As a lover of solving detective cases, I'm in shock with this one. It brings me a mixture of sadness, anger, curiosity and fascination. Unfortunately, every day different children go missing. The peculiarity of this case? The circumstances. There is absolutely no way that after 15 years, the 'Madeleine McCann case' still remains unsolved.
The 3-year-old British Madeleine McCann went missing at a resort in Algarve, Portugal, on May 3rd 2007. Maddy's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann were having dinner with some friends at a restaurant located approximately 90 metres from the apartment Madeleine was in (apt 5A), together with her younger twin siblings.
During the night of the disappearance, Madeleine was tired and asked to be carried home by her parents. Kate McCann read some stories to the children, who slept quickly, and later left to eat dinner. During this family trip, the McCanns were accompanied by seven other friends: three couples, the mother of one of the friends, and eight children. Wishing to have a fun and enjoyable night, the adults ate together at the resort restaurant at approximately 8:45 PM.
Because the parents had no nannies or baby services, -- whose decision was based on the fact a nanny would interrupt the children's routine -- the adults decided they would check on the children every half an hour, and so they did, during the entire trip. According to the family, they were one of the firsts to arrive at the diner on the night of Madelaine's disappearance. The first adult that went to check on the children was Gerry, her father, at 9:05 pm, who confirmed the children were all sleeping normally.
A significant detail to highlight is that the apartment door could only be locked on the inside. Therefore, they had to keep the door unlocked from the outside for them to be able to come in. Unfortunately, that meant everyone else could come inside as well.
At 9:25 PM, Matt Oldfield, one of the friends, offered to check on the kids instead of Kate McCann. He went to the apartment, however, did not go inside the children's room. According to him, there was light coming from the room and he heard a sound as if one of the kids were rolling over. No other sounds were heard, so he left satisfied and unworried, without having evidenced the presence of Madeleine at that moment.
At around 10:00 PM it was Kate's turn to check on her kids. She went to the apartment and saw more light than she was expecting, while the door to the kids' room was way more open than it should have been. When arriving close to the door, the wind slammed the door shut. Suspicious and tense, the mother opened the door again and realised Maddy's bed was empty, and the window was wide open. The twins were sleeping quietly, and Madeleine was gone.
Desperate, she ran to the restaurant and screamed ''someone's taken Madelaine!''. Since the beginning, she was sure her little girl was taken by someone, and did not just wander off alone. However, this certainty of hers did not stop her from looking. They contacted the hotel and began looking for the blonde 3-year-old girl at every corner. The borders of the hotel were closed, encuring that no one could leave or enter. If Madeleine was still in that area, she would be found.
At 12:00 AM the Portuguese Judicial Police (FBI) became acquainted with the case and rushed to 'Ocean Club', the resort. However, since everyone had looked through the inside of the apartment, to endure that the girl was not hiding; once the police arrived to investigate, all evidence became trampled. There were clothes everywhere, cupboards mixed up, and nothing that could help the police anymore. They began investigating the hotel area, at last, looking for evidence and traces before they disappeared or were covered, until four in the morning.
In one of the interrogations with one of the McCann's friends, Jane Tanner said that at around 9:15 PM she went to check on her own kids. While walking through the hotel territory, she spotted a man carrying a child on his shoulders, at the corner of the McCann's apartment, wearing light coloured pyjamas and barefoot. It later occurred to her that she might have witnessed the kidnapping of Madeleine McCann.
Martin Smith, a guest of the resort, also saw the same man matching Jane's descriptions at about 10:00 PM. Coincidentally, the time of suspicion of Maddy's disappearance is around 10 at night. The problem is, because Matt Oldfield didn't enter the apartment during his shift, at 9:25 PM, the child could have already gone missing at that time. This uncertainty will never be uncovered.
Another question that emerged during the case was that the morning prior the dissapearance, May 2nd, Madeleine asked her mother, ''Mummy, why didn't you come when Sean [one of the twins] and I were crying?''. What did Madeleine mean? Why were the kids crying? A possible theory is that the kidnapper came on the day before, intending to abduct McCann, however, gave up on the crime and succeeded on the following day only. This will also be an eternal question.
On the 4th, Kate and Gerry went to give statements to the police about their perspective of the evening. They stressed the fact of the window being open, the apartment being unlocked and Jane Tanner's observation. The police officer asked her, ''Kate, is this your first trip to Portugal?''. Confidently, she responded, ''Yes, but it's going to be the last''. The police reinforced that they would do everything in their hands to find the girl. Maddy's parents were trying to have a child for years, and could not do so, resulting in IVF. It's hard to imagine the parents' frustration for the love and care they had for Madeleine, and having her disappear.
The following day everyone looked for Madeleine and began spreading photocopied pictures through town. Kate and Gerry gave their first raw public statement twenty-four hours after missing.. Gerry said: ''Words cannot describe the anguish and despair that we are feeling as the parents of our beautiful daughter Madeleine. We request that anyone who might have any information related to Madeleine's disappearance, no matter how trivial, contact the Portuguese police and help us get her back safely. Please, if you have Madeleine, let her come home to her mummy, daddy, brother, and sister…''.
TOP 3 MAIN SUSPECTS
1. Gerry and Kate McCann (the parents)
Sniffer dogs from the police reacted to the McCann apartment and the car that the McCann rented 24h after the girl's disappearance. After sending samples for testing, they became suspects. The police theory was that they accidentally killed their daughter by giving her a seduction to sleep, but then Madeleine never woke up. So, they rented the car and buried her in the bushes, and faked her abduction.
A crime expert was contacted, and she explained that it is practically impossible to jump through the window with a 3-year-old child, making all sorts of noise, but without waking the other two children, suggesting she died in the apartment.
When giving a statement to the police, Gerry mentioned that they chose to dine at a table that had a direct sight at the apartment therefore, they could see who was coming in and out, even if they weren't paying attention all the time. However, the police, when sitting at the table to confirm the statement, denied it was possible to see the apartment, wondering why they would lie about such a simple thing.
In July 2008, the suspicion was removed, because the DNA samples tested were not considered reliable enough. Also, the reliability of the sniffer dogs became questioned.
2. Christian B
The 43-year-old German man has already been convicted for sexually abusing two young girls, and is currently in prison for raping an elderly American widow in Praia da Luz in 2005. He was considered a prime suspect due to his criminal's past, and for being close to the area during McCann's disappearance. The theory developed by the police is that he wanted to firstly burglar the McCann apartment and later kidnap Madeleine. Several shocking pieces of evidence proved he was involved in her abduction. However, because he was 30 minutes away from Praia da Luz when MC was abducted, he couldn't have done it.
3. Euclides Monteiro
He worked at 'Ocean Club' and was known for stealing from the guests. Phone records showed he returned to the resort during McCann's stay, one year after being fired. One theory is that he had the intention to burglarize the apartment, knowing the family were having dinner but woke Madeleine up. When she was kidnapped, Monteiro lived 15 minutes away from the apartment. Yet, they never got the chance to interview him since he died in a tractor accident in 2009. This made the police close suspicions against him, looking for the subsequent possible murder.
If your child is not safe at a resort, where people are having fun, where would they be safe? How was it possible that some stranger knew the children were alone, went in, took one of the children while not waking the others and made their way out without knowing when the next person was going to check on the kids? The only conclusion possible is that somebody was watching the apartment and McCann's routine. Somebody planned it.