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 whilst she was on holiday with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, and her younger twin siblings. 

This became the most reported missing-person case in modern history. The most recent Met Police investigation, launched in 2011, has cost more than £11m ($13.7m), and her parents told the BBC they would do “whatever it takes, for as long as it takes” to find their daughter.

Madeleine was born in Leicester, England. 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 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 meters (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 June 3rd, 2020, news headlines flashed around the world that Scotland Yard has turned its focus upon a 43-year-old male German sex offender who traveled around Portugal in a camper van.

Police believe he was in the area where Madeline went missing 13 years ago. German authorities reported the sex offender, then aged 30, stayed in Algarve between 1995 and 2007 for “days upon end” in his camper van and lived a “transient lifestyle”.


It is also known that the suspect transferred the registration of a 1993 Jaguar XJR6 (pictured above) to someone else’s name the day after Madeleine disappeared.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell, who is leading the Met inquiry, said, “Someone out there knows a lot more than they’re letting on.”

They also released the following critical information: The suspect is believed to have been using a Portuguese mobile phone, with the number +351 912 730 680 on the day Madeleine went missing.

Cranwell added, “Some people will know the man we’re describing today… you may be aware of some of the things he’s done. He may have confided in you about the disappearance of Madeleine. More than 13 years have passed and your loyalties may have changed. Now is the time to come forward.”

The suspect, who is not being named, is currently behind bars In Germany for a sex crime and the investigation is ongoing.


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

5. A Man Abducted Maddie And Carried Her Away

First Sighting by Jade Tanner:

On the night of her disappearance, at 8.30 pm, 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 9.15 pm, she saw a man carrying a small child and walking away from the apartment. She described him as white and 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 pajamas.

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 also 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-colored/pink pajamas that Maddie was wearing that night. The sighting was around 10 pm – the same time Kate had discovered Maddie missing.

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

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

Source: Irish Central

4. Maddie Left The Apartment On Her Own

In the apartment, the three children slept in a bedroom next to the front door that 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 beds. There was another bed underneath the window but this was never slept it.

At 10 pm 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 McCann family was staying to collect money for orphanages. Witnesses claimed the men were seen leaving the McCann’s apartment at 4 pm, 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? Have 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

2. Pamela Fenn Took Maddie Out Of Sympathy?

Pamela Fenn was an ex-pat living directly above the apartment where the McCann family was staying. Witnesses claimed that Pamela had already mentioned on May 2nd, the day before Maddie’s abduction, that she could hear the young girl crying loudly for “about an hour.” Pamela had become so concerned about the child’s welfare that she rang a friend in the village to ask what would be the right thing to do and even considered getting the police involved.

This information was not brought to the attention of investigators until years after the disappearance. Pamela had already sadly passed away and so they were at a dead end for further investigation.

Did Pamela hear crying constantly during the McCann’s stay? Was Pamela’s apartment searched by the police after the disappearance? How much more could Pamela have known about the McCann’s behavior during the holiday? 

1. The Portuguese Police Wanted To Frame The McCanns

The relationship between the McCanns and the Polcia Judiciria was so bad during May to October 2007, that Chief Inspector Gonalo Amaral resigned. He went on to write Maddie: A Verdade da Mentira (“Maddie: The Truth of the Lie”) which was published in Portugal and had sold 180,000 copies. In the book, he details the case and how he believed the McCanns had killed their daughter.

Amaral was already involved in a case of police brutality involving the disappearance of Joana Cipriano, an eight-year-old Portuguese girl who vanished a month after Maddie, seven miles from Praia da Luz. Just like Maddie, the body or murder weapon was ever found. Her mother, Leonor Cipriano, and her brother were convicted of murder after confessing to the killing.

Leonor later retracted her confession and claimed she had been badly beaten by police – although the police explained the bruises on her face and body were when she threw herself downstairs in the police station. Amaral was convicted in 2009 of perjury and received an 18-month suspended sentence. Then in 2015, the McCanns were awarded £500,000 ($551,100) damages against Amaral when a court found him guilty of libel.

Susan Healy, Kate’s mother, claimed the Portuguese police were setting them up as murderers to avoid addressing the situation of child abduction in the area. She told the Daily Mail: “This is a set-up. I know why this is happening – the police are trying to frame them for murder. If there is any evidence to implicate Kate and Gerry in any way then it has been planted.”

Since Maddie’s disappearance, according to official figures, there have been THIRTY children missing in Portugal in the last five years.

How hard are the Portuguese police working on these missing children cases? Were the McCanns set up to help keep Praia da Luz’s good reputation with tourists? How many other people have potentially been set up by the police? 

Source: The Daily Mail