Madeleine McCann disappearance MAPPED: Alleged sightings of youngster 12 years on
Madeleine McCann mysteriously vanished on the evening on May 3, 2007, from the bed in her hotel room in Praia da Luz, Portugal. What followed has become arguably the most heavily reported missing-person case in history. Last week, Netflix documentary “The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann” was released and it detailed two separate alleged sightings, one of which was later ruled out by police.
Over the years, there have been many more – several of which have since been discredited but some remain unexplained.
At 9:15pm on May 3, 2007, Jane Tanner, part of the famous “Tapas Seven”, noticed a man walking along the road where the McCann’s holiday apartment was located.
She said he was carrying a barefoot child who was wearing light-coloured pink pyjamas.
Ms Tanner did not make the connection with Madeleine until another member of the group travelling with the McCanns told her Madeleine was missing.
We did not see – and still do not see – how this programme will help the search for Madeleine
Kate and Gerry McCann
Scotland Yard has since ruled this sighting out.
They revealed in October 2013 that a British holidaymaker was carrying his child home at that time had been identified.
He was believed to be the man seen by Ms Tanner and was not involved in an abduction.
However, less than an hour later, at 10pm, an Irish family claimed they had seen a man carrying a young girl on Rua da Escola Primaria.
They described her as four years old, wearing light-coloured pyjamas, with blonde hair and pale skin.
This sighting is still being taken seriously by Scotland Yard, who issued an e-fit of the man in October 2013.
He was described as being in his mid-30s, 5ft9, with a slim-to-normal build, short brown hair, wearing cream or beige trousers and a black leather jacket.
Three days after the disappearance, a young blonde girl was reportedly seen with a German family at the Cabopino campsite on the Costa del Sol.
A witness said: “She seemed alienated and completely different to her family, it really was most peculiar.”
However, it was later confirmed the child was the daughter of the family, who happened to be the same age as Madeleine.
One month later, there was a further reported sighting on the Costa del Sol and two months after that, a pair of women reported seeing a child that looked like Madeleine at a petrol station near Cartagena.
The latter was ruled out after a thorough investigation by the Spanish National Police and Civil Guard.
There have long been theories that Madeleine was taken and kept alive by traffickers operating between Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania.
One week after Maddie went missing, Marie Olli, a Norwegian woman said she had seen a girl matching Madeleine’s description in Marrakech.
The girl, who was said to have appeared sad, was allegedly spotted at a petrol station accompanied by a man in his late 30s.
The witness recalled the sighting on Avenue Abdel Krim Khattabi, a key route through the busy city and the direct road from the port.
Locals claim the road is often used by smuggling and trafficking gangs.
However, CCTV footage was deleted before investigators could check for clues.
Spanish tourist Isabel Gonzalez said that she saw a girl fitting Madeleine’s description being dragged across the streets of Zaio, by a North African woman on June 15, 2007.
Despite the claim, private investigators were unable to substantiate the lead.
There have been two reported sightings in Belgium among countless more worldwide.
The first was on June 2, 2007, in Liege, and the second occurred on 28 July 2007, on a cafe in Tongeren.
In the latter case, the girl turned out to be the four-year-old daughter of a Belgian man.
An Irish tourist also reported a sighting in Medugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on November 15, 2007.
The child was later revealed to be the three-year-old daughter of Slavko Dedic, a dentist from the nearby town of Ljubuški.
And on February 15, 2008, Dutch student Melissa Fiering claimed that she saw Madeleine with a “tall, swarthy man”, at the L’Arche motorway service station restaurant in the south of France.
However, after examining CCTV, French police determined it was not the missing child.
There have even been reported sightings in the UK.
A retired civil servant reported that a Portuguese couple who knocked on his door in Dorset had a blonde-haired child with them he was sure was Madeleine.
The couple were never traced.
Despite the coverage the new Netflix series has received, Kate and Gerry McCann do not support its release.
A statement on behalf of the couple argues that the show could hinder police investigations.
It reads: “We did not see – and still do not see – how this programme will help the search for Madeleine and, particularly given there is an active police investigation, it could potentially hinder it.
“Consequently, our views and preferences are not reflected in the programme.
“We will not be making any further statements or giving interviews regarding this programme.”
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