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The Strange Configuration of Beds and Cots in Madeleine McCann’s Bedroom

The Sun has recently provided some brand new infographics to rejig apartment 5A. It’s brilliantly misleading. The door opens the wrong way. The wardrobe on the left is missing, the drawers on the right are gone and suddenly the small two-bedroom room has exploded into a luxurious suite twice its size.

Also completely missing from The Sun’s misrepresentation are the blankets on the respective beds and on the cots. The yellow fabric draped on one of the cots is right but it’s supposed to be on the cot closest to the door.

This is how the bedroom is supposed to look.

It’s easy to miss from this angle, because the door [opening to the right] is sort of in the way. The wall closet on the right.

As can be seen from the above image, there’s a reasonable amount of space for two occupants in this fairly small children’s room. The windows appear to slide open along a track rather than open outward as represented in the graphic.

In fact this is what the actual sleeping arrangements looked like: it seems as many as four slept in a room that was usually meant for two.

In the above image, which is an official police photo of the crime scene, we see how the door opens to the right and is partially blocked from opening completely by the cot. That’s how cramped the interior is – the door can hardly open. One can’t see the wall cupboards on the right because the door blocks the view.

The red oval circle distracts from the bed at the far end, which appears far more “disheveled” and slept in than Madeleine’s bed.

Note the bed by the window has been pushed away from its headboard, and is actually pressed against the window wall, trapping the lower section of curtain. The curtain is still open.

Poor detective Goncalo Amaral was apparently not even allowed to refer to these original images in his book, so he elected to have the images illustrated.

The illustration above isn’t a 100% accurate representation of the photo above it. The sketch incorrectly shows the bedroom door behind a wide section of protruding cupboard.

The illustration does emphasise just how cramped the little bedroom was. It also gets the idiosyncratic yellow cloth hanging over the nearest cot right compared to The Sun’s disaster.

In the same sketch the bedsheets on the opposite size of the room are shown to be disturbed and in disarray as well.

In the image above we can see more clearly just how unkempt the second bed is. Notice also a pillow almost in the corner against the wall. If an abductor got onto the bed to climb out the window, we’d expect more disturbance on the right of the bed. Instead, it’s exactly this area where there is no disturbance.

One must also ask, if Madeleine’s bed was right by the door, and since it was the easiest way to exit the room while holding her, why would the abductor not simply exit through the same easy access? Why make it harder for himself? Why fjord through the cots, trying not to bump them and set off baby alarms, why clamber onto the bed, why open the noisy shutter and window [without waking the kids or leaving any prints] and why then escape into the view of the parking lot where a car arriving or leaving could easily catch the abductor in the middle of a very suspicious act?

Amaral reckons the cots were never in the room to begin, but were moved there during the abduction spiel.

We may say Amaral is being pigheaded about spaces, beds and cots, and is simply spoiling for a fight with the McCanns on this point. Who cares where the beds are, what does it have to do with the price of eggs? Well, potentially everything. Amaral believes this area is so crucial he’s also gone to the trouble to have the main bedroom illustrated using the police photos.

Once again the bed at the far end of the image looks more slept in than the bed closest to the bedroom door. Note there is no bedside table or lamp for the bed on the right, and notice too the men’s shoes that are on the floor between the two beds. What appears to be a camera bag and a pillow are laid on the almost undisturbed blue blanket on the near side.

If Amaral’s right and there was only one occupant in this room, who was it?

It’s easier to appreciate the distance between the right-hand-side bed and the main bedroom closet from the two perspectives above. Amaral’s right, there is space in that area for one or two cots.

If the cots were moved after Madeleine’s disappearance from the parent’s bedroom to Madeleine’s bedroom, what does that mean, if anything? Well, for one thing, if Madeleine was “abandoned” in apartment 5A during the course of the family’s first week on holiday, if the three-year-old was the only occupant who slept alone, this would raise eyebrows if not necessarily suspicions.

One reason why the cots may not have been in Madeleine’s room, and why she may have been given her own space is perhaps because Madeleine was a light sleeper, or had trouble sleeping.

All of this is speculation though, isn’t it?

But it’s not just Amaral who says the cots migrated between the various bedrooms. Kate McCann says so too:

“Back bedroom” is a strangely vague term. Which one is the back bedroom? It refers to the main bedroom where Gerry and Kate slept, but why not simply say so?

Below if the official Política Judiciária diagram of the crime scene. It’s mostly accurate with the exception of the parents’ bedroom, where the beds are not represented as out of alignment with their respective headboards. The bed [#5] in Madeleine’s room is also not shown out of alignment with its headboard, its mattress mooshing the curtain against the wall.

In Kate’s diagram of the apartment, the cramped confines of the kid’s room is made fairly explicit, as is the direction in which the bedroom door opens and closes. Left out of the diagram is the small chest of drawers between the two single beds, setup against the wall. Note the position of the wicker chair in the corner of the children’s bedroom differs from the police diagram and the photos, where the chair is pulled away from the wall. [Scroll to the end for images of the chair in the corner].

Kate is very explicit that the cots they requested were placed by Ocean Club staff in the main bedroom, and that they elected to put the three children in the front room [Madeleine’s room] of their own accord.

She mentions they’d “only be using their room to sleep in” which suggests Kate was aware that the room was so jammed up there wasn’t space for anything else [getting dressed, changing nappies, playing games or reading bedtime stories].

The other half of Kate’s graphic is a little less forthcoming – in my view – than the lower half. Firstly the garden area below the balcony is left out, as are both balcony railings. Then, the bedside table in the main bedroom is missing.

The blue couch where the cadaver odor alerts occurred in the lounge is also missing. The representation of the beds in the main bedroom also doesn’t indicate they were moved away from the wardrobe to create space.

In Madeleine’s room Kate says the beds were pushed apart to make space for the cots, but from other images it appears the beds are set apart on opposite sides of the room. It’s almost as though Kate confused herself here, or else she’s conflating the moving of beds in a way that might be confusing to others.

In any event, we already have a premise here in this representation for leaving the children elsewhere in the apartment so the adults could enjoy their own space, or as Kate puts it “take this one for ourselves”.

It suffices to say in this short description, Kate confirms that the sleep arrangements as set out by the Ocean Club staff were “reorganized” by the McCanns. Kate’s version of events was that immediately when they arrived, they efficiently set out to reorder the furniture in a way that suited them better. But is this really the way it happened? Was the reconfiguration really premeditated, if that is the word?

Another possibility is that the family were having trouble sleeping, like so many young families are prone to, and that this eventuality caused a reorganizing of sleeping arrangements.

If the latter is in fact what happened, what more than that?




  1. Kathleen

    Those “travel cots”! What ratty little beds for the children. And poor Madeleine alone, sleepless, terrified. Why didn’t they care? Madeleine and one of the babies had been awake and crying on a previous evening according to Kate and a neighbor. If a poor, uneducated family treated young children so negligently, they would have been charged with crimes. I have come to agree that there is something huge and unknown about that night.

    • Ralph Oscar

      They’ve become quite popular in the US – they’re called “Pack ‘n’ Play” and they are marketed as serving dual purpose as a play pen or a place for napping. The children can’t get out – that’s the main point. Most (and the ones pictured above as well) fold up for easy transport.

      • Laura Thompson

        There are also ways to make them more comfortable for the little ones, depending on age. We used one for out of town trips when my youngest was small. The point is, they are only for temporary use, not as an everyday bed. Back in the day, when my cousins were little, they were called “port-a-cribs.”

        I agree that the ones in the photo are especially ratty looking. The McCanns didn’t seem to devote a lot of time or resources to their children’s comfort, in my opinion. They probably could have afforded to get something better for the littles to sleep in, even if they had to provide it themselves. I would not use a hotel-provided pack n play. Gross! Like I said, we brought our own whenever we went out of town.

  2. Sylvester

    Can someone tell me what date and time these pictures of the bedrooms were taken? Thank you –

    • nickvdl

      4 May 2007, at 15:30

      • Sylvester

        Okay – well, that’s unfortunate. It would have been better to have taken pictures of the rooms immediately after she was reported missing.

        • nickvdl

          True, but who does that? Children go missing multiple times a day every day and most of them are found without the need for police searches or forensic teams. When is the right time to raise the alarm and investigate a child’s room as a crime scene? 1 hour? 4? 24 hours?

          Personally I’m surprised they photographed the scene as early as the next day. Compare it to the Watts case. When was 2825 Saratoga Trail comprehensively photographed? In that case the cops gave Watts an extra night inside the crime scene to take care of any and all incriminating evidence, and no surprise he did a pretty good job.

          And this is exactly why the missing person smokescreen is such an effective way to frustrate an investigation, because while that status exists – of a less serious crime – the police aren’t justified in taking various investigative initiatives [they don’t have reasonable cause].

          • Sylvester

            Well I’m thinking too, the parents are allowed to go back inside and do whatever they want in the rooms – or the house.

            With Watts thanks to Officer Coonrod’s bodycam (and of course NA) we were able to see the house as he left it just before 6 a.m.

            I had thought if the pictures were taken right after she was supposedly abducted, then the adult’s beds wouldn’t have looked slept in – and only one twin bed would have been rumpled – assuming housekeeping came in during the day on the 3rd. So the fact that they are rumpled (but just one side of Kate and Gerry’s beds pushed together) and the bed closest to the window with metal shade says to me Kate slept in one bed and Gerry in the other. Seems odd, doesn’t it. Because if she, and he, were worried about the twins, they would just have put the cots in the room where they were sleeping and sleep together in the pushed-together beds.

          • nickvdl

            Yes but on the night of May 3rd the McCanns didn’t sleep or stay at 5A. I believe they stayed with their friends Dr. David Payne and Dr. Fiona Payne [the latter an anesthetist like Kate McCann]. The Paynes were in apartment 5H. 5H was upstairs and one apartment to the left [or west].


            In Kate’s book she mentions having a falling out with Gerry and deciding not to sleep in the same room as her husband. She describes this as “highly unusual” and “unprecedented”. This was May 2nd; Gerry returned to the apartment at 23:50 and Kate left the Tapas Bar some minutes later, She says in her book she was offended that he had left without her, and when she got back he was asleep and snoring. So she acknowledges the night before the disappearance that she slept in the room with the children. Quite late for parents of three children to be returning “home” though, isn’t it?

  3. Sylvester

    Oh, I see. Well, that adds an extra twist to all of this. A disagreement May 2, perhaps both of them sitting in separate areas of the restaurant, maybe some drinking, and leaving at different times. And leaving late. I could imagine neither of them feeling too well May 3.

  4. Kathleen

    I was amazed and appalled to read that Kate blamed staff at the tapas restaurant for noting on their reservation, an exception to regular practice, that the children were going to be left alone and checked on periodically. How dare she? It was she and her husband who decided somehow that leaving a three year old and two eighteen months old infants alone in a ratty room was acceptable. This thinking is so flawed it is unimaginable to me and I think to every parent I know. And now we have years of theatrical grieving and, as far as I know, no real remorse for the parent’s negligence. It is not victim blaming. Madeleine was the victim. I believe the parents are perpetrators, one way or another. At a minimum through negligence.

  5. HP

    its ALL about the position of one of the cribs. im making a video right now explaining why, but heres the summary:

    I believe her when she says she slept in the kids room on the night of the 2nd, but not because of his snoring or a disagreement. she couldn’t bring herself to sleep in the same room, only a few feet from the body of maddie, who was at that point hidden in the bottom area of the 2nd wardrobe in their room (exactly where the dogs alerted) Its also why gerry slept alone, in the bed furthest from the wardrobe.

    I believe the maids testimony. she cleaned the apartment on may 2nd and noticed ONE crib in their room, and the OTHER crib in the kids room. gerry and kate had moved 1 of the cribs in front of the wardrobe on the morning of the 2nd in order to discourage the maid from opening the wardrobe and discovering maddies body hidden inside. they then moved the crib back to the kids room later on the 2nd or maybe on the 3rd sometime, then disposed of the body and then staged their kidnapping.

    there was nothing else in the apartment they could feasibly move in front of the wardrobe that would stop the maid from opening the door OR create suspicion. the cribs allowed them freedom to block the door but not set off alarms. Kate panics when the portugese police bring up the cribs. she knew they were getting close, hence why she OVER compensates and states that a) there was 3 cribs not 2, b) they gave one to the paynes (cant be confirmed) and c) that the cribs were in the kids room the WHOLE trip.

    their earlier statements, despite being in perfect detail, make NO effort to talk about loaning the 3rd crib to the paynes. this was because they hadnt considered the maids testimony just yet. they made a mistake and floundered in their cover up. they state they moved ALL the cribs into the kids room. yet we can clearly see theres no room for a 3rd crib.

  6. Simone Johansson

    I find it very strange about the comforter on the bed that seems to be very perfectly placed, if kidnapper is in the room and is about to grab the girl, why let the comforter be still on the girl and might wake her up? wouldnt the kidnapper make sure to carefully or stressfully remove the comforter completely of her body to not make her wake up. this is ofcourse not nessesary if he/she drugged maddie before she was taken, but i assume that a kidnapper would not have time to drug a child because anyone could enter the room, just as the kidnapper wouldnt know if there was a camera or something else that would pick up his/her presence. it just doesnt look like someone slept in the bed, toodlers usually kick around before actually falling asleep but maybe maddie fell asleep somewhere else and was put into bed carefully. could be anything could be nothing…

    • nickvdl

      You’re right, the bed doesn’t look slept in.

      • grace

        i agree, it looks way too neat considering the fact that it was a bed that a 3 year old toddler slept in

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