Skip navigation

Rumor vs. evidence in Madeleine McCann case

Did the Portuguese police botch the investigation or are the parents guilty?

Van Zandt:  Is this just a botched police investigation or did the McCanns kill their daughter?
Melanie Maps / AFP - Getty Images
Free video
McCann's father: 'Heartbreaking' return
Sept. 9: The parents of missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann have returned to the U.K. after being named suspects in their daughter's disappearance. Watch Gerry McCann's statement to the press upon the family's arrival on British soil.
NBC video
After named suspects, McCann parents now home
Sept. 9: The parents of Madeleine McCann are now in Britain, after Portugese police named them suspects.
  Most Popular
Most viewed

Clint Van Zandt

Dr. Kate McCann stared out of the window of the plane flying her, her husband, and two of their three children from Portugal to their home in Great Britain.  According to the media, fellow passengers later that her expression indicated her sadness at having to leave Portugal without her precious daughter, Madeleine, while others cynically suggest she was happy to be escaping the pressures of being named as a police suspect in the disappearance of her daughter some four months ago.

One “investigative” tactic of the Portuguese police seems to be to leak information to the media in an attempt to put pressure on the McCanns and to suggest that the police were actually carrying out a professional investigation and not simply flailing their arms against two grieving parents, while they haven't targeted in the absence of other credible suspects.  Media sources in both Portugal and Great Britain have reported that with the help and assistance of British police, something the Portuguese seemed to have resisted in the initial stage of this case, significant physical evidence has been found to link the McCanns, especially Kate, to the disappearance and believed death of Madeleine. 

Their working theory
Police seem to have adopted a working theory that the McCanns, wanting to have a night out without being concerned with constantly caring for and checking on then 3-year-old Madeleine and her two-year-old twin brother and sister, intentionally sedated Madeleine with  her subsequently expiring due to an overdose of  sedative.  Everything after her death, the police seem to suggest through tabloid leaks, was a massive cover-up on the level of the JFK murder or the downing of TWA 800, or so many other conspiracy theories.

This working theory suggests that the McCanns, both medical doctors, found Madeleine dead, hid her body for almost a month, and them moved her body to some unknown disposal site.  This theory (according to the media from alleged police leaks), is supported by the finding of blood spatter in the resort apartment rented by the McCann family, the reactions of a British sniffer dog to the presence of blood the dog identified as Madeleine’s, and DNA examination of forensic evidence found in the trunk of an automobile the McCann’s rented some 25 days after Madeleine’s disappearance.  The theory goes on to suggest that Madeleine’s blood was found in the trunk, thereby indicating that sometime after renting the car the McCann’s used it to transport Madeleine’s long since dead body. Another sniffer dog allegedly reacted to “the presence of death” in the apartment used by the McCanns and had a similar reaction to clothing worn by Kate McCann and to a doll used by Madeleine.

Missing in this theory, of course, is some spokesperson from the DNA lab or British police confirming these reports and suggesting their belief of what such “evidence” may mean to this case.  Also missing is any suggestion as to why, if having died of an overdose of some type of sedative, that Madeleine’s blood would have been found in the apartment or the car, or of where the McCann’s could have concealed their daughter’s body for 25 plus days. Or any guess as to how they could have secretly retrieved Madeleine’s body, placed it in the trunk of the rented car, and drove unobserved to some secret, probably predetermined body disposal site where they may have unceremoniously dumped their oldest child’s body and just as stealthfully returned to their rented apartment, totally undetected by law enforcement, the media, the public or the ever watchful paparazzi.

Many, like me, see the similiarities drawn by Madeleine’s parents to the investigation conducted in the United States over a decade ago— the one surrounding the death of Jon Benet Ramsey. 

In both cases there is more than enough information to suggest that the investigators were either slow to respond, careless, or even inept in the way they investigated the reported the disappearance of both young girls. We know, of course, Jon Benet’s disappearance quickly became an unsolved murder investigation, while Madeleine’s disappearance is still a life or death mystery.

Sponsored links

Resource guide