Mystery & Paranormal
Madeleine McCann: 6 Possible Theories That Could Have Happened


Madeleine “Maddie” McCann, born May 12th, 2003, disappeared when she was three-years-old, on the evening of May 3rd, 2007, from her bed in a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, a resort in the Algarve region of Portugal. This became the most reported missing-person case in modern history.

Madeleine was born in Leicester, England and lived with her family in Rothley, which is also in Leicestershire. She is described as having straight blonde hair, blue-green eyes, a small brown spot on her left calf, and a distinctive dark strip on the iris of her right eye. She was on holiday with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, her younger twin siblings, and a group of family friends and their children.

She and the twins had been left asleep at 20:30 in the ground-floor apartment, while the McCanns and friends dined in a restaurant 50 metres (160 ft) away. Kate McCann checked on her children and discovered she was missing at 22:00.

This was first accepted by the Portuguese police as abduction, but after misinterpretation they came to believe that Maddie had died in the apartment, and they suspected her parents were guilty. The McCanns were declared “arguidos” (suspects) in September 2007, but were cleared of any wrongdoing in July 2008.

Using their own private detectives, the McCanns continued the investigation. Scotland Yard opened its own inquiry, “Operation Grange”, in 2011. The case is still ongoing today.


On the 22nd November 2016, the media reported that a young English-speaking homeless woman had been found in Rome who had a striking resemblence to Maddie McCann – including a matching birthmark on her eye.

However she has since been named as a Swedish woman in her twenties with Asperger’s. Her father spoke out and named her as his child, 21-year-old Embla Jauhojärvi, from Stockholm, Sweden.


The following theories are purely speculative and have been accumulated from documentaries, online forums and media reports since Maddie first disappeared in 2007. 

1. A Man Abducted Maddie And Carried Her Away 

First Sighting by Jade Tanner:

On the night of her disappearance, at 8.30pm, Kate and Gerry McCann went for dinner with seven friends, and according to Kate McCann’s autobiography, the children were checked on at least twice.

The McCann’s friend Jane Tanner said that during her routine check at about 9.15pm, she saw a man carrying a small child and walking away from the apartment. She described him as white and aged in his 30s, with short brown hair, of medium build and clean-shaven. The child he was carrying was aged three to four, blonde, and possibly wearing pyjamas.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who was leading a Metropolitan police review of the case said: “A new understanding of events on the evening Madeleine disappeared has resulted in a renewed focus of the investigation. There may be an entirely innocent explanation of this man but we need to establish who he is to assist with our inquiries.”

Who was the man walking away from the apartment? Was he carrying Maddie in his arms? Why had Jade not been suspicious of this man at that moment in time? Just how thoroughly did the group check on the children – were they looking over each bed? 

Source: The Guardian

Second Sighting By Martin and Mary Smith:

An Irish couple, named Martin and Mary Smith, provided further information when they claimed to have seen a man carrying a young girl they described as “three or four years old and in a deep sleep”, through a side-street in the same resort where Maddie vanished. The above computer generated e-fit is based on how the couple described the man.

They claimed the street was deserted and the girl was in an uncomfortable position with her head slumped against him. They also described the same light coloured/pink pyjamas that Maddie was wearing that night. The sighting was around 10pm – the same time Kate had discovered Maddie missing.

The image was broadcast in a special edition of BBC’s Crimewatch on Monday night and the man was considered a main suspect.

Why had the Smiths not questioned the man carrying a young girl wearing pyjamas? Was Maddie the young girl he was carrying in his arms? 

Source: Irish Central

2. Maddie Had Wandered Off On Her Own

In the apartment, the three children slept in a bedroom next to the front door, which the McCanns always kept locked. The bedroom had one high window with curtains and a metal exterior shutter which could be controlled from inside. The McCanns said they kept the curtains and shutter closed throughout the holiday to keep the room cool. Maddie slept in a bed next to the bedroom door, on the opposite side of the room from the window, and the twins slept in the middle of the room in travel cots. There was another bed underneath the window but this was never slept it.

At 10pm when Kate made her check on the children, she entered through the patio doors at the back, and noticed that the children’s bedroom door was wide open. When she tried to close the door it slammed shut as though there was a draught, which is when she found that the bedroom window and the shutter were open. Maddie’s teddy called “Cuddle Cat” and pink blanket were still on the bed, but she was gone.

After Kate had raised the alarm that Maddie had gone missing, crowds began to appear at the apartment, damaging any potential evidence of footprints or fingerprints left behind by Maddie. If she had woken in the middle of the night, startled that she could not find her parents, it may have been her instinct to start looking for them and she wandered outside in her own search.

Had Kate opened the window to make Maddie’s wandering off look like an abduction so she would not be held responsible for negligence? With so much media coverage how could nobody have spotted Maddie walking around? Did Maddie bump into someone dangerous when she wandered off?

3. Maddie Was The Victim Of Child Trafficking

On the day of the disappearance – between 15:30 and 17:30, there were witness reports that two men had visited the apartment where the McCanns were staying to collect money for orphanages. Witnesses claimed the men were seen leaving the McCann’s apartment at 4pm, they tried to close the gate quietly and looked around as they left.

A witness, a Portuguese trucker, reported to a telephone hotline set up by an agency in Spain, that on May 5th, two days after her disappearance, he noticed a blonde woman pass a child wrapped in a blanket to a man and the child was “bundled” into a car. This alleged sighting took place on the outskirts of Silves, a town 25 miles from the resort of Praia da Luz.

A private detective told The Telegraph, “We are working on the theory that Madeleine was spotted as an easy target and stolen to order.” A team was then sent to follow up the lead with around 70 detectives working on the case in Morocco, Spain, England, France and Portugal.

Clarence Mitchell, the official spokesman of Kate and Gerry McCann, said: “The witness who claims to have seen Madeleine being transferred (on May 5th) was thoroughly interviewed face to face by an investigator from Metodo 3 and was deemed to be a credible witness.”

Was Maddie part of a child trafficking abduction case? Has there been any further sightings of Maddie in other countries? Why had the kidnappers chosen Maddie as a target over the two younger twins? 

Source: The Telegraph


About the author

Cheish Merryweather is the founder of Follow on Twitter: @thecheish

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