On the face of it all, Kate and Gerry McCann are the grieving parents of their young daughter, snatched from them by a stranger in a foreign country. It doesn't bear thinking about. As a parent myself, I can only imagine the horror you would feel, to find your child had simply vanished. The countless interviews, appeals and fundraising, you would be led to believe that this was all in a desperate attempt to get their loving daughter back where she belongs. Kate and Gerry are both well settled into middle class life, Kate was a GP, Gerry, a surgeon. They couldn't possibly be in the wrong. But the countless discrepancies that can be found when you dig under the skin of this story is shocking. Many refuse to believe that there is any other explaination. Madeleine was abducted and her parents are doing all they can to find her. A naive thought, perhaps. But it is easy to be sucked in by them, especially if you are unaware of what lies beneath. Even now, when I have done a great lot of research into this story, I have found myself being drawn into feeling sorry for them when watching interviews. But, in my opinion, that is how they have managed to get away with the truth for so long.
So, what do I believe? In all honesty, I believe Madeleine is dead. I believe she died in that apartment and the McCann's, the Tapas 7 and countless "people in high places" have worked tirelessly to cover it up. Why do I believe this? Of course, it seems like an outrageous assumption. That so many people could successfully cover up a toddler's death. And of course, why would they? How can nobody have caved in, told all? After all, there are a lot of people involved in this story. The truth is, many slip ups have been made. Too many infact. I would genuinely like to believe that Madeleine is alive somewhere, safe and well. Perhaps, like a lot of people believe, that she was taken by somebody who just wanted a child to love. What a wonderful thing that would be. In a way at least. To know she was being cared for and loved somewhere. But I think, deep down, we all know that this is not the case. And, thinking about any other options, such as abduction, makes me hope that actually, she did die in the apartment that night. Not because I'm a terrible person, but because I would rather, if it was my child, that she had died instantly from a head injury sustained from falling off the back of a sofa whilst not being supervised (which is what I believe happened) than that she was taken by an abductor, was ill treated, tortured, even sold into sex trafficking, which has been a possibility that has been thrown around. I have always had my doubts about this story from the minute it made headlines. The points I will make in this are the ones that 100% solidly confirmed for me, that the events that night were not as they have been made out to be in the media.
I'll start with what I think is the biggest piece of evidence brought up on this case. The cadavar dogs, Eddie and Keela. These dogs, in brief summary, work in the same way as drug sniffer dogs, they are trained to pick out specific scents only. The scent of death or cadavar and blood traces. They are very highly trained and have never been wrong in their work in the 300 plus cases they have been given. In the video that you can watch here you can see the dogs in action in Praia de Luz and the McCann's apartment.
The first you see is Eddie. He gives an indication that there is the scent of cadavar or blood in the McCann's hire car, specifically in the boot (which the McCanns later say was probably from a nosebleed that Maddie had had a few days before her disappearence. They later claim that any DNA found of Madeleine's in the boot of the car was most likely from the dirty nappies they had in there after the realisation that the car was rented 20 days after Madeleine's disappearence) You can also see him detect it on an item of clothing belonging to one of the children. He is then let into the apartment, where he again indicates that he can detect these scents in a wardrobe and behind the couch in the lounge. The second dog, Keela, also detects blood traces behind the couch. Many are sceptical about this method. They're dogs, not humans. So how can we trust their findings? Simple. Because they are dogs. We all know that dogs are very highly trainable, especially in picking up a specific scent, due to their impeccable sense of smell. Just as a drug sniffer dog is trusted to sniff out even the tiniest amount of drugs, cadavar dogs are trusted to sniff out even the tiniest amount of cadavar and blood scent. And, unlike humans, dogs do not have an agenda and they don't know how to lie. They are trained to do a job and they cannot "pretend" they have found something or conspire. Those dogs did find the scents they were looking for in that apartment. And the likeliness of someone else having died in the same apartment AND in the same hire car both used by the McCann's before their use is just far too coincidental to be a possibility. As you can imagine, Gerry McCann fiercely denies their findings. He also believes that, because they're "just dogs" that what they sniff out can't actually be valid. But they're not "just dogs" they are, infact, very highly trained and are used in murder investigations all over the world. Not only that, but Gerry says in an interview with an Irish chatshow, that infact the McCann's were the ones who asked for the dogs to be brought in. You can read more about the dogs here.
Another item that the dogs "alerted" to was on Kate's trousers and Cuddle cat, Madeleine's toy. Which brings me to another brief point. To explain the cadavar smell on the trousers and the toy, Kate said that when back home, she had taken Cuddle cat into work with her (and had been wearing the trousers in question) where she had come into contact with a number of cadavars herself. A couple of points about this. Firstly, why would you take your child's toy to work with you in the first place? And why was a GP around so many corpses? Before the toy was actually taken from Kate to be forensically examined, she washed it. The one thing left of her daughter, that would have still had her smell on, that no parent of a lost child would ever want to let go of. Kate said it smelt like sun tan lotion so she washed it.
Those questions were a couple of the very few Kate McCann actually answered in relation to her daughter's disappearence. Infact, she refused to answer a total of 48 questions presented to her when being interviewed by the Polícia Judiciária as an arguida (suspect) This is the link to the questions she was asked: 48 questions Kate refused to answer. Why would she be so reluctant to help police with their investigation? Surely, as a desperate mother, she would be willing to give any information, no matter how small, if she though it might make a difference? Of course though, she couldn't. Because she was trying to keep her tracks covered and by obligation she didn't actually have to answer anything. However she did answer just one question: "Are you aware of the fact that by not answering these questions you may compromise the investigation, which is trying to find out what happened to your daughter?" She replied “Yes, if the investigation thinks so." Not only that, but they all refused to take part in a reconstruction about the night Maddie disappeared and also, Kate has mentioned in interviews that she never physically searched for Madeleine. Yet in her new book, entitled "Madeleine", she says how she spent hours searching bushes and undergrowth for her daughter. Just another contradiction amongst many more.
I don't think that Kate is by any means the ringleader in all of this. I think that falls down to her husband, Gerry. On closer inspection (and sometimes no close inspection is needed as it is fairly obvious) you can see that Kate is his puppet and he pulls the strings. Kate is usually quite quiet and reserved in interviews. You can sometimes see that it's as if there is something she wants to say, and the pained expression isn't just down to what she knows really happened, but because she is desperate to let it out. But she can't. She has been silenced by Gerry, who comes across as brash and overconfident in the interviews and barely sheds any sign of emotion. He gets agitated if any option other than abduction is mentioned. And his body language in interviews are very suspcious. Classic signs of deceit, including touching his nose and pulling at his ear.
Not only is it blatent that he knows something, the ways he has reacted to the loss of his daughter have been nothing but strange. The example most given is that on 12th May, less than 10 days after Madeleine went missing and also, what would have been her 4th birthday, he is secretly filmed, laughing and joking on a balcony. Of course, that doesn't mean he's guilty. He could have been laughing to try and cover up his emotions. Although not a normal thing for a man in his position to be doing. He has said in a number of interviews that Madeleine was a "light sleeper" yet an abductor supposedly managed to take her from her bed and carry her out of the window without waking her. (The McCann's denied giving any of the children sedatives or even Calpol. However, the children's grandfather was later quoted saying that they had infact given the children Calpol that night) Gerry was also quoted saying that, when asked how it felt being told Madeleine had been abducted, that it was "like realising you've gone overdrawn on your student loan." I, for one, don't see how the two can be at all comparable. A very interesting blog actually highlights 50 facts surrounding the discrepancies of the case: 50 facts on the case of Madeleine McCann.
Another very interesting point is the sighting made by the Smith family. Many sightings have been made of Maddie, all over Europe. A few were followed up but nothing came of them. Others were ignored by the McCann's completely. Strangely enough, this was one of them. Martin Smith and his family, from Ireland, were on holiday in Praia de Luz at the same time as the McCann's. On the evening of 3rd May 2007, just before 10pm, they were walking back to their apartment on the road leading to the apartment complex where the McCann's were staying. Coming towards them, they saw a man holding a child. The man didn't make eye contact with any of them and carried on rushing past them towards the beach. Mr Smith describes the man as white, average build with brown hair and around 30-35 years old. The child, he describes was around 3-4 years old, blonde hair and wearing pink or light coloured pyjamas and had bare feet.
Once home, Mr Smith was watching television when, on the news, he saw Gerry McCann stepping off a plane onto the tarmac carrying Sean, one of the twins. Mr Smith was gobsmacked. He immediately recognised the man, the way in which he walked and the way he held his son, as the man he had seen carrying the child down the road whilst in Portugal.
At around this time, images were circulating of Robert Murat. A British man living in Praia de Luz, not far from the apartment where Madeleine was taken. In the initial investigation, he offered to act as a translator. He was named as the first official arguido on no real basis other than a journalist said he appeared suspicious. His house was searched but nothing of interest was found. He denies being involved in the disappearence and was backed up by an alibi from his mother, claiming he was home on the night in question.
After Mr Smith saw the images of Murat and hearing that Jane Tanner, one of the Tapas 9 was pointing the finger of suspicion at him after her "sighting" (which I'll come onto) he immediately contacted the Irish authorities as he was feeling distressed, knowing that it was not Murat he saw that night, but definitely Gerry McCann. He tells them this and he relays all the information on what he saw. The family flew back to Portugal and were interviewed. However, after the obvious concerns Mr Smith had, and the insistence he was giving, that it was Gerry he saw carrying Madeleine, the sighting is put to the back of the shelf, with police saying that lack of light at the time would have not given a clear view of the man they saw so they couldn't be certain that it was actually Gerry
Jane Tanner, who I mentioned above, was one of the "Tapas 9", the group with which the McCann's were on holiday. She and her partner, Dr Russell O'Brien, like all the other couples, were taking it in turns to check on each others children. All the couples that night had left their children unattended in the apartments. One couple however, had brought a baby monitor to the restaurant so they could keep an eye on their children that way. Madeleine and the twins are said to have been checked a number of times in the period between the group meeting at the tapas bar and finding Madeleine was gone. No check (excluding Kate's) pinpointed anything suspicious although Gerry did state at one point that when he peered into the children's room, he felt like something wasn't right or that someone was there, perhaps hidden behind the door. So of course, he did what every other father would do and checked, right? Wrong. He closed the door a little behind him and went back to the restaurant. On his way back to the tapas bar, he bumped into somebody he knew and they began a conversation.
It's at this point that Jane Tanner goes to check on her children. She recalls walking past Gerry and the friend and, ahead of her, walking away from the McCann's apartment carrying a child, was a man. He walked in an Easterly direction. However, thinking nothing of it she continued checking on her children and also went back to the bar. Neither Gerry nor the man with him remember seeing Jane walk past nor did they see any suspicious man. When asked the description of this man she has given a very wide spectrum over a period of time. The description of this man has changed height no less than 7 times. His hair went from being short to being long and even his skin colour changed from white to Mediterranean looking. It's safe to say that, Ms Tanner's "sighting" cannot be passed off as valid. This is a link to the Smith sighting and Jane Tanner's ever changing sighting description: Smith/Tanner sightings
After Kate's rather odd way of declaring Madeleine was "gone", which was to run back to her friends shrieking "She's gone, they've taken her!" (It is unclear who she means by "they") one of the first things the group did was to tear a page from one of Madeleine's colouring books to draw up a "timeline of events." Or, as I would call it "How they were going to cover their tracks." There was much debate, when the group were individually interviewed, just how often the children were being checked on. Some said every 15 minutes. Others said every half an hour. It wasn't until after this timeline was written that the police were called. In the meantime, the group had already been into the apartment to look for evidence of where she might be thus contaminating what was meant to be a crime scene. Much speculation was also given about whether or not the window had been open or closed. Kate claims that on her inspection, she didn't notice the window until a gust of wind had blown the bedroom door shut. The only fingerprints ever found on the window were Kate's. And, after analysis by a number of people, it was claimed that, due to the size and type of window and also the positioning of the beds, no intruder could have physically been able to climb out of the window holding a child at the same time. Especially without leaving any marks on the windows or any scuff marks on the bed nearest, which would have been the most likely thing to use as elevation to get out of the window with no free hands.
The group were obviously worried that the fact that all had neglected their children on several occasions while they went out to eat and drink, would get them into serious trouble. Although not against the law in Portugal, over in the UK it is and the penalties are very severe. The McCann's have stated that they do not feel guilty for leaving their children alone as they were doing nothing wrong, that they were safe and that they could see the apartment from the bar. Which is untrue as the bar was 130 yards away and their view was obstructed by another building. They have also said it was not leaving them that contributed to her being taken. It emerged that the night before, Madeleine had been crying for her parents while they were out. A woman in the apartment next door claims to have heard the crying for around 75 minutes until it suddenly stopped. The next day, Madeleine apparently asked her parents "Why didn't you come when Sean and I were crying last night?" but apparently that was the end of the conversation. Not only this, but when Kate discovered Maddie was "missing" she ran back to the bar, leaving her other children alone again. If Madeleine had been abducted, the likeliness of someone still hanging around to take the others was quite high. Within the Mark Warner complex they were staying in, they did offer a babysitting service. However, Kate and Gerry decided they would not use it and instead use their own method as "they didn't want stranger looking after their children." Coincidentally though, these "strangers" were the same people that looked after the children for 5 hours a day in the on site creche.
Another person who believes Madeleine died in the apartment that night was Goncalo Amaral. He was a leading officer in the McCann investigation. However, after he voiced his opinions, he was swiftly kicked off the investigating team. He has since written a book, describing in detail what he believes happened that night and why. In it, he makes many interesting points, which basically highlight the points I have made. From the theory that Madeleine died after she got up and tried to look out of the lounge window after hearing her father speaking outside, by climbing on the couch, falling behind it and hitting her head. When she was found, her parents panicked, knowing the trouble they would be in, moved her elsewhere and cleaned any evidence. Amaral claims the couch had been pushed right up to the window and covered the area that the sniffer dogs had founf the cadavar scent and blood traces. He also says it is illogical that her DNA should be found in a car hired after her disappearence although DNA was found in it.
He believes that she died in the apartment and it was covered up because of the implications the McCann's and their friends would face otherwise. By covering it up as an abduction, they have managed to create a support network of fundraisers in which they have raised over a million pounds in a trust of Madeleine's name. Money which has actually been spent on paying off the McCann's mortgage and help with lawyer's fees. Not for the search for Maddie, like it was mostly intended. This is why the McCann's are doing what they are. Not to try and get their daughter back. They know that will never happen. But why not "make the most of a bad thing" and try and get something out of it? You can read his book and also watch a very good documentary by Amaral on this blog: Amaral: The truth of the lie
Finally I come to this point. Clarence Mitchell. He works for a PR company called Freud Communications. His boss is Matthew Freud, husband to Elisabeth Murdoch who is the daughter of the media's most powerful man; Rupert Murdoch. Rupert Murdoch is most known for being at the forefront of the country's biggest selling newspaper, The Sun and also Sky News as well as controlling a huge chunk of the rest of the media all over the world. All of which, are very pro-McCann.
Clarence Mitchell is now personal spokesman for the McCann's. An interesting link considering the amount of positive media attention they get. Mitchell has been called a "professional liar" by many. In his time with the McCann's he has cunningly managed to change parts of their stories or forced them to do so in order to make them look as innocent as possible. To try and justify the disagreements in the times they were checking on their children, the Tapas 9 were told to change their stories to say that nobody had been wearing a watch or had their mobile phones with them so they couldn't be sure of exact timings. And he has been quoted in a statement, after a theory of a paedophile (or number of paedophiles) were operating in that area that night and could have taken Maddie, raped, murdered and disposed of her body, that this information was "encouraging", that it gave the McCann's hope and that this was the kind of lead they had been looking for. Not the best choice of words, given the circumstances they were looking into.
Aside from the obviously dodgy nature of Clarence Mitchell and the fact that he is paid £75,000 a year to spin off lies like he has been doing for years, not just with the McCann's (which begs the question, why do they need such a high profile spokesperson if they have nothing to hide, nothing to prove and nothing to "remember") his inevitable slip up came during an interview in which he stated "If you could quote me correctly, I said I do not believe Kate and Gerry are responsible for Madeleine's death." Death? But the McCann's believe she is still alive. Surely their spokesperson, the person they hired to speak on their behalf, would know that? This video is a great summary of all of this and it includes the recording in which Clarence Mitchell is heard boldly saying that Madeleine is dead: A professional liar
So, in summary. This is, again, what I believe happened to Madeleine McCann. On the night of 3rd May 2007, Kate and Gerry McCann go to dine with their friends at a nearby tapas bar, leaving their three children unattended in bed in the apartment. After a number of different checks made by members of the group on the McCann children, none report anything suspicious at the time. Neither can any of them be certain that Madeleine has been there the whole time as they only ever look into the children's room briefly and do not go in. After Gerry leaves from his check, he stops in the street to talk to a man who he knew from the resort. They stand talking for a few minutes. In this time, Madeleine wakes up. She wanders out of bed and hears her father talking, as he has stopped outside the lounge window of their apartment. Madeleine climbed up onto the couch which was a little bit further away from the window. While trying to reach the window, she fell onto the hard tiled floor behind the couch and suffered a head injury which killed her.
The next person to check on the children, Matthew Oldfield, went to the apartment at 9.30pm but claims to only have been able to see the twins from his viewpoint. The next person to check was Kate. She finds Madeleine is not in her bed, panics and runs to the bar to alert the group. The group go to the apartment to double check and Madeleine is found behind the couch, dead. Needless to say the group panic, knowing what will happen if this gets out. A reporter for the BBC has been heard claiming in a statement "There were enough medics in that room to resuscitate a child." Why would anyone need to resuscitate a child that was supposedly not there? They decide to make a pact that they will dispose of the body and clean up any evidence before alerting the police. Gerry immediately takes Madeleine out of the room and down towards the beach. He is spotted by Martin Smith. The others club together to clean the place and then all sit down together and draw out their timeline to cover their tracks and get their stories straight. Then the police are called (they say that they arrived at the scene within 10 minutes of the call, however the time they arrived was around 11pm, an hour after the supposed disappearence) Kate is quite obviously devastated but she knows full well the implications it would have for her and the rest of her family should she tell the truth. Gerry is the hard head and is dealing with the situation much more fully. He seems, by nature, to be a man of little emotion or compassion so keeping things together would have been easier for him. Also, when questioned, David Payne, one of the Tapas 9, said that they had all made a pact that anything on the matter had to go through and come from Gerry.
It's important to note that in the period of time between Madeleine vanishing and their return home to the UK, one of Gerry's large navy holdall bags had gone missing. It is very likely that he had hidden Madeleine on the beach that night, knowing that in the cool May weather, it was unlikely anyone would be around there at that time at night. In the first day or so after her disappearence, when the media hype on them being suspects wasn't substantial, they were able to put Maddie inside the holdall and "store" her somewhere, perhaps in their second holiday home not far away. Perhaps they found somewhere else. Once they had moved over to that home from the apartments and hired their car, they were able to transport her body in the bag to dispose of it. Where I can't say for certain, there are many ways to dispose of a body. They have continued with their abduction story because they have to. It was such a high profile case that if they sank into the woodwork they would be viewed negatively. Not to mention the financial gain and public sympathy they had would disappear.
But I think the cracks are beginning to show. Kate isn't the kind of person that can live with this on her shoulders, not like Gerry. She is close to breaking point which means that Gerry is having to prop her up and remind her why they're doing what they're doing. They hired a spokesperson to help them because A) he was well known for telling convincing lies to the public, not to mention him having huge ties to a poweful media mogul and B) because, the less the McCann's said personally, especially Kate, the better. Just incase they let something slip.
I believe that this is what happened, or something similar. I don't believe, as much as I dislike them, that Kate and Gerry are capable of murder and I don't think that what happened to Madeleine was anything more than an accident. I do believe however, that people as clever as Kate and Gerry could cover it up. As middle class people, knowing those in high places would be an advantage and if they were on their side then so would everyone else be. They have spoken with the Prime Minister at the time, Gordon Brown, a fellow Glaswegian like Gerry and have even been to meet the Pope who supported them until they were made suspects. Kate, a Roman Catholic, was often seen going to church in Portugal, to speak with priests. Possibly to take confession. However, after a few times, the priests made it clear they no longer wanted anything to do with the McCann's or the investigation. What had Kate confessed in there?
As I have already said, I hope I'm proven wrong and that one day Madeleine is returned home safely to her parents. But in reality, I don't think this is the case and if that is so, I hope that someday soon, the truth will come out and there will be finally be some resolve and justice for little Madeleine McCann.