On May 3, 2007, three-year-old Madeleine McCann vanished from her bed at a resort in Algarve, Portugal. What had been a fun-filled family vacation to the southern European country turned into every parent’s worst nightmare. Police immediately began investigating the case and a worldwide search for the little girl ensued. But days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, and months turned to years. Now, more than a decade later, Madeleine’s whereabouts still remain a mystery.
After Netflix released a documentary on her disappearance in March 2019, a woman watching the special recognized the man from the sketch.
Madeleine McCann Went Missing On a Family Vacation
Since her disappearance, Madeleine’s story has garnered worldwide interest. With a new Netflix documentary, The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, streaming on the platform, people the world over are still wondering what happened to this sweet little girl years ago.
A slew of theories have emerged, including one surrounding a mysterious homeless teen with a British accent found living in Rome. Could it possibly be her? Your heart will break as you learn what detectives have to say now.
The McCann Family Was Seemingly Perfect
Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, met in 1993 and married in 1998. Madeleine was described as “a long-awaited and longed-for little girl.” Everyone that knew the family considered them to be picture perfect.
In 2007, the family of five took a vacation to Portugal. But this seemingly innocent trip would change their lives forever in a way no one could have anticipated. Her parents had no idea they would come back as a family of four. Or did they?
They Vacationed With a Big Group of Friends
On April 28, 2007, the McCanns arrived in Portugal where they were staying at a Praia de Luz resort. The McCann family was traveling with seven other friends and a total of eight children. Kate and Gerry were both physicians and the majority of the group also worked in medicine.
The other families included: Fiona and David Payne, Fiona’s mother, and their two children; Jane Tanner and Russell O’Brien and their two children; Matthew and Rachel Oldfield and their daughter as well.
These friendships would be tested by what happened next. And perhaps destroyed.
The Group Were Old Pals
Almost every night the adults would all dine together around 8:30 at the tapas restaurant located at the resort where they were staying. The McCann family had been close with the Payne family, in particular, for years. Kate and Fiona had known each other since they worked together at the Leicester General Hospital’s intensive care unit.
The Paynes were responsible for introducing the McCanns to the other couples. Because of their work, Gerry, Russell, and Matthew had also known each other for years. The families were looking forward to a fun-filled memorable weekend but what ended up happening was absolutely beyond imagination.
Praia de Luz Is Picturesque
Praia de Luz is a small town in Portugal. Praia de Luz means the “beach of the light” in Portuguese. The beach town was originally founded as a fishing settlement. Nowadays it is largely a resort town and the local economy has shifted as well from primarily fishing to tourism.
The McCann family were certainly not the only UK residentsto venture to the beautiful destination. It remains a common destination for others throughout Europe including the UK, Ireland, France, and Germany.
Apartment 5A: The Scene of the Crime
The McCanns arrived on to Praia De Luz on Saturday, April 28, 2007, for a spring break trip. They planned to stay for seven full nights. The town also has a very British concentration and is known by some as “Little Britain.” They rented an apartment through a British vacation company called Mark Warner, located at 5A Rua Dr. Agostinho da Silva, which was an apartment owned by a fellow Brit from Liverpool.
The apartment was a bottom floor apartment with two bedrooms. There were five other apartments in a series and the other families on the trip were staying in the other apartments. Everything about this gorgeous complex seemed safe.
What Happened In This Room?
The McCanns’ children stayed in the bedroom closest to the front door. Gerry and Kate always kept the door locked. The bedroom had one window that was about waist high. It was outfitted with both curtains and a metal exterior shutter, Gerry and Kate kept those shut as well. Madeleine was sleeping in a single bed that was closest to the door and her little brother and sister slept in cots in the middle of the room.
Outside of the window was a small walkway. Gerry and Kate felt like their kids were secure inside the room because they were careful, did their research, and kept the doors and windows locked. Everything seemed to be peaceful in the quaint little beach town, but only to the untrained eye.
One Evening Changed Everything
On the morning of May 3, 2007, little Madeleine made a strange comment at breakfast. She asked her parents why they didn’t come when she and her brother cried the previous night. Her mother brushed aside the comment, thinking nothing of it at the time although she did note that there was a strange brown stain on Madeleine’s pajama shirt.
That night the “tapas seven” — the nickname given to the group of adults on the trip with the McCanns — went out for dinner at the nearby tapas restaurant at the resort. The McCanns left their children asleep in the apartment, tucked away. The doors were only able to be locked from the inside so the McCann family left them unlocked.
Coming up: new theories have emerged in little Madeleine’s case.
As the adults of the trip laughed and dined at the nearby restaurant, their children slept soundly in their apartments. The adults of the trip, including the McCanns, regularly left the restaurant continuously throughout the night in order to check on the kids. At around 9:05 PM, Gerry McCann checked on the kids and they were soundly asleep.
He did however notice something strange, he remembered pulling the door almost all the way shut and now it was wide open. He must have thought his mind was playing tricks on him so he again pushed the door till it was almost shut leaving it only slightly ajar. Gerry then returned to the restaurant.
A Parent’s Worst Nightmare
At around 9:30 PM, Kate was going to check on the kids, but Matthew Oldfield was going to check on his own kids and said he would check in on the McCann children as well. He noticed that the door was wide open but heard no noises so he thought everything was fine and didn’t look far enough to see if Madeleine was there.
Kate later checked on her own around 10 PM. She also noticed the kid’s bedroom was wide open. She tried to close the door but she could feel a draft and saw that the bedroom window was open. It was then that she noticed Madeleine was gone. Her comfort blanket and her Cuddle Cat remained behind but the precious girl was nowhere to be seen. Kate searched the apartment quickly, but could not find her and ran back to the restaurant screaming “Madeleine’s gone! Someone’s taken her!”
The Search Begins
Immediately after Madeleine was found to be missing, Gerry McCann sent his friend Matthew to the reception desk in order to call the police. The resort immediately began protocol for missing children and at least 60 staff members and guests began searching into the early morning hours.
Across the island people were screaming her name, thinking perhaps the little girl had wandered off. Officers soon arrived on the scene and also brought patrol dogs and then search and rescue dogs to search for Madeleine in various natural and man-made features in the surrounding territory. Police also waited until the previous morning to put up roadblocks around 10 AM. Soon British police also got involved although it would remain a Portuguese operation.
A Strange Sighting
Soon, as police began investigating the disappearance, it was revealed that there were two separate sightings that may have actually bared witness to Madeleine being taken. First, Jane Tanner, one of the other adults on the McCann trip, said she saw a man carrying a child that night. She said when she had gone to check on her own daughter around departing at 9:00 PM, she passed Madeleine’s father who was making his way back after the check he did at 9:05 PM.
Gerry McCann was seen chatting with a fellow vacationing Brit, but neither one of the men remember seeing Jane. Jane was later accused of making up the sighting entirely. She remained steadfast that she saw a man carrying a young child heading away from the apartments.
The Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann Premiered on March 15
The disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann shocked the nation and is now chronicled in a Netflix documentary. The eight-episode series is the first of its kind for Netflix and will include interviews with key figures and investigators.
As Netflix looks to expand its offerings in the true crime genre, the company is dishing up a handful of new series. Netflix’s series Making a Murder detailed the mysterious case of Robert Durst and was very successful. Last year Netflix released a controversial one-part series about Amanda Knox, including interviews with Knox herself.
While watching the documentary, a woman recognized the suspect in the footage.
A Woman Recognized The Man In The Footage
Before the documentary series aired on Netflix, McCann’s parents released in a statement, “we did not see- and still do not see- how this program will help the search for Madeleine.” However, they might have been wrong.
After watching the documentary, a woman who is a long-retired worker of the Praia Da Luz resort where McCann went missing spoke up. She recognized the man in the grainy footage. Remaining anonymous for her protection, the woman reported to Portuguese authorities that the man was German pedophile Martin Ney. His profile also matched the police sketch.
Who is Martin Ney?
Martin Ney Was In The Area When She Disappeared
The former worker named a German man, Martin Ney, as the suspect in the footage. So who is he? Ney was working at a homeless shelter run by an evangelical church in the same vicinity as the resort where the McCanns were staying. The 48-year-old is now serving a life sentence in a German prison for the murder of three boys between 1992 and 2001.
According to the documents which led to his sentence, Ney would sneak into the children’s bedrooms while they slept, sedate them, and kidnap them. While in custody, Ney said something to another prisoner that has led investigators to name him the prime suspect in the 12-year-old case.
While In Prison, Ney Let Something Slip
While serving his life sentence in a German prison, convicted pedophile Martin Ney said something to another prisoner that further alerted authorities. According to reports, he let information slip to another inmate that only someone involved in McCann’s disappearance would know.
According to The Daily Beast, Ney’s lawyer refused to respond as to whether his client has been questioned in the case, but Portuguese authorities are continuing to investigate the reports from both the German prison and the woman who identified Ney from the documentary.
What Is the ‘Pact of Silence’?
The Netflix documentary The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann premiered on March 15, 2019. The eight-part series takes viewers on an emotional roller coaster, detailing facts from the case, as well as theories as to what happened and where Madeleine is today.
But one part of the documentary viewers can’t overlook is the ‘Pact of Silence.’ This is the title of episode three and is inspired by a controversial article written by Portuguese journalists Margarida Davim and Felícia Cabrita. Within the article, the two insinuate that the McCanns and the friends they were vacationing with, made an agreement to not talk about what happened on the night of May 3, 2007.
Details on the ‘Pact of Silence’ only get more compelling from here.
Cabrita Doesn’t Think the McCann’s Story Checks Out
The journalists wrote about the pact because they found it odd that the families involved weren’t initially considered suspects. In the documentary, Cabrita says, “We know that in most cases, the culprit is someone who is close to the child.” Cabrita also notes how many details the McCanns gave the police simply don’t add up.
The journalist herself went to the restaurant the group of friends ate at the night of Madeleine’s disappearance. But while Kate told police they had a “line of sight to the apartment,” Cabrita claims that there was limited visibility no matter where you sit in the establishment.
A Mistaken Sight
Jane said that the child was wearing light colored pajamas that had a floral pattern on the cuff and legs which was similar to what Madeleine had been wearing. She said the man was white with dark hair, around 5’7” and appeared to be in his late 30s. While she told the police, they did not pass on the info to the media until the end of May.
In 2013, Scotland Yard said they identified who the mysterious man was. It turned out that the Jane had seen a fellow Brit vacationer who was getting his own daughter from the crèche of the resort. The girl’s pajamas were similar to what Jane said and coincidentally close to what Madeleine was wearing as well. Yet, there had also been another sighting that night.
The Smith Sighting
That night there was another sighting of a man carrying a child by an Irish couple named Martin and Mary Smith, on holiday from Ireland. At around 10 PM, the Smiths saw a man walking away from the direction of the apartment carrying a small child. They noted that the girl was around three or four years old, she had blonde hair and fair skin, had on light colored pajamas and bare feet.
They also noted the man looked uncomfortable carrying the little girl. They also said that the man looked to be in his mid-30s was around 5’7” or 5’9” with a slim build and short brown hair. In 2013, Scotland Yard also said that this sighting seemed to be consistent with the time in which Madeleine was taken. However, the mysterious man was not the only suspect in the case.
Robert Murat is a British Portuguese man who was living in Praia de Luz at the time of Madeline’s disappearance. He was the first to be named a suspect after a journalist said he had been asking a lot of questions about the case. On May 15th, his home and cars were searched, as well as his pools drained, and sniffing dogs brought on the site.
By 2008, he was finally cleared of suspect status, as no evidence was found linking him to Madeline. In 2008, he also received a large libel settlement after being accused of various atrocious crimes in reference to the case. In 2014, he was questioned again as part of Operation Grange, which was started by then Home Secretary Theresa May attempting to inquire into the disappearance.
Up next: Madeleine is back in the spotlight…
A Possible Sighting On TV?
In 2014 the Madeleine McCann case was brought back under the spotlight again after an image of a young girl bearing a strong resemblance to Maddie at a televised soccer game went viral. The image from the Europa League final match was shared by hundreds on social media who were hoping this might lead investigators to the missing girl, however others were quick to point out that the girl in the image appeared to be much younger than Maddie would have been at that time.
In the end police dismissed it as a lead, however Madeleine’s parents were grateful that people were still concerned for their daughters whereabouts, with a source close to the family telling the New Zealand Herald, “What is encouraging is that it shows everyone is still looking for Madeleine. That will give her family great strength.”
Her Parents Claim Innocence
Soon after the disappearance, the grieving parents, the McCann’s themselves, had the suspicion cast on to them. Even though they had begun hiring their own investigators almost immediately after their daughter’s disappearance. They were soon questioned by a German journalist if they had a part in the disappearance.By September of that year, they were officially named suspects.
The McCann’s started a fund in order to continue the search of Madeline. They had many notable contributors including Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. People speculated constantly against the McCann’s in the media. They often focused on Kate and her appearance and demeanor. Ultimately, the McCann’s sued multiple people including Gonçalo Amaral the former police inspector on the case as well as several newspapers.
The Media Obsessed Over the Parents
The media focused majorly on the McCann’s and whether or not they had something to do with the disappearance of their daughter. The case is arguably one of the most highlighted in modern history and could be compared to the disappearance of famed pilot Charles Lindbergh’s baby.
Various media outlets have focused on the disappearance over the years including pundits like Nancy Grace. Experts have also said that the case marks one of the first times that people had to face “trial by media” particularly in the new age of social media in which people can speculate wildly among each other across various platforms.
Mistakes In The Investigation
It was later revealed that tons of mistakes were made during the early investigation. Police at the border and at sea were not given proper notification of Madeleine for many hours. No door to door searches were made, roadblocks weren’t put up until the next morning.
The road company called Euroscut which monitors the local roads said they weren’t approached for information. Interpol didn’t issue a global missing person alert for five days. Also, people who were staying at the resort were not interviewed and the crime scene was not secured, nor were the surroundings directly outside of the apartment and many people trampled the area likely also destroying evidence.
The McCann’s now think that Madeleine’s strange comments the morning she went missing about crying out the previous night, may have suggested that someone entered the room that night. Her parents also noted that the resort staff had left a note in the message book about the adults of the trip reserving a spot at the restaurant and that the kids were asleep in the apartments.
They now believe someone may have seen that note, thus alerting them that the kids were alone. Obviously, above all the families likely regret leaving their children alone when it seems quite likely that someone was lying in wait for such a moment. In 2012, investigators released a time-lapsed image which would have shown Madeleine as a nine-year-old girl.
There have been dozens of conspiracy theories to spring up over little Madeleine McCann over the years. One such theory blames the McCanns for the accidental death of their daughter which they covered up. Of course, the McCanns totally deny such a theory calling it ridiculous.
Other theories over the years include that Madeleine was killed in a botched robbery that night. Others have said that she simply wandered out that night looking for her parents. While others suggest far more sinister ideas, like Madeleine being sold into human trafficking. Most recently, the Portuguese police revealed that they are after a person of interest in her disappearance, a former worker at the Ocean Club resort where the disappearance took place. Hopefully, Madeleine is somewhere safe and alive and can be happily reunited with her family one day.
Did She Pass Away In the Apartment?
While Madeleine’s parents hold out hope that she is still alive and will one day be reunited with them, one investigator close to the case is convinced this will never happen. Moita Flores who was a criminal investigator working with the Policia Judiciaria that initially lead the search for Madeleine when she first disappeared, revealed in 2017 that he strongly believes the little girl never made it out of the apartment alive ten years ago. He told The Sun magazine, “Maddie died in that apartment, I have no doubt.”
Is It Her?
A homeless English-speaking woman who was discovered in Rome in 2016 sparked speculation that she could be Madeleine McCann, discovered at last. The blonde woman carried no identification and had been sleeping on the streets for quite some time before she was discovered. She refused financial assistance from strangers, who sought to discover her identity. Authorities notified Maddie’s parents, who confirmed that the girl was not their daughter.
A Swedish man named Tahvo Jauhojärvi took to Facebook to alert the public that the mystery woman is, in fact, his 21-year-old daughter Embla Jauhojärvi, who has Asperger’s. He had not seen or heard from her since she left to study in Italy six months before.
McCanns Suing Portuguese Detective?
Kate and Gerry McCann have been at odds with Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral over his beliefs about the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine. He has written several books and even made a documentary that presumes to tell the truth about what happened to her. Amaral was the detective who was initially investigating Madeleine disappearance back in 2007.
The McCann’s have labeled his claims as “nonsense.” Amaral believes that Madeleine was killed, probably accidentally, in the apartment and was never abducted. He furthers believes that the McCann’s actually created the abduction as a distraction from her death. The McCann’s have always denied all allegations of wrongdoing. The McCann’s attempted to sue Amaral various times over both his books and his documentary, however they lost their case in the Portuguese Supreme Court.
Did Portuguese Police Frame McCanns?
Before Goncalo Amaral wrote his first book about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, he already had a contentious relationship with her parents. It was this that allegedly contributed to his resignation as the Chief Inspector. He had also been involved in a police brutality accusations in another missing child case.
A little girl named Joana Cipriano disappeared one month after Madeleine very close to the town of Praia de Luz. Although a body was not found, her mother and uncle later confessed to the killing. However, her mother later said she had been badly beaten by police and was forced to confess. The police stated she had thrown herself down the stairs at the police station and that is why she was bruised.
What To Gain By Police Framing?
Kate McCann’s mother, Susan Healy, has said that a similar thing that has happened with Joana Cipriano’s family is also happening to her daughter and son-in-law. Susan spoke to the Daily Mail saying, “This is a set-up. I know why this is happening – the police are trying to frame them for murder. If there is any evidence to implicate Kate and Gerry in any way then it has been planted.”
Some have stated this has also been done in order to distract away from the issue of missing children in the area. Particularly, because Praia de Luz is known as a tourist hotspot and the way all locals make their money, thus if people stop going because of child abduction people in the area would suffer monetarily.
Most Believed Theory
An esteemed profiler, investigator and author of the book Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, Pat Brown has said she believes that Scotland Yard messed up the investigation of Madeleine’s disappearance. She further has stated that the only plausible belief in the entire situation is that “Madeleine is dead.”
She theorizes that the evidence does not support an abduction, particularly based on the amount of time the crime was supposed to have taken place as well as the evidence at the scene of the crime. She, much like Portuguese Investigator Goncalo Amaral, believes that Madeleine accidentally died and then her death was “covered up.”
Pat Brown, told news.com.au “The evidence supports the theory of an accident occurring through neglect and possible medication.” Others have alleged similar things, such as a French newspaper, shortly after her disappearance, alleged that Madeleine died from an accidental overdose of sleeping medication. Guilhem Battut, who works as an investigative journalist for France Soir, said Portuguese police believed that the evidence indicates that Madeleine had taken sleeping pills in large quantities.
Pat Brown also asserted in her statements that she believes it’s unlikely a trafficker would abduct a British blonde child, as they would know it would generate major attention into the case. Pat Brown also says they are spending money looking in the wrong direction of this case when that money could go towards children who are actually missing.
If the rumors of the McCann’s drugging their daughter, accidentally causing her death, and then disposing of her body, are true – this would not be the only high profile case with a similar modus operandi. Casey Anthony was charged with murder in the death of her daughter, whom she originally claimed was missing. Casey was subsequently found not-guilty after an internationally publicized murder case.
Many have asserted that Casey was regularly drugging her daughter Caylee in order to go out and party with friends, and one night the chloroform she was using was too much for the little girl’s body and she died. Since being found not guilty Casey has stayed widely out of the public eye until 2017 when she granted a bizarre interview with the Associated Press.
In the midst of the 2016 election, a conspiracy called Pizzagate arose which said Hillary Clinton was in the middle of pedophile ring that was covered by a pizza restaurant front. Apparently, the theory grew out of emails talking about eating pizza that were taken in the Russian hacking and subsequent Wikileaks. Theorists somehow formulate the worst, but they were not done there.
In real life, one of the believers of Pizzagate, actually went to the pizza chain purported to be the cover for the pedophile ring and fired a gun in order to “free the children”. Of course, there were no children and he was arrested. Later the theory started to pull in claims from other conspiracy theories as well. These included that John Podesta and his brother Tony were somehow connected to Madeleine McCann’s abduction.
Pizzagate Conspiracists Involve Maddie
John Podesta was the campaign manager for Hillary’s 2016 presidential run. After the whole Pizzagate fiasco people began to tie him to a whole slew of conspiracy theories including one about Madeleine McCann. Conspiracy theorists based this on 2013 police sketches that were borne out of computer generated images.
However, the sketches were actually generated to renew interest in the case. Also, one of the sketches shows a witness not a suspect that was being asked to come in for questioning. Also the sketch purported to show a man between his 20s and 40s while John Podesta would have already been 67 at the time of Madeleine’s abduction.
Maddie’s DNA Found
After Madeline’s disappearance, two British sniffer dogs arrived to Portugal. The dogs were specifically trained to aid in cases such as this, one was a trained to sniff out human blood and the other was trained to sniff out dead bodies. While both dogs were taken to multiple locations, they both alerted in apartment 5A, the place the McCann’s had been staying. The cadaver dog also gave an alert in a car used by the McCann’s.
While DNA samples were apparently inconclusive, the Portuguese police told various journalists that they matched Madeleine 100%. The police theorized that Madeleine had been accidentally killed by a sedative overdose, and then the parents faked her abduction. The police apparently later told Kate and Gerry McCann that if Kate admitted Madeleine died in apartment 5A, she would only be given a two-year sentence and her husband would not be charged. She refused.
Questionable Spending Of Money
After Madeleine’s disappearance, her parents Kate and Gerry started a fund in her name with the sole goal of finding their young daughter. Donations poured in from around the world and they even were given grants from the British government.
Some have criticized their use of the funds as they have allegedly used them to sue various people, including former investigator turned author Goncalo Amaral, for libel. However, the McCann’s have defended themselves and their use of the money. They also state that if the fund were to run out they will continue funding the search for Madeleine themselves the best way they can.
Did Madeleine Wander Off?
Another theory that has arisen after Madeleine’s disappearance is that she possibly wandered off on her own after being left by herself and her young siblings. Many criticized the McCann’s for leaving their children alone in an apartment while they went to have dinner and drink at the local restaurant.
When Kate found her daughter missing she came into the apartment through the back doors, the front door remained locked. The kid’s bedroom was also wide open. If young Madeleine had woken up and could not find her parents it would not be odd for the young girl to leave the apartment to search for them.
Child Trafficking Theories
Another far more sinister theory is that Madeleine was kidnapped by child traffickers. Witnesses have alleged that men had recently been in the area and were collecting money for orphanages, people viewed these men suspiciously.
Some have theorized that because they knew Madeleine and the other children would be left alone at night, as per a note left at the front desk of the resort, they knew she might be an easily acquired target. Other witnesses have claimed to see Madeleine in other many other countries since her abduction including in the such places as Morocco, Spain, England, France and Portugal.
The McCann’s Refused To Answer Questions
When the McCann’s originally submitted for questioning, Kate McCann refused to answer 40 some odd questions during an 11-hour interrogation. The questions included everything from describing the surroundings within the apartment, to if she asked for a priest, to if she Kate herself could sleep, or if Madeleine was taking any medications.
Kate only answered one question. The question was as follows, “Are you aware that in not answering the questions you are jeopardizing the investigation, which seeks to discover what happened to your daughter?” Kate replied, “Yes, if that’s what the investigation thinks.” Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that at the time Kate and Gerry were also under the impression that the Portuguese government was attempting to frame them for their daughter’s disappearance.
Pamela Fenn was an elderly woman who lived in the apartment right above apartment 5A where the McCann family was staying. As was common for the area, Pamela was also an ex-pat from England. She apparently told people that the day before Maddie was reported missing that she could hear the young girl crying loudly for around an hour. She was apparently so worried about it that she even spoke to friends asking for advice on what she should do and whether she should call the police.
Conspiracy theorists have alleged that perhaps Pamela took Maddie because she felt as though she wasn’t being cared for. However, Pamela has since passed away so the truth about this particular theory is not likely to ever be known.
Brenda Leyland was a British woman who took it upon herself to try to investigate the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. She also came to the forefront of media attention after her Twitter account was revealed to be among a dossier of people who were regularly tweeting out disparaging and harassing tweets on Kate and Gerry McCann.
While there was apparently no reasoning for a criminal inquest Sky News in England began pushing the topic and even approached Brenda outside of her home about why she was sending out so many tweets. Less than two days later Brenda Leyland committed suicide. Her adult son later said that she had been “totally destroyed” by what happened as she valued her reputation greatly.
Trial By Media
Many have said that Brenda Leyland was the victim of trial by media. Others have criticized her actions as being akin to an “internet troll” and that she simply could not handle her actions being exposed. Interestingly, her vitriol towards the McCann’s is akin to what ultimately caused her own undoing.
The media has had a complete field day with the Kate and Gerry since the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine. Kate, especially, has been the focus of the media and has been painted as being cold or unfeeling due to the way she conducted herself in the public eye without much care as to people dealing with traumatic situations differently.
The 10-Year Anniversary Came and Went
May 2017 marked ten years since the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The little girl would now be a teenager. While there has been a constant stream of conspiracy theories over the years, there has been very little actual evidence revealed in the case. Sadly, many believe that much of the evidence was destroyed and the investigations were subsequently botched.
Her parents, Kate and Gerry, remain steadfast in one day finding their daughter and bringing her home. Hopefully, people will eventually stop focusing so much on conspiracy theories and instead focus on actually finding out what happened to Madeleine.
Hope Remains For Maddie
One senior investigator on the Madeleine McCann case believes that not only is the missing child alive, but that she’s being kept hidden somewhere “in plain sight.” Detective Dave Edgarstrongly suspects that the girl, who would now be 14, is being held captive and is not even aware that people are searching for her. Edgar, who was hired by the McCanns for three years of the investigation, remains hopeful that the upcoming 10-year anniversary of Maddie’s disappearance could cause someone to come forward with new information.
“In my experience, they (perpetrators) always confide in someone else for whatever reason and that person needs to come forward and speak to the authorities. I would suggest that 10 years, while it seems a long time, would not feel like that to that person with information. What happened on that night would still be fresh in their mind…. We have seen in a number of cases recently where people have come forward and given evidence of events which took place many years ago,” Edgar relayed to Daily Express.
The Search for Madeleine Is Extended
On September 7, 2017, it was announced that the search for Madeleine McCann is being extended. According to Sky News, the Scotland Yard search for the little girl is now being extended, three weeks before its funding was due to run out.
Detectives asked the Home Office for additional funds and time to explore a final theory about her disappearance. Although it has yet to be approved yet, as long as ministers believe the theory is credible and there is a chance of finding Madeleine, the funds and extension should be granted. It is speculated that the detectives will be asking for a large sum to keep a team of three or four on a watching brief.
A Former FBI Agent Says the Case Is Still Solvable
In May 2017, former FBI agent, Mary Ellen O’Toole said she believes the case is still solvable. Although O’Toole is not involved in the investigation, she thinks authorities need to carry out two actions in order to get closer to solving this decade-long case. One of these actions is to re-examine old forensic evidence using new technology. The other is too re-interview key individuals who were at the resort the night Madeleine disappeared.
The Director of Forensic Sciences at George Mason University, O’Toole told Fox News, “I would want to be looking at everyone: employees of the resort, delivery people, guests, customers, vendors there providing music and other services.”
Police Are Looking For a New Person Of Interest
In October 2017, it was announced that the police are hunting a “person of significance” in the case of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance. Although no additional information has been released about the new suspect, the person of interest is considered “critical” to the case. This news came just a weeks after the British police were granted an additional £154,000 to continue the investigation. In total, more than £11 million has been spent on the investigation during the last decade.
The case’s funding was set to expire in September 2017 but was refunded. Former Met Police Detective Colin Sutton said, “One would imagine, if they are getting more money, they feel there’s still some viable line of inquiry that needs investigating.”
Could It Be Her?
In November 2017, a college student named Harriet Brookes claimed to be the long-lost Madeleine McCann. In an online discussion forum, Brookes cited the fact that she has a brown spot on one iris, just like McCann, as well as a freckle on her leg exactly where the missing toddler had one. She shared photos of both similarities.
The posts were apparently made in jest. One of them read, “[r]ight guys. I don’t usually believe in conspiracy theories but honestly I think I’m Madeleine McCann.” Another: “I’m Madeleine McCann and I don’t know what to do with myself.” The physical similarities between the two are quite striking, though.
A Private Detective/Conman’s Unexpected Death
A private detective hired by Madeleine’s family turned up dead, covered in blood, in January 2018. Kevin Halligen boasted of his “James Bond-style” investigative techniques and said that he used ex-CIA, FBI and Special forces members on his team. Unfortunately for Maddie’s parents, Halligen was nothing more than a con man who squandered £300,000 from a fund that was established to help find the girl.
He spent the money on luxury items, travel, and personal chauffeur. A documentarian who knew Halligen well said that there was probably no foul play involved in the death but that the sham spy had spiraled into alcoholism. “His house was full of empty drink bottles. A lot of people wished him ill but his death is almost certainly related to alcoholism,” he told the Independent. Halligen was 56.