True crime never rests, true crime research never sleeps. If it seems like CrimeRocket is on hiatus, well, I’m sharpening the saw elsewhere.
For ten days I’ve been on the ground in a tourist resort on the Algarve known as Praia da Luz. I’m following up a number of lines of inquiry I first wrote about in the DOUBT trilogy, in 2017.
This year I wanted to be in the area at the exact time, and on the same date as the abduction. Follow the hashtag #DeepIntoDarkness on Twitter and Instagram to get a sneak peek on where I’ve been and what’s coming soon.
It’s a popular misconception that Calpol Night helps children to sleep.
Is it really?
On the same day the McCanns finally arrived home at the end of a disastrous summer in Portugal, the Sunday Times published an analysis of how the well-to-do British parents [both doctors] had been unfairly victimized by Portuguese cops and Portuguese tabloid media.
One of the “most powerful rumours” quoted in the article was this one:
The inference is that the gossip surrounding the use of a Calpol as a sedative cannot possibly be true simply because – medically speaking – Calpol isn’t a sedative.
Do a Google search of “Calpol sedative” and Google will inform you that:
Well, it depends on “when”. If the question is: Does Calpol Night have a sedative effect today? the answer is no. The date of the article cited in the Google search [February 16, 2005] seems to predate the incident involving Madeleine McCann by over two years.
The problem with the assessment that the active ingredients have no sedative effect is that they don’t refer to the actual active ingredient that does: diphenhydramine hydrochloride.
There are three important points to raise in this respect:
1. While the original Calpol Night did contain Paracetamol, and while Paracetamol is a painkiller as opposed to a sedative [confirming the accuracy of the text above] the other active ingredient is used to treat coughs and runny noses.
It dries nasal secretions and is, as such, an antihistamine. Antihistamines are famously sedating, and diphenhydramine hydrochloride is no exception. So the original Calpol Night does have a sedative effect, despite the claim in the Sunday Times that this was a rumour, and apparently the same claim by the doctors at the centre of the allegations that it had no sedative effect.
2. What is astonishing is that the Sunday Times either was ignorant of the well-known trend in British to sedate their children using cough-medicine in the decade following 2000, or was deliberately ignorant. In other words, they either misled their readers on a misconception that wasn’t, or they did so accidentally. A year and ten days after “setting the record straight on the safety of Calpol” the same newspaper referred to the “Calpol generation” in a headline, and the dangers of the medication leading to long term side-effects.
3. By March 2009 the original formula of Calpol Night was discontinued, and the product packaging of the replacement product was altered to reflect this. After coming under review, it was no longer recommended to dose any children under six years of age with Calpol Night. [Madeleine McCann was three-years-old at the time of her disappearance]. Some of the side effects associated with the original formula now officially included drowsiness, hallucinations and potentially serious liver and kidney damage.
The Calpol product that replaced Calpol Night in 2009 doesn’t have a sedative effect. The Calpol product that existed at the time something happened to the doctors’ daughter during their holiday in Portugal in 2007, absolutely did.
The mindfuckery reaches a dizzying crescendo in the final episode in the Netflix documentary, especially in the last 30 minutes. One moment a brand new suspect is identified, then another, then another, THEN ANOTHER, THEN ANOTHER…
It’s almost with gleeful celebration that these names and numbers are touted. Why all of this information is “saved” for last is odd. Why not have an episode that deals exclusively with the long list of suspects [all of whom turned into dead ends], rather than throwing darts at a board and going, could it be this guy, how about this one? Could Madeleine be in Morocco? How about Australia? What about this Marina here, at 06:00 on May 4th?
There is a cultish triumphalism about “keeping the faith” in episode eight that reminds me of Apocalyptic Doctrine in the bible. The longer the Apocalypse doesn’t happen, the more certain it is to happen. If Armageddon hasn’t happened after 2000 years of prediction, oh boy, are we close to it happening now!
Also, the longer the Apocalypse doesn’t happen, the more evidence there is that it’s about to. It’s the End of Days. Something is about to happen.
It seems the same counter-intuitive gospel is being used here. The longer Madeleine remains missing the more certain she is to be found. The longer she remains missing, the more certain there is to be evidence that shes out there.
If we applied this gospel to our everyday lives, whether applying for a job, or asking someone out on a date, most would agree that the longer the period without confirmation, the more certain the reply is likely to be negative.
Of course it’s of no use to be broadly dismissive [of anything] in true crime. And, like we see in The Matrix, one can’t be told what something is, one must experience it in order to know it. Saying something is bullshit is one thing, smelling it is another.
With that in mind, let’s take three specific examples of mindfuckery in the final episode, to see what we’re dealing with.
1. It’s The Ocean Club’s Fault
Kate McCann found out that a booking they’d made at the Tapas Restaurant had been visible to others. In other words, it’s written explicitly in the registration/bookings book that the families would spend a week dining in the Tapas Bar at a particular time because their children were somewhere else. Now it’s the Ocean Club’s responsibility for allowing this sensitive information to fall into the hands of a shadowy, lurking pedophile abductor who happened to be floating around the Club there and then.
One of the co-authors narrating the story provides reinforcement for this same mind-job. This time it’s the fault of the authorities for not informing tourists that Praia da Luz was swarming with pedophiles, and if they’d only known this, they would never have left their children alone.
This is a wonderful jab firstly at the irresponsible Ocean Club staff, and secondly at the bungling Portuguese cops. Had they done their jobs, the parents could have dined in peace without their child being abducted while they were away.
There seems to be absolutely no question that leaving young children alone for an extended time actually invited some sort of incident in the first place.
One aspect of the McCann narrative that is also missed is that the McCanns didn’t just leave three-year-old Madeleine so that they could dine somewhere else, they left three children, including two one-and-a-half-year-olds. In addition to this, when the McCanns were dining out, Kate herself didn’t do her check when she was supposed to, but gave up her check to someone else. On the night of May 3rd, the night Madeleien disappeared, by the time Kate did her one check Madeleine was already gone.
It’s also strange what Kate doesn’t seem to say – not in the documentary nor in so many of the interviews she’s given over the years. It would be the most natural [and understandable] thing in the world for her to say, and if she said it one would probably feel a lot more sympathy for her. “I feel guilty. I feel bad. It’s my fault…”
But you don’t hear those words. Instead it’s everyone else’s fault but the McCanns, and everyone else is a suspect, or made serious mistakes, or errors in judgement, but the McCanns.
Ten years after she vanished, Kate said: “You do feel guilty. Other families haven’t had the publicity and money.” Former GP Kate, 49, admits she used to feel “really embarrassed” about the £11 million spent on the investigation.
I wonder – do they feel guilty about £20 million spent on a documentary that’s really about implicating a host of obvious suspects, while clearly making an effort to exonerate them in the court of public opinion?
One should also note that after years of adverse publicity, the Ocean Club resort where Madeleine died or disappeared went bankrupt. A lot of people lost their jobs. All the money Kate felt embarrassed about could theoretically have gone to saving some of those jobs lost as a result of unrelenting bad press surrounding the luckless resort.
The property, which the new owner is partially shielding from public view, was axed from tour operators’ recommended accommodation after stunned holidaymakers learned it was “the Maddie flat.” A British expat living in the resort told The Sun Online said today: “The place is no longer being used as a holiday option. I’m surprised it lasted so long as a viable let with its grim history.”
The McCann’s had rented the flat from Mark Warner Holidays for around £1,500 for a one-week holiday when three-year-old Maddie vanished from her bed on May 3, 2007.
The two-bedroom apartment lay empty for a month but was then used by two families for a one-week and fortnight-long holiday before it was finally sealed off as a permanent crime scene. Once the world’s media had departed the front of the Ocean Club complex and Portuguese police closed their investigation in 2008, the property was put up for sale for around £250,000. The price was repeatedly slashed until it was eventually sold earlier this year for around £113,000 by British widow Kathleen Macguire-Cotton.
…for two years after her disappearance, the number of tourists “noticeably decreased”. “People lost their jobs because of this. A lot of shops and restaurants closed down. It had a huge influence on the real estate market.”
If it was the Ocean’s Clubs fault, they and much of Praia da Luz have paid a price and done their penance many times over.
2. “New Technology will help us find Madeleine…”
This is a decent point raised in the final episode. Advances in technology are improving the forensic side of true crime investigations. The application of these technological breakthroughs in the McCann case could be applied in two areas above all, DNA testing and facial recognition software.
The Netflix narrative doesn’t highlight either of these very practical areas in any detail, but instead goes to the fuzzier area of time-lapsing Madeleine’s appearance. What would she look like now?
Ernie Allen [pictured above] is the ex-President & CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in America. He narrates chunks of virtually every episode in the series [with apparent impartiality].
In the final minutes of episode eight we see Allen working side-by-side with the McCanns for the first time. Allen is touting cutting edge technology to the McCanns, and doing so on camera. It has nothing to do with DNA [and there is much in dispute and much uncertainty regarding the DNA evidence surrounding this case] or facial recognition software. It’s simply a kind of digital “aging”.
Although the value of “aging” Madeleine’s face has dubious application in my opinion [especially if Madeleine is no longer with us], the interaction between Allen and Kate is worth noting.
Observe how both Allen and Kate emphasise how Madeleine’s features resemble her mother’s.Gerry is not mentioned and remains uncharacteristically silent throughout this aspect of the discussion.
Why would it be “upsetting” to see her three-year-old recast as a little girl, apparently alive and well? If Madeleine is dead, then clearly all of this is a reminder of what Madeleine herself has missed, isn’t it?
3. “There are many, many, many similar cases of abductions where years went by and the people were found, and they’re JUST LIKE Madeleine..”
The Intertextual aspect in the McCann case is very important, and provides potentially a lot of insight to understanding this case. Although the documentary does hint at the relative rarity of a child as young as Madeleine being abducted [as part of the official statistics], they gloss over the truly Intertextual aspect.
In the final flourish of episode eight cases are noted where children are abducted only to return “safe and sound” years later, and in a solitary instance decades later.
The trouble is, all of these reference cases involve children around ten or eleven years old, or even older, and in two of the three instances cited, the children are abducted from public outdoor areas such as waiting for a bus or outside riding a bike.
In Elizabeth Smart’s case the fourteen-year-old was abducted from home. Yeah, she was fourteen, not three going on four.
In the single instance cited where a child was much younger, it was a baby snatched at a hospital, and in that case the baby [not identified by name in the series] grew up and self-identified herself to her parents. The baby wasn’t snatched or abused by pedophiles.
The unidentified woman highlighted by the series is Carlina White, the case with the longest-known gap in a non-parental abduction in history where the victim was reunited with her parents [23 years].
Clearly all of these cases are miles apart from from a three-year-old girl supposedly abducted, because if one thing is clear, a three-year-old child is way harder to look after or even engage sexually with for an extended period [as uncomfortable as that is to hear] than an older child.
When very young children are abducted for sexual purposes they are typically murdered very soon after. The idea that a survivor of a pedophile ring might be allowed to grow up and one day wander off, back into society and then blow the lid off this massive enterprise is idiotic in the extreme. It simply doesn’t happen.
Now for a few final observations.
In the final episode we see Julian Peribañez, the detective hired by the McCanns finally appearing to deliver on his mandate. Some pedophiles are arrested.
Then we see Peribañez driving in what appears to be a Porche, performing the role in front of the cameras of a successful, stylish, smart detective.
MADRID, 19 FEB – Four people from the ‘Metodo 3’ agency, including the owner, Francisco Marco, the director and two employees were arrested Monday night as an investigation into the Catalonia bugging scandal picks up pace. Two of the arrested have admitted illegally taping conversations…
Of course we don’t see Amaral in the final episode, at all. During the entire series we never see Amaral driving around or looking cool. Instead whenever we see him he’s stuck in an undisclosed space between rooms. It’s oppressive and boring, and the lighting and divided space behind him is faintly distracting. The filmography is subtly trying to express the sentiment that Amaral is neither here nor there.
Peribañez by contrast is represented as a young,powerful predator of criminals, driving effectively through the streets, a force for good.
But hello…what sort of record did Goncalo Amaral have, in terms of arrests and achievements? It’s simply not mentioned anywhere in the series. Isn’t it important?
The suggestion they’re playing with through this glamorous and flattering depiction of Peribañez seems to be if you worked in law enforcement and managed to get someone arrested at some point, and you drive a Porche, it means you’re one of the good guys. Well done! Nice work for solving those cases… [It’s left to the audience to connect the dots between that and the Hope Narrative that’s been hammered into place over the final few minutes].
The final minutes of the series really does ratchet up the “Hope Narrative”. Fittingly, a priest is used to bolster this idea of “keeping the faith” as a moral imperative.
I agree with Ernie Allen and the premise of the final episode: Somebody knows. Somebody does know exactly what happened to Madeleine. Is it more likely to be Madeleine’s parents or some faceless shadow?
The McCanns swear they haven’t watched the 8-part series featuring 40 experts discussing the case of their daughter’s disappearance. And even though their arch-nemesis Goncalo Amaral appears in six of the eight episodes of the documentary, a man they have actively sued over the past eight years, and whom they currently owe £750,000 in compensatory damages, the McCanns claim they haven’t watched it.
They wouldn’t want to hinder the investigation, see.
So despite a small stadium of experts, commentators, cops, detectives, reports – everyone really who was involved, they haven’t condescended to participate in the production, although the McCanns-over-the-years appear in every episode without exception, but the McCanns-as-they-are-now simply don’t appear in it. This is unlike senhor Amaral who does. We see Amaral as he was, and we seem him now, expressing his views in-the-now.
But it seems senhor Amaral may be in some legal trouble. Because the documentary was made in the United Kingdom, it seems if Amaral has made more “false allegations” [in a similar vein to those that led to the £750,000 in compensatory damages claim mentioned above] then the McCanns lawyers will apparently have the road paved with gold to go after the former detective again.
EXCLUSIVE Lawyers for Kate and Gerry McCann are said to be ‘closely watching’ what Goncalo Amaral will say on the upcoming show
On the same day the Guardian addressed speculation that the show had been “inexplicably” delayed because of “opposition from the missing child’s family”. I’m guessing what that means is the missing child in this semantic labyrinth is Madeleine McCann. Is that fair or is it excessively speculative? And then I’m guessing the missing child’s family [Madeleine’s family] are the McCanns, or is it other relatives who have been opposed?
I’m a true crime writer, full-time, and so it’s my job to figure out things like mindfuckery, word chess and smoke and mirrors. It’s my job to try to get a sense of clarity about what’s actually going on. I must admit to being a little muddled by this.
Is the Netflix documentary good for the McCanns or bad?
Is it good for Amaral, or not?
Since I’ve written a trilogy of books about this case, it’s probably worth making sure either way, isn’t it? So why don’t we? Let’s use something solid and tangible to address and try to answer this slippery question.
What we’ll do is look at the 40 experts interviewed by the makers of the documentary, and then try to get a sense if there is any bias, and where the bias falls.
We know that in a similar documentary series that has been associated with this one, that the Making A Murderer seasons while appearing investigative, neutral, factual and unbiased, actually deliberately seems to lead viewers to question the prosecution of Steven Avery [convicted of the murder of Teresa Halbach].
So one can say with some confidence that the Making A Murderer seasons are somewhat sympathetic to Avery. Some may say obviously and some may say subtly.
So what is the case with this documentary? Is there explicit or tacit support for one particular camp? Yes or no?
Of this list of 40 who all appear in the Netflix documentary, only two are explicitly anti-McCann – Amaral and Almeido. Both testified against the McCanns’ version of events in court. Grime, via the cadaver alerts, is implicitly a problem for the abduction narrative; and thus the documentary tries to debunk the efficacy of the blood evidence as insufficient/not evidence at all.
Three out of 40 represents 7.5% of the total cast making any kind of counter narrative to the PRO McCann narrative. This means more than 90% of those on this list, featured in the £20 million documentary, are PRO McCann including around 20 individuals employed directly by them as PR consultants, lawyers or investigators.
Former Merseyside detective Arthur Cowley and Dave Edgar who were also employed by them are not mentioned in the list, however they appear briefly at the end of episode 7 and were both PRO McCann. Jon Corner, who was also employed by the McCanns, is also not mentioned on the list and he was also PRO McCann. Lee Marlow, a PRO McCann reporter and one-time “Feature writer of the year” award winner, employed by the PRO McCann Leicester Mercury is also not included in the list. PRO McCann investigator Kevin Halligen, employed by the McCanns who featured in the documentary is also not included on the list above.
Clearly not all 40 names here are experts of any kind, some are actors or mere players, others are writers, members of the clergy or onlookers of some sort, to the McCann narrative. A substantial number appearing in the series are unquestionably supportive family members and supportive friends of the McCanns.
Statistically it may be interesting to calculate which cast members got proportionately the most airtime and which received the least. By contextualising in which episode [themed a particular way] more insights into the motives of the documentary will likely be revealed.
Although the McCanns have washed their hands in public of the Netflix documentary that’s all about them, their struggles, and the search for their daughter, they do feature prominently in every episode.
That’s odd because the eight-part docuseries does the McCanns [and their version of events] many favours, not to mention the timing of it. The timing of the docuseries – from a PR perspective – is perfect.
So maybe we should mention the timing and one other thing – the money and potential fortunes – that’s ebbing and potentially flowing around the McCanns and the McCann case as of right now.
In terms of timing, the European Court of Human rights is about to rule, about to pronounce a verdict now, at the end of an eight-year legal slugmatch between the McCanns and their arch nemsis. The Portuguese detective that initially led the investigation features prominently in the Netflix documentary, although much of what he says is juxtaposed with others casting doubt or disputing his version of events.
Goncalo Amaral did the unthinkable in this story – he had the temerity to suspect both parents of complicity in covering up whatever happened to the doctors’ daughter.
Amaral was fired in October 2007 just five months into the investigation, and only one month after the McCanns were named official suspects in a highly controversial shift. This also caused the media coverage to change dramatically in tone from sympathetic to suspicious.
In any event, the timing of the Netflix docuseries coming out now is interesting, if nothing else.
The docuseries does a brilliant job of besmirching Amaral’s reputation as a possibly corrupt cop and potentially compromised individual.
If the series was as unbiased as it purports to be, it would have also investigatedJulian Peribanez, the former Metodo 3 investigator hired by the McCanns with the same meticulous thoroughness. It seems a little tricksy to have the McCanns’ detective narrate large fractions of the documentary where he openly criticises, accuses and undermines his opposition in the case.
In many of the slick true crime documentaries, the devil is in the details, not in terms of factors or evidence, but how the audience is influenced. Amaral is invariably interviewed in the same dour, claustrophobic setting.
The McCann’s PR person who also does plenty of narrating here, is shown in a lofty office which conveys a sense of professionalism and authority. Peribanez, Amaral’s counterpart , also appears in a professional setting, and then occasionally he is depicted “on the job” as it were, the crack detective in a fancy car basically role-playing the Spanish version of Magnum P.I.
Along with his boss, Francisco Marco and other Metodo 3 staff, he got into big trouble inearly2013. He and a number of other Metodo 3 staff were revealed to have been behind the illegal recording of conversations between high-level Spanish politicians in a Barcelona restaurant. Peribanez was discovered to have been involved and arrested. However, unlike his boss Marco, Peribanez rapidly admitted his guilt, confessed all to the police, and may have ended up assisting the police with their enquiries.
In 2014, it was announced that he had become a ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’ by publishing, jointly with the former head of Metodo 3 in Madrid, Antonia Tamarit, a book blowing the lid on corruption in Portugal but also, more specifically, the cess-pit of dark, nefarious and illegal activities carried out by Metodo 3. By this time, many of the top Metodo 3 staff had been arrested or imprisoned over the illegal recording of conversations at a Barcelona restaurant, and Metodo 3 had gone into liquidation.
So, in a classic case of ‘thieves falling out’, Peribanez and Tamarit decided to wrote a ‘tell-all’ book exposing the corrupt and criminal activities they had themselves been engaged in…
That’s more than the budget – almost twice the budget – of the entire search for Madeleine McCann by the authorities over the span of twelve years, the most expensive missing person’s search in history.
If we add the cost of the documentary to the cost of the search we’re in the region of £32 million spent on “the disappearance and search for Madeleine McCann.”
That’s a shitload of money based on a rather glaring assumption, that Madeleine McCann is alive and went missing to begin with.
Kandohla notes in her puff piece that the Netflix series was “commissioned in 2017” and conflates the commissioning of the series with “the explosion of the true crime genre.” In other words she’s suggesting the Netflix documentary was commissioned to make a mint out of the true crime genre, but she neglects to provide specifics on who commissioned it.
By mentioning the two documentaries in the same sentence, she also effectively compares The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann to Making A Murderer – the latter not necessarily a paragon of true crime documentary investigation in terms of accuracy or neutrality either.
Does anyone seriously think the filmmakers are going to make a profit on a budget of £20 fucking million for a documentary? The answer to that probably depends on who the filmmakers [and backers] are.
In Steven Avery’s case, all the Making A Murderer documentaries ultimately bore fruit, didn’t they? In February 2019 it was announced Avery had “won” the right to an appeal. You could say that, but you could also argue his PR had triumphed eventually. It’s not the first time that’s happened either. The Paradise Lost trilogy of documentaries also led to the release of the three men accused of murdering three boys in West Memphis [the West Memphis Three].
So we see in 2017, the same year the legal tide turned against the McCanns, the 8-part documentary was commissioned. It was a major PR coup for them if the commissioning of the documentary with an enormous budget which just happened to support their own “pedophile abduction” theory to a “T”, happened coincidentally. But was it? Was this pure happenstance?
While Amaral’s libel damages as they stand now [£29 000] are fiddlesticks, barely a tenth of what the McCanns sued him for, it’s possible if the McCanns lose their final appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, the floodgates will open, clearing the way not only for Amaral to launch countersuits but potentially also many new media that the McCanns have sued for the years for defamation. Even if this doesn’t happen, a verdict that goes against them at this stage could swim the pendulum of public and media sentiment against them.
Interestingly in the Guardian article cited above the McCann’s refer to how much “the landscape has changed” in the eight years since they lodged their lawsuit against Amaral. Well, no landscape has changed more fundamentally than the media landscape, particularly with the advent of social media and more recently, streaming services like Netflix.
It’s clear Netflix has made available a documentary that is likely to influence people’s opinions on the McCanns, one way or the other. Does Netflix hold any responsibility in this regard? Should they? Should they be held to account for the veracity of the investigative content they provide to their subscribers especially as regard high-profile true crime?
In the past, Netflix has been beholden to the consumers of its product.
It remains to be seen whether true crime audiences will be aggravated or impressed, or simply too entertained to care about veracity or bias of the £20 fucking million documentary that the McCanns didn’t participate in [well, they appear in every episode], haven’t seen [apparently] and don’t support [ahem…].
If the the European Court rules against the McCanns, despite the influence or lack of the costly docuseries, will Amaral institute a colossal damages claim against them for systematic character assassination?
Whether he does or doesn’t, and whether the ruling goes for or against them, the McCanns are in an unusual position for the first time in many years. Instead of hope they have something to fear, and perhaps this time there is real reason to fear.
The final episode of the series kicks off by boomeranging back to Robert Murat, the first suspect the series itself fixed in its crosshairs. But in the final episode, Murat is no longer sketched as a prime candidate for the pedophile or trafficker moniker, now it’s poor Robert Murat.
The series seems to have covered a kind of full circle. Murat’s no longer portrayed as a suspect, but as a victim. it’s brilliant mindfuck for what’s to follow. Because this sympathetic twist is also an analogy for the McCanns themselves [nudge nudge, wink wink] as wholly innocent victims, isn’t it?
The docuseries strikes a much more sympathetic tone as it winds down now, basically taking the view that one of the major villains of the story – besides Amaral – is the media. See, the media have condemned and falsely judged Murat, and coincidentally the McCanns as well. See, the media have perpetrated a terrible injustice on an innocent man, just as they have on a wonderful, loving, innocent couple.
When the opening credits roll, Jim Gamble [we really need to talk about him at some point too, because he’s another Arch Apologist for the McCanns] does a handy voice-over about hope.
I want to address the aspect of hope that is such a crucial element of the McCann mythos, and the key dynamic driving their PR narrative. Essentially it is a narrative of hope.
In the past I’ve cited the idea that rebellions are built on hope, but I suspect it’s fallen on deaf ears. It sounds nice. It sounds catchy. But what does it mean? It really requires explication. I’ll do that at the end of this post, so put that thought in your back pocket for now [and give it a little tap]. We’ll attend to it later.
The main theme of episode eight is explicitly built around the notion of hope, and incidentally, it’s the subtext to the entire series as well, even though it pretends to be neutral, investigative, emergentivistic as opposed to reductionist.
Whether Madeleine was abducted by pedophiles, an orphanage, a travelling salesman, a gypsy, a gang of thieves or Santa Claus [don’t laugh, this was seriously presented as one of infinite suspects in the Ramsey case] any and every abduction scenario is a scenario that Madeleine is still alive, and thus this is “just” a missing person case. In other words, “there is still hope”.
As soon as the other narrative is acknowledged, then it’s not merely that Madeleine is dead, but almost automatic that her parents, and perhaps others are involved in some more or less nefarious plot. Are they? Could they be? Or is there some other explanation?
But consider how contrary the atavistic “fallen” notion is to the more progessive and thus sophisticated “hope” plot. And so, for as long as the abduction narrative is popular, and acceptable, and while the narrative that “there is no evidence that Madeleine is dead” continues to hold, the parents – and others – will remain above suspicion and implicitly beyond reproach. That’s not rocket science. We know this.
Episode eight is titled “Somebody knows”, which is to say a) somebody out there knows what happened to Madeleine [who is alive] and b) that somebody is not Kate or Gerry McCann or any of the Tapas 7. It’s not Goncalo Amaral either but some anonymous other person. And then there is c) if Madeleine herself is alive, apparently she doesn’t know who she is either and someone [the someone who knows] needs to tell her, or tell someone.
See, it’s a very hopeful episode. It’s positive. But is it realistic? It feels more than a tad reductionist, doesn’t it?If there’s no evidence that Madeleine is dead, does that mean she’s alive? If no one has seen her for twelve years, does that mean she’s alive? What about twenty years?
At what point does the passage of time actually enter the equation [besides the other crime scene related data]? After fifty years? How about sixty? And how are these time scales related to other missing person cases? Do we normally consider someone alive when they disappear for thirty, fourty, fifty years? If the law decides on this aspect [and it does] what sort of legal narrative are we actually taking about then, if we say there is “no evidence” to say she’s dead? Is there any evidence to say she’s alive?
To the casual observer, and even the not-so-casual observer, the hope narrative is both compelling and convincing. There is even an official inquiry condemning adverse media coverage of the McCanns [notably the the British media] as unethical and poor journalism. Since the media have been accused of this before, it’s easy to imagine they crossed this line with the McCanns, and clearly they did. The question is, how egregious was the inaccuracy? Was it completely baseless or was it somewhat baseless? Or…something else?
What this comes down to, ultimately, is what is truth? And what is the truth in this case? In one sense there is the objective truth [which is in a sense unknowable], and then there is the legal truth [which is what society’s “official” position is on truth]. A useful way to illustrate how potentially irreconcilable objective and legal truth can be, take religious belief. Is it objectively true? Some science, if not most, will say no. Is it legally true? Well, it depends on which country you are. In Saudi Arabia some “beliefs” are legally enforceable but not necessarily legal, and certainly not elsewhere.
The fact is, the legal position of the McCann case is that Madeleine isn’t dead, or rather, there is no evidence to prove that she’s dead. We’ll leave the argument for the moment that there is no evidence proving she’s alive either. In this respect, any publication claiming as fact or as potentially factual that Madeline is dead runs foul of legal fact, but not necessarily of objective fact. Does that make sense? So from a legal perspective, certainly the media are constricted in making certain claims, even if certain circumstantial and other evidence supports their claims.
And publishing Kate’s diary, apparently without her permission, does look bad in the context of this inquiry. On the other hand, Kate wrote a book in meticulous detail which was serialized in the papers, and her diary formed part of that narrative. So the notion that Kate’s interior world was violated feels a little less fraught than the way Kate frames. It may not be, but if we’re talking about the contents of a diary being published as a violation, and then one elects to do the same, well, isn’t one violating oneself?
It should also be noted that the diary was confiscated as evidence, and in many instances, diaries are used cynically by murder suspects to present a false narrative. Jodi Arias famously lied to her diary, which was discussed and analysed at length during her criminal trial. Amanda Knox kept a diary too which she quoted at length in her own self-justifying book.
Now if News of the World committed despicable act by “stealing” Kate’s diary, one could also argue that the same newspaper handed the McCanns a princely sum [£125,000] which went into the Find Madeleine Fund, which is to say, went by hook or by crook to the McCanns and the directors of the fund. The Sun serialised Kate’s book which was a major PR boost for the book, and deal probably worth millions. Let’s not forget it was the newspapers who also raised massive public awareness for the McCanns, including publicising the fundraising on their behalf [with their own readers], and making it known to the “abductor” that massive rewards were in the offing.
It seems impossible to imagine that if Madeleine was abducted, her abductor was not aware of the enormous reward offered for her safe return. Well, apparently it wasn’t enormous enough.
Interestingly, in 2018 the McCanns tried to revive the Leveson inquiry, but this time the inquiry had other fish to fry. The Netflix documentary is silent on this recent failure, however.
Clearly the Leveson Inquiry needs to be seen in proper context given the myriad ways the McCanns benefited from British media coverage and publicity, and some may be so bold to say profited [or that their Fund made a colossal fortune out of it, at least for as long as the coverage was positive…which incidentally includes up to the present moment.] The point is, from a distance, a pair of well-to-do doctors appealing to the media for better treatment appears well-to-do in general, and to the casual observer, and the not-so-casual observer, this step appears to confirm their overall credibility in terms of this case.
But there’s more.
The McCanns took their cause even further and demanded British government intervention – to investigate the disappearance of their daughter. Now I know what you’re thinking. It stretches the credibility of a cover-up to breaking point – doesn’t it – to have the suspects demand an investigation into their case. It may seem that way, and clearly the folks in this particular true crime case are smarter than the average, but the Ramseys made similar appeals to powerful political figures. Ramsey himself ran for election twice. We must remember that these appeals for further investigation were conducted with the express proviso that the investigation be steered in a particular direction [away from the Ramseys as suspects].
It’s also vastly under-reported that Ramsey himself was affiliated with Lockheed Martin, in fact he was a vice president, and thus the death of a little girl actually presented a case for a potential risk or undermining of national security. I know that sounds outlandish, but only until one looks at the size of the MegaMachine that is Lockheed Martin, and its strategic importance to the security of the State it serves.
If one considers a criminal case which has the potential to affect diplomatic relations between two countries, then there are at least two possible scenarios. One scenario is that the suspects are guilty and because there is no prosecution or perception of justice, this can lead to enmity not only towards the suspects, but between the two nations.
In the McCanns case Portugal resented the way it was being depicted in the media, and referred to the British media and the British police treating it like it might a colonial power. This was clearly neither good PR nor politically expedient at a time when Britain wanted to – sort of – and Portugal wanted them – sort of – to belong to the European Union. The solution to problem – certainly one solution – was to make the case go away. By giving the public what they wanted [which was Madeleine to be alive, and the McCanns to be innocent] one could theoretically diffuse a political sensitive time-bomb. And the man the British government appointed to make sure the McCann case went where it needed to go was a man with the appropriately titled surname Gamble.
Gamble happens to be one of the primary narrators of the Netflix docuseries. He’s the man tasked by the British government with “sorting out” the McCann case. And Gamble has elected to sort out the case by publicly putting his weight behind. And he’s very public. He’s very much in the media and in documentaries.
Another prominent narrator is Kelvin MacKenzie, an editor of The Sun who – in episode eight – reveals that “not for a single second” did he believe the McCanns “have ever had anything to do with” Madeleine McCann’s disappearance. He has no doubt the McCanns are innocent. Well why not say so right in the beginning, sir? And why is an editor of The Sun between 1981 and 1994, thirteen years before the publicity of the case started, being asked to share his opinion on how the media treated them?
Well, so much for political expedience, and politically inexpedient court cases. Ten years later Brexit is happening anyway.
The best way to make a criminal case go away is to make sure it never goes to trial. But they didn’t count on the lead detective writing a book, or being sued, or him countersueing and appealing. That has been a long process and hasn’t helped the cause of the McCanns, the Metropolitan police, the British media or the British government. Or even the Portuguese government.
There is another half-hour of analysis to get through in the final episode of the series, but this blog is getting book chapter length and I see it’s 01:37. So let’s wrap up.
I mentioned early on in this post about the idea that rebellions are built with hope, and I said to put that idea in the back pocket. Let’s look at it now.
The idea of a rebellion built on hope is perfectly appropriate to the McCann case, at least in my view. The rebellion is arguably a rebellion against fear [fear of death] which is in some ways admirable, positive and constructive. But one might also argue that this rebellion isn’t just a touchy feely belief, but that in spite of claims of “no evidence” that Madeleine is dead, actually it looks like there might be some evidence. If it’s stronger than that, than the rebellion isn’t just against fear, it’s potentially against common sense, against reality, even perhaps against a legal system. We know the case is being debated and evaluated at the European Court of Human Rights. That court will decide whether the notion that Madeleine McCann is dead or alive – either way – is frivolous. It’s interesting because now Britain as a member of the European Union has sort of fallen out of favour with the EU, and not due to any fault of the EU.
What we can also say is that plenty of pageantry surrounds the McCann case. It’s not simply a case where we see investigations and police searches. We also see the couple meeting the Pope and releasing balloons, and suing people. A lot of people.
We see book deals, book launches, color coded wrist bands, hundreds of exclusive interviews [invariably written by the same journalists], dozens of documentaries, innumerable anniversaries and celebrations [Madeleine’s birthday, commemorating her disappearance], and of course, the revolving door of PR personnel who plead the McCann’s case to a salivating press – who in turn regurgitate these statements almost verbatim. That kind of pageantry.
The pageantry isn’t a foreign concept to Britain. The notion of Royalty in the modern era, and the royal family is fairly idiosyncratic to Britain, and arguably the most British aspect of the nation. One could also say that the pageantry of the British Royal family is more public and more publicised than royalty in any other country bar none. So let’s not kid ourselves when we say pageantry can be a very popular, powerful and profitable tactic.
But how much of this pageantry is really just a rebellion against a more pragmatic and realistic approach. Pageantry is bright, colourful but above all hopeful.
A final word on misleading media coverage – or at least what I thought was misleading – published in The Sun. This graphic. Notice anything wrong with it?
The graphic shows where the “last photo” of Madeleine McCann was taken. This photo is almost certainly fake, and appears to be doctored, its metadata altered so that the photo is dated May 3rd.
The indicator for where the Tapas Bar is on the graphic [right below the McCanns’ apartment] is misleading and incorrect. The Tapas Bar is way to the left, closer to the centre of the image.
In the next frame, the dogs didn’t alert to the sofa, they alerted to blood and cadaver evidence on the floor and walls behind the sofa.
Kate and Gerry’s beds were two single beds pushed together, but the graphic doesn’t indicate that both beds were pushed a long way away from the wardrobe, far enough to fit in the cots of the twins.
The same image makes no mention of cadaver traces found in the McCanns cupboard, nor of those found outside in the garden below the balcony.
The graphic suggests the door to the parking lot is the door to the patio. This is simply incorrect. The patio is on the other side, where the sliding doors are.
The way the door opens in the middle graphic and the bottom graphic is wrong. In fact it opened the other way, so that when one peered inside the first thing one would see would be Madeleine’s bed. An innocent mistake by the animator/illustrator, or deliberately misleading?
The graphic highlights the window and shutters as “the main source of the investigation” whatever that means. In fact Kate McCann’s fingerprint was found on the shutter, and Amaral didn’t believe an abductor would break in through an open, unlocked door, only to leave through an exposed window exit that would rattle loudly when opened. Why not simply leave the way he had entered?
In bold text The Sun emphasises:
KATE ENTERED THE BEDROOM TO DISCOVER THE WINDOW OPEN AND MADELEINE MISSING.
The perspective of both illustrations at the bottom emphasises the window. The bottom-most graphic actually views the apartment from the perspective of the wide open window, not the perspective of the door.
It’s this sort of chronically misinformed coverage that is either spineless, pandering journalism or ignorant to the extreme. One thing it clearly is is the same thing that all tabloid newspapers are – pageantry.
A final point to make is this photo that appears in the final episode. Why has it been artificially enhanced?
Perhaps because the unedited photo is so grim and gloomy. The child looks completely isolated in the original photo.
Which is why the photo is edited to make her seem less on her own, and her surroundings brighter, and sunnier.
As with so many things in the McCanns case, this simple image – when one looks closer – appears to be fake. Is it pageantry or isn’t it, and if it is, what more than this?
In the penultimate episode of the Netflix docuseries, the pedophile theory goes into high gear. We’re told that human trafficking is a $150 billion-a-year industry, and about pedophiles lurking in the dark web.
The pedophile theory is a handy one when you need a revolving door of potential suspects. It’s served the Ramseys well over the past 20 years or more, and it’s the gift that keeps giving in terms of new suspects, in the endless search for Madeleine McCann.
At the end of episode seven, the McCann’s PR dude holds up the latest pedophile of the moment, an Australian woman and the mainstream media go nuts. Maybe Madeleine is in Australia?
Instantly the previous suspect [whether the bucktooth creeper or Tannerman] is forgotten as the narrative hops from one handy pedophile to the next. While a distracted audience not paying attention to the McCann case might be jarred back into it intermittently with a sense of “oh they’ve found another suspect, the investigation hasn’t been fruitless” a more consistent approach exposes the investigation into Madeleine’s Disappearance as an ongoing circus act.
If Madeleine’s not dead, the public need to reminded periodically that she’s out there, and to do that the show must go on. More and more circus acts are needed, and with them, circus ringmasters.
If the McCann’s and the Tapas Seven have been very effective over the years at PR, at prosecuting and at suing and silencing their critics, they’ve been staggeringly ineffective at investigating their daughter’s case.
In the apology published below, which coincided with another massive payout from the Sunday Times, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the McCanns appeared to be a little on the slow side in making information available. The Smithman efits came out sometime in 2008 but were only handed over to the cops in late 2009. The Metropolitan Police only received them two years after that. Not exactly a picture of urgency or efficiency, is it?
Neither, as it turned out, were more than one of the investigators the McCanns seemed to handpick for the job. Remember, money was not a limiting factor, the public had handed over millions to be spent on the search, and yet which investigators did these clever doctors choose to spend this easy money on?
The blood-soaked corpse of a private detective who investigated Madeleine McCann’s disappearance has been found at his mansion. Kevin Halligen, 56, dubbed a “cloak-and-dagger, James Bond-style spy”, took the high-profile case in March 2008.
And while Halligen was hired by the McCanns he was involved in a dispute and accused of conning the fund to find their daughter by living a lavish lifestyle during his probe, but producing no results.
It turns out that Kate and Gerry McCann suppressed for five years ‘critical evidence’ that became the centerpiece of the recent BBC Crimewatch program on the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine. Findings by ex-MI5 agents long kept under wraps by the McCanns included the two e-fit images described in the Crimewatch program by Scotland Yard’s Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood as of “vital importance.”
The images are of a suspected kidnapper seen by an Irish family in Praia da Luz the night Madeleine went missing. They were given to the McCanns by a handpicked team of investigators from Oakley International hired by the McCanns’ “Find Madeleine Fund” in 2008.Henri Exton, an MI5’s former undercover operations chief who led the team, told the Sunday Times he was “utterly stunned” when he watched the Crimewatch program and saw the evidence he had passed to the McCanns presented as a new breakthrough. For some reason the images were not published even in Kate McCann’s 2011 book Madeleine, though it devoted a whole section to eight “key sightings” and carried e-fits on all of them except the Smiths’.
Secret Oakley International Report into the disappearance of Madeleine #McCann might be released to the public following the death of crooked PI Kevin Halligen. pic.twitter.com/M5qrnxsxf1
Former Det Insp Dave Edgar said he believes Maddie is still alive, possibly hidden in plain sight on Portugal’s Algarve with no memory of her real identity.
Speaking to the Sunday Express, Edgar said: “There is every possibility that Madeleine is still alive and could be being hidden somewhere. “Although Dave Edgar has no evidence to back his theory, he believes Madeleine is being held captive in a basement or cellar 10 miles from where she disappeared in Praia da Luzand will give a conference when he has something more substantial to report.”
The investigator that narrates the Netflix docuseries points out, without a hint of irony, how “surprisingly unlucky” the McCanns were in “choosing” one bumbling Inspector Clouseau to investigate their daughter after another.
In virtually none of their many, many press conferences, do the McCanns express regret over their own investigators, nor do they appeal for other investigators or detectives to come forward to lend their expertise. Instead, they appear content to “hope for the best”.
Metodo 3, in Spain, has already been linked to other scandals connected to the political and the financial world, and, recently, was equally put in question by their work in investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, where one of the close associates of Francisco Marco, Antonio Jimenez, who was accused of having driven several British journalists to meet previously paid witnesses, who would then declare to have seen the small British girl [Maddie] in Morocco.The Metodo 3 coadjutant, responsible for investigating Maddie was, thereafter, arrested in a case of theft and cocaine trafficking.
According to sources connected to Metodo 3, several detectives working for the agency, have questioned the capacity of Francisco Marco in the Madeleine McCann investigation, accusing him of destroying the credibility of the agency, especially after he put to practice a disastrous mass communication strategy.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, the misappropriation of funds and money laundering can concern “colossal” sums of public money.
At the same time the docuseries announces a new suspect resembling Victoria Beckham identified as a sort of cliffhanger to lead into the finale, the series “remembers” an incidental but possibly gamechanging piece of evidence.
A witness in the apartment above saw someone leaving the area below [outside 5A]. Carole Tanmer saw a man acting rather strangely as he closed the gate at 5A. See, this is why an exhaustive timeline – set out in the beginning – makes sense.
Although many on social media are crowing about how thorough and professional the docuseries is, what it does is it manages to provide an endless series of twists and turns, and intrigue, much as the McCanns themselves seem to have done. There’s always something else lurking around the corner and when we get to it, it’s a false alarm, but oh look, there’s something else over there…
One thing we should see but never do in the docuseries is a clear grid for where all the characters in the Ocean Club were staying relative to the McCanns, including and especially the Tapas 7.
We’re also not provided with a conceivable, clear route an “abductor” might have taken if he headed from the Ocean Club to the Smithman sighting. It’s simply not depicted. No timeline is provided for how long it might take to carry a child from 5A to the location of the Smithman sighting either. There’s also no attempt to interrogate the time of the Smithman sighting in any detail. Since the Smith family ate at a nearby restaurant that night, and received a timestamped receipt, this detail shouldn’t have been too difficult.
Specific information such as the apartment number the McCanns moved to INSIDE the Ocean Club after the incident for the first two months is also left out. It was G5A, the apartment in the same block very close to Dr. Julian Totman [aka Tannerman] former apartment and in fact right beside G4M.
For those new to TCRS and perhaps those who have not read a Rocket Science book, “Intertextuality” [with a capital “T”] is a TCRS-ism that refers to the relationship between crimes, criminals and potentially the fate of the victims. In some circumstances it can also refer to the possibility that one crime leads to, inspires, or informs another crime either further down the line or contemporaneously.
If that sounds confusing, don’t worry, it’s easier to understand Intertextuality by feeling our way through practical real-life examples than pontificating with definitions and semantics. So let’s get started.
The Joana Cipriano case predates the Madeleine McCann case by less than three years. The geographic distance between the two crimes is just eleven kilometres [seven miles].
The circumstances of 8-year-old Joana’s “disappearance” are as follows, according to the generic version on Wikipedia:
Joana Cipriano, eight years old at the time, was last seen at around 8 pm on the evening she disappeared, after being sent to buy milk and a tin of tuna from a local store. A neighbour saw her around 200 yards from her house, walking back from the store. Her mother, Leonor Cipriano, launched a local campaign to find her daughter, distributing posters around the neighbourhood.
The prosecution argued that Joana was killed because she had seen her mother and João Cipriano, her mother’s brother, having [incestuous] sex. Leonor confessed to killing her daughter after nearly 48 hours of continuous interrogation. Her brother confessed to having assaulted Joana, and said he had cut her body into small pieces and placed her inside a refrigerator, which was put inside an old car that was taken to Spain to be crushed and burned. When he was asked if he had sexually abused Joana, he said, “I did not harm her – I only killed her.”
There’s a lot to take out of these two brief paragraphs. In sum:
Joana was eight-years-old [twice as old as Madeleine].
Last seen in the evening at around 20:00 [this corresponds roughly to the time Madeleine was last seen, in the relatively early evening].
Joanna was last seen walking back to her home, not away [Tannerman was alleged to have been walking towards Murat’s home carrying a child, but in fact Dr. Julian Totman was walking in the other direction, towards Block 4.]
One of the main suspects launched a campaign for her child, but was later charged with her murder and contriving to make it appear as if her daughter had disappeared without her mother’s knowledge.
One of the main features of the misinformation campaign was putting up posters all over the neighborhood. One might scoff at the trickery involved, but each poster proclaiming the child as missing was essentially an advertisement proclaiming the myth that a) she was still alive and b) that the mother wasn’t implicated. Since the child was dead, and the remains taken care of, there was no need to be concerned that someone might actually come forward with information.
The prosecution didn’t argue for an accidental death, or an abduction, or a disappearance, but murder.
The mother ultimately confessed to killing her child, but did so under duress.
The girl’s uncle admitted to assaulting the child and dismembering her body. In the concealing, covering up and destruction of the child’s body, both parties appeared to have an equal or substantial “stake”.
A refrigerator is noted as a temporary storage device for human remains. [Joana was killed in mid-September, when it’s still relatively warm in the Algarve].
After a limited period, the body was transferred from the refrigerator to an old vehicle.
The remains were then removed from the area entirely.
The prime suspect made an ironic remark that he “only killed her” but didn’t harm her.
It’s tempting to want to sticky-tape many if not all of the idiosyncrasies of the Cipriano case onto the McCann case, particularly the vivid scenarios involving the refrigerator and the secret movement of the little girl’s remains to Spain. But we need to be careful how we apply what we know in one case to another. Certainly, some areas have Intertextual Criminal overlaps, and some aspects of the whole crime feel generally very Intertextual, don’t they?
But it requires specialized True Crime Rocket Science to know what to apply and what not to. Netflix provides some useful information but it shouldn’t be treated as gospel, nor dismissed entirely as bunkum. Reality lives somewhere in-between.
He’s entitled to his opinion, of course, that the Cipriano case and McCann case aren’t similar. It’s possible that he sees a distinction in the fact that Joana was murdered, and because there was an incestuous spiel playing out he believes these shouldn’t be conflated with the McCann case. Point taken senhor Amaral.
The Rocket Science position is different. Yes, agreed, Madeleine wasn’t murdered – not by either of the parents. There was no direct intent or Dolus as the legal term is applied. As for some kind of sexual spiel, there does seem to be the possibility at least of a paternity issue. I don’t want to say sexual issues are irrelevant, though I can understand why Amaral excludes them. I don’t want to conflate this sexual miasma with anything as overt as pedophile gangs or traffickers, however.
Rocket Science is content to aver that the sexual dimension in the McCann case is somewhat unknown, and if we invoke merely the IVF scenario, we can see there is some idiosyncrasy hiding in plain sight. What more than that? Well, there is more to say but this post is about Intertextuality, so let’s stick to our brief.
The area that Amaral is missing – to my mind – isn’t even highlighted in the bullets above. And this area is a key Psychological Intertextuality – an overlap – between the two cases. I don’t want to be too on-the-chin about it, but the motive in the Cipriano case is the covering up of a taboo. We know from an eyewitness that the child was seen walking home relatively late in the evening, and perhaps arrived home either unexpectedly or earlier than expected.
It’s also possible the uncle was abusing the little girl if he was having sexual relations with her mother, and the bloody dismemberment of her corpse suggests a kind of rough familiarity with body parts. I’ll expand on what I mean by that in a moment.
It may seem a giant leap, and perhaps it is a giant leap, but it’s possible a similar taboo exists in the McCann dynamic. Now, the circumstances are clearly different in a scenario of accidental or negligent death. In that case [if that is the case] the child’s death is a triggering factor, leading to a reaction. In the Cipriano case, the incestual act isn’t the triggering factor, but rather the child witnessing it.
So the question of Intertexuality then is in a situation where Madeleine was found to have died, was the taboo triggered by a sense of being imperiled by who might witness what they did [effectively] to their child?
We see in the Cipriano siblings and the McCann parents a shared sense of symbolic and biological connection to the victim. They are both directly responsible for the care and safety and guardianship of the child, and yet their own status in some way interferes with this guardianship.
I also want to come back to the issue of the sexual miasma. Clearly in a scenario where the siblings were involved in a taboo act, both adults don’t have an identical blood relationship to the child. One adult is the biological mother, it is true, but the other is less-the-parent to the child. This mismatch in affiliation appears to be psychologically significant, and plays into the criminal psychology of both parties – apparently. The question then arises – to what extent can these mismatches be applied to the McCanns in this hypothesis, if at all? Is one adult more biologically connected to the child than the other? What actually happened, what lengths did the parents go to, during their efforts to produce a viable IVF result?
We can also potentially extend the taboo aspect to others in the group of seven, four on whom were doctors: Dr. Gerald Payne. Dr. Fiona Payne. Dr. Matthew Oldfield. Dr. Russell ‘O Brien. Of the remaining three Jane Tanner [O’Brien’s partner] was a marketing manager, and Oldfield’s wife Rachael was a lawyer. If we add the McCann couple to the Tapas Seven there are six doctors in the group, in total.
There’s plenty more to say on the subject, but I want to stick to the brief and move on to another possible Intertextual aspect, the refrigerator.
The docuseries seems focused in episode six on maligning Amaral. He’s portrayed as a corrupt cop at best, and a brutish thug at worst. They hold up the absurdity of the refrigerator scenario as the reason Amaral’s investigative nous is off.
The Rocket Science position is that it’s not as simple or straightforward as the Netflix folks would like us to believe. On the one hand, yes, certainly, the eight-year-old’s body was probably not going to fit into the confined space of a small refrigerator very easily. If the Chris Watts case is worth invoking here, for just a single Intertextual aspect, it was found that two children [three-years-old and four respectively] were stuffed through an orifice eight inches wide.
Although the experts “predicted” the hole was too small to fit the bodies of the poor little girls, they were wrong. Somehow they did fit.
That’s not to say Amaral is right, or wrong, just that when it comes to fitting human bodies into small spaces, there’s no “expert” truth.
In the Courtney Pieters case, the three-year-old victim was sexually assaulted and stored in the perpetrator’s refrigerator, in his room.
The Refrigerator Theory has led to an unfortunate conspiracy theory, which is that Madeleine actually died a week earlier and was kept in a neighbor’s refrigerator during this time, and disposed of at leisure [not necessarily when the alarm was raised on the night of May 3rd]. I won’t attempt to address those concerns here, except to note it’s not the position of TCRS.
Some of those who subscribe to the Refrigerator Theory in the McCann case also conflate this conspiracy with a pedophile theory, feeling that a group cover-up would have made it possible to pull of moving the girl’s remains to a refrigerator in some other location.
What I will say is there’s reason to suspect Madeleine’s remains were in Praia da Luz for some weeks before they were transferred somewhere else. So some arrangement had to have been made to “manage her remains” if that makes sense. The foremost concern [assuming this contention is true] would have been odor. A refrigerator would address that problem, but I nevertheless don’t consider it a viable theory.
In the Casey Anthony case Caylee’s skeletonised remains were discovered after being gone for six months, and when they were found, they weren’t recovered by smell but by sight.
So what did happen to poor eight-year-old Joana?
As mentioned above, episode six of the documentary appeared to be focused on character- assassinating Amaral. Whether Amaral threw a suspect down stairs or not, whether he did naked cartwheels on a beach, whether he caught a marlin once upon a time in Tahiti, none of these anecdotes should distract us from the facts of the case.
Amaral certainly didn’t kill or abduct Madeleine, so we shouldn’t make an investigation into Madeleine McCann an investigation into the lead detective. The fact is, Amaral’s scenario in the McCann case is basically cogent, except for the refrigerator business.
Probably, unfortunately, poor Joana’s remains never made it to Spain. Her killers were poor, and simple-minded. Their methods, similarly, were simple, even trashy.
The little girl’s remains were probably eaten by pigs. Unfortunately there is Intertextuality for this too, and in the same Intertextual reference case there is also a mismatch between the biology of the parents of the seven-year-old child, Adrian Jones.
We may ask why Joana’s killers “confessed” they put her body into a car and transported it to Spain if it wasn’t true? Why confess to a lie when you’ve been found guilty anyway? Well, even murderers have pride, and honor. Admitting to moving remains somewhere by car minimises the more monstrous alternative – feeding the flesh of one’s one child to hungry pigs in a farmyard pigsty.
In the Jones Case there’s also an extensive pattern and prolonged period of neglect and abuse to take note of, from the boy child’s own stepmother, including anecdotes of torture posted onto Facebook. In other words, the neglect isn’t incidental or accidental, it’s systematic and it builds up to murder. In this respect the death of the child isn’t random or unexpected but an entirely predictable psychological spiral into ultimately the complete destruction not only of a living child, but even of their remains.
An authentic true crime investigation narrows down suspects. Think of the evidence as a sort of tornado of dirt, debris, disorientating plumes and strong winds that tug one one way or the other. But there is a centre to all this confusion, and a clear path that the tornado is taking us on.
Bogus true crime, or Apologia [the TCRS term for a “Sympathy Narrative” that serves the suspects] does the opposite of funneling towards a concrete result. In episode 6 we begin to see that reverse muddying process. Now that Madeleine has been resurrected, it’s back to square one. Who took her?
There’s some focus on Robert Murat, the first suspect and arguably the prime suspect. Many “good reasons” are put forward for Murat being the right profile for a pedophile abductor. The investigation builds him up as a suspect. Some millionaire dude interrogates him and bugs their conversation. But then when all is said and done, it’s not Murat. But could it be Murat’s friend Sergey Malinka. And so gradually the vortex of the “investigation” widens until it dissipates completely, becoming an enormous garden. The private detective now enters the scene as a vivid butterfly hopping from one flower to the next. Each flower is introduced as a very credible suspect, only to be abandoned in lieu of the next flower. It’s compelling stuff. Could it be this guy! How about that one!
As a sure sign that the filmmakers are not only drunk on their own Kool-Aid, but are trying to serve it to an unsuspecting public, the narrative twirls back to the Tanner sighting and attempts to recast the sighting as something [someone] else. Remember, Murat and Malinka have now been thrown to the curb as suspects so it’s time for a new character to rise as the next suspect. And the more flowery the better.
I’m not going to indulge in the backstory of the creepy, bucktooth fella who was knocking on doors trying to raise dosh for his dodgy orphanage scheme. Suffice it to say, it forms a creepy if unacknowledged parallel to the idea of sinister doctors knocking on television sets trying to raise dosh on the dodgy premise of a disappearing daughter. For more information on Gail Cooper and how the Creeper Narrative came into being, click on the story below.
Now that a new character has been conjured into existence, he needs to be connected somehow to Madeleine McCann. He LOOKS suspicious, he WALKS suspiciously, he has DUBIOUS intent with his little door-to-door deception, but for him to walk into the McCann mythos he needs some sort of conveyor. Enter Jane Tanner!
A sketch artist’s drawings of the bucktoothed creeper are presented to Jane Tanner. Tanner is asked if the drawings look anything like Tannerman. [Hold your breath!]
Admittedly, the new sketch was an 80% likeness, wasn’t it? Both men wore a brown coat or jacket and both wore lighter-colored trousers. The original sketch showed a man with long hair, and the creeper had longish black hair. Well, no, because the reality is Tanner claimed she never saw the man’s face, so the 80% has to be the whole outfit, the hair and everything else BUT the face.
On the other hand, by leaving Tannerman’s face blank, one could put any man’s face in there and it could an 80% fit, couldn’t it? All of the above is just logical conjecture of course. In order to prove how much punch is in this particular concoction of Kool-Aid, we need only refer to Tannerman himself. Oddly, the docuseries neglects or conveniently forgets the part where Tannerman actually comes forward, identifies himself and even hands over the clothing he wore to the media. He not only admits it was him, he admits he was there, carrying his child from the Ocean Club creche home that night.
Tannerman turns out not to be nearly the murky, shadowy, titillating mystery sighting it’s been pretending to be [for years]. It’s this guy.
His name is Dr. Julian Totman. Totman was holidaying with his wife [identified by the initial “R”] and two small children, William  and a three-year-old girl whose name starts with “L”. The Totmans were staying in apartment 4GM, which was part of the same Ocean Club complex as the McCanns, but in a separate block situated to the east. In the image below the Totman’s apartment would be approximately where the word “Road” appears midway in the image on the right.
In the image below it’s clearer how the Ocean Club apartments are spread out into two separate blocks. In a separate post I’ll show how the apartments are identified according to a grid, and where some of the most important “players” stayed in these apartments. 5A was the McCanns’ apartment, the five designating “block 5” and the “A” the ground floor on the far-right. The Totman’s apartment, 4GM, refers to “block 4″ [the block on the left in the image below” and the “G” to a second-floor apartment, which would have been on floor above the McCanns’ flat but in the neighboring block.
The BBC’s graphic [below] while accurate isn’t very clear in juxtaposing the McCanns’ apartment to the Totman Apartment [in yellow] and the creche.
Naturally episode six contrives to conjure a creeper into the blank face of Tannerman, even though Totman himself came forward and said, “Hey, it’s me!” In spite of this, and this is a huge indictment of the scam surrounding the “abduction” and the bogusness of both the media “coverage” and the “official” police investigation, Tannerman continued to remain a credible sighting for years on end. It’s important to bear in mind that this expensive, tedious and bogus wild goose chase came from one of the Tapas 7, and despite being told by Portuguese police not to comment publicly on what they saw.
Jane Tanner, in her wisdom, defied these orders. At the time she said:
“I think it’s important that people know what I saw because I believe Madeleine was abducted.’’
And with Portuguese laws prohibiting the release of photofits of suspects, the McCanns put out an artist’s sketch of “Tannerman” in October 2007. But efforts by the Totmans, who live in the South West, to point out the importance of Julian’s movements fell on deaf ears. They were never contacted by Leicestershire police, whose officers were responsible at the time for collating all UK inquiries.
Also of import is that the color of the child’s clothing in the Tanner sighting didn’t match the color of Madeleine’s Totman’s daughter’s clothing, as described by Kate and Gerry during their numerous roadshows.
Totman’s daughter’s clothes were bright, especially the shirt, with long sleeves and long leggings with especially bright orange ankle-ends. These were facing Tanner and yet Jan Tanner noticed the frilly edges of Madeleine’s pants instead. Madeleine’s outfit was all short sleeves and shorter leggings.
In any event, it seems unlikely that the McCann doctors [and the doctors within the Tapas 7] would not know about another guest who was also a doctor, and who was using the same creche they were using. It’s probably a good point now to indicate where the creche was vis-a-vis the Tapas Bar.
In the image below the yellow arrow shows the Tapas Bar oriented from the perspective of the McCanns’ apartment. The small square tent right behind it [circle] is the creche. This shows how patently ridiculous it was not to have their kids looked after in the facilities that were right there [and facilities used by Dr. Totman, as it happened].
The circled area to the right [the East] of the Tapas restaurant was also a play area for kids, and an area where some of the very few photos of Madeleine were taken.
The image below highlights that play area up close. Note the square tented area behind the Tapas Bar at the top left of the image. Also note the location of the tennis courts to the car, the creche and kid’s play area.
It turns out Gerry McCann knew Dr. Totman fairly well. Well enough to play tennis with him in fact.
Well enough to dine at a table alongside Dr. Totman in the Tapas Bar.
Well enough that the Totman tots went to the shame creche as Madeleine.
And yet with all this going on, when Jane Tanner saw Totman, she didn’t recognise him. Another aspect that seems more than a little iffy in Tanner’s sighting was that she Totman walking in the direction of Murat’s house – away from his apartment. Was this human error, or a deliberate re-adaptation of what she said?
The docuseries appears to make this creepy fellow the new Tannerman, when in reality Jane Tanner’s “Dr Totman” Tannerman remained the crux of the investigation for several years, despite the British cops knowing it was a bullshit lead. It seems the PR processes around the investigation have tried to conflate the botching of the investigation [going after Tannerman] with an error on the Portuguese side. But the Portuguese cops maintained all along that they didn’t take the Tannerman sighting seriously. So who is playing who for the fool here?
In a follow-up post I’ll be interrogating the intertextual aspect of the very compelling and interesting Joana Cipriano case, which was also brought up in episode 6.
In POST TRUTH, the 100th True Crime Rocket Science [TCRS] title, the world’s most prolific true crime author Nick van der Leek demonstrates how much we still don’t know in the Watts case. In the final chapter of the SILVER FOX trilogy the author provides a sly twist in a tale that has spanned 12 TCRS books to date. The result may shock or leave you with even more questions.
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“Book 4 in the K9 series is a must read for those who enjoy well researched and detailed crime narratives. The author does a remarkable job of bringing to life the cold dark horror that is Chris Watts throughout the narrative but especially on the morning in the aftermath of the murders. Chris’s actions are connected by Nick van der Leek’s eloquent use of a timeline to reveal a motive.”