Guilhermino Encarnacao, Luis Neves and
myself also attend. We have to make a point about
cooperation between police forces and set out the latest
requirements. Everything seems to go well. We are aware
of the incident between Kate and the liaison officers,
but it is not brought up. We have the impression that
the politically correct hypothesis of abduction is still
favoured, but that other possibilities are not being
As time went by, we noticed that a certain number of the
police officers sent to Portugal were poorly informed
about the progress of the investigation. One of them who
- like the majority - was coming to Portugal for the
first time, was wearing a green and yellow rubber wrist
band, bought for £2, which he played with nervously. The
inscription read, "Look for Madeleine." Some of his
colleagues told him that he would soon get rid of it. As
a matter of fact, he took it off as soon as he got
properly into the investigation and he had learned about
the evidence placing doubt on the theory of abduction.
(Chapter 6 completed.)
BEHAVIOUR AND CONTRADICTIONS
THE MURAT CASE
On May 10th, the crisis unit's meeting goes on until
2'oclock in the morning.
I receive a phone call from Sofia, who insists on my
going home: our Shitzu dog is dead. She found it that
morning, lifeless on the ground, with a head injury. She
did everything to make sure the girls did not see it,
but she didn't have the courage to remove him. When I
arrive, everyone is already in bed. I place the Shitzu
in a plastic bag, not sure about where I am going to be
able to bury him. The ground is hard here. it's not easy
to dig a hole and I hardly have the time for it. I
decide to drop his remains into a bin. The animal is
small, but he seems to weigh more than usual. I use my
car to take her. As I am getting rid of it, I realise
just how easy it is to hide a body - and how difficult
it is to bury....When I get back, I discuss it with
Sofia: she is afraid. She asks me to abandon the
investigation and to worry about our daughters rather
than other people's. For her, the dog's death is a bad
omen. I reply that she is unfair, that her fears are
irrational. Justice must be done for Madeleine, as for
all other children and adults. It's my duty as a police
officer: to seek the truth so that justice may be done.
At around 8 o'clock that morning, I drive towards
Portimao. I could drive with my eyes closed; this helps
me to focus on the latest developments in the
investigation. All I notice is the impasse we find
ourselves in. I have the impression that we are chasing
a ghost. The previous night, we had reviewed Jane
Tanner's witness statement in detail: the individual
whom she saw parading around in the open street with a
child he had just abducted seems less and less credible
- And where would he go then? If, as we have assumed, he
didn't have a vehicle, he must have hidden in an
apartment in the area.
- On the route he took, there are several apartment
blocks and two houses. They were all searched on May
5th, but nothing was found.
- A thorough search?
- More than 500 apartments were visited that day; in
those conditions, only a general examination can be
conducted, except where something seems suspicious. The
houses in the area have gardens, swimming pools,
numerous hiding places that are not easily spotted
during a first visit.
Instead of taking the exit road for Portimao, I continue
my journey on the motorway. I need to reconstruct the
individual's path. If he had planned his crime, he
probably wouldn't have taken this direction. And if, on
the other hand, he hadn't planned it? I need to work it
out for myself. In Vilada Luz, I park my car below the
apartment blocks. Journalists are on the lookout around
the apartment; fortunately, they don't see me. I walk
the same route that the stranger must have taken. I
arrive in front of a house with a neglected garden.
Inside, there are two parked cars, whose registration
numbers I note down. I communicate the numbers to the
police in Portimao and wait there for the result of the
check. After a few minutes, a green vehicle, driven by
an individual wearing glasses, stops in front of the
entrance to the house. The driver goes in quickly. His
face is familiar to me but I don't know who he is. I
notice a child's seat inside the car. The man comes back
out a little later, supporting an elderly lady whom he
accompanies towards the area of the swimming pools and
the Tapas restaurant. They cross a park where a few
buildings have been erected. Madeleine's parents took
this route to take their children to the play centre,
near the main reception area of the hotel complex. Since
the start of the investigation , a team has been
permanently on the premises and an apartment has been
placed at their disposal. I am about to make enquiries
of the police officer on duty when the individual comes
back from his walk and greets him as he passes.
- You know that man?
- Yes, he presented himself to the GNR on Friday morning
and offered his services as an interpreter. He is of
English origin but speaks good Portuguese. He's called
As the law demands, all foreign people interviewed by
the police must have the benefit of an interpreter. In
this investigation, the considerable number of
interviews we had to conduct in record time forced us to
call on the services of volunteers.
- And this guy, you checked him out? No criminal record
or trouble with the law?
- No, no, it's all OK, but I didn't know he lived here.
It's true that his house is on the route taken by the
- Stay here, carry on being friendly with him; I'm going
to Portimao to see what we've got on him: we've got to
find out more about this guy.
I immediately telephone the team to alert them. The
Director of the Department of Criminal Investigation in
Faro has to be involved in a meeting the same morning,
where we will discuss the case of Robert Murat. We
decide to request the latter's help again in order not
to lose sight of him. We must act with the utmost speed,
because Madeleine could be in one of the houses he has
access to. The investigators continue to check the
information we have about him. He is English, aged 33
and is separated from his wife. The latter lives in
Great Britain with their daughter; the latter is nearly
the same age as Madeleine and looks like her. The
English journalist to whom he gave this information
during an interview was immediately distrusting of him
and the reasons that motivated him to help the police.
Murat has lived with his mother in Vila da Luz for
several years, but he goes to England regularly. Back
from his last stay in Exeter on May 1st, he has to
return there on the 9th. He is ready to postpone his
departure, desirous above all, he states, of helping the
police to find Madeleine.
His behaviour starts to seriously intrigue us. He often
makes reference to similar cases that happened in the
United Kingdom and which he seems to know in detail. He
displays suspicious curiosity and seeks to know more. He
offers to help us identify possible suspects. He knows
the workings of the Ocean Club and the habits of the
holiday-makers very well. He even, allegedly, tried
secretly to access the investigation files. It is also
known that he visits web sites of a pornographic nature.
His mother has set up a desk near the Tapas restaurant
in order to gather and give out information about
Madeleine. We don't know if this woman's actions are
philanthropic in nature, or if she is hoping to keep
well-informed of all the information circulating about
the case. Members of the British agency CEOP (Child
Exploitation and Online Protection Centre), take a close
interest in Murat and work to develop his psychological
If it's him that's holding Madeleine, we must monitor
all his contacts and places he has access to. His house
is therefore being closely watched. Technicians arrive
from Great Britain with sophisticated equipment, capable
of detecting the presence of people inside a building.
Unfortunately, the characteristics of the building make
this computer display impossible. So, stick to the
investigations and conventional tailing. This is how we
discover his relationship with a married woman of German
origin, Michaela Walczuch. She is 32 and works as an
estate agent. She is the wife of Luis Antonio, a
Portuguese man aged 33, a technician responsible for the
maintenance of swimming pools. The couple have an 8
year-old daughter and live in Faro. The relationship is
strange. Michaela is still living with her spouse, and
Robert visits them as if it's no big deal. All of them
seem happy with this situation. And the little girl?
What does she think about it?
On May 12th, the suspect rents a car, in which he drives
kilometres over rough tracks for basic essentials. He
explains later: that day, his mother had needed his car
for her information desk. We are assuming that he
noticed he was being followed.
We then decide to search his residence and the vehicles
he uses. During the night of May 13th, the Prosecutor of
the Republic and the judge go to the court in Portima0,
which, in view of the growing suspicion and the urgency
of the situation, issues them with a search warrant.
JANE TANNER FORMALLY RECOGNISES ROBERT MURAT
Before the search, we want to assure ourselves that Jane
Tanner recognises him as the individual she saw on the
night of the disappearance. She is sitting inside an
unmarked car, whose tinted windows allow her to see out
without being spotted. The vehicle is parked at the
exact spot where she was on the night of May 3rd. Robert
Murat, anonymous amongst plain clothes police officers,
goes up the road in the same way as the alleged
abductor. Jane Tanner is adamant: it certainly is Robert
Murat that she saw that night. She definitely recognises
his way of walking. But does he resemble the description
she painted previously?
The investigator, with whom Murat is on friendly terms,
is with him in a bar until 2 o'clock in the morning. We
are not about to relax surveillance. As soon as he gets
home, police officers are stationed around his house in
order to monitor all entrances. The crisis unit is
buzzing; the teams are preparing for the search. It will
be carried out at 7am - the legally designated time -,
when the journalists are not yet on the streets. The
operation is kept secret. We request reinforcements from
the GNR. For the moment, we have no evidence against
Murat, only suspicions. If we had been certain that
Madeleine was in the house, we wouldn't have had to wait
for daylight to intervene. Scenes of crime specialists
accompany us in the search for evidence. Outside, two
rainwater recovery tanks are explored with the help of
divers. We pack up a few items of clothing to send to a
laboratory that will carry out the search for fibres,
hair, traces of blood that possibly came from Maddie.
The cars are also gone over with a fine tooth comb.
Laptops are seized and their contents examined by
specialists. We find a cutting from a British newspaper,
dated 23rd September 2006, that refers to a case of
THE FIRST SUSPECT
Robert Murat is placed under investigation and
interviewed at the offices of the police in Portimao
from 10am. He does not wish for the presence of a
lawyer. He is the first suspect who will be declared
arguido. As such, he benefits from certain rights, one
of them being to remain silent. But he does not assert
that right and responds to all questions put to him.
Despite obvious nervousness, his statements are clear
We ask about the reasons for his arrival in Vila da Luz
on May 1st, four days after the McCanns' - the
hypothesis of planned abduction is considered. Murat
could have entrusted the observation to an accomplice,
who would have chosen Madeleine and observed the
parents' habits as well as their pattern of monitoring
We want to know more about his circle of friends and the
places they frequent. During the evening of the
disappearance, he remembers having heard a siren shortly
after 10.30pm. He was then in the kitchen with his
mother. The next morning at around 9 o'clock, he asked a
passer-by what had happened, and that was how he learned
about Madeleine's disappearance. He then decided to go
and offer his help.
All Murat's statements are immediately checked. We check
the places he says he went to with Michaela, looking for
CCTV cameras or witnesses able to describe the clothes
he was wearing that day. We would like to compare them
with the description provided by Jane Tanner.
We ask him about a telephone call intercepted after the
announcement of the disappearance. His response is very
vague. We know that towards 11.30pm, Michaela phoned
Murat. Then, he called a certain Sergey Malinka, and
straight afterwards, Michaela. We will never know the
content of these conversations; no one will give us
plausible explanations. The answers are evasive: "I no
longer remember," or "that was about the web site for
the estate agency." Sergey Malinka is Russian, aged 23.
He works in computers and lives with his parents in Vila
da Luz, 300 metres from the Ocean Club. His mother, a
housewife, is employed by a cleaning company that does
certain apartments for the club. He is seeing a young
Portuguese woman, aged 33, mother of a teenager. The
wife of one of his associates, of British origin, states
that in 2006, he boasted about having had sexual
relations with a minor, aged 14, and related how the
father had surprised them; he allegedly stated that
currently he maintains a relationship with an older
woman and her daughter at the same time. Interviewed, he
refuted these allegations: he claims that it's vengeance
on the part of his associate, unhappy with the way their
shared company worked out.
Murat and Michaela intend to open an estate agency
together. They were looking for a computer engineer to
build a web site and had thus met Sergey. It was to
discuss this that they arranged a get-together near the
Ocean Club on May 2nd. Luis Antonio was seen in the
area. Was he watching his wife? That speculation is
hardly credible since he seemed to accept his wife's
relationship with Murat.
On May 14th, the home and vehicles belonging to Michaela
and Luis Antonio are searched. The couple are
interviewed in the afternoon. Michaela hints that she
suspects her husband. Luis Antonio, as a person
responsible for maintaining swimming pools, has access
to a great number of hotel or private residences, spread
throughout the Vila da Luz and Lagos area. Certain
buildings are closed for a good part of the year, but in
spring, the pools are prepared before the summer season.
Searches are ordered of all the residences concerned,
without success. No trace, anywhere, of Madeleine. We're
back to square one.
The discovery of a key at Murat's house revives the hope
of finally getting a lead. He tells us that it belongs
to Michaela, and that it must have been dropped
accidentally. Where was that key before it was found at
his house? In Michaela's pocket? In her bag? We learn
that it opens the door of a garage where Luis Antonio
stores his maintenance products. A team is sent
immediately to the part of Lagos where this garage is
situated. The search proves as disappointing as the
others. Nothing is found. Once again, no evidence of
FOR THE PROFILERS, MURAT IS THE GUILTY PARTY
Since Murat's first interview, which they attended, the
specialists have continued to refine the profile of the
suspect. They have heard about the statement from one of
his so-called childhood friends, put on file by the
police department: according to him, Murat had an
affirmed penchant for bestiality. He recounted his
attempts at sexual relations with a cat and a dog,
subsequently killed, he states, with cruelty. Moreover,
he allegedly attempted to rape his 16 year-old cousin.
This individual describes Murat as someone violent with
behavioural problems, a sexual pervert, sadist, and
misanthropist. We are somewhat sceptical. All the same,
according to the English profilers, there is a 90%
chance that he is the guilty party. That seems to us to
be a bit too easy. We think that drawing conclusions
based essentially on the statement of an ex-convict is
As if the memory of the McCann family's friends suddenly
came back to them, all - Rachael Mampilly, wife of
Matthew Oldfield, Fiona Payne, wife of David Payne, and
Russell O'Brien Jane Tanner's partner - recall having
seen Murat on the night of May 3rd, shortly after the
announcement of the disappearance, in the immediate
vicinity apartment 5A. Meanwhile, of course, Murat's
picture has been shown on television and in certain
newspapers. They themselves were in direct contact with
him during the previous days. However, it is only on May
16th that they deliver this information to us. As for
the officers of the National Guard who were on the spot,
they didn't see him that night, only the next morning,
when he came to offer his services as interpreter.
On July 11th at 10am, a confrontation is organised
between the witnesses - Rachael Mampilly, Fiona Payne
and Russell O'Brien - and Robert Murat. Nothing new
comes out of it. The former persist in stating that the
suspect was definitely in the area on the night of the
disappearance. Murat denies the whole thing and even
accuses them of lying. Each side stands its ground. The
only positive aspect of this meeting: the McCanns'
friends undertake to return to Portugal for the purpose
of the investigation. That will not happen.
(Chapter 7 completed)
MAN WITH A CHILD IN HIS ARMS
May 3rd, after 9.27pm, Dolphin restaurant,
Vila da Luz
The Smiths, from Ireland, are spending their holiday in
Praia da Luz. After having dinner at the restaurant,
they go to Kelly's bar, 50 metres away. They leave there
at around 9.55pm to go back to their apartment in
Estrela da Luz, west of the Ocean Club, 300 metres
further on. They don't stay late because the next
morning one of them has to go back to Ireland. It's a
big family, of four adults and five children: the
father, aged 58, retired, and his wife; their 12
year-old daughter; their two grand-children aged 10 and
4 (their mother stayed in Ireland); their son
accompanied by his wife - who is pregnant - and their
two children aged 13 and 6.
(For maps and diagrams of the route taken by the Smiths,
see The McCann Files. Link is headed, "The Smith's
Sighting," roughly the 18th link in the menu on the left
of the page.
They go in a northerly direction, the group spreading
out; the children are never far away from the adults.
There's nobody about. They climb a few steps to reach 25
de Abril street, cross it and turn left into 1 de Maio
street, that runs along the west side of the Ocean Club.
They haven't gone 30 metres when they come across a man
walking up the middle of the road. He is carrying a
child in his arms, head resting on his left shoulder.
The Smiths don't see the face of the little girl, whose
arms hang by her sides. She is dressed in pale-coloured,
maybe pink, pyjamas; her feet are bare, she is white and
she has blonde hair that covers her neck. The
individual's appearance gives the impression that he is
not a tourist. He is wearing cream-coloured or beige
trousers, classic in style, perhaps linen or cotton. He
is a white man, aged around 30 to 35, with no other
distinguishing features: he is between 1.70m and 1.80m
tall, is visibly in good physical condition; his brown
hair is cut short, his face is tanned.
At this time, images of Robert Murat - considered to be
the main suspect - begin to be circulated all over the
world. After they return to Ireland, the Smiths continue
to follow the case. They learn that, according to Jane
Tanner's statements, Murat is definitely the man
encountered on the night of the abduction. Mr Smith then
gets in touch with the Irish police to relate what he
saw on the night of May 3rd. He insists, categorically,
that the man they came across with the little girl in
his arms was not Robert Murat. He is sure of it because
he knows him. With hindsight, he is utterly convinced
that the little girl was definitely Madeleine. We
secretly organise for the Smiths to come to Portugal. On
May 26th, in the offices of the Department of Criminal
Investigation in Portimao, we interview the father and
his son. What they say seems credible. However, because
of the dim street lighting, they say they would have a
hard time formally recognising the man who was carrying
the child. On the other hand, they describe very clearly
how the man was holding the little girl and how he was
walking. That scene is indelibly printed in their
memory. After their interview, they went back to the
scene, accompanied by investigators. They indicate the
precise place where they came across the man.
Their coming to Portugal as well as their statements are
kept secret. Within a few days, they go back to Ireland,
but contact is maintained: they undertake to let us have
any further details they remember. We finally have
credible witness statements about that stranger who, on
the night of May 3rd, was walking in the streets of Vila
da Luz with a child in his arms.
MAJORCA, SEPTEMBER 2005
Madeleine McCann is two and a half years old and the
twins just a few months when they go on holiday to
Majorca with their parents. Three couples and their
children go with them: David and Fiona Payne with their
one-year-old daughter (Fiona is pregnant with their
second child); S. and T., with their two children aged 1
and 3; finally S.G. and K.G., who have a one and a half
year old daughter, E. (K.G., is also expecting a child).
The trip was organised by David Payne. The latter rented
a villa big enough to accommodate all of them.
S.G. got to know Madeleine's mother at university in
Dundee, between 1987 and 1992. K.G. met Gerry McCann for
the first time at his wedding to Kate in 1998. They
become good friends, see each other regularly, spend
weekends together and phone each other often.
After dinner on the third or fourth evening in Majorca,
the friends are all settled on the patio. They are
having a drink and chatting when K.G. witnesses a scene
which flabbergasts her and makes her fear for the safety
of her daughter and the other children. She is sitting
between Gerry McCann and David Payne when she hears the
latter ask if she - probably Madeleine - did "that": he
then puts a finger in his mouth and begins sucking it
while putting it in and out - the sexual connotation is
obvious - while with the other hand, he traces small
small circles around his nipple in an explicitly
provocative way. While K.G., stupefied, regards Gerry
and David, an uneasy silences settles around the table.
Then they all start chatting again as if nothing
happened. K.G. starts to distrust the way David Payne
relates to the little ones. On another occasion, she
sees David Payne making the same gestures while speaking
about his own daughter. At this time, it's the fathers
who give the children their baths, but K.G. no longer
lets Payne near her daughter. After the holiday, K.G.
will only meet the Paynes on one occasion, and she will
not speak to them. Over the next two years, relations
between K.G., S.G. and the McCanns becomes distanced;
they will only see each other now at children's birthday
This witness statement from the couple, S.G. and K.G.,
is taken by the English police on May 16th, thirteen
days after Madeleine's disappearance. That information,
very important for the progress of the investigation,
was never sent to the Portuguese police. When the
Portuguese investigators learn about similar events that
allegedly took place during a holiday in Greece -
without, however, obtaining reliable witness statements
-, they tell the English police, who, even at this
point, refrain from revealing what they know on the
It will only be after my removal from the investigation,
in October 2007, that this statement will finally be
sent to the Portuguese police. Why did the British keep
it secret for more than six months? It is all the more
surprising that David Payne, who had planned the trip to
Majorca - of whom it was known that his behaviour
towards the children was, to say the least, questionable
-, is the same person who organised the holiday in
Portugal, that he is one of those closest to Madeleine
and that he is the first friend of the family to have
been seen with Kate McCann just after the disappearance
(we will talk further about this). He was still present
in Vila da Luz when the English police received that
witness statement: why wasn't he interviewed
immediately? Without doubt, the Portuguese police could
have made progress with the investigation thanks to that
lead: such behaviour would merit close attention. Were
we looking in the right direction? Might we have
established a link with the events of May 3rd? It is
difficult to seriously doubt these witnesses.
RETHINKING THE FACTS
May 3rd 2007, 5.30pm. Terrace of the Paraiso Restaurant,
Praia da Luz, 600 metres from the resort complex.
Apart from the McCanns and Diane Webster, Fiona Payne's
mother, the whole group of friends are having something
to eat. The children are running and playing on the
terrace. Others of Madeleine's age, are coming and going
between the restaurant and the beach. Everything is
peaceful on this late afternoon. At 6.13pm, the men
leave the table and go on foot to the resort. A quarter
of an hour later, it's the turn of the women and
children to go back. A few minutes go by. David Payne
catches up with Madeleine's father, who is playing
tennis, and asks him where Kate is. Gerry replies that
she has gone back to the apartment with Madeleine and
the twins. David goes there immediately.
What did he go there to do? How long did he stay there?
How were the children? Did he see them, did he play with
them? From that moment on, the witness statements
differ. According to Gerald, he stayed in the apartment
for 30 minutes; according to Kate, on the other hand, no
more than 30 seconds. This difference of opinion is
important enough to be taken into consideration. It's
not the only one. David Payne allegedly went to the
McCanns' apartment to find out if Madeleine's mother
needed anything, if he could help her to take the
children to the play area. He relates having seen
Madeleine and the twins; the image apparently evoked for
him that of three immaculate angels. Let's note that at
7pm, the last person to see Maddie - apart from her
parents - is David Payne.
There is a whole other version of that late afternoon,
that of Fiona Payne. According to her, Gerry was not
playing tennis but was in the apartment with Kate and
the children. Apparently, she accompanied her husband
when he went to the McCanns' apartment. Who is telling
the truth? The photos taken on the terrace of the
Paraiso prove that Fiona, her friends and their children
left the restaurant 15 minutes after the men's departure
- one of them David. What do these easily discernible
May 4th 2007, 7am
Sargacal, a village close to Vila da Luz
Y.M., an English woman, aged 52, a social worker with
child protection services for more than twenty-five
years, is spending her holiday in the Algarve. She is
watching an English television channel when she hears
the news about Madeleine's disappearance in Vila da Luz.
She decides to go there immediately to support the
parents. Shortly after 9.30am, with the help of police
officers on the spot, she manages to approach them. They
are in the company of a man who is introduced to her as
a friend of the family. The McCanns are deeply upset,
and Kate cries a lot. Y.M. starts to ask them questions,
to find out the frequency of visits to the children
during dinner - they respond that the visits took place
every hour - and asks Gerald if he is the biological
father in order to immediately eliminate the hypothesis
of parental abduction.
Little by little, Kate starts to get annoyed: she thinks
it's up to the police to ask these questions; besides,
there should be more of them looking for her daughter;
she insists that it was a couple who abducted her...Y.M.
assumes that the McCanns distrust her. So, she shows
them the official documents issued by the police and the
English government certifying her professional
qualifications. The friend of the family examines the
papers and confirms their authenticity. In spite of
this, Madeleine's parents don't seem to be very
appreciative of this offer of collaboration. Y.M. tries
to take Kate aside to speak to her quietly and ask her
for more information about this couple who allegedly
abducted her child. But she refuses, reacts aggressively
and refuses to be separated from her two companions.
Y.M. worries about the extreme state of agitation that
Kate is in and notes that the latter has still not been
examined by a doctor when she really needs to be.
During this encounter, Kate tells Y.M. that her daughter
disappeared thirteen hours ago. If you do the
calculation, that means that Madeleine would have been
abducted at 9pm and not at 10pm. That contradiction is
important; it has to be taken into account in analysing
the abduction scenarios that the McCanns and their
friends will relate to the police.
The couple's spokesman, the friend who has been present
throughout the encounter, ends up telling Y.M. that the
McCanns want her to leave. Before leaving the scene, she
advises them not to trust the media and to remain
silent. Y.M. has the feeling that she has already met
this man, his face seems familiar to her. Was he,
perhaps, mixed up in one way or another in a case she
had dealt with in the context of her work? She will
later learn that he is David Payne, organiser of the
trips, the same person whose sleazy attitude had been
reported by S.G. and K.G. There is nothing incriminating
in his past and, as we were able to verify, he has no
criminal record. What we are sure of is that he has been
a close friend of Madeleine's father since university.
(Chapter 10 complete)
ANALYSIS OF A CRIME SCENE. APARTMENT 5A
It's 10am. After dealing with everyday matters, I join
the team of investigators responsible for the Madeleine
case. The Leicestershire police are present at these
meetings, as well as Jose Freitas. The latter, aged 46,
is descended from Portuguese people who settled in
Madeira and emigrated to the United Kingdom to find work
and a better standard of living. Violent crime,
abduction and illegal confinement are the speciality of
this high-ranking Scotland Yard officer, who joined us
eighteen days into the investigation - the English
authorities consider that the presence of a man who
knows Portugal and its culture could facilitate the
investigation. He speaks our language with a British
accent: until he left - at the time of the McCanns'
return to England -, he never managed to say imprensa,
which he always pronounced empresa. *
We take stock of the different operations set up, then
we examine the photos taken on the night of May 3rd.
The apartment is made up of two bedrooms, a lounge, a
kitchen and a bathroom. What is immediately apparent is
the order that prevails in the bedroom where Madeleine
and the twins were supposed to have slept. There is
nothing to indicate that any abductor had passed through
- How high is the window ledge?
- 91 centimetres. There is a bed against the wall under
the window, where it looks like someone had slept. At
the foot of the bed, against the same wall, there is a
wicker armchair. No shoe prints were found on it.
- What distance between the bed and the window ledge?
- 40 centimetres. But no footprints on the bed either.
- OK, so either or: either that window plays no role, or
we have a case of two people, one inside and one
(*These two words, with similar pronunciation, are
very often confused by those who do not speak fluent
Portuguese, which can give rise to misunderstanding. The
first means "press," and the second "business.")
Looking more closely, the room is
not as tidy as it looks. The bedroom window is protected
by a shutter that only opens from the inside. A
black-out curtain, that keeps out the light, comes down
to the window ledge. At the sides, just brushing the
floor, are two other curtains with tiebacks; they are
drawn towards the centre of the window, but not
The right-hand tieback has fallen
between the foot of the bed and the wicker armchair -
the back of which is stuck to the curtain. On the left,
the tieback is hanging from its holder, but the curtain
isn't straight, as if someone had tried to close it in a
hurry. While the tiebacks should have been hooked up,
none was in the correct position. Kate insists that the
curtains had been completely closed, and that the
abductor must have half-opened them to facilitate his
escape through the window. But the tiebacks serve to
hold the curtains to the sides while they are open; to
close them, of course, they must be unhooked. So, it's
in pulling the curtains to close them that they would
inevitably be in that position. It could reasonably be
thought that the abductor had tried to close the
curtains after he went through; that would only have
slowed him down.
Another hypothesis is to suppose that the curtains had
been arranged like that after the disappearance. In that
case, we would instead be dealing with an attempt at
faking the crime scene.
These first observations are not the only ones that lead
us to consider a set-up. The way the bed sheets were
arranged but also the child's soft toy equally raise
- Do you see how the sheets are lying? You'd think the
child got out by herself....or that she didn't sleep
- Someone could have unintentionally touched the
curtains while looking for the little girl inside the
- And the soft toy she slept with? That's not in a
natural position either. How would she have found it,
along the pillow like that?
- The mother says that the soft toy was beside the
pillow when she noticed the disappearance, which,
according to her, was its usual place.
- Which means that the little girl slept without holding
it? Children normally clutch their security object to
fall asleep. But if that's not the case, the way it's
placed doesn't seem natural. She would inevitably have
moved it turning over in her sleep.
- The pink blanket is also really tidy, almost folded.
Where cases of missing children involve the close
family, modification of the crime scene is common. But
the comings and goings and searches inside the apartment
might be the source of these changes. We have to be
absolutely sure that it's not a deliberate attempt to
put up a smokescreen.
- What does the father say?
- That when he came to see the children, it was all like
that, the blanket and the soft toy.
We carry on looking at the photos of the bedroom: the
two cots are in the middle of the room and are in the
way of an adult moving around.
- Why is there nothing more than mattresses? All the bed
linen has been removed. I really wonder why...
- Perhaps a child vomited or soiled the sheets, and they
didn't want to leave them in that state...
- The twins only woke up when they were being
transferred to the other apartment. They sleep deeply,
those English children...
- OK, no joking!
- Actually, I'm not joking, I'm thinking aloud...All the
same, it's extraordinary. These English little ones are
on holiday; in spite of the excitement they must be
feeling, they go to sleep every day at the same time.
Their sleep is so deep and so calm that they are almost
to be envied.
We then examine the photo of the lounge. This room has
three openings: two windows and a patio door that opens
at the back onto a balcony, from where you can see the
area with the swimming pools and restaurants and the
road. It is this patio door - and not the front door -
that is used when you want to get into the apartment
more quickly, coming from the restaurant. We notice that
the sofa, situated under one of the windows, has been
moved: the back of it is crushing the thick curtains. If
these were closed to keep the light out of the room,
it's curious that those at the other window were left
- That sofa could have been moved when they searched the
apartment looking for the little girl.
- It's possible, but consider: the window is 3 metres
above the road and directly overlooks the pavement. You
can bet your life that the parents were not going to
leave the sofa pushed against the wall, risking seeing
their children climbing onto it and falling.
- Nothing surprises me any more on the part of those
- Yes, but why did they push the sofa back under the
window so hastily, judging by the position of the
- No doubt it was during the searches; that could have
been done by a police officer or anyone else who was
present in the house.
It's the father who clarifies this point for us. He,
himself, pushed the sofa against the wall because the
children would not stop playing behind it. He did not
consider the possibility of a fall from the window. The
role of this sofa is important if you imagine the
hypothesis, not of an abduction, but of an accident
inside the apartment itself. If it was really away from
the wall before the abduction, it may be that Madeleine
had climbed onto it and fallen down the other side.
At this stage of the investigation, we have already
requested the holiday photos from all of them. On the
dining table, we notice a digital camera and we decide
that we must acquire its contents.
- We are really going to need the photos. That would
allow us to see exactly what happened during dinner, how
they were seated round the table, what they drank, what
they ate, how they were dressed, everything is
- In fact, do you know that the little girl's father got
on his knees imploring the GNR police officers to help
him when they arrived?
- That man, usually so cold, apparently lost control?
- Contamination... deliberately make his trousers dirty
to hide compromising marks...
- I think you're watching too many thrillers. Don't
forget that it's his daughter who has disappeared!
- There are two beds in the parents' bedroom, which have
been pushed together; there is a wide space on the
right, up to the wardrobe. One of the two days has
visibly not been occupied.
- I don't understand the point of leaving so much space
on the right.
- Normally, one of the two cots was there.
- So, the couple slept in that bedroom with the twins,
and Madeleine in the other? OK... But why, on that
night, are the three children sleeping alone in the
- Not necessarily alone. In the photo, you can clearly
see that the second bed, under the window, has been
- So, only one person slept in the parents' bedroom.
- The mother would have left the father to sleep alone?
That could mean there was trouble between them?
- Now, they walk around hand-in-hand. And if something
had happened during the holiday?
- So many issues to be clarified.... Is that a little
- No, no, it's Band-aids.
- Where is their medication? None has been found, not
even a bit of Benuron*. For doctors...
- Perhaps they took it with them when they took the
twins from the apartment. Now, it's a bit late to clear
up that detail.
- The little ones weren't ill, so why were their parents
eager to take the medication with them?
- Perhaps it was intentional, perhaps not..
- Or it's quite simply at the bottom of a bag, and no
one thought to ask them about it.
(* Medication for everyday use - paracetamol - for pain
A RATHER WEAK MONITORING SYSTEM
One of the main difficulties in this investigation was
to reconstruct the chronology of events. To determine
the exact time of Madeleine's disappearance, we were
dependent on the witness statements of the parents and
friends. There is no doubt that the adults (apart from
the Paynes, who were using a baby monitor) were taking
regular turns during dinner to check that the children
were asleep - the restaurant's register confirms it.
Nevertheless, after the meal, the children could
sometimes be left for more than an hour without
supervision. Until May 3rd, the adults made the trip
every 30 minutes; on that night, according to what the
group said, the intervals between visits did not exceed
TWO CONTRADICTORY LISTS AND A TORN UP CHILDREN'S BOOK
It is Russell O'Brien, who hands over to the first
police officer to arrive on the scene, two lists written
on the cover of a children's sticker album, that
probably belonged to Madeleine. How come it had been
torn up? A child has just disappeared and one of her
books is used to write on? That pays very little
consideration to...Didn't they have anything else to
hand, a slip of paper or a paper napkin? Another
These two lists describe, hour by hour, how the evening
On the first, we read:
8.45pm - All assembled at poolside for food.
9.00pm - Matt Oldfield listens at all three windows
ALL shutters down.
9.15pm - Gerry McCann looks at room A ? Door open to
9.20pm - Jane Tanner checkS 5D - Sees stranger walking,
carrying a child.
9.30pm - Russell O'Brien in 5D - poorly daughter.
10pm - Alarm raised after Kate
(At the bottom of this list is the name GERALD in
On the second list differences are noted that are not
8.45 - pool
Matt returns 9.00 - 9.05 - listened at all three.
- all shutters down.
Jerry - 9 10 - 9.15 in to room - all well
? did he check?
9.20/5 - (??) Jane checked 5D Sees stranger I child.
9.30 - Russ + ( word scored through) Matt check all
9.35 - Matt checks door Sees twins
9.50 Russ returns
9.55 - Kate (word indecipherable) Madeleine
10.pm - Alarm raised.
(Translator's note: I have tried to copy the above
from the originals.)
The writing is irregular, the syntax unconventional and
the description of comings and goings confused. Why two
lists? And why, in the first, is apartment 5A left for
45 minutes without checking?
If the witness statements from employees and tourists
are to be believed, once the alert was raised - the time
is also vague, between 10pm and 10.30pm according to the
investigators -, all the dinner guests rushed to the
apartment, as if there was a medical emergency. Only the
grandmother, Diane Webster, stayed at the table for a
few more minutes. It is highly likely that inside the
apartment, they went through the consequences of their
actions and the failure of their monitoring system. To
minimise their responsibility and not be accused of
negligence, it was necessary for them to augment the
frequency of their visits. With the checks so close
together, who could imagine that someone would get into
the apartment? It was quite simply impossible.
The existence of two lists proves that there was a
debate; the differences between them probably mean that
there was no interest in being accurate.
For a reason of which we are unaware, the friends have
to state that Jane saw a man carrying a child at around
9.20 - 9.25pm, and between that time and the alert
(towards 10pm), someone from the group went to the
apartment, saw the twins in the bedroom, but cannot
guarantee that Madeleine was still there. According to
the second list, it is Matthew Oldfield, whom the first
list says only listened at the windows of apartments 5A,
5B. and 5D; still according to that same list, he was
allegedly accompanied by Russell O'Brien at around
9.30pm and saw the twins at around 9.35pm.
Matthew Oldfield's behaviour is perplexing. According to
the two timelines, Gerald's statements and his own
affirmations, he and Russell left the restaurant at
around 9.30pm to go their respective apartments. Matthew
entered his accommodation by the front door, left again
that way after glancing at his children, crossed the car
park and walked round the building to go into the
McCanns' apartment by the rear patio door - the only one
not to have been locked. He then went to the children's
bedroom. In the first list, there is no mention of this
visit: Matthew contented himself with listening at the
windows; in the second, Russell notes that his friend
saw the twins at 9.35pm.
In the course of the statement which he made to the PJ,
Matthew certifies having gone to the McCann's apartment
at 9.25pm, having definitely seen the twins and noticing
a definite light. What he doesn't explain, is how he
could pass the bedroom window twice without noticing
that it was open. On the other hand, once inside, he
noticed that it was. That happens to conveniently
reinforce the hypothesis of an abduction and gives
weight to Jane Tanner's witness statement.
- Interesting! From 9.10pm, the intervals between visits
go down to 5 minutes and not more than 15.
- Why did they need to tighten up the monitoring?
- Perhaps simply because it was at that time that it all
We deduce from this that the alert was bound to have
been raised before 10pm. Matthew Oldfield's and Jane
Tanner's witness statements contradict each other. Those
of Matthew and Kate too: the latter insists that when
she went into the apartment, the bedroom door banged
shut, the window was wide open and the curtains were
raised by the wind. However, Matthew said nothing about
all of that, only "a definite light," in the bedroom.
This is rather implausible: from his vantage point - the
bedroom doorway -, the line of sight between the door
and the window is limited to a straight line of close to
4 metres. Which means that if the window had been open,
he would inevitably have noticed it. Why such vagueness?
Another obvious mistake concerns the number of windows:
he mentioned two, while in reality, there was only one.
His wife repeated the same mistake when she stated that
her husband had listened at two bedroom windows during
his second round.
Another question concerns Jane Tanner's second visit to
apartment 5D. According to what the group says, at
9.30pm, Matt Oldfield accompanied Russell O'Brien as far
as his accommodation, 5D, and both heard a child crying.
Russell then stayed there. When he returned to the Tapas
to let Jane know that their daughter was ill, the latter
went to the child's bedside, in 5D, and did not come
These contradictions cannot hide the reality: the safety
of the children left a lot to be desired.
CONTRADICTIONS OR CLUES
How do you explain the differences, from one to another,
between the witness statements? What comes immediately
to mind is that the parents did not want to be thought
of as irresponsible adults. What would people think of
these tourists - doctors moreover - who leave their very
small children alone in their bedroom, while they dine
amongst friends - a well-watered meal, since they
usually consume eight bottles of wine, according to
witness statements. They were bound to be all the more
panic-stricken, given that they were abroad and going to
have to deal with a police force and a law which they
knew nothing about. So, it was important for them to
maintain that the children were safe.
However, none of the buildings was equipped with a
security door: on the contrary, it was simple
wood-panelled doors equipped with ordinary locks. The
Oldfield and O'Brien families, who also occupied ground
floor accommodation, considered their children to be in
a safe place since all the doors were locked. They
forgot about the patio doors opening onto a little
balcony at the rear of the building, which they could
not watch from their table. The McCanns did not think
any differently, even though the patio door wasn't
locked and that, from the restaurant, as we have already
mentioned, the building could barely be made out...That
means that anyone could have got into their apartment
without being seen. Kate Healy has always insisted that
she went into her apartment the back way while Gerry
says he went through the main door, the one at the
front, which he opened with his key. Jeremy W., a
tourist, who was returning from a walk with his baby,
confirms having spoken to him for a few minutes while he
was coming out of his apartment by the garden gate, at
the rear. Not only is this detail important, but it
becomes crucial in understanding what happened during
the night of May 3rd.
- Why does Gerald insist that he went in the front way
when it's quicker to go the back way?
- To show that his children were safe.
- Matt Oldfield assures us that the first time he went
to check on the children, he contented himself with
listening at the windows. He didn't hear anyone crying.
- His meal is going cold and, instead of using the back
way for speed, he makes this long detour to listen at
the windows at the front...?
- Yes, but don't forget that, apart from the McCanns,
the others had locked their patio doors, so he would
inevitably have had to go round.
- But when Matt goes with Russell, he enters his
apartment round the front, comes out, walks round the
building and goes into the McCanns' the back way.
- Gerald should have given him his key. He would have
gone in the front way and left by the back way, thus
saving a good hundred metres.
Besides these inconsistencies, several facts place in
doubt the veracity of the witness statements - and the
very existence of an abductor.
Everybody accessing the block from the front sees the
windows of 5A, 5B and 5D very clearly: they're all on
the same level, and are relatively close together. If
Jane came across the abductor in the street, as she
claims, that means that he was no longer in apartment
5A. As a consequence, the window which Kate says she
found wide open, necessarily was at that time. But Jane
was not aware of this detail and she never spoke of it.
When she went back to her apartment to replace her
partner Russell sitting with their daughter, she had
another opportunity to notice it. But, once again, she
Jane is certainly not very observant. This remark goes
equally for her friends Matt and Russell: both take the
same route, alongside all those windows without noticing
that one of them is wide open.
Someone has to have lied. Kate Healy's statements leave
a lot to be desired. This is the gist of it: she goes
in, notices Madeleine's absence, the open window, the
shutter raised and the curtains moving in the breeze.
OK. The classic scenario of an abduction by an
individual having gone in through the window, which is
to some extent corroborated by Jane Tanner, since the
man she saw was coming from the car park, just in front
of the window in question.
Looking at what follows: Kate looks for Madeleine all
over the apartment and, not finding her, goes running
towards the Tapas, shouting, "We let her down!" Looking
a little more closely at the facts.
The mother has just discovered:
- that there are only two children in the bedroom;
- that the window is wide open.
And she goes back to the Tapas leaving the twins alone
again? In a bedroom with windows wide open, at night,
when it's cold and an abductor is hanging about?
Such behaviour is hardly credible and difficult to
justify, even in the grip of panic. A mother would not
react like that, she would protect her two other
children and not abandon them in their turn. She could
have shouted help from the veranda to alert her husband
and her friends. She could also have called him on his
mobile phone...We find no plausible explanation for her
Going back to the window, there is no doubt that it was
opened at some point. When Amy T., one of the workers
from the nursery, heard the alarm drawing attention to
the disappearance shortly after 10pm, she went to
apartment 5A. She noted that the window was just
half-open and the shutter was raised. The twins were
MADELEINE'S PARENTS CALL ATTENTION TO HER DEATH
(Pictured right: Daniel Krugel.)
At the end of May, my wife Sofia visits me at the
offices of the Department of Criminal Investigation in
Portimao. She brings a flower basket filled with
orchids, roses, lilies, and gerberas, decorated with
butterflies and birds in shades of green and yellow, the
two colours symbolising the mobilisation around
Madeleine. A little note from my daughters accompanies
it: "Papa, we love you, don't forget about us, but find
Madeleine. Rita and Inès." That bouquet stayed in my
office, withering as the days went by and the hope of
finding Madeleine alive dwindled.
It is at this time that, suddenly, the parents seem to
admit the possibility of their daughter's death.
Afterwards - and to this day, if I am not mistaken -,
they take exception to this hypothesis. Perhaps we were
being naive, but it had seemed to us that Kate was going
to provide us, indirectly, with indications about where
her daughter's body was to be found. Thus, at the
beginning of June, she informed us that the body could
have been hidden in the outlet of a sewer pipe at Praia
da Luz, or on the cliffs to the west of the beach, where
she happened to run. She will say later that this
information had been given to her by mediums possessing
IN SEARCH OF A BODY, WITH KRUGEL'S MACHINE
Kate heard of a man called Krugel, a former South
African army colonel, who had allegedly perfected a
machine enabling him to detect the presence of a body. A
decomposing body emits particles: if hair from the
deceased person is placed in the machine, it detects
identical particles. On June 9th, Kate asks friends to
go to her home in England to collect some of her
daughter's hair and send it to Krugel.
On June 28th, the McCanns request Krugel's presence in
the Algarve. They want to make his intervention official
and seek the agreement of the PJ. Thanks to Madeleine's
hair, the South African allegedly determined a sort of
imaginary line that allowed him to state that the body
was in the Vila da Luz area. The Portuguese and English
police learn, with amazement, about these supposed
cutting-edge technologies dedicated to locating bodies.
Of course, we knew that such apparatus existed,
especially in the United States, but Krugel's
mysterious, "machine," leaves us all speechless. Kate
and Gerry, they stick to their guns. They saw a
television programme in which the effectiveness of
Krugel's method was demonstrated, and so are persuaded
that the man will be able to move the investigation
forward. Without being convinced as to the validity of
the method, the police end up acceding to their request.
The show is about to begin.
At customs - in South Africa as well as in Portugal -,
Krugal refuses to allow his machine to be submitted to
security control: it must be neither x-rayed nor opened.
He claims that this would damage it and that his
production secret risked being unveiled. Finally, after
long hours of negotiation, the man, his apparatus and
the journalist accompanying them take off for the
Algarve. It's now the middle of July. In late afternoon,
they are driven to the Department of Criminal
Investigation in Portimao, where a PJ team of
investigators is waiting for them. They suggest that we
watch a video about this famous invention - produced by
the woman accompanying him - so that we can judge for
ourselves. We are still not convinced. The following
day, a few inspectors accompany Krugel to Praia da Luz
for him to officiate.
Operations progress in the following manner.
1) Krugel climbs to the highest point west of Praia da
Luz, places a hair into the machine and traces an
imaginary line in an easterly direction.
2) He repeats the operation to the north of Praia da Luz
and traces another line towards the south.
3) He then determines the point of intersection of these
4) From this point, he defines a corridor about 300
metres wide, bound by the cliffs on the right and the
Roman Baths on the left.
The inventor then states: "Madeleine's body is in this
area." The National Guard - who had already combed this
area after the disappearance - conduct more searches.
Once again, to no avail. As bothered when he left as
when he arrived, Krugel goes back to South Africa,
taking machine and journalist with him.
MEMORY OF A CRIME
The presence or otherwise of a body considerably changes
the way investigations are led. In the first instance -
at least where the legal definition of a crime is
concerned -, the investigation is facilitated. The body
is identified, autopsied and then, with the help of any
clues picked up, the cause of death is determined. If
the conclusion is violent death, caused by a third
party, research can get underway from a reliable point
Faced with a person's disappearance, the situation is
more difficult. It's impossible to say that it's a
criminal matter, and police officers have to start their
investigation not knowing if the individual they are
looking for is alive or dead.
If he is alive, he may have disappeared of his won free
will - it is then necessary to understand the reasons in
order to direct the searches - or been the victim of an
abduction - the reasons for such an act are complex:
ransom demand, vengeance, paedophilia, etc.
If the missing person is thought to be dead, the death
is not necessarily murder: it could have resulted from
an accident or third-party negligence. But without a
body, we can be sure of nothing.
A BODY TELLS THE STORY OF A CRIME
I remember the Mariana case, about a little
three-year-old girl kicked to death by her own father in
1999 - I was working in Acores then, at the PJ's Ponta
Delgada Department of Criminal Investigation.
At 8 o'clock one Monday morning, a woman doctor,
required to issue the death certificate for a child,
notices that her body is covered in suspicious injuries.
She alerts us immediately. We arrive at the family home.
The mother is sitting on a blood-soaked towel which she
is trying, unsuccessfully, to hide. The parents relate
that little Mariana died in her sleep, that she
allegedly choked on her feeding bottle. A pitiful lie,
that does not stand up to even superficial examination
of the body. Signs of violent blows are visible on her
back and on her buttocks: these are imprints from the
soles of the father's boots. Mariana is showing serious
injuries to her skull. After having pummeled her with
kicks, the father hurled her, with all his strength,
against the wall. Then, grabbing her by the hair, he
violently hit her head several times against the bedroom
wall, under the passive gaze of the mother. Animal
violence that killed Mariana. The parents then decided
to get rid of the body legally, by requesting a death
certificate. Tragic mistake. They faked the crime scene,
washed the blood off the walls and places where the
father had hit the little girl. To get rid of all trace
of the crime, they threw into the bin the denim skirt
that the little girl wore for the first time that
Sunday. The garment covered in dust and the torn out
shoulder straps attest to the violence suffered.
Mariana had simply asked to visit her godmother who
lived opposite; the father, jealous, mad with rage,
lashed out at her, to the point of killing her.
After the examination of the body, the medical examiner
and the investigator were in no doubt: Mariana had been
savagely killed by her father with the passive consent
of the mother, and in front of her 5 year-old brother.
In the present case, the perpetrators of the crime did
not seek to hide a body but to cover up the truth.
At the time of the confessions, the man described the
scene for us in a very cold way, factually, showing not
the slightest regret. I had to leave my colleague to
continue the interrogation alone. I was so upset. How
could a father come to kill his own child? I had to get
a grip on myself, I had experienced such things
before.....I needed all my composure if I wanted to
continue the investigation with the required
objectivity. Truth and justice, that's all that remains
for these children.
I have often related this case to colleagues to show
them to what extent a body can, "talk," to
investigators, help them to discover what really
happened. Unlike other individuals, these two had
neither the imagination nor the intelligence to hide the
remains. In order to conceal his crime, the murderer can
hide the body, or alter the crime scene in such a way as
to divert suspicion. But this is not always the case.
Someone may also get rid of a body without having
committed a criminal act. For what reasons? Fear, for
example, of being judged by his peers.
Imagine a couple of doctors going on holiday abroad, to
a country they hardly know. They leave their three
children to sleep alone in their apartment to go to a
restaurant, a hundred metres away. When they come back,
one of the children is dead. It could be an accident or
murder. What do they do? They call the police and, in a
way, admit that they were more than negligent. And what
will happen when they go back home? What will the
consequences be? Will their professional future be
compromised? Will they be charged? Will they retain
custody of the younger ones?
As I said at the start of the book, no lead must be
abandoned while it has not technically been ruled out.
In the course of the investigation, with the discovery
of more details, some prove to be more encouraging than
others and, for that reason, must be gone into more
thoroughly. The overall scope changes. At a certain
stage in the investigation, to explain Madeleine's
disappearance, we had considered the scenario of the
concealment of a body. But before coming to that
conclusion, we had to exhaust all leads that favoured
the theory of abduction.
THE CRIME SCENE IS NOT MEANINGLESS
The place the person disappeared from is the true point
of departure for the investigation. It's the spot where
clues are concentrated that will direct the research:
finger prints, biological samples, blood and other
traces. The apartment where Madeleine slept, similar to
so many others, differs however on two fundamental
points, which add to the difficulties of our work. It's
a holiday apartment that acquires new guests every week:
moreover, it is situated in a hotel complex in which
hundreds of employees are moving around.
The situation is not the same when a child disappears
from her usual place of residence. There, she is known,
has routines, people encounter her every day with her
family. It's not difficult to find out what she was
doing in the hours preceding her disappearance.
In a holiday village, there is very little time
available to gather the maximum number of witness
statements, since some tourists are already on the point
of departure. Those not achieved have to be left to the
goodwill of the police authorities of the country of
origin. Because of the great number of people to
interview, a few days are needed to obtain an overall
view of the situation. One thing is sure: only the
accumulation of many witness statements enables the
piecing back together of the puzzle of the events.
THE HYPOTHESIS OF DEATH IS CONSIDERED.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE SPECIALISTS
After Krugel's unsuccessful visit, our English
colleagues vaunt the work of their specialist dog team
from the South Yorkshire Police Department of Criminal
Investigation. Their dogs are specially trained to
locate the most minute traces of blood and are capable
of outstanding performance in the search for human
remains and bodily fluids.
THE FORENSIC SPECIALISTS
It's July. The hypothesis of death, including by the
parents, is being seriously considered. However, no lead
has yet come to anything, and we find ourselves in a
cul-de-sac. We have to re-centre the investigation
around its point of departure, apartment 5A at the Ocean
Club, in Vila da Luz. We officially request the help of
the best experts in criminology and forensics but also
the specialist dog team from the English police. A few
days later, we welcome Mark Harrison, a specialist in
murder, and the search for missing persons and victims
of natural disasters. National advisor to the British
police, he is well known for his exceptional
professional experience. He has already participated in
dozens of international criminal investigations.
His work consists of defining new strategies for
research. He gets to work immediately, supported by the
Portuguese PJ and the investigators from Leicester and
Scotland Yard. On his arrival, we place at his disposal
details of the case, as well as all our material and
human resources. Harrison reads up on the statements and
interviews from the principal witnesses - including, of
course, those of the parents and friends -, all the
analyses, simulations, hypotheses and cross-checking
already carried out. He carries out a reconnaissance on
the ground, by helicopter and then on foot. He paces the
streets and the access roads to Vila da Luz and compares
them to the diagrams created in the course of the
investigation. Nothing is left to chance: measurement
and timing of possible routes between buildings,
apartments and restaurants; analyses, with the help of
the best specialists, of weather, geological and
maritime factors in relation to the investigation;
consultation with the best forensic anthropologist in
the country, who indicates for us what would be the
actual state of the body in the hypothesis of death
occurring on May 3rd; study of the region's natural
carrion predators. All the research already conducted by
hundreds of people - GNR, civil defence, firemen and
other volunteers - is re-examined in detail and
After a week of intense work, Harrison presents the
results of his study to my coordinating group. Even if
we were expecting it, his conclusions confirm our worst
fears. The most plausible scenario is the following:
there is no doubt that Madeleine is dead, and her body
is hidden somewhere in the area around Praia da Luz. He
praises the quality of the work carried out by the
Portuguese authorities in trying to find the little girl
alive. According to him, the time has come to redirect
the searches in order to find, this time, a body hidden
in the surrounding area.
Great Britain has at its disposal the world's biggest
data bank on homicide of children under five years old.
Since 1960, the count is 1528. Harrison is well
acquainted with its contents. He often draws information
from there which helps him to resolve similar cases.
Valuable information can be found there on on various
criminal modus operandi, places where bodies are hidden,
techniques used to get rid of a body. He relates that on
one occasion, thanks to the data, he was able to deduce
the maximum distance a body might be found in relation
to where the crime had been committed.
The figures quoted in the report he hands over give us
the shivers. The crimes, including those of a sexual
nature, are committed by the parents in 84% of cases;
96% are perpetrated by friends and relatives. In only 4%
of them is the murderer or abductor a total stranger to
the victim. In this roundabout way, Mark Harrison points
out that the guilty party may be a person close to
Madeleine, and even her own parents. From now on, we
have to explore this track, especially as the others
have proved fruitless.
Harrison also suggests that we use the skills of two
totally remarkable dogs: the first an EVRD (Enhanced
Victim Recovery Dog), achieves outstanding performance
in the detection of human cadaver odour; the second, a
CSI dog (Crime Scene Investigation) is capable of
smelling the tiniest trace of blood, knowing how to
recognise its human origin. To convince us of their
capability and the extraordinary work carried out by
these very special detectives in the course of over 200
investigations, he screens a video for us, showing their
training and their intervention on the ground.
He suggests that we start the operations with the
inspection of apartment 5A, then those occupied by the
McCanns' friends. Robert Murat's house will also be
subjected to thorough examination. In addition, all the
vehicles used by all of them will be sniffed by the
Meanwhile, we were supposed to receive American
electronic equipment that detects human bodies thanks to
the odour that emanates from them (Scent Transfer Unit
100). But the equipment, blocked by customs, arrived
late. We didn't need to use it, having obtained very
concrete results, thanks to the dogs.
THE ENGLISH SPECIALIST DOG TEAM
The heat is scorching on this thirtieth day of July 2007
when two Springer Spaniels, Eddie and Keela, get off the
British Airways plane, accompanied by their trainer,
Martin Grime. An air-conditioned vehicle is waiting to
take them to their accommodation. A vet, who will be on
hand during their stay, has been brought in to intervene
in case of illness or if the dogs get bitten by a snake.
Their mission: to find Madeleine's body and expose those
Eddie has been involved in a great number of cases,
helping the police to resolve a good many riddles,
thanks to his sense of smell. Even if the body has been
moved, objects the body has touched have been
contaminated by its odour, especially porous materials,
fabrics, the upholstery in cars, etc. And that odour,
Eddie knows how to recognise out of a thousand.
Keela, a scenes of crime specialist, is capable of
locating particles of blood even after a place has been
cleaned with chemical products or bleach. Sometimes, the
residues are so microscopic they are missed by the
instruments of the forensic police, as sophisticated as
they are, and it's impossible to harvest them without
taking all of what they are on.
Eddie is always the first to be brought onto a site.
Once he has discerned the odour that he knows so well,
it's Keela's turn to go into action, on the lookout for
the slightest whiff of blood. The simultaneous presence
of the two elements in a given place - blood and cadaver
odours - is taken to indicate that a body has been there
and that it's probably there that the death occurred.
The dogs' CV is impressive. Besides collaborating in
hundreds of investigations, they passed the practical
tests brilliantly at the FBI's "Body Farm," the only
place in the world where human cadavers are used to
simulate homicide scenarios and concealment of bodies.
Amongst the most media-covered cases, which they
contributed to resolving, is that of the disappearance
in Northern Ireland of Attracta Harron, who was last
seen when she was returning home on foot, after having
been to church. All searches carried out by the police
were unsuccessful. The main suspect's car having been
totally burnt out in a mysterious fire, couldn't be
examined. They called in Eddie, who examined the charred
remains of the vehicle and immediately picked out the
characteristic odour. Human tissue was found amongst the
debris, the DNA of which corresponded to the missing
woman. Later, the dog indicated the place - close to a
river - where the victim's body had been abandoned. At
the home of the suspect, where the police were searching
for incriminating evidence, Eddie identified cadaver
odour in one of the bedrooms. The man confessed to
having killed the woman then moving her body to the
banks of the river.
The case of Amanda Edwards, reported missing, is also
very impressive. The police, who conducted a search of
her ex-partner's home, found small bloodstains there,
but no trace of a body. The dog, who was brought in for
the examination of the man''s vehicle, alerted to
cadaver odour on the tools stored in the boot (a shovel,
a level and a compactor). The police went to the
building site where the suspect had worked a few days
before and discovered the body, buried in a garage. The
murderer had made efficient use of his tools to carry
out his task.
It's also thanks to the help of the dogs that the case
of Charlotte Pinkley, a missing British woman, who had
been imprisoned by her ex-partner, was resolved. The
police requested the help of the specialist dog team to
try to find the young woman's body. Eddie picked out a
place where the abductor had provisionally left his
victim. In the surrounding area, the investigators found
the button from a dress that had belonged to Charlotte.
That clue exposed the murderer, who ended up showing the
police the place where he had hidden the body.
More recently, it's Eddie who helps to find a body
buried under a flagstone at the former orphanage,
Haut-de-la-Garenne, in Jersey, setting for a terrible
case of paedophilia and child murder.
The achievements of the dog detectives are the result of
a very long apprenticeship. It all starts with the
selection of the best puppies when they are only a few
months old. The most talented breed for this unusual
"profession," is the Springer Spaniel. The trainer,
Martin Grime, and his pupils undergo aptitude tests
every year in order to obtain certificates proving their
capability. In Great Britain, the police have no
hesitation in calling in the specialist dog teams to
assist in certain criminal investigations. Their skills
are nowadays recognised by journalists, police and
courts all over the world.
EXAMINATION OF THE OCEAN CLUB APARTMENTS BY THE
On August 3rd 2007, I am having dinner in Praia da rocha,
near Portimao, with my friend Gaivota. Unable to hide my
anxiety, I keep looking at my watch and my telephone.
Gaivota asks me if everything is OK: I respond with an
absent-minded "Yes." A few kilometres away one of the
most important search operations ever carried out in
Portugal has begun. Perhaps we will finally manage to
clear up the mystery of Madeleine's disappearance.
The investigation starts in apartment 5A. The grey jeep
transporting the dogs pulls into the car park in front
of the building. There is hope and anxiety on people's
faces. Martin Grime gets out of the car, holding Eddie
on a tight leash. He takes it off and orders Eddie to
sit down. Instead of obeying as would be expected of
such a well-trained dog, Eddie immediately rushes into
the building. He then goes to and fro between the lounge
and the bedroom in an agitated manner. Martin wonders
what could be making his animal so nervous and calls him
back to give precise orders. An investigator is filming
the entire scene. A little later, Eddie is examining the
floor in the parents' bedroom, near the wardrobe, when
he lets out a strident howl, indicating that he has
detected a cadaver odour. The investigators have hardly
recovered from their amazement, when another, equally
impressive, howl startles them. This time, Eddie has
picked out that same odour under the window, just behind
the sofa, on one of the walls in the lounge. That
evening, in apartment 5A, the investigators begin to
glimpse what might have happened.
At around 10pm, police officers see Gerry McCann, going
past the apartment at the wheel of his hire car, a
Renault Megane Scenic, an impenetrable look on his face.
Then it's Keela's turn to intervene. She points her
muzzle at the same place where Eddie gave the alert:
traces of blood are found on the tiling between the
window and the sofa. Outside, Eddie barks twice: on the
veranda at the back of the building and in the garden,
just below it. At this place, the dog's bark is weaker
and might mean "maybe, who knows....". Thus from the
indications provided by Eddie, we can pinpoint the
places where the body was moved around. Apartments 5B,
5D and 5H, where the McCanns' friends stayed, are
examined that same night. The investigators are
expecting new developments. However, nothing happens.
Eddie does not show the slightest reaction. Therefore,
Keela does not get involved.
From then on, we are sure that, at a given moment, there
was a body in apartment 5A. We now have to interview
firemen, medical services personnel, previous tenants
and employees of the Ocean Club to make sure that no
death has taken place in this accommodation, which they
confirm. So, we can conclude that the odour discovered
is certainly that of Madeleine Beth McCann.
SEARCHES IN THE AREA AROUND VILA DA LUZ
As planned, the searches with Eddie go ahead in and
around the village. To leave nothing to chance, he is
also put to inspecting the area outlined by Krugel.
Mark Harrison organises a big meeting to direct the work
of the search teams. He has conceived the idea of iron
bars, whose production he has consigned to a local
company. They will be used to sink holes into the ground
which will facilitate the possible release of gas
emanating from a decomposing body.
Martin, Eddie, the PJ inspectors and members of the GNR,
go over with a fine-tooth comb, all the areas where the
body of a child might be found. Eddie runs his nose over
kilometres of waste ground, ruins, buildings abandoned
or under construction, waterways, pipework, along the
beach, under every bush, not forgetting the famous Rocha
Negra. No evidence of the presence of a body, no cadaver
EXAMINATION OF THE McCANNS' HOUSE.
"The moment of truth has arrived." That's what everybody
is thinking when searching begins at the accommodation
the family is occupying from now on: either we find
evidence of their responsibility in Madeleine's
disappearance, or they will definitely be cleared of all
Being convinced of having made a mistake in not placing
either the couple or their friends under surveillance,
we decided to rectify it. We ask the Public Minister for
authorisation to search and, at the same time,
authorisation for phone taps. Our request is sent to the
judge. He being absent, his deputy is called upon.
Finally, after 24 hours of anxious waiting, we learn
that authorisation is refused. The disappointment is
enormous because we will never have access to
conversations the McCanns have away from the
microphones, and this not least because the McCanns are
preparing to return to England. We cannot count on any
more than the search of the house they have occupied
since May 3rd, 27 Rue das Flores, which they have been
able to rent thanks to money collected by the Madeleine
To avoid contamination of evidence that will be gathered
at the McCanns', Mark Harrison has insisted on the
availability of decontaminated premises exclusively set
aside for this purpose. Julio Barroso, mayor of Lagos,
agrees to lend us the garage of a new, unoccupied
building in the centre of Lagos. The place is cleaned
from top to bottom.
On August 2nd, at 6pm, the inspectors arrive at the
McCanns' residence and present the search warrant. The
principle of the examination by the specialist dogs is
explained. Kate and Gerry are in the swimming pool in
the garden with the twins. Contrary to all expectations,
they allow us access to their house in a very natural
Eddie goes immediately to the lounge. He comes to a stop
in front of a wicker armchair on which is lying
Madeleine's small pink soft toy, which Kate was never
without in the early days of the investigation.
Nowadays, she wears a rosary and a green ribbon around
her neck. Eddie barks to let us know that he has
detected an odour: the soft toy has been in contact with
The soft toy and all the clothes from the house are
placed into boxes specially made to preserve evidence.
These objects are then conveyed to the decontaminated
premises. They are placed on the ground, a good distance
apart for the dogs to examine.
At 8pm, Tavares de Almeida calls me to let me know that
Mark Harrison requires another place because this one is
not sufficiently clean.
- How do I find a place at this kind of time?
- Sort it out!
Julio Barroso offers us the new sports hall in Lagos
which, finally, meets the required standards. The
objects are once again laid out on the ground and the
dogs can start. Eddie alerts us to a strong cadaver
odour on some of Kate's clothes, but the CSI dog doesn't
detect the slightest trace of blood.
EDDIE AND KEELA AT ROBERT MURAT'S HOUSE.
Robert Murat's residence and the adjacent grounds are
gone over with a fine-tooth comb in their turn. Mark
Harrison, rigorously professional, has planned to devote
three days to this job. This seems long to us. We want
to limit the duration of this operation to avoid having
the media besiege the premises. Mark agrees not to
prolong the search any longer than is necessary, and
manages to finish it in two days.
PJ, GNR, Civil Defence: dozens of men are mobilised.
They have to work their way through the jungle that's
invaded the land all round the house - Murat will not
recognise his garden any more once the investigators
have been through. The ground is examined with radar,
centimetre by centimetre, by a specialist from Aveiro
university. In vain: the dogs detect nothing. No
evidence is found anywhere within the area examined. All
the same, the radar reveals that Murat's house is built
over an ancient Roman villa.
EXAMINATION OF THE VEHICLES
Not having been able to find an available garage in
Lagos, we appeal to the mayor of Portimao, Manuel da
Luz. In this case as in others before, the police have
been able to count on the practical support of the
Finally, on August 6th, in the unoccupied floors of an
underground car park, opposite the PJ's offices, the
inspection of the vehicles takes place. To be examined
are those of Robert Murat, Michaela, Sergey Malinka,
Luiz Antonio, the McCann couple, and one that Russell
O'Brien may have used. Driven by the investigators, the
cars are parked in the reserved areas, doors closed and
windows raised, with a space of 10 metres from one to
another to avoid contamination. According to planned
procedure, Eddie goes in first; Keela will be brought in
In the immense underground car park, Martin commands
Eddie to begin the examination. The dog then intensively
sniffs each of the first three cars, at tyre level, the
side doors and the boot, then all round. When he gets
close to the fourth, the McCanns' Renault, he becomes
agitated, raises his nose while running around, as if he
is trying to locate the source of the odour he has
detected. Martin tells him to stop running around and
concentrate on the search. Finally, he starts to growl,
bark and wanting to bite the bottom of the driver's door
and the boot. The odour is coming from inside. The PJ's
experts examine the vehicle for hours with the help of
Keela. At dawn, traces of human blood are found in
places indicated by the female dog: the key and the
boot. The harvested samples are packed, then sent to a
forensic laboratory in Birmingham, Great Britain.
Eddie did not hesitate for a moment. He was only
interested in the McCanns' automobile. No other
attracted his attention or provoked any reaction
whatsoever on his part. So, why would certain people
want to minimise the evidence produced by this method?
Later, I am brought the witness statement of a
neighbour, according to whom, the McCanns left their car
boot open all the time. For Gerry's brother-in-law, the
bad smell was explained by the fact that the McCanns
transported their bins in it. As for the blood, it had
been left by a piece of meat fallen out of a shopping
bag. Kate's cousin explained that the unpleasant smells
were due to the little ones' dirty nappies.
None of that stands up to scrutiny faced with the
reactions of these dogs, who are thoroughly trained to
detect only blood and cadaver odours.
HARVESTING OF THE SAMPLES DERIVED FROM THE SPECIALIST
So that the items of evidence might constitute
admissible proof, the harvesting and packing must
conform to the rules avoiding all risk of deterioration
and contamination. It is experts from our police
forensic laboratory who carry out the harvesting. The
minuscule traces cannot be gathered in situ, so the
tiling is gently lifted out before being transferred to
the Forensic Science Laboratory in Birmingham. Photos
bear witness to every stage of the operation. For added
security, it is the expert responsible for the
collection who takes them to FSS on the morning of
August 7th. The choice of this laboratory is not
insignificant. Apart from their use of cutting-edge
technologies - LCN (Low Copy Number) a DNA
identification test, used particularly when only
microscopic samples are available -, the results,
whatever they might be will not be able to be contested
by the British since it's one of their most reliable
laboratories. All other items of evidence gathered - the
keys to the McCanns' car, hair and traces of blood found
in the boot - are also sent to England.
English and Portuguese police get together to analyse
the results of Eddie and Keela's searches.
- What we can deduce at this stage is that only the
McCanns are implicated. The dogs did not detect blood or
cadaver odour other than with them.
- From now on we have the certainty that there was a
body behind the sofa before being taken into the
- If the blood found behind the sofa is that of the
little girl, we can assume that she died there.
- That could explain why the sofa was pushed up against
- In Madeleine's bedroom and on her bed, there was no
- On the other hand, the odour on the soft toy indicates
that she was holding it when she died....
These conclusions do not, for the moment, constitute
proof. If the laboratory results are positive, and only
in that case, we will have our proof.
(Eddie alerting to the odour he has detected from the
McCanns' hired Renault Scenic)
The police who searched the house the McCanns were
occupying, in particular their bedroom - the room where
Gerald set up his office - report that the father and
the mother are reacting very differently to the trouble
that has befallen them.
Kate seems to be in mourning: numerous photos of
Madeleine are pinned to the wall or placed on her
bedside table. Spaced between them - as though watching
over the child's soul - a representation of a saint, a
crucifix or a rosary can be seen. A bookmark bearing the
effigy of a saint is slipped into a copy of the Bible,
opening on the second book of Samuel, chapter XII, where
the following verses can be read:
" "I have sinned against the Lord," David said.
Nathan replied, "The Lord forgives you; you will not
die.  But because you have shown such contempt for
the Lord in doing this, your child will die."  Then
Nathan went home.
The Lord caused the child that Uriah's wife had borne
to David to become very ill.
 David prayed to God that the child would get
well. He refused to eat anything and every night he went
into his room and spent the night lying on the floor.
 His court officials went to him and tried to make
him get up, but he refused and would not eat anything
with them.  A week later the child died, and David's
officials were afraid to tell him the news. They said,
"While the child was living, David wouldn't answer us
when we spoke to him. How can we tell him that his child
is dead? He might do himself some harm!"
 When David noticed them whispering to each
other, he realized that the child had died. So he asked
them, "Is the child dead?"
"Yes, he is," they answered.
 David got up from the floor, had a bath, combed
his hair, and changed his clothes. Then he went and
worshiped in the house of the Lord. When he returned to
the palace, he asked for food and ate it as soon as it
was served.  "We don't understand this," his
officials said to him. "While the child was alive, you
wept for him and would not eat; but as soon as he died,
you got up and ate!"
 "Yes," David answered, "I did fast and weep
while he was still alive. I thought that the Lord might
be merciful to me and not let the child die.  But
now that he is dead, why should I fast? Could I bring
the child back to life? I will someday go to where he
is, but he can never come back to me."
 Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba. He had
intercourse with her, and she bore a son, whom David
named Solomon. The Lord loved the boy  and commanded
the Prophet Nathan to name the boy Jedidiah, because the
Lord loved him."1
For David life had to go on.
In contrast, in the part of the room occupied by Gerald,
the walls are bare, cold, no photos of his daughter.
It's here that he administers the Madeleine Fund,
organises his very busy agenda and writes his blog. His
current reading material - The Interpretation of
Murder, by Jed Rubenfeld, Spirit Messenger,
by Gordon Smith, It's Not About The Bike: My Journey
Back To Life, by Lance Armstrong, - leaves nothing
at all to the imagination about the drama the family is
living through. With amazement the police officers
discover a series of books and manuals exclusively
intended for police services and government agencies.
- Missing and Abducted Children: A Law-Enforcement
Guide to Case Investigation and Program Management,
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children;
- Training Courses, CEOP 9Serious Organised Crime
Agency - Child Exploitation and Online Protection
- Making Every Child Matter...Everywhere, CEOP
(Serious Organised Crime Agency - Child Exploitation and
Online Protection Centre).
Mark Harrison himself wonders how Gerald McCann could
have obtained these books.
1. I have
used the Good News Bible for this passage.
PREPARATION FOR THE INTERROGATIONS.
Analyses of the residues collected following the visit
by the dogs is entrusted to the English Forensic Science
Service laboratory. To avoid any leaks of information,
Stuart Prior, a senior officer with Leicestershire
police, is responsible for liaison between the
laboratory and Jose Freitas of Scotland Yard. The
latter, who is with us, in Portimao, is passing on any
We confidently wait for the evaluation reports from FSS.
A few days after the samples are sent, we are informed
that the DNA of the blood found in the boot of the
McCanns' car shows a significant match - 50% - with
Gerald's, which means that it is definitely the blood of
one of his children. We telephone the public minister to
pass on this initial result and wait for the follow-up
to the analyses and definite conclusions But the
laboratory takes its time.
At the beginning of September, shortly before the McCann
couple are placed under investigation, Superintendent
Stuart Prior travels to Portimao to present the first of
the two preliminary reports from the laboratory and to
discuss the progress of the investigation.
At a meeting in our office, with the Portuguese and the
English investigation team, Stuart expresses his
disappointment over the test results. This is where the
saga of the FSS reports begins. We read the part of the
report dealing with the traces of blood lifted from the
floor of apartment 5A, from behind the sofa and in the
boot of the McCanns' car and we don’t agree with
Stuart’s disappointment We talk about blood traces
because the CSI dog is trained to find only that bodily
fluid. The reports that support that decision are clear:
the CSI dog was used to detect human blood. Low Copy
Number, the technique used to determine the DNA of the
samples, does not identify the nature of the bodily
fluid they are derived from. But we know it's definitely
traces of blood and not other bodily fluids since the
CSI dog is trained to detect only human blood.
In the first case, the laboratory considers that the
result of the analysis is inconclusive because the
samples gathered provide very little information when
the DNA comes from more than one person. But all the
confirmed DNA components match with the corresponding
components in Madeleine’s DNA profile!.
As for the second case, after an explanation about the
DNA components in Madeleine's genetic profile, it
concludes that 15 out of 19 markers in Madeleine's
profile are present in the sample examined. Only 4 short
of 100% reliability. The FSS specialists qualify the
results as, "complex," and state that these 15 markers
are not enough to conclude with certainty that it's
definitely Madeleine's DNA profile, especially as Low
Copy Number picked out a total of 37 in the sample. That
means that at least three individuals contributed to
But there was more in this first preliminary report. In
the same report, the scientist went further and
explained that in the profiles of many of the lab
experts, elements from the DNA profile of Madeleine are
present. This means that a major part of the DNA profile
of any given person can be built by three donors. That
is understandable. Two questions arose immediately. The
first one: what good is a DNA profile in terms of
criminal evidence, if it can be the combination of three
or more donors? Another question was simple: why did the
DNA profile from those three donors contribute to
Madeleine’s DNA profile and not to that of any other
person, like the scientist who carried out the test? But
the surprises from the preliminary reports were not to
On the very day that interrogation of the McCann couple
starts, a second preliminary report reaches us. Contrary
to the first report, it accords more importance to the
DNA profile of the blood lifted from the floor of the
apartment. In that sample, the DNA came from more than
one donor, but the confirmed DNA components match the
corresponding components of Madeleine's DNA profile.
As for the samples lifted from the boot of the car,
there is no further mention of the 15 markers, as if
they had never existed.
Suddenly, light was starting to be cast on the
issue: either this LCN technique is not reliable or it's
simply much easier to explain the presence of
Madeleine's DNA in the apartment than in the boot of a
car hired 24 days after her disappearance.
At our insistence, Stuart contacts the FSS and asks them
if they think the Portuguese are idiots. We hear him
saying: "With a lot less than that, we would have
already arrested someone in England." I look at my
colleagues and see that they are as stupefied as I am.
In fact, in Portugal, it's not so easy to arrest
someone. We explain to Stuart that the McCanns
interrogations would not result in detention. According
to Portuguese law, the crimes of concealment of a corpse
and simulating an abduction are not liable to remanding
WHAT THE LABORATORY REPORTS BRING TO LIGHT
The preliminary results from FSS were enlightening in a
way, and confirmed the information given by the EVRD
(Enhanced Victim Recovery Dog) and the CSI dog.
- The CSI dog, Keela, signalled the presence of human
blood where Eddie, the EVRD dog, marked the presence of
cadaver odour - on the floor tiles behind the sofa in
the lounge, on the key and in the boot of the Renault
Scenic that was used by the McCanns from May 27th
- the bodily fluids, according to the FSS, contain
markers from Madeleine's DNA profile.
These elements do not constitute concrete proof but
simply clues to be added to those we already possess. In
itself, the definition of a DNA profile from LCN is not
considered as evidence in a criminal investigation. In
his report, the English scientist says that he cannot
give answers to the following questions: when was the
DNA deposited? In what way? What bodily fluid does the
DNA come from? Has a crime been committed?
The scientific evidence is not enough and it has to be
accompanied by other types of material, documented and
testimonial evidence. It is only in this way that the
entire puzzle can be reconstructed and certainties can
be achieved, for the material truth to be established.
The FSS has still not provided the result of the
technical analysis of the hair found in the boot of the
car. Once more, Stuart has to contact the laboratory.
Nothing has been done. We want to know two things: if
the hair is indeed Madeleine's, and if it comes from a
living or a dead person. The FSS can only answer the
first question. English colleagues present at the
meeting raise the possibility of the hair being sent to
other European laboratories which have the resources to
clear up the second point for us: hair from a living or
a dead person. But the FSS does not seem to want to part
with the hair. They claim that using a colour comparison
test they can establish if the hair belongs to Madeleine
and in a second stage, identify the DNA profile. None of
that will happen. We never find out if the hair was
Madeleine's or her parents' or her brother's or her
sister's, even though the laboratory has the DNA
profiles of each member of the family.
Let's remember: it is totally logical to find
Madeleine's DNA in the home, but absolutely not in a car
rented more than twenty days after her disappearance.
FINGERPRINTS ON THE WINDOW
One afternoon, we drive to apartment 5A at the Ocean
Club. I am accompanied by Guilhermino Encarnacao, the
indefatigable Polícia Judiciaria Director from Faro, who
is following every step of the investigation, with daily
trips to Portimao. Jose Freitas of Scotland Yard is
accompanied by Stuart Prior, to whom we explain the
theory of an accident. According to Encarnacao, the
child's death must have resulted from a fall behind the
sofa, where the dogs marked the odours of cadaver and
blood. The theory is simple and based on evidence in our
possession. The parents would have pushed the sofa away
from the window as a safety precaution because the
window opened easily and it was situated, remember,
three metres above the outside pavement. When Gerald
went to the apartment at around 9pm to check on his
children, used the toilet and then left, Madeleine might
have woken up. Hearing her father's voice coming from
the street outside, she may have tried to reach the
window by climbing on the sofa and could have fallen
behind it. Stuart indicates that he understands and
agrees with the possibility. He takes this opportunity
to ask if any fingerprints were found on that window or
on any others, particularly on the one in Madeleine's
Initially, we don't understand why he is asking this
question, since he has seen our report. He should know
that fingerprints were discovered with the lophoscopic*
analysis carried out on the night of May 3rd and the
following day. The results are in the report. Why is he
asking about them now? We respond evasively, "Nothing
However, on the glass, on the handle and on the
right-hand frame of Madeleine's bedroom window, we had
lifted five fingerprints - three from a middle finger
and two from an index finger - all from a left hand,
identified as belonging to Kate McCann.
The technicians who examined the apartment did not place
any great importance on the identification of the
fingerprints. In fact, in the absence of obvious signs
of assault or of a crime - like signs of a struggle,
traces of blood or the presence of a corpse -, the
technicians proceed to the kind of examination that is
carried out in a burglary case. They forget that
fingerprints discovered in a particular place, even if
they belong to an occupant of the premises, can be of
fundamental importance for the progress of the
investigation and constitute valuable evidence, even
The window in question is the one that Kate Healy states
she found open to the left, with the curtains
fluttering, when she discovered that her daughter was
missing. On the window, there were no signs of a
break-in or of gloves. It had been cleaned the day
before, May 2nd, by an Ocean Club employee, and the only
fingerprints found were Kate's. The position of the
fingerprints indicate that the window had been opened to
the left, as Kate Healy stated: "the window was fully
open to the left." There is no doubt that somebody
opened that window on the evening of May 3rd and the
only fingerprints found on it were those of Kate Healy.
The manager of the Ocean Club's crèche, who went to the
apartment after the alarm was raised, remarked that,
"the window was partially open to the left," confirming
Kate's earlier statement.
We prefer not to discuss this with Stuart Prior: we have
the impression that he is only here to accompany the
McCanns' interrogations and to prevent their detention.
His concern on that subject is obvious.
Two pieces of information reach us, which we interpret
as diversionary tactics with the obvious purpose of
diverting suspicion from the McCanns. The first concerns
the couple's active involvement in a campaign to set up
an international alert system for missing children. The
Policia Judiciaria is approached indirectly through the
Department of Criminal Investigation in Portimao and the
Directorate in Faro to participate and support the
launch of the campaign. We tell the messenger that we
are not the appropriate recipients of this enquiry, that
the request should be sent to a higher authority, the
National Director of the PJ or the Portuguese
The second piece of information comes to us from further
afield: Beirut, capital of The Lebanon. Imagine this: an
Arab sheikh possessed a video of an orgy by other
sheikhs on which Madeleine was allegedly recognisable.
He would be prepared to hand over this recording to the
British Ambassador in exchange for a sum of money to be
sent to his lawyer. Once again, we are stupefied.
- Can you believe it? A sheikh ready to denounce his
mates for a few sous...Arab royalty is so strapped for
- I don't understand: haven't all of our English
colleagues who have been working with us already
concluded that Madeleine may have died in the apartment?
- What more does Stuart need?
- I don't know what he needs. In any case, it was him
who told us he had arrested people in England for a lot
After the interrogations, I had the opportunity to ask
an English colleague about the outcome of the story. Did
that video exist? What was on it? He responded that it
had come to him in February or March 2007, well before
Madeleine's disappearance...It would be interesting to
know who, deliberately and with the sole object of
scuppering the investigation, went and unearthed a video
from before Madeleine's disappearance, to make people
believe she was still alive...
THE McCANNS' INTERROGATIONS.
THE NERVOUS ENGLISH POLICE.
As the date for the interrogations approached, Stuart
became more and more nervous and he was a constant
presence. He wanted to be kept up to date on the
smallest details. We explain to him what is going to
happen, notably the sending of a rogatory letter to the
English authorities to request specialist dog team
examinations of the homes of the McCanns and their
holiday friends, in Great Britain, to check if any
object or piece of clothing retained any cadaver odour
or blood. We ask Stuart to request that these
examinations be carried out by the specialist dog team
that we already know, with the same EVRD and CSI dogs,
Eddie and Keela and with Stuart's agreement, we send him
We don't know what clothes the McCann couple and their
friends were wearing on the evening of May 3rd. At the
start of the investigation, we had requested all photos
and videos from that day and from the other days, but
all we received were daytime photos; it was as if in the
evenings and during the now famous "Tapas," dinners, no
photos had been taken despite the fact that some of the
diners had cameras with them. The lack of night time
photos was something we have never understood. Within
the rogatory letter, we ask the English authorities to
seize photos and videos taken throughout the holiday at
the Ocean Club.
In the McCanns' home, we would like to check a medical
monitoring chart recording Madeleine's problems with
sleeping. This chart had been mentioned by Kate and
according to her mother, it was only used until April
2006, when Madeleine regained a regular sleep pattern
and slept right through every night without
interruption. We also wish to pick up the diary that
Kate started to keep from May 3rd. Finally, we would
like to question the group of friends again, to confront
them about their contradictions concerning their system
for checking the children during the evening dinners at
the Ocean Club.
At the same time, we hope to obtain a response to our
request to the British authorities, made through the
liaison officer in Portugal on the first day of the
investigation, for information on the McCann family and
their friends. Given the fact that we have, so far,
received no response to this enquiry, we will make the
request for the desired information through the rogatory
letter. We ask Stuart about this matter and he says
that, "they are in the process of gathering that
However, a preliminary response comes to us about the
McCanns' financial situation: astonishingly, there are
no records of the McCanns holding any credit or debit
- That's quite simply not possible!
- They don't have credit cards? However, we know that
they hold at least two: one which they used to pay for
the flights, and a second which was used for the hire of
the Renault Scenic.
- The English need to sort themselves out. We need the
McCanns' financial statements from the start of their
holiday in Portugal.
It's obvious we're going to have a hard time getting the
required details: with such information, it would not be
difficult to follow the McCanns' trail, to know about
their expenses, their movements, and to draw conclusions
from what came up. Meanwhile, Stuart makes another
request. He says it would be a good idea to send two
rogatory letters: one for the friends and another for
the McCann couple. We don't understand this one.
FRAUD OR ABUSE OF TRUST?
During a more relaxed moment at one of these meetings, I
come out with an ill-judged comment. Inopportune or
undiplomatic, but this is my reasoning: thinking about
the kinds of crime that may have been committed if the
McCanns were involved in their daughter's disappearance,
something occurs to me. If they were involved in one way
or another, then a crime of fraud or abuse of trust is a
possibility concerning the fund that was set up to
finance the search for Madeleine. Donations have reached
nearly 3 million Euros.
If such a crime exists, Portugal would not have
jurisdiction to investigate and try it. The fund being
legally registered in England, it would be our English
colleagues who would deal with the case. Our English
colleagues then realise a hard reality: the strong
possibility that they would have a crime to investigate
in their own country, with the McCAnn couple as the main
suspects: a prospect that does not seem to appeal to
them. I notice a sudden pallor in the faces of those
British people present.
analysis of difficult latent prints - latent from the
Latin latere, to hide, to lie.)
TOWARDS PLACING THE McCANN COUPLE UNDER INVESTIGATION.
In Portugal, the criminal process is comprised of three
phases: the investigation, the instruction and the
trial. Under the direction and control of the Public
Minister, the investigation is led by the criminal
police, who enjoy total practical and tactical
independence. The police officers may make a declaration
of arguido status as they think fit. This status
confers on a suspect a set of rights and
responsibilities. One of the fundamental principles of
our code of criminal procedure is that of
non-self-incrimination: it is illegal for information
given by a witness to later be used against him and to
implicate him in a crime. The right of silence,
therefore, allows him to avoid giving incriminating
details. But the status heaps opprobrium on those who
become arguido, in spite of the principle of
presumption of innocence.
With due regard to procedural regulations and faced with
evidence of the concealment of a corpse and simulation
of an abduction - partially confirmed by laboratory
analyses -, we decide to question the McCanns before
their imminent return to England. This decision is taken
with full knowledge of the facts by the investigators,
the Public Minister and the Director of the Judiciary
On September 3rd, the police officer Ricardo Paiva,
responsible for relations with the couple, goes to their
residence to inform them of the date and time of the
interview. Kate reacts quite badly: she is worried about
what her parents are going to think and about the
reaction of the press. She even states that the
Portuguese police, "is submitting to pressure on the
part of its government to resolve the case as soon as
possible." English and Portuguese investigators actively
prepare the interviews and draw up a list of questions
focusing particularly on the course of events on the
night of the disappearance. The suspects must clarify
for us the various contradictions raised in the course
of their previous statements.
The decision to declare Kate and Gerald McCann
arguidos was taken. Notification had already reached
them. On September 6th, a little before 3pm, Kate
arrives at the DIC in Portimao, accompanied by her press
officer. Her lawyer has already arrived and the
interview room is ready. The crowd has been building up
outside for a while. Going through the door, Kate laughs
as she says that this media scrum is good for tourism.
Her lawyer requests that she be heard as a witness and
not interrogated as an arguida. We don't agree with
what, to us, constitutes a backward step. Some officers
involved in the investigation seem to be hoping for the
miracle of a confession. We remain sceptical.
We finally decide to question her as a witness, but not
to pose questions on the events after 5.30pm, the time
at which she returned to the apartment with her three
children. From that time on, everything she said could
be held against her. According to the principle of
non-incrimination, she would then have to be declared
arguida since we have sufficient evidence to be able to
On the subject of the press officer who was accompanying
her everywhere, including to the police station, the
opinion was unanimous: she had nothing to do with
- I have never heard of the role of the press officer in
the penal code!...Perhaps it's the subject of the next
amendment, or else it's a new method.
- Drop it. She is only going to sit near the police
officers on duty and wait.
Her presence in the offices of the police during the
interrogations seems unacceptable to me, useless and
prejudicial to the investigation. However, she was to
stay there from start to finish.
At 8 o'clock, we have a break to have something to eat,
then the interrogation continues until 11pm. At the end
of that day, we have learned nothing new with the
exception of two details: Kate now remembers - five
months after the event - that on the evening of May 3rd,
Gerald was wearing jeans and trainers. Another detail
came back to her: the time that David Payne had spent at
her apartment. Gerald had spoken of 30 minutes, Kate now
insists that he was only there for 30 seconds. We have
never understood why it was so important to minimise
this period of time. When Kate leaves the premises, we
make sure that all necessary precautions have been taken
to ensure her safety.
On September 7th at 11am, Kate Healy is declared an
arguida on the basis of strong presumptions of the
crime of concealing a body and simulating an abduction.
She states her name and gives her address as her home in
Great Britain. Taking advantage of the right accorded to
her by her status, she remains silent and does not
answer questions concerning the circumstances of her
daughter's death, on May 3rd 2007, in the Ocean Club
At 4pm, it's Gerald's turn to be officially declared an
arguido, for the same reasons. In contrast to his wife,
he seems disposed to answer questions. He begins by
vehemently denying any responsibility whatsoever in his
daughter's disappearance. As far as the time that David
Payne spent with Kate and her children is concerned, he
now says that the 30 minutes represents the total time
that it took David Payne, after having left Gerry on the
court at 6.30pm, to drop in and see Kate, go to his
apartment to get changed and get back dressed to play
tennis. But the court was reserved from 6 to 7pm. Why
did David go back at 7pm, ready to play, when he knew
there wasn't time?
SEAN AND AMELIE'S HEAVY SLEEPING.
Questioned about the twins, who on the night of the
tragedy, stayed deeply asleep in spite of the comings
and goings, the shouts and the arrival of the police,
Gerald admits having been astonished himself that they
did not wake up in the middle of such a racket. To begin
with, he even thought that the children had been drugged
- by the abductor, you understand -, but he only spoke
to the police about it later.
From the start, the way the children slept had seemed
suspicious to us and we wanted to have screening tests
carried out: nevertheless, faced with the media coverage
of the case, we had put this off, worried about exposing
the parents to trial by the public. This was a mistake.
It is only three months later that Kate speaks about
this possibility, suggesting that the police proceed
with these tests. The National Institute of Forensic
Medicine let's us know that before proceeding with this
screening, they would need to know what type of sedative
they were looking for. There are hundreds of them on the
market. While the grandfather stated on television that
Kate gave Calpol to the children to get them to sleep,
several months have gone by since May 3rd. Kate, who is
a doctor, must be aware that the time for obtaining
convincing results has largely passed.
It is known that the sudden withdrawal of sedatives can
cause sleep problems. If Kate's journal is to be
believed, the twins suffered from problems of that
nature during the days following their sister's
IRISH FAMILY IN A STATE OF SHOCK.
The McCann couple return to Great Britain after more
than four months spent in the Algarve. It's an almost
triumphant return. The media coverage is such that you'd
think you were witnessing the liberation of hostages
held for years in a far-off country. Gerald McCann is
shown on television carrying his son, as he descends
from the plane. The child's head is against Gerald's
left shoulder and his arms dangling by his sides. Gerald
walks across the tarmac, still holding his son closely
In Ireland, the Smiths are watching the BBC news, which
is broadcasting the event. For them, it's a shock: that
person, they recognise him. That way of carrying his
child, that way of walking...It's the man they saw at
around 10pm on May 3rd, with a little girl, who seemed
to be deeply asleep, in his arms.
This image, brings back with a jolt, that of the man
they encountered in the streets of Vila da Luz, on the
evening of Madeleine's disappearance. It's as if the
scene is repeating itself ....Mr Smith thinking he's
hallucinating, sees the same report on other channels,
ITV and Sky News. From that moment, he is sure: the man
they came across that night was Gerald McCann. Of that
there is very little doubt. Upset by the implications of
this discovery, he alerts the police and waits to be
called back by those in charge of the investigation.
When we receive this information, at the end of
September, we think we finally have the piece that will
allow us to complete the puzzle. Because of this, we may
be able to reconstruct the course of events on that cold
night of May 3rd in Vila da Luz. We have a better
understanding of why Jane Tanner, "sent," the alleged
abductor in the opposite direction to that taken by the
man seen by the Smith family. Suspicion had to be
diverted from Gerald who - if he was the guilty party -
would have taken this route: leaving apartment 5A, the
individual who was carrying the child, did not go east,
towards Murat's house, but west in the direction of the
We decide to get the Smiths back to the Algarve, for a
formal identification of Gerry McCann - by means of
televised images, certainly - direct confrontation being
impossible - and possibly proceed to a reconstruction of
the events of the night of May 3rd. The National
Director of the Judiciary police agrees, the process is
set in motion, all the details are sorted out; all that
remains is to choose the hotel where they will be put
up. But the Smiths were never to come back to Portugal.
After my departure, the PJ were to change their minds.
They asked the Irish police to proceed with interviewing
the witness. That decision was to seriously delay the
process since the Smiths were not interviewed until
several months later. Meanwhile, rumours were to
circulate and people not involved with the investigation
would be made aware of the existence of this witness;
someone allegedly even sought out contact with the
family, without its being known to what end.
THE DISMISSAL OF THE HEAD OF AN INVESTIGATION:
CONSPIRACY OR SUBMISSION?
From The Portuguese Marquis of Pombal to Lord Chatam of
The British Government (1759) It is time to end it. If
my predecessors were spineless enough to grant you
everything you wanted, I will never accord to you any
more than I owe you . This is my final decision and you
will have to get used to it.
Manuel João Paulo Rocha, official and author born in
Estombar on June 24th 1856, relates in his work "Monografia
de Lagos - As Forcas Militares de Lagos nas Guerras da
Restauracao e Peninsular e nas pugnas pela liberdade,"
(Lagos Monograph - Military forces in the restoration
and peninsular wars and in the struggle for freedom.)
how a minister of the realm valiantly defended the
interests of his country against foreign powers. This
involved naval battles between an English fleet and a
few French naval ships in Portuguese territorial waters
between Lagos and the Cape of St Vincent (which in 1759
included the area of Vila da Luz). The Portuguese
government, considering this affront an attack on its
sovereignty, had immediately demanded explanations from
the British government.
The attitude of those in power at that time contrasts
with our present leadership. Nowadays, relations between
independent and sovereign states must respect standards
of democracy, which weren't in force at that time.
Besides, Portugal and Great Britain are now members of
the European Union and have participated in the
development of a constitutional treaty. The firing of
the head of a criminal investigation is just a minor
event in relations between nations: the man is a simple
official who has to submit to the decisions of his
superiors. This is no reason for hiding the grounds for
this dismissal and its damaging effects on the progress
of the investigation. This untimely removal seems to
have been decided not because of incompetence, but for
one moment of carelessness.
FROM COLLABORATION TO PANIC
From the beginning, the parents - perhaps because they
doubted the competence of the Portuguese police - were
set on having Leicestershire police - and not Scotland
Yard - involved in the investigation. It is important to
stress that the professionalism of the English police is
not in question; actually a bonus for the investigation,
their intervention on the ground did not conflict in any
way with Portuguese national sovereignty. On the
contrary, it lies within the framework of international
cooperation between police forces. Faced with the
globalisation of crime, that cooperation becomes
essential. Portugal already works actively with other
countries, whether at the level of justice, of the
Public Ministry, of the juiciary police or the whole
spectrum of police services. In the Algarve for example,
every year, dozens even thousands of rogatory
commissions, border controls, various transmissions of
information are affected. Between May and September, the
judiciary police - through the intermediary of the
Portimão DIC, however tied up they were with the
Madeleine case - actively collaborated with Spanish,
English and French police forces on various cases
(international trafficking of narcotics and money
laundering, fraud, seizure of hundreds of kilos of
cocaine) and affected a good many arrests. We are well
aware of what international cooperation between police
forces is about. It is based on reciprocity, trust and
respect, especially when the investigation is led
jointly by two countries, with foreign investigators on
During the couple's interrogation, at the beginning of
September, the two police forces defined a common
strategy: to go foward with the search for evidence
concerning the crimes of concealment of a corpse and
simulation of abduction; actively pursue investigations
to find the body; get to the bottom of the causes of
death. We realised very quickly that it was not going to
be like that. After the interrogations and the McCanns'
return to England, the British police lost interest in
the case, giving the impression that their work was
finished. We were left to pursue the investigation
alone. It would seem that the reasons for their presence
in our country were linked more to the McCann couple
than to Madeleine. The child disappeared in Portugal,
not in Great Britain. For what reasons did they depart
immediately after the McCanns? A very hard, yet crucial
question to answer.
AN ASTONISHING SHIFT
After the Moroccan lead fizzled out, new elements to the
investigation, sometimes brought by the McCanns
themselves, continued to feed the theory of abduction,
while the British police knew perfectly well we needed
to be looking for a body.
On the last weekend in September, I decide to leave
Portimão to go to my virtually abandoned house in the
Algarvian east. Inès, my four-year-old daughter, goes
with me. She loves the countryside, being in touch with
nature. If she is asked which she prefers, living with
her grand-parents in Faro or with her mother in Portimão,
the answer is immediate: with my daddy. Not so much
because of her father as attachment to the house where
she was born. Here we are then, on the way to her
paradise. We stop on the way to eat, and arrive at our
destination late in the evening. After finding her toys,
she falls asleep very quickly in her canopied bed. The
sun is barely up when she is already about, ready to
visit our neighbours, a retired couple who have found a
peaceful refuge here. Throughout the day, she goes back
knocking on their door, even when they are out. She
spends Saturday steeped in her own world and her games.
For my part, I stay in touch with the DIC in Portmão and
the investigators in charge of the case. I listen to the
news when, once again - things being as they are, this
is becoming the norm - I am speechless: a member of the
McCanns' staff states that they are in possession of a
report that invalidates the work of the EVRD and the CSI
dogs: the absence of a body supposedly does not allow
the results to be confirmed. Would that be the report
from the experts at FSS? How did the McCanns get access
to that confidential information? This is hardly
reassuring and risks compromising the progress of the
This statement makes us think of the challenge thrown at
the Portuguese police, "Find the body and prove that
Madeleine is dead," to which we could have replied with,
"Show us Madeleine and prove that she is not dead."
During the night of Saturday into Sunday, our dog does
not stop barking. I go out but I see nothing and nobody
that could get him so worked up. He then howls by the
door. I don't know what's going on, but being on my own
with Inès, I decide to stay close to her indoors and not
let my anxiety show. The next day, I still don't
understand what could have upset the dog so much. Inès,
anxious, wants at all costs to see the neighbours, but
they haven't returned.
On Monday August 1st, I go back to work at DIC in
Portimão, where two pieces of news are waiting for me:
officials at Buckingham Palace have received an email
informing them that a little girl - Madeleine - has
disappeared from a hotel complex situated....in Lisbon!
The second was brought to us by an English tourist -
Kate - on holiday in Praia da Luz: she allegedly saw a
stranger hanging about near the Baptista supermarket in
the vicinity of the Ocean Club.
This is where we're at: reduced to receiving that type
of tip-off and chasing a phantom, that of the imaginary
abductor. This Monday gets off to a bad start, with its
load of irritation and preoccupations.
BAD RESPONSE TO A JOURNALIST
In the evening, while driving, I receive an unidentified
phone call, the last straw...A journalist asks me if I
want to comment on the subject of the email. Whether due
to the difficult day, the raging storm or the fact of
driving through rain...I lose my cool. I reply,
irritably, without thinking, that the message is of no
interest and that it would be better for the English
police to occupy themselves with the Portuguese
investigation. Even as I am hanging up, I realise that I
have not only made a blunder, but I have been unfair
towards the majority of the British police who have
helped us throughout these difficult months. I drive on,
certain that I have triggered a diplomatic incident with
predictable consequences: as soon as these simple words
are made public, I risk not being able to continue to
direct the Portimão Department of Criminal
At last, I get home. It's when I visit my neighbours
that I finally understand the reason for my dog's
agitation the previous night. Their house has been
burgled. The thieves left behind lots of valuable
objects but snatched a briefcase containing personal
documents. Deep down, I can't help thinking that perhaps
they mistook their target.
The next morning, the storm and the rain have still not
let up. A bad sign...Accompanied by Guilhermino
Encarnação, I have to go to Huelva, in Spain, to attend
the commemorative ceremonies for national police day.
Before meeting up with him, I see on the front page of
the newspaper the phrase I came out with the night
before, transformed into a long interview. When I meet
Guilhermino, I let him know about my outburst. He
immediately tries to contact the national director to
explain to him what happened, but can't get hold of him.
We arrive at Huelva Cathedral in time to hear the homily
from the bishop of the diocese, dedicated to - this is
no coincidence - the role of the police and the
protection of children. A choir starts singing Charles
Gounod's Ave Maria. Finally a moment of respite in the
middle of the storm raging outside. We then go on to the
Iberian-American Forum at La Rabida, close to the
convent of the same name. It is in this monastry that
Christopher Columbus stayed, waiting for financial
backing from the Catholic Queen Isabelle before
undertaking his voyage of discovery to the New World.
On the way, Guilhermino receives a phone call from the
public prosecutor, from then on responsible for the
direction of the investigation. Having taken part the
night before in a broadcast by a British television
channel, where he was questioned about the lack of
professionalism by the Portuguese police, he is calling
to assure us of his support. Knowing our work pretty
well, he is outraged by the injustice of such words and
hints that, much to the contrary, we would deserve
praise and thanks.
THE DISMISSAL: END OF A CAMPAIGN OF DEFAMATION AND
At the Forum, where we attend the ceremony presided over
by the government representative for the province of
Huelva, I meet some friends and acquintances. It is
shortly after 2pm, in the middle of lunch, that I
receive the news. The National Director has sent a fax
to the Portimão DIC: in it, he stipulates the end of my
assignment and requests my return to Faro. Today,
October 2nd, is my 48th birthday; this is not the
present I wanted, but one that I was expecting.
Basically, this brings to an end a campaign of
defamation and insults that I have been the target of
since the start of the case, the whole thing
orchestrated and amplified by the British media. The
strategy is simple: call into question the investigation
and those who lead it and, at the same time, present
Portugal as a Third-World country with a legal system
and police force worthy of the Middle Ages.
According to a British correspondent, the Prime Minister
personally called Stuart Prior to ask for confirmation
of my dismissal. Why would the head of the British
government be interested in a lowly Portuguese official?
We refuse to believe the rumours going around, according
to which the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon was
dependent on my dismissal. Rumours, of course, nothing
more. I cannot help but think that for the first time in
its history, the judiciary police has dismissed a simple
official from his post because of external pressure.
Those wise words addressed by the Marquis of Pombal to
his English ally in the year of Our Lord 1759 seem far
removed: "I will never accord to you any more than I owe
RIA DE ALVOR, ONE YEAR ON.
A GLANCE AT THE PAST AND CASTING AN EYE TO THE FUTURE.
May 8th 2008, Ababuja restaurant.
For several months now, I have not had the pleasure of
spending any time in the company of my friend and
colleague, Tavares de Almeida. We decide to grab a bite
to eat at Ababuja, one of a number of restaurants on the
banks of the Alvor, opposite the fish market. We used to
go there from time to time - a year ago - for lunch or
dinner with English colleagues who were involved in the
investigation. The restaurant is full, the clientele
mostly British. Amazingly, we pass unnoticed and manage
to enjoy some privacy. At last, a long way from the
investigation, we find ourselves alone and appreciating
the sunshine on this fine afternoon, its rays reflecting
on the calm waters of the river that separates Lagos
from Portimão, where the investigation was played out.
Although Tavares is pleased to say that the whole affair
is behind us, our conversation inevitably goes back to
Madeleine's disappearance: we recall the extraordinary
work that was accomplished, the research, searches of
properties, interrogations, the expert opinions,
analyses carried out with the sole aim of understanding
what happened....and the bitterness of having failed to
find the little girl.
- Do you remember the conclusions we reached after the
- Oh, let it go, it's over.
- You believe it's possible to forget? We shouldn't
disregard the past but build on it to move forward.
- Eh, my friend, our Benefica has certainly got a past
too, and look what it's become nowadays.
- In fact, experience has taught them nothing.
- They've moved quickly on to other things..
- Exactly, let's not forget what has happened to that
- It's impossible. What I want to erase from my memory
is the cruelty committed by certain people.
- To go back to our conclusions, I am convinced that
those who would like to refute them would have a hard
time doing so.
- That's certain, since they rest on the facts, the
clues and the concrete evidence.
A DISAPPEARANCE, A WINDOW AND A BODY
It is now important to present a summary of this case,
based on our deductions: reject what is false, throw out
what we can't show with sufficient certainty and
validate that which can be proven.
1. The theory of abduction was defended from the start
by Maddie's parents.
2. In their group, only the McCanns state that they saw
the bedroom window open. The others cannot confirm it
since they arrived at the apartment after the alert was
3. The only person to have seen that window open with
the shutters raised is Amy, one of the play workers from
the children's centre of the Ocean Club. She made that
observation at around 10.20/1030pm, which means well
after the alert - which doesn't exclude that the window
could have been closed at the time of the criminal act.
4. The witness statements raise a great number of
inaccuracies, inconsistencies and contradictions. Jane
Tanner's witness statement in favour of the theory of
abduction is probably false: little by little it has
lost all credibility because of successive modifications
introduced by Jane, modifications that have ended up
5. The body, the existence of which has been confirmed
by the EVRD and CSI dogs but also by the results of the
preliminary laboratory analyses, cannot be found.
The conclusions my team and I have arrived at are the
1. The minor, Madeleine McCann died inside apartment 5A
of the Ocean Club in Vila da Luz, on the night of May
2. There was simulation of abduction.
3. Kate Healy and Gerald McCann were probably involved
in the concealment of their daughter's body.
4. The death may have occurred as a result of a tragic
5. The evidence proves the parents' negligence
concerning the care and safety of the children.
The sun is going down over this beautiful countryside.
Children are playing under the watchful gaze of their
parents. I think about the enthusiasm that was
characteristic of him when I met Tavares in November
1981, at the judiciary police school, and which still
fires him. The past seems distant, but it's not
forgotten. We gave the best of ourselves to resolve this
case. Our conclusions rest on the proven facts and the
evidence interpreted within the principles of the law.
Our work was done in the cause of justice, based on the
material truth, the only thing that must prevail in a
universe where the lie is raised up as truth.