If there’s one question that’s kept millions of people guessing over the years, it’s what happened to Madeleine McCann? The three-year-old was on vacation with her family and their friends in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007 when everything took a tragic turn for the worse.
Madeleine McCann went from suddenly sleeping in her room to gone – and no one had any idea where she could be. The weeks turned into months, and there’s still been no sign of the youngster. Still, investigators are hopeful breaks in the case could finally give them answers about young Maddie.
May 3, 2007: The McCanns and their friends head to dinner and leave the children in the hotel room
May 3, 2007, was supposed to be an exciting time for the McCann family as they were on vacation in Praia da Luz, Portugal. The family was here with a selection of their friends. Parents Gerry and Kate McCann headed out to dinner at the complex’s restaurant with their friends but left the children sleeping in the hotel room.
It was later shown the group was around 300 feet away from the children. Still, they didn’t have direct sight of the door and entire apartment the entire time. The group used a rota system to check on the children. Gerry returned to the room at 9 pm, and everyone was where they were meant to be.
May 3, 2007: Kate McCann discovers Madeleine is missing, with reports a man was carrying a child
An hour after Gerry McCann checked on the children, it was Kate’s turn. That’s where everything took a turn. Kate returned to their room around 10 pm and noticed their twins sleeping. However, there was someone noticeably missing: their three-year-old daughter, Madeleine. She immediately looks around, realizing Maddie is nowhere to be seen in the bedroom or apartment.
It’s not until Kate returns to the group that one of her friends, Jane Tanner, admits she saw a man carrying a child earlier in the night. Ten minutes later, Gerry asks their friend, Matthew Oldfield, to head to reception to call the police. The resort kicks in its missing child protocol a short while later at 10:30 pm.
May 4, 2007: The police arrive in the early hours of the morning, and a mass search begins
There have been a handful of incidents of the police not turning up for hours after a child is reported missing. This was sadly something that the McCann family was about to experience firsthand. That’s because no one arrived on the scene until after 1 am the following morning, three hours after they were first called to help.
Although they seemingly took their time, the officers immediately brought sniffer dogs and used volunteers to search the complex and local area. Eventually, hundreds of people got involved as they searched high and low for any sign of Madeleine McCann. Sadly, they quickly realized no one had any idea where the toddler had gone, with few clues to follow.
May 12, 2007: The police believe Madeleine McCann was abducted but is still in Portugal
The minutes turned into hours and the hours turned into days. Sadly, no matter where they looked or who they asked, it was as though Madeleine McCann had disappeared into thin air. No one had any recollection of seeing a toddler on their own, and there were few clues that would lead to finding the three-year-old.
Plenty of people’s minds went to the worst as they believed Maddie was gone forever. This wasn’t helped by the police admitting on May 12, 2007 – nine days after Madeleine disappeared – that they thought she had been abducted. However, the investigators were still confident that Madeleine was still in Portugal, even though there was no evidence to suggest this.
May 14, 2007: Robert Murat is named the first “arguido” after showing a lot of interest in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance
Robert Murat initially seemed like someone keen to help the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. However, his interest in the case led him to become the first named “arguido” ten days after Maddie vanished. The Portuguese legal term is most commonly used to describe anyone considered to be a suspect in a crime.
The Portuguese-British property manager was staying just 450 feet from the McCanns with his mother. To start, the police enlisted Robert’s help to be an interpreter for the family as he showed interest in wanting to help. However, journalists believed Robert seemed shifty, and his home was quickly searched. Robert denied all accusations that he was involved with Madeleine’s disappearance.
May 26, 2007: The police release a description of a potential suspect seen carrying a child
The initial investigation failed to turn up any likely clues about what happened to Madeleine McCann. The police searched the apartment, asked locals if they had seen anything, and looked high and low for the toddler. She was gone. However, there was a significant break in the case over 20 days later, on May 26, 2007.
Mary and Martin Smith were also on vacation in Praia da Luz when they spotted something unusual. The pair admitted to Portuguese police that they’d seen a man carrying a child toward the beach around the time Maddie was reported missing. To top it off, the child had seemingly been dressed in their pajamas, much like Madeleine.
May 30 to June 3, 2007: The McCanns leave the twins in Portugal while celebrities start to support the case
Most families like to think they’re safe traveling with their loved ones. After all, if they’re not headed to one of the most dangerous places to travel, they have nothing to worry about, right? Sadly, the disappearance of Madeleine McCann quickly proved to everyone that life-changing crimes can happen anywhere in the world, regardless of the situation.
Many expected Gerry and Kate McCann to be overly protective of their two-year-old twins, Amelie and Sean. However, the parents decided to leave the little ones in Portugal as they traveled to meet the Pope in the Vatican. Several celebrities also started to get involved around this time, with JK Rowling one of many to donate money to the investigation.
June 2007: Investigators are forced to admit that vital evidence might have been destroyed at the crime scene
Forensic testing is often one of the most valuable pieces of evidence that detectives have at their disposal. So why did the Portuguese police fail to perform any tests for weeks after Madeleine McCann disappeared? That was the question on several people’s minds, especially when the police chief admitted vital clues might have been destroyed.
A failure to contain the crime scene, combined with the fact cleaners had been in and out of the room following Maddie’s disappearance, meant vital evidence was likely long gone. To top it off, the Daily Mail reports that the complex rented out the McCanns’ room to four families before forensic officers performed any tests or took samples.
July to August 2007: The disappearance of Madeleine McCann turns into looking for a body
Being a British family meant it wasn’t long before the McCann’s home police officers got involved with the case. They eventually sent sniffer dogs to the Portuguese complex in July 2007, two months after Madeleine McCann disappeared. However, they didn’t just want to test the apartment. The dogs also checked clothes and the hire vehicle used by the McCanns.
August 2007 marked 100 days since anyone had last seen Maddie alive, and investigators started to worry this meant the worst. Many admitted there was a chance Madeleine McCann might not be found alive. To top it off, new evidence and suggestions led the Portuguese police to announce they were now investigating someone losing their life instead of an abduction.
September 7 to 9, 2007: Gerry and Kate McCann are named as “arguidos” but return to the UK
For months, the McCanns stayed in Portugal, hoping they would find their missing daughter. However, the longer they stayed, the more Gerry and Kate McCann became suspects in the disappearance of Madeleine. On September 6, 2007, Kate was taken in for questioning by Portuguese police. The twist? She and Gerry were named as “arguidos” the following day.
Even though they were officially named suspects, the Portuguese police knew there was no new evidence to keep them for questioning. Gerry and Kate decided to return to the UK on September 9, telling the BBC that they wanted Amelie and Sean “to live an ordinary life in their home country,” adding “we played no part in the disappearance.”
September 21, 2007: The head of Portuguese police claims Gerry and Kate McCann are deliberately hindering the investigation
At the time, Carlos Anjos was the head of the Portuguese police federation, meaning he was highly involved in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. That also meant he had a lot of insight into the case that the rest of the world didn’t see. Perhaps that’s why so many people listened when Carlos shared his thoughts on Gerry and Kate?
Carlos told reporters that the parents were named as suspects and were using their status “to remain silent.” The head of police continued to add Gerry and Kate allegedly wouldn’t make any more statements. However, a spokesperson for the family disputed all the claims, saying Gerry and Kate were using their silence to cooperate with investigators instead.
October 2, 2007: The chief inspector on the case is removed after criticizing the British police
Several people were tasked with investigating everything they could about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Although it’s common for people to come up with their own theories, it’s not always best to share those with the rest of the world. Chief Inspector Gonçalo Amaral was about to learn that the hard way after comments he made.
On October 2, 2007, Amaral was removed from Maddie’s case after speaking to a Portuguese tabloid. Apparently, Amaral wasn’t pleased with the British police’s idea to investigate an email that was sent to Prince Charles’ website. Here, he claimed that Madeleine had been abducted by a former worker at the Ocean Club where the McCanns were staying.
November 2007: Gerry McCann releases a video claiming the family was watched before Maddie disappeared
There are plenty of reasons that people go missing. Some want to disappear without a trace. Others have no choice as they’re captured and held by someone. However, no amount of investigation seemed to prove what happened to Madeleine McCann in May 2007. That didn’t stop people from theorizing, including her dad, Gerry, who released a video about it all.
The clip hit the world in November 2007 and featured Gerry talking about how he thought “a predator” watched his family for days before Maddie disappeared. Others have since added there could be evidence that an unknown man tried to abduct a girl days earlier and was potentially in the same area as the McCanns at the time Madeleine vanished.
January to March 2008: The McCanns continue to work with investigators while also suing British newspapers
The world continued to turn, but it seemed no one forgot about Madeleine McCann. Sadly, that wasn’t always for the right reasons. The start of 2008 marked a turning point in the case. Someone on vacation at the same time as the McCanns worked with an artist to create a sketch of a “creepy man” seen hanging around the resort.
Sadly, people across the world continued to blame Gerry and Kate for their daughter’s disappearance and potentially ending her life. In the end, the couple won £550,000 (approximately $652,000) in libel damages alongside a front-page apology from several newspapers that accused the parents of ending Maddie’s life. It’s something Gerry and Kate have consistently denied.
July 2008: All “arguido” statuses are lifted while a former investigator releases a theory Gerry and Kate are responsible
Things took a major turn in Madeleine McCann’s case when her parents were named as suspects. It also seemed to many that the police might be onto something when they named Robert Murat as a person of interest. However, that all changed on July 21, 2008, as everyone who was accused of being an “arguido” was cleared.
That didn’t stop former Chief Inspector Gonçalo Amaral from releasing his book ‘The Truth Of The Lie.’ Here, Amaral says that Madeleine lost her life in the apartment before Gerry and Kate conspired to hide their daughter’s body. The McCanns? They said the comments defame them and discourage the continued investigation into Maddie’s disappearance if people think they’re guilty.
2009 to 2010: New images of an aged Maddie McCann are released while her parents are frustrated the case has stalled
There are plenty of trials that have played out in the media. However, none of them have likely been as large as the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. That’s partly why Gerry and Kate McCann were so angered by reports in British newspapers in March 2010. The Portuguese police released previously unseen police files about the case to the tabloids.
This was worsened by Gerry later commenting the family felt the Portuguese and British police hadn’t been actively searching for Maddie “for a very long time.” Among all of this, the parents continued to work with teams to find Madeleine. One of the things they did was release edited images of what their daughter might look like two years older.
May 2011: Gerry and Kate release a book about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann while British investigations step up
Not having answers about what happened to Madeleine McCann meant the missing toddler quickly became the biggest crime story of the year. There was so much to the case that sparked plenty of theories. Seeming to want to get their side of the story across, Gerry and Kate released a book about it all on Maddie’s eighth birthday.
Later the same month, the British prime minister and home secretary announced more plans to fund investigations into what happened to Madeleine McCann. Scotland Yard quickly began Operation Grange, consisting of eight civilians and 29 detectives, to see if they could uncover any clues which had been overlooked throughout the four years Maddie had been missing.
May to July 2013: The Met Police believe Madeleine McCann is still alive and have several persons of interest
It seems the new investigation was all the case needed to get a new lease of life. Scotland Yard eventually announced they had several leads that looked more promising than ever before. That wasn’t all. Two years after the case was renewed, investigators announced they had “a number of persons of interest” on their radar.
The following month, detectives added there was “new evidence and new witnesses” that were enough to see Scotland Yard open up yet another formal investigation. According to the BBC, the British police had 38 suspects, including 12 British suspects. They also believed there was a chance that Maddie might still be alive somewhere in the world.
October 2013: The disappearance of Madeleine McCann case is reopened due to new leads
Just a few months later, the police had even more suspects on their list, taking their total up to 41. Investigators quickly released an e-fit image of their most likely man behind abducting Madeleine McCann, as he was allegedly seen carrying a blonde-haired child in the area toward the beach around the time Maddie went missing.
Private investigators hired by the McCann family continued to work on the new leads to see if they could uncover someone who recognized the man. That wasn’t all. The new information and call for witnesses were enough to see the Portuguese police reopen the case after several years of it collecting dust. It was all hands on deck.
January 2014: British investigators fly to Portugal amid claims they’re set to make an arrest
Several people had been named as suspects by British and Portuguese police by the time January 2014 rolled around. Sadly, almost seven years had passed since Madeleine McCann first disappeared, and it often felt as though investigators were no closer to cracking the case than the day the toddler first vanished. That was until new reports emerged.
British investigators flew to Portugal, where the BBC claimed they were set to make an arrest – the first in the case. Apparently, there had been two separate incidents in the block the McCann’s stayed in during their vacation in the 17 days before Maddie vanished. The police believed it was possible Madeleine was a part of a bungled break-in.
March 2014: It’s revealed there could be a link to Madeleine McCann in the form of 12 former crimes
The two crimes were just the beginning of the new investigation. Although no arrests were made during the detectives’ visit to Portugal, they did appeal for any information from 12 crimes that were committed in the Western Algarve. The crimes all took place between 2004 and 2010 and could have been a new link to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
According to the police, most of the crimes took place in the area’s low season and featured a male intruder breaking into homes being used by vacationers from the UK. Four of the cases from 2004 to 2006 also featured a male assaulting five girls aged between seven and ten years old as they slept in their beds.
June to July 2014: Police conduct more searches of scrubland and interview potential suspects
How are you meant to know where to look for someone when you have no idea where they could be? Although Madeleine McCann disappeared in Praia da Luz, Portugal, there was a good chance the toddler was quickly taken out of the country. That didn’t mean investigators could overlook the original crime scene, which is why they returned in 2014.
In June 2014, investigators began an extensive search of scrubland near the Ocean Club complex. Many believed they might finally find Maddie’s remains. The police also interviewed four of their potential witnesses the following month. Sadly, both the search and interviews led nowhere as there were no new developments and no closer to finding Madeleine.
April 2015: A former investigator is forced to pay Gerry and Kate McCann over allegations in his book
Gonçalo Amaral might have been released from Madeleine McCann’s case, but that didn’t stop the former investigator from sharing his thoughts about what really happened to the toddler. His book quickly sold across the world as people wanted insight from someone who had more access to the case than most. Sadly for Amaral, it didn’t work in his favor.
Instead, Amaral claimed that Gerry and Kate hid Madeleine’s body after she lost her life and had been lying about their involvement ever since. This was enough for the McCanns to file a motion with a Lisbon court. They ultimately ruled in the parents’ favor, ordering Amaral to pay 500,000 euros (approximately $504,000) in compensation for the accusations.
September to October 2015: The cost of Madeleine McCann’s investigation so far is released and is scaled down
It’s believed the phone hacking scandal stands as the most expensive criminal case in the UK, allegedly costing £315 million (approximately $373 million.) While the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann doesn’t come close to that figure, many couldn’t believe how much the UK had spent on the case by September 2015 after the government released its figures.
Reports state that by that point, the government had spent over £10 million (approximately $12 million.) The figure and lack of leads might be why Scotland Yard announced in October they were scaling back the investigation. The case was manned by four people instead of 29 as “the vast majority of the work by Operation Grange has been completed.”
April 2016: Gonçalo Amaral’s conviction is overturned while the McCanns are given more budget for their investigation
The news that the investigation into Madeleine McCann’s disappearance was being scaled back was met with mixed reviews. Some argued that the Portuguese police should be doing more to fund the case than the British police. However, others believed giving up hope meant that Maddie might never be found and the world would never have answers.
By April 2016, the home secretary announced there would be more budget to look for Madeleine after all. Another £95,000 (approximately $112,600) was given to Operation Grange to extend the project by six months. The same month, news broke that Gonçalo Amaral’s libel conviction for his book about the McCanns had been overturned by a Portugal court.
2017: More funds are given to help find Madeleine McCann
Even though a Portugal court threw out Gonçalo Amaral’s conviction, the McCanns weren’t going to take the ruling lying down. Gerry and Kate eventually took the case to a Supreme Court in the country, but the claim was denied. That wasn’t the only thing that filled their time, as the McCanns were also given more money for the investigation.
Operation Grange was given another £85,000 (approximately $100,700) to keep investigating from April to September 2017. Things took another turn on April 25, 2017, as Kate penned an emotional message almost ten years after Madeleine McCann first disappeared. Here, she wrote, “Ten years – a horrible marker of time, stolen time.” It was a somber reminder for many.
November 2018: Yet more funds are added to the case, taking the total into the millions
Knowing how the public will react to tax money being used in criminal investigations can be tough. While most people across the UK wanted to see answers to what happened to Madeleine McCann, not everyone was impressed with the constant flow of money. That didn’t stop the government from pumping more money into the case.
In November 2018, the police were given a further £150,000 (approximately $178,000) in yet another six-month extension into the case. Although the case was supposed to be scaled down, the bill kept increasing. The BBC reported the latest addition to the funds took the total cost of Maddie’s investigation up to £11.75 million (approximately $13.9 million.)
March 2019: The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann documentary is released, and many start to blame her parents again
It’s no secret that Netflix has released a host of popular crime documentaries throughout the years. However, one that caused quite a stir was ‘The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann.’ The series followed the case, including a host of theories about what could have happened, as they spoke to witnesses and those involved with the original investigation.
The eight-part series hit the streaming service in March 2019 and featured hundreds of hours of interviews and archival news footage. Still, the McCanns weren’t impressed with the final result. Gerry and Kate immediately distanced themselves from the project and instead were open with their complaints the show could “potentially hinder” the search for Maddie.
June 4, 2020: A new suspect is identified as a 43-year-old German criminal
The biggest turn in the case of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance came 13 years after the toddler vanished. On June 4, 2020, it was announced there was a new suspect in the case: Christian B. The 43-year-old German prisoner hadn’t been named before but had previous convictions – and was serving time – for narcotics, assault, and various assaults on minors.
The McCann family’s spokesperson instantly said, “there has never been anything as clear cut” as naming Christian as a suspect. Plus, he was named by not one but three police forces from the UK, Portugal, and Germany. Gerry and Kate McCann also thanked investigators, stating, “All we have ever wanted is to find her” and “bring those responsible to justice.”
June 4, 2020: German investigators announce they’re treating the case as someone losing their life
It can be tough enough to try and crack a case when there’s one police force in charge of the investigation. It can be even tougher when the crime spreads across the world. Although Madeleine McCann disappeared in Portugal, she was originally from the UK, meaning the police force here was obliged to help in the search for the toddler.
Naming Christian B. as a suspect in Germany merely added another country to the list of those involved. The UK and Portugal still have Maddie’s case listed as a “missing persons” investigation as there is no solid evidence that the toddler lost her life. That hasn’t stopped German authorities from treating it like she’s passed away.
June 16, 2020: Gerry and Kate McCann deny getting letters from German authorities claiming Maddie has lost her life
One of the biggest talking points to come from the new suspect is how much the German authorities really know about what happened to Maddie McCann. On June 16, 2020, Gerry and Kate were forced to deny they received letters from German investigators after it was reported in several publications that they had been in contact.
According to reports, the German police had written to the McCanns to tell them they had evidence Madeleine had definitely lost her life and were treating the case as such. Gerry and Kate deny this ever happened. In fact, the pair wrote a statement saying, “we will not be giving a running commentary on the investigation.”
July 28, 2020: Police are spotted searching an allotment near Christian B’s last known address
Naming a new suspect suddenly meant the case of Madeleine McCann potentially had a host more leads. Sadly 13 years had passed since she vanished, meaning plenty of evidence could be long gone. That didn’t stop investigators from doing everything they could to see if they could uncover anything that led them to answers to it all.
One of those moments came on July 28, 2020. Officers were spotted in Hanover, Germany, at an allotment found approximately 40 miles from Christian B.’s last known address. Here, they were seen using manual tools and machinery to comb through the area. However, it’s unclear what they were looking for or if the search was related to Madeleine.
April 2022: Portuguese police officially announce they’re investigating a person of interest in Madeleine McCann’s case
Sometimes it can feel as though things take a long time to happen, even if it’s only a short time. The same can almost be said for the case of Madeleine McCann, but it seems it really has taken years to get to any point. Two years passed since Germany announced they had a suspect before anything new happened.
That came in April 2022 when Portugal officially announced they had a suspect in the case at long last. While they didn’t name Christian B. as the focus of their new investigation, the police did state they were acting on information from German authorities. Of course, plenty put two and two together to realize Christian is the most probable suspect.
April 2022: Gerry and Kate McCann announce they’re pleased police are continuing to investigate Maddie’s disappearance
Things have come a long way from the years that Gerry and Kate were named as primary suspects in their daughter’s disappearance. While several still blame the parents for Madeleine McCann losing her life, others have learned it might have all been a mix-up after all. Now, the McCanns are grateful to Portugal police for naming a new suspect.
The couple released a statement in April 2022 that they “welcome the news” and how it “reflects progress in the investigation.” To top it off, Gerry and Kate had another surprising statement to make. The parents confessed they know the chances are “slim,” but they’ve never “given up hope that Madeleine is still alive” and they’ll be “reunited with her.”
May 2022: There are reports evidence is found in Christian’s van linking him to Madeleine McCann
Germany first started investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in 2020, with Hans Christian Wolters taking a leading role in it all. He is one of the many in charge of the latest developments. Still, it seems he’s not willing to release everything they know about Christian B.’s alleged links to Madeleine just yet.
Rumors circulated in May 2022 that German police have a campervan that once belonged to Christian with evidence it was used to abduct Maddie. It’s said the vehicle has been with the authorities since 2020. However, Wolters said he “[didn’t] want to deny it” when asked about it all by a reporter pushing for more information.
July 2022: Tests are undertaken to determine if Christian was involved with Madeleine McCann’s disappearance
So far, the biggest known link between Christian B. and Madeleine McCann is how the criminal was in Praia da Luz at the same time. In fact, it’s here that he assaulted a woman and was arrested. The years have passed, but July 2022 marked another moment in the case as German authorities put Christian through an identification procedure.
This involves photographing any noticeable birthmarks, tattoos, and scars to see if they can help someone identify someone in a crime. These will then be compared to witnesses who reported seeing a shady individual in the area at the time Madeleine disappeared. However, there have yet to be any reports about the results of the tests.
2022 marks 15 years since Madeleine McCann disappeared
Regardless of what the world thinks about what really happened to Madeleine McCann, her parents have been living without their daughter for years. In fact, May 2022 marked 15 years since Maddie disappeared. According to a statement released by her parents on the anniversary, things haven’t gotten any easier to accept – even all these years later.
Gerry and Kate McCann used a quote from A.A. Milne’s ‘Winnie the Pooh’ to sum up how they feel. Here, they wrote that “even if we are apart, I’ll always be with you.” The couple added that the new anniversary is “no harder” but “no easier either.” Madeleine’s parents say they merely want closure on what happened in 2007.
A burglary gone wrong is a popular theory that’s resurfaced throughout the years
One of the theories that have gained a lot of popularity about Madeleine McCann’s case is that people think it was all a burglary that went wrong. Being in a tourist destination meant it was likely people could have viewed the complex as easy pickings. After all, the crime occurred at night when most people would be out or asleep.
The theory claims that burglars entered the apartment and quickly spotted Madeleine was there. Panicking, people who believe this claim say the burglars took the toddler to cover their tracks. They might have also only taken Madeleine if she was the only one who got out of bed to investigate the noise, meaning the intruders didn’t spot the twins.
Some think Madeleine McCann was abducted and taken to Morocco
Another theory that’s got a lot of attention throughout the years is how Madeleine McCann might have been taken by child traffickers. These are people who abduct youngsters and move them across the world for various reasons. Private investigators later claimed there were potentially known “spotters” working for traffickers operating in Praia da Luz when Maddie disappeared.
Of course, the alarm was immediately raised when the family realized Madeleine was missing from her room, which could have led the abductors to lay low for two days. It’s then that people who trust this theory state Maddie was moved across the border to Morocco and has been missing in the world ever since.
Christian’s ex-girlfriend claims he was involved, something he continues to deny
Christian B. is the latest person accused of taking Madeleine McCann. Although no theory for the abduction has been released to the public, his ex-girlfriend believes he’s the one behind the disappearance. Anastasia Meckesy spoke to The Sun about it all, where she stated Christian is a “human pig” who definitely “knows what happened to little Maddie.”
Anastasia continued to add that she thinks Christian took the toddler and handed her over to someone before she disappeared. However, she believes that if Madeleine McCann were still alive, she would have been found by now. Christian continues to deny the claims he’s responsible for Maddie going missing, stating he has evidence he was elsewhere when she vanished.
One theory states Madeleine McCann was abducted to order for a childless couple
For a time, there were several reports that Madeleine McCann was stolen to order to be handed to a childless couple. While there is no concrete evidence this is the case, it seems this is one of the theories that might hold some weight. Some claim she was handed to new parents; others think the couple themselves took Maddie.
There have been plenty of stories about unusual characters hanging around the family at the beach and near the complex where Madeleine disappeared. Some have theorized they were looking for a girl of a particular description to hand to their “customers.” Others believe they say Maddie and merely wanted her for themselves to start a family.
There’s a theory an assaulter took Maddie McCann and buried her at sea
One thing that’s stumped the investigation throughout the years is how investigators have no idea if Madeleine McCann is alive or if she’s lost her life. This means they have no way to tell what could have happened to the three-year-old. One reason some believe they’ve never found her body is because Madeleine’s remains were thrown into the sea.
They claim someone took the toddler, assaulted her, and ended her life before they needed to cover up their crime. If they did dispose of Maddie in the water, there’s a chance the world will never be able to track her down, especially if she hasn’t been found by now. However, this theory – like every other – has never been proven.
Theories claim Madeleine McCann’s abduction was to boost tourism in Portugal
While there have been some theories about what happened to Maddie McCann that hold some kind of weight, there are others that are completely out there. This is one of them. Some have gone as far as saying the reason Madeleine McCann’s disappearance was so heavily blamed on Gerry and Kate was to boost tourism in the area.
Although Portugal is a popular place for tourists, the Praia da Luz hasn’t always been known as the busiest place on the planet. Instead of blaming it on someone local, theorists say the police pinned all the blame on Gerry and Kate to make the area seem safer for families. Of course, it’s a pretty heavy accusation to make.
Some go as far as saying Madeleine McCann has already been found
The outrageous theories about what happened to Madeleine McCann don’t end with her being a tourist boost for Portugal. Another idea people have come up with since 2007 is the toddler has already been found – we just don’t know it. Being such a high-profile case means millions across the world know Maddie’s face and would recognize her in the street.
What if Gerry and Kate want to keep their daughter safe from the rest of the world? According to some people, letting the world think she’s still missing is the best answer. After all, they don’t have to worry about being hounded for interviews or chased by the press if no one knows she’s home, right?
Others believe Madeleine McCann never existed in the first place
It seems there is no end to how far some people will go to find answers to what really happened to Madeleine McCann. That’s how the enigma theory was born. Plenty of people are critical of everything they hear in the headlines, even if it’s news about a toddler going missing while on vacation in Portugal.
Now, people state that Gerry and Kate are nothing more than hired actors used to pretend their daughter was abducted. Why? Some say it was a bid to raise money for Portugal and the UK in the search for “Maddie.” Others theorize it was the UK’s way of distracting the nation from the other news at the time.
A documentary claims Maddie McCann might have fallen down a well in Portugal
Being such a public case means there have been plenty of articles and documentaries about Madeleine McCann since she disappeared in 2007. Netflix’s show was almost immediately viewed by millions of people across the world and offered a new idea about what happened to the toddler: she was in a tragic accident that ended her life.
A local resident explained in ‘The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann’ that there are “wells all over the place” once you drive out of the touristy parts of Praia da Luz. They continued to add that some of them are known to be 100-foot deep, and it wouldn’t take much for someone to fall, adding “accidents do happen.”
The most popular accusation is Gerry and Kate McCann were involved in Maddie’s disappearance
There is no denying that the most popular theory that’s risen about Madeleine McCann’s case throughout the years is that Gerry and Kate were the ones to end their daughter’s life. While no one has agreed on what happened in the apartment, plenty think that no one else could have been involved, thanks to a host of evidence.
Sniffer dogs hinted there was someone who lost their life in the McCanns’ car, the apartment, and even on some of their clothing. There have also been reports about a spot of blood in the trunk, with plenty theorizing this ended up there when the parents placed Maddie in the back as they looked to hide her body.
The McCanns work as doctors, with some claiming they had access to tranquilizers
Everyone seems to have their own theories about how and why Gerry and Kate McCann allegedly ended their daughter’s life. One that’s gained a lot of traction over the years is linked to the pair’s careers as doctors. While Kate worked as a general practitioner, Gerry focused on cardiology, meaning both had access to all kinds of medicine.
Now, some people state it was supposedly common for the parents to give their children tranquilizers so they would sleep through the night. This reportedly meant they could do things like go to dinner – as they did when Madeleine disappeared. Theorists state Gerry and Kate accidentally gave Maddie too much and were left having to hide her body.
The family still returns to Praia da Luz as they feel closer to Madeleine McCann
Believe it or not, but losing Maddie hasn’t been enough to stop Gerry and Kate from avoiding Portugal for the rest of their lives. While some prefer to stay away from somewhere they experienced trauma, it appears the parents find comfort in Praia da Luz. Kate admitted as much when talking to the BBC about it all.
Kate McCann confessed she returns to Praia da Luz for “personal reasons” as she walks the street to “try to look for answers.” Although the couple has tried to raise awareness about missing children, the new breaks in the case and potential suspect means Praia da Luz has, once again, become a media circus with journalists from across the world.
Critics say the initial investigators took too long to take Madeleine McCann’s disappearance seriously
Plenty have expressed feelings about how they feel Madeleine’s disappearance wasn’t treated seriously enough in the beginning. For one, it took a long time for officers to arrive on the scene, even though there were reports that a three-year-old girl was missing. Former detective Colin Sutton spoke about his feelings on it all to The Mirror.
Here, Colin said that the police should have immediately acted when they learned a toddler was missing, even if they thought it was a case of her wandering away from her parents. However, he adds the investigators were left in a tough position. Did they seal it as a crime scene or act as though Maddie had simply got lost?
The border officials weren’t alerted to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann for hours
Abduction cases usually see people smuggled around the country they were taken. However, there are cases when people are taken across the border, especially when a little one’s involved. Colin Sutton says there is often a “reluctance in policing to ‘overreact’” to things. Colin feels this is why there were several delays when Madeleine McCann was reported missing.
After all, it took until the following day for the borders to be alerted that there was a child missing, and they needed to carefully check she wasn’t being smuggled out of the country. Colin adds that no roadblocks were put in place in the search for Maddie. Who knows what would have happened if things had taken place sooner?
House-to-house inquiries didn’t happen to set the scene and find clues
One of the first things plenty of investigators do in any crime is go door to door to see if anyone saw anything or has information that could help. However, this didn’t happen when Madeleine McCann was reported missing. Still, that might not have been on purpose, as Colin Sutton says the people needed “would not have been immediately available.”
Colin added most people would take a toddler inside if they saw them wandering the streets in their pajamas. There was a case someone might have had Madeleine and been trying to find her parents. Still, being on a vacation complex meant there were hundreds of doors, and the Portuguese police didn’t have the resources to do so.
The CCTV footage from where Maddie McCann disappeared might not have been checked
Nowadays, most people are used to knowing they’re on camera at most times in their lives. From on the streets to in stores and everything in between, CCTV is more widely available than ever before. That might not be the case in Praia da Luz, even today. At least, that’s what Colin Sutton told The Mirror.
The former detective said there were very few cameras in the area where Madeleine McCann went missing. Apparently, even the ones that were available weren’t checked to see if they could spot the toddler. Still, Colin says the lack of cameras might mean the thought of reviewing footage wasn’t at the front of the investigators’ minds.
Madeleine McCann’s toy was washed by Kate before the police checked for DNA
It wasn’t just the apartment that wasn’t sealed off when officers arrived on the scene. Madeleine McCann was known to carry her toy Cuddle Cat just about everywhere she went. The toddler was also allegedly sleeping with it when she disappeared, yet it was left behind. This likely meant someone took it off Madeleine if she was abducted.
So why wasn’t it taken into evidence? That’s something Colin can’t understand. The former detective says there are reports claiming Kate was allowed to wash Cuddle Cat before it was tested. Plus, he claims there are photos of the police wearing casual clothes and not wearing gloves while searching for fingerprints in the apartment, despite the worry of contamination.
Gerry and Kate McCann run a charity looking for Madeleine and are hopeful she will return
While cases like the Boy in the Box leave a child with no parents, investigations like Madeleine McCann’s have the opposite effect: parents with no idea where their child might have gone. Neither is an easy pill to swallow. However, Gerry and Kate McCann have tried to use their story to help others across the world.
As well as traveling the world to raise awareness about Madeleine’s disappearance and help other parents in similar situations, the couple also runs the Madeleine’s Fund charity. The fund has received plenty of donations from celebrities and is used to pay for a small team of investigators who continue to take tips from the public and look for clues.