“My grief lies all within; and these external manners of lament; are merely shadows to the unseen grief; that swells with silence in the tortured soul” Shakespeare
Praia de Luz – 3rd May 2007. An event that rocked a small tourist resort in the Algarve; and sent the world’s media into a frenzy.
And five years later – there are still no answers – and a little girl is still missing.
I have held back from blogging about this – but in one sense it had a wide ranging impact upon the Algarve where we live; and it is a defining event in history. And everyone we meet who talks about this – rightly or wrongly – has a view about it.
The facts – plainly put – are that a girl of 4 years old went missing in 2007 – and is still missing today. The why – and how – and most importantly – who did it – is still a mystery.
What makes her special is an interesting thought – children go missing every day. And many are never found. But the international media latched onto this story – and the haunting images of her mother, clutching the teddy bear belonging to Madeleine – combined with the sweet and innocent face of her missing daughter – were projected across the world.
Her parents have done everything humanly possible to find her – and keep her image at the forefront of the media.
And the despair they must feel at knowing that their daughter may still be alive – somewhere in this vast expanse of our planet – must only be equalled by the horror of the possibility of finding out that she is no longer alive. The nightmares must be a regular occurrence for her parents.
Talking to Portuguese people it is clear that they cannot conceive of a parent that would leave a child ‘home alone’ – the Portuguese sense of family and responsibility runs deep. Families dine together – often much later in the evening than would be normal in the UK – and children run round our local square playing together often until late in the evening as their families sit around talking and socialising together.
Add to that the whole Arguido status both the McCanns were placed under by the Portuguese police – as formal suspects – and the subsequent ‘no charges filed’ – and the ensuing ridicule of the international press targeted at the Portuguese policing system – and it is no wonder that the Portuguese media wish to see this story remain as ‘case closed’ with no further media or judicial involvement.
The British Police are currently conducting a full case review – at the instigation of the Prime Minister – and a recent TV programme would tend to hint at new evidence coming to light; and a terrifyingly large number of new leads and old evidence to sift through. As yet, the Portuguese authorities have refused to re-open the case.
There is a new web-site and Operation Grange is in full swing; with a large number of detectives and specialist officers assigned to the case.
There has never been a reconstruction of the events that night in May 2007 – a standard practice for UK policing as this can help – even now – to trigger people’s memories – and also – most importantly in a case like this full of media hype, hysteria and inconsistencies – a chance to show exactly what is known about the events that night.
They have recently released an age-progressed picture of what Madeleine may look like today – an important step as so many people will still ‘picture’ her as a 4 year old. The distinctive fleck in her right eye remains – however she may be vastly different to this if still alive – particularly her hair colour and accent (she may even now speak a foreign language more fluently than she ever spoke English) which may conceal a little girl who almost certainly is no longer called Madeleine.
So why post about this on Algarve Blog?
Well, I’ve read the book, watched the news with everyone else, and listened to lots of people’s theories and views about this.
And the bottom line for me is simple – there is a little girl that is still missing – an innocent little girl taken from her family and siblings. One of many, many children that go missing each week. But highlighting her plight also helps raise the spotlight on the wider missing children agenda – one that brings heartache and despair to so many families. Child sexual exploitation and child pornography are a reality – and we should do everything we can to eliminate these horrific crimes from our world.
So I post this as a small drop in the ocean – but a drop nonetheless – that might even make a small difference. Because someone – somewhere – has to know something about her disappearance – and may their conscience never be clear until they tell someone what they know.
So if you do know something – however small or insignificant you may think it is – please call your local police – or Operation Grange on
0207 321 9251 (in the UK)
+44 207 321 9251 (non-UK)