Madeleine McCann 10 Years On: Where Are We Now?
Thursday May 3, 2007: the nation woke to the news that a three-year-old girl from Leicester had gone missing from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal.
Wednesday May 3, 2017: that girl is still missing with police detectives from both Portugal and Britain no closer to finding her.
That girl is Madeleine Beth McCann.
Credit: Sky News
Since then, a worldwide search has been conducted, at great length and even greater cost. Some 40,000 documents have created thousands of enquiries and 600 pursued suspects.
There are so many unproven theories as to what happened: was it a burglary gone wrong? Was it a planned abduction? Did sexual assault have a part to play? Did Maddie's parents, Kate and Gerry, have anything to do with it?
Details and new theories always come to the surface - you can read about them here:
- New Theory About Madeleine McCann's Disappearance Revealed By Former Detective
- Portuguese Cop Drops Controversial Follow-Up Book On Maddie McCann
- Fury As Public Petition Calls For McCanns To Sit Lie Detector Test
- Crime Expert Makes New Claim About Madeleine McCann
- The 49 Questions That Kate McCann Was Asked During 11-Hour Interrogation
The Case So Far
The facts of the missing case are largely well known and reported. In brief: Maddie was left alone in the apartment with her two-year-old twin siblings. Her parents were dining at a local tapas restaurant with friends nearby. Kate and Gerry have said they were checking on the children regularly, before realising Maddie had gone missing at 22.00.
Following this, in a recent statement by Mark Rowley, acting deputy commissioner for the case at Scotland Yard, an 'extensive search commenced' involving police and the community. This led to an "investigation that has involved police services across Europe and beyond, experts in many fields, the world's media, and the public, which continues to this day."
"We don't have evidence telling us if Madeleine is alive or dead," the statement reads. But the team is 'realistic' as to what they are dealing with - particularly with the length of time that has passed.
So, just where have the various leads and lines of enquiry led up to now? Where are the police looking?
"Detectives will start off with various hypotheses about what's happened in a murder, what has happened in a missing person's investigation, whether someone has been abducted," said Mr Rowley.
"All those different possibilities will be worked through. This case is no different from that but the evidence is limited at the moment to be cast iron, as to which one of those hypotheses we should follow.
Mark Rowley. Credit: PA
"We've got some thoughts on what we think the most likely explanations might be and we're pursuing those."
In his interview, Mr Rowley mentioned some of the routes the investigation has taken. These included looking at mobile phone data in detail, the reality of a sex offender in the local area, the likelihood of an abduction and the removal of the McCanns as suspects.
"Firstly, the involvement of the parents was dealt with at the time by the original investigation by the Portuguese," he said. "We had a look at all the material and we are happy that was all dealt with. There is no reason whatsoever to reopen that or start rumours that was a line of investigation."
On the word abduction, Mr Rowley said: "She was not old enough to set off and start her own life. However, she left that apartment; she has been abducted."
The importance of not rubbishing any theory is vital to acting commissioner Rowley. "We have to keep an open mind; it is a missing person enquiry," he said. "We don't have the definitive answer either way.
"We have to keep them [all evidence] open until we get to that critical piece of evidence that narrows it down and helps us to be more confident as to exactly what has happened on the day Maddie went missing."
Right now, Mr Rowley has said that the police have some 'critical' lines of enquiry but has not disclosed what this evidence was.
This is what police believe Maddie could look like now. Credit: PA
Pat Brown, an American criminal profiler specialising in crime scene analysis, behavioural profiling and psychopathy, has spoken openly about her beliefs in the Maddie McCann case, disagrees that Scotland Yard is being thorough in their investigation.
She told LADbible: "I've never believed it was a proper investigation. From the start, the investigation began with a remit to handle the case as an abduction and to not view the parents as suspects. A proper review does not make conditions for the investigators to follow. And, indeed, Rowley says in his interviews that the McCanns were not interviewed. If as an investigative unit, you've not come up with one piece of evidence of an abduction, not one reliable suspect, you have absolutely nothing. That means you are likely looking in the wrong direction."
On the other hand, she doesn't claim that the McCanns are guilty either: "I've never said they killed her, or that they were guilty of anything but neglect. However, the neglect and the totality of the evidence points more to the McCanns than anyone else."
"For years they kept the e-fits of the Smith sighting away from the public eye, which is bizarre behaviour for parents of a missing child; they usually want you to look everywhere and they suspect everyone.
"When you have a major sighting and the parents are not interested, that's not normal behaviour. From the police record of the stories that were given that night, they were not credible. There were a lot of changing stories."
Criticism Of The Case
There are two main criticisms of the enquiry: the cost and the lack of answers. So far, around £11m has been spent by Scotland Yard since they were put on the case in 2011 - the total investigation cost will be much higher.
In a briefing to the media, Acting Deputy Commissioner Rowley said: "We've tried to be careful about public money and we started with that massive sifting and we've narrowed the enquiry, the funding has reduced accordingly.
"We will stick with it as long as the funding is available, as long as there are sensible lines of enquiry to pursue."
Kate and Gerry have responded to criticism of the case's cost. Credit: PA
The Home Office has provided funding for the next six months at least, and even Kate McCann claims that she feels 'guilty' about the expenditure. In a recent interview, Kate said she 'used to feel really embarrassed when people used to say about the amount of money', particularly when there are hundreds of other children who go missing and do not receive the same attention. Gerry said that such criticism was 'unfair'.
Profiler Pat Brown agrees with Kate, however, and said: "The saddest part of the whole case is the incredible amount of money spent searching one missing child... they may have been able to find 10 children for all the money that was wasted. It's accomplished nothing."
She also said that she wants evidence to be given of an abduction. "There's not one shred [of evidence] of an abduction. That's a fact. She's 'missing' but that doesn't mean she has been taken by a stranger.
"There are reasons why police limit the public knowledge: they have an ongoing case that could be jeopardised, they have leads that they don't want to mess up, or they have no clue - which is followed by criticism. Or they are following the conditions of a remit which ties their hands and prevents proper investigation."
For now, at least, Scotland Yard will continue to cover the case, as British and Portuguese officers work together closely.
"As long as we have the resources to do it, and as long as we have those sensible lines of enquiry, because if we can provide an answer to a family in this horrible situation, that is what we must do," said Mr Rowley.
In his press briefing, he was keen to point out the success of Scotland Yard - that 90 per cent of cases are solved.
"I know we have a significant line of enquiry that is worth pursuing, and because of that, it could provide an answer," he said.
"I wish I could say we will solve this... we will do everything we can that is possible to find an answer. I hope to find an answer but can't quite guarantee."
Will It Ever Be Solved?
Acting Deputy Commissioner Rowley has hinted that he does not think the case will draw a conclusion, as the case enters its second decade of searching for answers.
He concluded: "I'd love to guarantee them [the McCanns] an answer; sadly investigations can never be 100 percent successful."
Likewise, profiler Pat Brown also thinks there'll be no ending to this: "I don't think the case will ever be solved. There are two ways to solve this: find the body of Madeleine. I'm 99.9 percent sure she is dead - she's been missing for ten years, plus the evidence in the apartment, suggests she is dead... or a confession. Someone breaks, and preferably, both together."
"Scotland Yard is looking for a way to close the case. It will go into history as one of the most bizarre cases of a missing child."
It's not impossible for cold cases to be solved; Scotland Yard knows that. But as more time passes, the chances become increasingly slim.
Featured Image Credit: PA