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Original Source: EXPRESS: MONDAY17 SEPTEMBER 2008
Monday September 17,2007
By David Pildich and Martin Evans  in Praia da Luz



POLICE in Portugal believe Madeleine McCann may be buried at one of the holiest sites of the Catholic Church

Officers were last night planning to launch a search at Fatima in central Portugal.

Devout Kate and Gerry McCann made a pilgrimage there three weeks after their daughter vanished from their holiday apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz.

Just four days later they rented a car which police believe the couple used to return to the shrine and dispose of Madeleine’s body.

The search in Fatima is said to be one of a series to be carried out over the next few days. It comes as it was claimed yesterday that Kate could be charged with her daughter’s murder.

In just five weeks the McCanns clocked up 1,709 miles in the car and police want to question them about every journey they made. The couple claim they ran up the mileage making

frequent return trips from the resort to Faro Airport 55 miles away.

They were picking up and dropping off family and friends who stayed with them as they mounted their campaign to find Madeleine, who vanished on May 3.

But a police source told the Daily Express yesterday that officers were not satisfied with the explanation the McCanns gave them.

They now believe the couple made the 500-mile return trip to Fatima to dispose of their daughter’s body.

It is one of the few places in Portugal outside the Algarve that the McCanns are known to have visited in the days after Madeleine disappeared.

Officers want to examine a pasture called the Cova da Iria near the village of Aljustrel a mile from Fatima – where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to three children in 1917.

Police believe Madeleine died as a result of an accident and her body was hidden before being moved in the McCanns’ hire car.

They are convinced Gerry and Kate McCann’s devotion to their faith played a key role in how they supposedly disposed of the body.

The McCanns’ visit to Fatima on May 23 was the first of a series of organised trips to raise awareness for their campaign to find their missing daughter.

By the time they signed a rental agreement on a Renault with Budget Rentacar at Faro Airport on May 27, Fatima was one of the few places in Portugal they had been to. Detectives are said to be “very concerned” about the high mileage of the hire car and believe the couple may have travelled a long distance to dispose of Madeleine’s body.

A source close to the investigation said: “We are looking for a final resting place for the little girl.

“We now believe the movements of the car in the days after it was hired are the key to solving the mystery.

“Everywhere they have been will be thoroughly examined. They did not know Portugal well. The only familiar places will be the ones they visited.

“They have said the only places they drove to were around the resort and to and from the airport but that does not account for the mileage they did in the car.”

Body fluids with an 88 per cent DNA match to Madeleine were found in the spare tyre well under the carpet in the boot of the Renault along with clumps of the youngster’s hair.

During police interviews the McCanns were shown a video of a sniffer dog “going crazy’’ when it approached their hire car.

Police had previously been working on the theory that Madeleine’s body was dumped in the sea near the beach in Praia da Luz.

The British dogs brought in by South Yorkshire Police allegedly detected a trail of death from the family’s Ocean Club apartment down to the sea front.

Experts in tidal movements were called in to try to establish scientifically where a body may have been washed up. Another theory was that Madeleine’s body was placed in a sack and weighed down with rocks.


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