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“If Madeleine McCann died on May 3rd, where was her body hidden?” [MAP]

There’s something fundamentally wrong with this search map of the east side of Praia da Luz, from 9News. Can you tell what it is?

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On March 18, 2019, Mark Saunokonoko touched on the mostly unexplored country that is the search for Madeleine McCann’s remains – assuming she died and there is a body.

In If Madeleine McCann was killed or died, where might her body have been hidden? Saunokonoko cites Britain’s leading expert in locating missing persons, whether abducted or murdered.

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Obviously getting expert information is just good investigative journalism, but let’s face it, 40 experts were interviewed in the £20 million Netflix documentary series. Do those 40 experts, individually or collectively, solve the case or even advance it towards where it needs to go?

Experts can give a narrative credibility whether in court, in a documentary or in a news story. One expert or 40 doesn’t, however, suddenly recast reality. Credibility isn’t reality. Reality is what it is.

Saunokonoko’s expert, Mark Harrison, was tasked to build a report based on the theory that Madeleine was dead and her remains were somewhere. It’s important to contextualize how Harrison came onto the scene. Who employed him? When did he come onto the scene? How did he investigate that was different and useful, and what ultimately did he find out?

Well he wasn’t employed by the McCanns. It wasn’t Harrison who first suggested using cadaver dogs and Harrison wasn’t the first to suggest Madeleine had died on May 3rd, either. He was brought in to investigate that possibility, rather than that he came in and introduced everyone to that possibility.

Kate McCann herself had hinted as much through a dream she said she’d had in late July 2007. This is very important, that the shift in this direction came from the McCanns although South African boyyhunter Danie Krugel seemed to be the first to a) recommend the use of cadaver dogs and b) suggest Madeleine was no longer alive.

Krugel’s visit and Kate McCann’s dream – that Madeleine was no longer alive –  seemed to sort of coincide, didn’t they?


Kate had dream of where to dig – The Sun [April 6, 2016]

TURNING POINT  Kate McCann’s dream about Maddie’s buried body led to her wrongly becoming the police’s prime suspect – The Sun [March 27, 2019]

Understandably the Polícia Judiciária didn’t take Krugel’s advice to heart immediately, but when Kate tearfully called them up giving the impression for the first time that she thought Madeleine was dead, clearly they started to consider it. And the change in the McCanns attitude to the case in late July caused the cops to shift the focus of their investigation.

It seems when Harrison made the same recommendations as Krugel, he was able to provide guidance. He made specific recommendations – use cadaver dogs, and use specific dogs from the South Yorkshire Police Department with a track record in international cases. And so, that’s what the Polícia Judiciária did.


In Gonçalo Amaral’s book [published in August 2009], he emphasises this damaging claim from Harrison which contradicts the spirit of the Netflix documentary ten years later:

After a week of intense work, Harrison presents the results of his study to my coordinating group. Even if we were expecting it, his conclusions confirm our worst fears. The most plausible scenario is the following: there is no doubt that Madeleine is dead, and her body is hidden somewhere in the area around Praia da Luz. He praises the quality of the work carried out by the Portuguese authorities in trying to find the little girl alive. According to him, the time has come to redirect the searches in order to find, this time, a body hidden in the surrounding area. 


Harrison also produces a map which, based on his research [of the witness statements, and of the McCanns themselves] suggests Madeleine’s body may be in one of these five areas.

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But Harrison’s map is fundamentally flawed. Can you see why? Here’s a hint. At the time Harrison made his recommendations, the Tannerman sighting was considered both credible and “the most credible” sighting. We know the Tannerman sight suggested the abductor was heading east, away from the apartment, but we also know the Tannerman sighting has since been debunked.

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And here’s another. This is the view from the Rocha Nechra [red circle on the far right] towards Praia da Luz…



In Kate McCann’s book, chapter 6th dealing with the morning after Madeleine’s disappearance [May 4th], a neighbor is mentioned across the road on the east side of the apartment [across the Rua Dr Gentil Martins]. This unidentified, anonymous neighbor tells the McCanns she saw a car going up the Rocha Negra at night. Kate notes there is a track going up the Rocha Negra but it’s not meant for vehicles. So what was a vehicle doing up there? There are several photos showing the McCanns running this same track.



It’s important to note that in the photo on the right, we can see a long way back to houses and apartments behind the McCanns. This also means folks in those houses and apartments have line of sight – over several miles to them.


Writing about the morning of May 4th, Kate – referring to strange lights late at night on the Rocha Negra – conjures “visions of Madeleine being disposed of somewhere on the overhanging cliff…” Kate actually uses the word “conjures” as well. Conjures visions. When Kate tells a police officer about it, he’s dismissive.

He has good reason to be dismissive. If someone as far away as the apartment block could see suspicions goings-on on the Rocha Negra, even at night, was it really the ideal place to surreptitiously “dispose of” someone?

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And those words don’t particularly suggest Kate thinks her daughter is alive, does it?

If Harrison’s map was based on the testimonies of the Tapas 7 [including Jane Tanner] and the McCanns, and the map focused on the east side of Praia da Luz, what was the fundamental flaw?



  1. CBH

    I wonder what Gerry thought of Kate speaking of conjured visions of Maddi dead and being disposed of. Though the location is wrong, the rest is a kind of confession.

    • nickvdl

      Or a strategic misdirection.

  2. Sylvester

    They should look in the opposite direction of the hills. They’ll never find her now though. Maybe a bone one day or a tooth. Sad sorry turn of events. What a web they wove.

  3. Ralph Oscar

    Nick, are you thinking they should have considered the other side of that short peninsula in the other direction? There’s ocean over there as well, the perfect place to get rid of remains (if you can just keep them underwater).

    • nickvdl

      That’s the trick though, isn’t it?

      • Ralph Oscar

        As we saw with Scott Peterson, yes indeedy.

      • Ralph Oscar

        And that possibility, the other side of the peninsula, becomes all the more interesting when Kate McCann said, “Look over HERE!” while pointing in the opposite direction…

  4. Estelle dos Santos

    I personally find it absolutely ridiculous that some people feel that the parents were guilty and got rid of Madeleine’s body. It was their 1st time in Portugal, they were not at all familiar with the surroundings and they did not even have their own transport till 3 days after the child disappeared, they arrived by plane and had been taken to their holiday apartment by the airport shuttle. I feel sorry that they have been the subject of all these nasty conspiracy theories.

    • nickvdl

      The lead investigator felt the parents were guilty, and they were both declared official suspects in September 2007. So do you think that’s ridiculous? When the defamation case went to trial the Portuguese court made it clear that the arguido status hadn’t been lifted. This was recently, in 2017:

      Martin Smith claimed he saw Gerry carrying a child [3-4 years old] through an alley on the night of the disappearance. Also ridiculous?

      • Petra Lawrence

        The parents did it but it was an accident. Their body language and the content analysis of their interviews show that they confess to this- Madeleine was tired (because a sedative was used on Madeline and the twins. The tapas friends commented how the twins stayed asleep through all of the noise). During the night, Madeline woke up and she fell in a way that was very bad for the parents – she fell behind the couch because that is where the cadaver dog went to.

        • nickvdl

          she fell behind the couch because that is where the cadaver dog went to. >Not necessarily. There could have been an attempt to resuscitate her behind the couch. And a fall from the couch would hardly kill a child, otherwise couches would come equipped with child safety balconies.

    • Ery

      I feel the same way, I think the upstairs neighbors would’ve been aware that the parents left the kids alone. They would’ve been able to see that from sitting on their balcony. Any one know if they were interviewed and their room searched. I think the window was too high to go into without a ladder but I think once inside if the kidnapper was there when the father arrived and hear some noise that, that would explain the kidnapper going out the window as a quick exit. No one heard Maddie scream and the twins were out cold which leads me to believe the kidnapper used chloroform on all three children which makes me think he would’ve taken all three if the dad hadn’t come in. From Maddie’s comment about her mother not coming in the night before when the kids were crying could be evidence that the kidnapper had been there the night before and fled because of the crying it could explain that the kidnapper used cloraform and why the twins slept through everything. Another thing the police didn’t investigate was the records of private planes that came in and left during that week. Portugal was in the news because rich individuals were taking orphans to sexually abuse them and since then a bunch of kids like Riu Pedro have vanished. Why not also look at all the boats and send a coastguard to return any boats that departed. Also why didn’t they bring a sniffer dog right away to pick up her scent. I find it weird that the mom left the twins and went back to the tapas bar to raise alert. As a mom I would’ve checked my other two kids first, started screaming like a lunatic and looked for a phone to call the police. I’m American and from the city so I would never leave my underage children alone even if they were sleeping nor would I ever not lock all my doors. The parents are from Leichester so I can imagine how they wouldn’t be too worried about leaving windows open and doors unlocked or even leaving their kids in their kids unattended in their hotel room if they’re sleeping. The parents didn’t know about the break in robberies or that a serial rapist was in the area. Honestly who really thinks they’ll come across a rapist or have to deal with a break in on vacation. I’m 42 and since I’ve never experienced such or travel to overtly known dangerous places those thoughts never cross my mind when I go on Vacation. The algarve doesn’t look dangerous until you hear about the drug trafficking, the rapes, the break ins, the robberies and the kidnappings.

  5. Sylvester

    Is Martin Smith the fellow who saw Gerry walking from a plane carrying one of his children that triggered his memory from the night of May 3 when he saw who he believes was Gerry carrying a child toward the beach at around 10 p.m.? I remember something about that – that the man had a strange feeling he had seen a similar image the night Madeleine was “abducted.”

    • nickvdl

      Yes. And it wasn’t just Smith who saw a man carrying a child that night, he was with his family and his family saw the same thing. Smith said he recognized the way Gerry was holding the child and the way he walked.

      • wayne

        Normally , not alway s necessary , the crime that has been committed you will generally find some form of clue or evidence within a radius of approximately 1.5 km , so it would depend on how well they saturated
        the immediate area and how many people were used in the search , and after how long after the missing report was taken from the parents that the physical search started?. It would also determine from were the measurement was taken ,if various measurements were taken from different points , and were bisected what would the common denominator be : type of terrain , derelict buildings or abandoned buildings. Everybody looks in areas that are far away instead of immediate areas , closer to the scene as it would appear to be unlikely that the criminal would make such a decision to do so , however the criminal knows this , and does exactly this in order to cause delaying tactics in the investigation.

  6. Mk

    Maybe Google earth could help here…. Just a thought.
    Disturbed patches of ground etc.

  7. Ery

    I think the German policy is onto Christopher B. because they’ve discovered they have a serial rapist/murderer and made the connection with Maddie through tracking his whereabouts and cell phone pings and have noticed the similarities between cases. Which is pretty normal for serial offenders to have repeat patterns in how they attack and what they do afterwards.

  8. Becka

    I think it’s likely Madeleine died the night of Wednesday May 2. This is my theory…
    The little girl being carried was the 4 year old blonde daughter of Jane Tanner. Gerry wanted to use her to simulate an abduction and additionally create confusion by being sighted at 10pm and yet having an alibi for 10pm. Gerry and the girl were picked up and taken back to the apartments in the car borrowed from the Gorrods.
    On Thursday 2nd May Madeleines body was taken in the missing tennis bag by two of the Tapas men in a catamaran out to sea to the part of Rocha Negra that can only be accessed by boat. Its a rocky bit that juts out at each end. In the statements of the group its told how one of the men fell overboard. This is to cover in case anyone spotted him enter the water or arrive back soaking wet. The McCanns used the double stroller they borrowed from the complex, with a blanket over it (how parents shade the sun) to get her body to the catamaran.
    Afterwards the families EXCEPT the McCanns ate at a food outlet/restaurant at the beach.
    Also David Payne visited the McCann apartment afterwards and the children were angelic, dressed in white and the family at peace.
    Later the McCanns have retrieved her using the hire car to transport her body to its final resting place which may be burial but also cremation and her ashes may be in the small garden next to the little church with a portion taken back to England.
    I have spent alot of time reading all the PJ files and joined many discussion groups which I have narrowed down to this theory.

  9. Mad Observer

    Hi Becka – very interested to read your theory above, specially your comments about the Smith sighting. My own theory is also that Jane Tanner’s daughter (who had also been sedated) was used to create simulated sightings on the night of 3 May as part of the abduction narrative. It could be suggested that Jane Tanner’s own “sighting” was her describing herself carrying her daughter in a (failed!) attempt to create a sighting nearby the apartment (both herself and David Payne refer to her carrying a child before correcting themselves, he in his 2008 rogatory and she in a TV interview later on – and the fact that she said the “abductor” had “long hair at the back”, might be just in case someone had seen her). The Smith sighting, I suggest, is JT’s husband, Russell O’Brien (same build as Gerry McCann and it was dark) also creating a sighting a bit later with their same daughter – successfully this time and all he would have had to do is turn the corner after passing the Smiths, take the child back to the Ocean Club where his wife was waiting in the apartment with their other child and turn up at the dinner table again, mission accomplished. Their absences from the table on 3 May, of course, were justified to police saying their daughter was ill.
    After much investigation and consideration, I have concluded, like many others, that Madeleine must have died before 3 May – probably on the night of 1 May – in order for the McCanns to compose themselves, get the body out of the way of any local searches and organise/carry out the abduction simulation.
    I believe the key to solving the mystery is the twins, Sean and Amélie, who will one day demand and get the truth from the family.

    I would be very interested to know what anyone else thinks about this Jane Tanner/Russell O’Brien simulated sightings idea.

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