More than nine months after the disappearance of 4-year-old Madeleine McCann in the South of Portugal, nobody knows what actually happened on May 3rd, 2007 in the sea resort of Praia da Luz.
Is Maddie alive or dead? Was she abducted during her sleep? Was she victim of an accident which her parents would have wanted to hide? Was she killed?
The British girl, 3 at the time of her disappearance, was on holiday with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, and siblings when she vanished from an apartment in the central area of the resort. Madeleine’s parents have said that they left her unsupervised in a ground floor bedroom with her two-year-old twin siblings while they ate at a restaurant with friends about 120 meters away.
On September 7th, Kate and Gerry McCann were named as “arguidos” (suspects) after the Portuguese criminal investigation police suspected them of having removed the body of the child following an accidental death.
This new twist and turn in the investigation occurred a few months after local resident Robert Murat, a man with dual British-Portuguese nationality was indicted on May 15th, becoming the first official suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
According to the Portuguese Police, several other persons were questioned over the disappearance of Maddie, including the McCanns’ friends. In June, a mystery sample of DNA was reportedly found in the bedroom from where Madeleine disappeared. The DNA did not match that of the McCanns, their three children nor that of Murat.
The investigation kept however focusing on the McCanns. Shortly after they were given “arguidos”, the analysis of samples returned from the Forensic Science Service revealed that Madeleine’s body could have been put down in the boot of the family’s hire car five weeks after she disappeared. A theory that the McCanns have always refuted, claiming that the vehicle had been hired some 25 days after the disappearance.
The results eventually were not considered convincing enough by the prosecution, as forensic science experts pointed to the dangers of contamination.
In early February 2008, the national director of the PJ said that there “perhaps should have been another assessment” before the McCanns were declared “arguidos”.This statement was pronounced shortly before the Portuguese Justice Minister Alberto Costa revealed earlier this week that the inquiry was coming to an end.
Even so, the coming end of the inquiry does not take the media and public attention away from the case. The story has known a new twist and turn on February 21st, after Maddie was reportedly spotted with a man in a restaurant in South of France. The French Police declared however the glimpsed child was not Madeleine McCann.
Such a testimony is not the first one since the toddler disappearance. Many sightings were reported notably in Portugal, in Morocco and elsewhere in the world, but no one produced any firm leads so far. In late October, Jerry and Kate McCann released an artist’s painting of a man whom they believed could have kidnapped their daughter.
Speculations over the child’s disappearance are numerous, but one question is still pending: “What happened to Maddie?”
So far, the mystery remains unsolved.