A British mum has told how a woman resembling Robert Murat's girlfriend tried
to enter the apartment where her daughter was - just a month before Madeleine
McCann was abducted.
Karen Sixsmith says the woman looked like Murat's
lover Michaela Walczuch, who is a Jehovah's Witness.
She knocked at her door in the same Portuguese holiday complex where Madeleine
was taken and claimed to be a Jehovah's Witness.
Accompanied by a man, the mystery woman was anxious to get into the apartment
where Karen's own daughter Kate was. She said she wanted to discuss her faith.
Deeply unsettled by the incident, Karen called Leicester
police - the McCanns' local force - after Madeleine disappeared to report her
concerns. But she heard nothing back.
Now, after studying pictures of German-born Walczuch,
34, who has been linked to two alleged sightings of Madeleine, Karen has come
forward again. And she believes it was Walczuch who
called at her door - "I just can't get it out of my head that it may have
been Murat and his girlfriend on my doorstep."
Her testimony - given to the Sunday Mirror so we could pass it on to the
McCanns' private investigators Metodo 3 in Barcelona - comes after Walczuch's alibi for the night Madeleine vanished from
Praia da Luz was contradicted. She had claimed to
have been at a Jehovah's Witness meeting. For their holiday, Karen and husband
Graham had rented an apartment at the Ocean Club complex opposite the one later
occupied by the McCanns.
Two days after they arrived, the family decided to stay in because it was
But at 12.30pm, they were surprised to hear a knock on the door, especially as
the apartment block was deserted as it was out of season at the end of March.
Karen said: "It was a blonde woman, 35 to 40 years old, English-speaking.
She had a pamphlet and I knew straight away that she was a Jehovah's Witness.
She asked if she could come into the apartment to talk about her faith. I took
the pamphlet from her and closed the door. I now think it may have been Murat
and his girlfriend."
The couple, from Bowden, Cheshire,
believe the visit could have been a distraction while a third person checked
out the access to the apartment. Electrician Graham, 50, said: "It's a bit
scary, looking back." Karen added: "I have thought ever since
Madeleine disappeared that Kate could have been a target - and that is
Kate is strikingly similar to Madeleine. Her mum said: "Kate would have
stood out a mile with her blonde hair and blue eyes - just like
Karen told how, having seen Walczuch's photo in
newspapers, she now believes it was her knocking at their door. "I
remember her features very clearly," she said. And when photographer Karen
read Walczuch had claimed in her alibi to be a
Jehovah's Witness, she felt sure it was her who had knocked at the door.
Her testimony is made even more significant by yesterday's revelation that Walczuch was booted out of the Jehovah's Witnesses a year
ago - a direct contradiction to the alibi she gave police. She told them she
was at a Jehovah's meeting in Lagos,
four miles from Praia da Luz, on the night of May 3.
But church elder Brother Teofilo Castila
said: "She was thrown out of the church a year ago."
Last week a lorry driver contacted investigators to say he saw a girl he
believes was Madeleine in a car with Walczuch on May
5 at Silves, 25 miles from Praia da
Luz. And Spanish tourist Isabel Gonzalez, 60, alleges she saw Madeleine with Walczuch in Morocco
on June 15.
In a separate development, a nanny has come forward to say she saw Murat, 34,
trying to open the window of apartment
5A six months before Madeleine was snatched as she slept.
The Ocean Club worker contacted Metodo 3 to say she
found him outside the flat where she was babysitting a boy of six.
She said it was a Thursday night - the same night Madeleine vanished - because
it was "tennis night" at the resort and the boy's parents had gone to
When she saw the man trying to lift the shutters, she shouted and he ran off.
The nanny identified him to Metodo 3 as Murat.
Meanwhile, another witness has said he found porn on Murat's laptop when he
went to see web expert Sergey Malinka, a pal of
Murat's, four years ago. He was told it belonged to Murat, but had been with Malinka to be repaired. His statement contradicts claims by
Malinka and Murat - who deny any involvement - that they had not known each other for long before Madeleine
The McCanns faced new slurs in Portuguese paper 24 Horas
that they were investigated for selling Madeleine to a criminal gang
"because of financial difficulties". But detectives found the couple
had no money problems.
'She claimed to be Jehovah's Witness'