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Did they want my girl? EXCLUSIVE SEARCH FOR MADELEINE DAY 206

HOMEPAGE NEWS REPORTS INDEX NEWS NOVEMBER 2007
Original Source:  SUNDAY MIRROR: 25 NOVEMBER 2007
By Lori Campbell And David Hudson 25/11/2007
 
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 raining.

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 terrifying."

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 Madeleine."

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 play.

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 vanished.

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'

http://www.sundaymirror.co.uk/news/sunday/2007/11/25/did-they-want-my-girl-98487-20157861/

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