Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Madeleine McCann Mystery

Gerry and Kate McCann have led one of the biggest missing person appeals in history in order to find their daughter. Steven Swinford, who has covered the story from the start, explains the ideas, connections and raw emotional energy that have driven it

Sky news coverage of the whole case

Rather stupidly, this couple (both doctors) left their three young children alone in an unlocked holiday apartment on the ground floor at night while they dined at a restaurant at the other end of the complex. The eldest child, a 4-year-old, went missing, and in the month since there has been not one shred of evidence (or at least made public) of what happened to her, save for a witness sighting of a man carrying a young girl matching her appearance around the time outside the building. The witness was a friend of the parents who was making her way to dinner with them.

Probably because the parents are articulate and intelligent, they have managed to build up a huge media interest in their case, yet at the same time, due to Portuguese policing practice and laws hardly a trickle of information has made it out to the public. This has fueled huge speculation: its been suggested that the parents were swingers (they WERE on holiday with a group of friends - the exact number seems to change in different reports; although of course this itself is no evidence that they are swingers); its also been pointed out that the parents never seem to show any emotion (but maybe they are just good at holding their emotions in check in public, given that they are both doctors?), and some people find it slightly strange that within days of their child going missing they had set up a private company (a company NOT a charity) to take public donations, a company which has now received the better part of a million pounds (nearly $2 million USD) on TOP of a reward of £2.5 million donated by a number of rich and famous people. This is the other aspect of this case which causes surprise in some: the amount of help they have received from the rich and powerful, not only has this huge reward been put up, but they've been given use of private jets to travel to several European countries to publicise their case, they've met the Pope, and they've been given a top Government person to act as their personal advisor. Of course, as soon as this couple had captured the public's attention and hearts with their case, its natural that all these people would jump in and claim their share of the publicity pie. Yet it also has fueled conspiracy theories in some quarters: is the whole case somehow being manipulated for the media? Are there political or otherwise powerful connections and undercurrents that we aren't seeing? Is their some weird Catholic cult behind the abduction? Perhaps as some kind of strange stunt? Maybe the parents themselves have been 'in' on it, maybe they sold her and are laundering the money through their company as an anonymous donation?

A more worrying possibility is that a paedophile child abduction group was behind this, and that they have links within the police force itself. This happened several years ago in Portugal, in a case where children were being taken from an orphanage to be sexually abused and the police, and even high level politicians had knowledge of it (and involvement, its been alleged) yet didn't do anything.

I think what I have found particularly disquieting is lack of information that the public have been allowed to have on the case. More specifically, its kind of jolting to know that an event of this magnitude and seriousness can happen without leaving any trail of evidence - particularly CCTV footage, which we are so used to having in the UK (given our high density of security cameras everywhere - which I actually think is a good thing). The British police have some of the best sniffer dogs in the world (they can follow a trail up to 30 days later), yet when they offered to bring them in they were reportedly turned down. Equally, mobile phone experts were brought in to triangulate the locations of all mobile phones in the area, but the results of this have not yet been released. But on top of this lack of information, there was a confusing amount of contradictory information released about the events of that night, such that its very difficult to piece together an exact timeline of that evening and full cast of 'players' involved. For example, first we were told that the apartment was broken into, then it seems it wasn't, we were told that the parents were checking on the children every 30 mins, then it turns out it was more like every 50 mins, and then the restaurant staff said that the parents weren't checking on the children at all that evening. Then it looks like their friends may have been helping with the checking. But who are these friends? We haven't been given ANY information on them: how many there were, who they are, what their movements were.

There is much more to be said on this, but basically I'm left with a feeling that there must be more to this extraordinary case than meets the eye. Almost as though in my subconscious mind all the various elements have been compared and added together and they don't compute. The exact WHY of this is not known to my conscious mind. There is no one single piece of evidence that is damning, but taken together they result in a sense of unease and of there being something artificial or missing from the media version of this story that we've received, and many many people agree with me. It also raises many questions: why don't we usually pay more attention to child abduction cases? How far do we go in using technology to monitor the public and to try to ensure the safety of children? In cases where there is a lack of evidence, should the police perform searches on local internet activity (i.e. who in the area is accessing hardcore domination-type sex sites? Does this qualify them for questioning?), but most of all: what happened to this poor little girl and where the hell is she?


lucia vega said...

i never thought of it like that, i think you have quite a conspiracy theory going there. 2.5million pounds? they must be making thousands of pounds a week just in interest..

as a parent, the idea of leaving 3 children sleeping in a flat alone is just something that would never cross my mind to do. i find it difficult just to leave them in the next room alone for 5 minutes.

i find it a bit strange that they suddenly make such an effort to find a kid, that before, they made so little effort for that they thought going to a restaurant was more important?

maybe its a bit of both.. they feel guilty, but they've also seen the financial riches that they have suddenly found themselves with access too? not nice people

Anonymous said...

I was stunned when, in their TV interviews, they showed no regret for leaving their children alone. I expected them to warn other parents not to do the same, but they were just so defiant about it.

Anonymous said...

I find it strange that on their way to the airport to come home, they did not once look at the twins in the back of the car AT ALL!!! If it was me, i'd be checking every 10 secs!!

Anonymous said...

its only a matter of time before the truth is revealed.something or someone has to slip,the bigger the lie the less people will believe it,but sooner or later something has to give.its just a matter of getting the right person to do it and how far he or she is prepared to go to get it.... the truth!!thats what everyone wants

Anonymous said...

I've felt uneasy about this case since the moment it hit the TV screen. If my child was abducted I would be in a state, and even when I was facing the cameras my face would reflect endless tears and stress. I hope the truth comes out and little Madeleine is found safe and well.

Anonymous said...

There is no mention of the ages of the other children. Have they been interviewed?

Anonymous said...

I guess you mean the tapas 9 children. I have also been thinking about them. There is no mention about what they saw or their version of events.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame that merely "looking guilty" isn't evidence enough. They are lying about something.

I think we can rule out a financial motive. They are both doctors, and more than likely earn thousands per week between them anyway.

I find it amusing how the Sun newspaper throws itself behind their cause automatically. They will have so much egg on there face if it turns out that Kate did it.

And,yes, i believe they are swingers.and when they discover the parents are in on the whole thing, hopefully we shall see Kate swinging from a rope.

Finally, Gerry seems to think that his daughter was singled out, and watched by a predator.I got news for you Gerry: i dont think predators are that fussy about who they take.A shark is a predator.How many sharks lurk around for days waiting for a specific meal? It was a family resort for christ's sake.there must have been loads of opportunities to kidnap a child. why was his kid so special? and why not take one of the twins?

Anonymous said...

Pondering on various websites, concluding on reading the subjected information above, has left me with an idea that the McCann's know where their daughter is due to their body language in all interviews, and their quick return to normality, i.e. Mr McCann returning to work. a well devised plan to reap the financial benefits. i wouldn't be at all suprised if Madeline returned within the next 5 years alive and well.

Anonymous said...

You have quite a good point there. i doubt any good parent would leave 3 young children alone in a strange country in a hotel room when you are all the way at the other side.

And also the "witness" that saw a man carrying around a child that looked like maddie, if they were friends of the mccann's, wouldn't they have reconised her and realised that it wans't anyone she would know carrying here around?

Also, the part about the parent not showing any emotion about it. i heard the parents mentioning on a television appeal that they have been advised by their advisor not to show emotion as it may give the kidnapper thrills.
I also don't understand, refusing the sniffer dogs if they are that desprate to find maddie.

I mean, if your child had gone missing wouldn't you be trying everything and anything to try and find them, no matter what it was??

Anonymous said...

I also would like to know why a preditor would only take one of three children in the room??

And also if your in a family resort why would you be waiting on one particular child??? As someone else said abouot the shark, it wouldn't care!!!

I really don't know. But if the parents were in on it, it will eventually come back on them.

But since they show no guilt about leaving 3 children under the age of 5 in a hotel room on there own beleiving they have done nothing wrong. Have social services paid a visit to make sure they aren't going to leave the two they have left again??