When a child goes missing, there are certain protocol and procedures which must be followed and adhered to. Firstly it must be assumed that the child is in danger or has come to some harm (ACPO guidelines). All efforts must therefore be made to immediately locate the child. This includes alerts to the local and national media, as well as border controls (dependent upon the area). Social media should also be utilised. The parents and the last person to have seen the child must be interviewed under suspicion and eliminated at the earliest opportunity. The place where the child went missing should be sealed off as a potential crime scene for forensic testing should it be required in the future. All people in the immediate area must be questioned, or at least have their contact details taken for future questioning as potential witnesses – there should be no exceptions or excuses for not doing so. CCTV should also be checked.
Bear all of this in mind when comparing this to Amaral in his investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Amaral’s investigation: Amaral walks into the apartment where the child had previously gone missing. It was first assumed that the child has simply wandered off – big mistake. There was a abject failure to put out all of the necessary alerts. The parents, or the last person to have seen the child, were not interviewed under suspicion (for the purpose of elimination) and no effort is made at all to eliminate them until several weeks later. Amaral is so ill-prepared for the investigation that he has to borrow a piece of paper to scribble down some notes. The potential crime scene was not sealed for future forensic testing, in fact people and dogs are allowed to wander aimlessly in and out of the apartment making it extremely difficult for any future forensic tests to extract any useful or useable information. Why did no-one notice that at least one of the forensic professionals dusting for prints wasn’t even wearing gloves! Da Sousa (Amaral’s boss) later remarked that, “the crime scene was totally compromised from the very beginning.”
The contact details of all of the people in the immediate area were never taken and to this day there is still around 700 people, all potential witnesses, who have never been questioned. Some years later, other potential witnesses, who were in the area but had not been spoken to at the time by the PJ (the Portuguese Police), approached the UK police to say that the PJ had refused to speak with them because they did not speak Portuguese! Some of these were later able to provide information that would have been relevant to the investigation – except that Amaral and the PJ refused to even listen to them! One woman came forward (PJ refused to speak with her – nor were any contact details taken – she only spoke English) to give her account of when she reported the attempted abduction of her child in the same area only days before Madeleine McCann went missing. It further transpired, in a later investigation, that some of the property owners in the immediate area, due to a spate of recent burglaries, did have CCTV installed in their homes. These were never checked at the time. Some of these looked out over the front and rear of the property – the areas where an abductor could potentially have made an exit with a small child. The owner of a nearby hotel had wiped their CCTV tape by the time Portuguese detectives had finally decided to ask questions there. The hotel owner confirmed that the camera would have caught the infamous ‘Smith’ sighting (a man witnessed carrying a small girl in his arms just minutes after Madeleine went missing).
Amaral then turned his attention to Murat. He initially suspected that Murat had abducted Madeleine and had buried her body in the grounds of his property. Sniffer dogs were brought in by Amaral. Obviously Amaral didn’t believe fully in scent dogs at this time because despite no positive alerts by the dogs, Amaral decided to order in the bulldozers and proceeded to dig Murat’s garden up anyway. Nothing was found.
Suspicion eventually fell on the parents, Kate and Gerry, who were finally interviewed under suspicion. This should have been an immediate priority for any competent investigator. The parents should have been interviewed under suspicion and either eliminated or became the centre of the investigation (though I would have interviewed under suspicion the last person to have claimed to have seen the child as a priority – which has still never been done)!
Around 3 months after Madeleine went missing and after 4 different families had moved in and out of the apartment, presumably cleaning every day, scent dogs were eventually brought in (this should have happened within the first 3 days)! The dogs made a series of alerts and dried blood was found and recovered from the apartment. Amaral stated publicly, quite correctly, that the alerts were ‘meaningless’ without forensic evidence. The first forensic report to come back identified the recovered dried blood as belonging to a male (certainly not the missing female child). Despite this the Portuguese press printed a story, from a source within the PJ (I wonder who that could have been) stating that the blood they had found in the apartment was Madeleine’s blood (even though the forensics had identified the blood as male!)
When all of the forensic results from the dog alerts had been completed, the report concluded with three words (by Lowe of FSS), “NOT Madeleine McCann”. Despite Amaral’s earlier statement that the alerts were meaningless without forensic evidence, Amaral then does an about-turn, deciding, without any evidence, that the parents had killed their daughter in the apartment – though he did add that it may have been an accident. From this point on, he follows no other lines of enquiry and concentrates all of his efforts on proving the parents’ guilt, coming up with different ideas and theories on how they could have done this (some of them bordering on the ridiculous).
Other tests on Madeleine’s cuddle-cat and Kate’s clothes (which were tested as a result of cadaver dog alerts), revealed no evidence or trace of human cadaver (you have to see the full video of the cadaver dog, Eddie, in action at the Villa Del Mar to believe how these alerts were made, it is laughable to say the least). *(story of alerts detailed at end)
A forensic specialist had pointed out to Amaral that it would take around 2 hours for the cadaver scent to take hold – in other words Madeleine’s corpse would have to have laid undisturbed and undiscovered for 2 hours. Amaral makes the assumption from this that this is the reason that it took the parents so long to ring the police. It was pointed out to him that the odour from body which had laid there for 2 hours would be unbearable within a very short space of time, which led to the suggestion that the parents must have kept their child’s corpse in the freezer! The freezer was forensically tested. There was no trace or evidence of any human cadaver ever having been in contact with the freezer. Despite this, Amaral persisted with this theory!
Asked how the parents would dispose of a (frozen) corpse when they were being followed around everywhere by the media, Amaral said that the parents had keys to the church so they must have hidden her in there. Any evidence of this? No. Amaral then has the idea that the parents either had their dead daughter buried or cremated at a nearby pet cemetery!
If Amaral had conducted the investigation in a professional manner he would have interviewed the parents immediately, under suspicion, for the purposes of elimination. If they could not be comprehensively eliminated from the enquiry, they should have been placed under 24-hour covert surveillance from day one. If they were responsible for disposing of Madeleine’s corpse then they would certainly have been caught and the evidence would be indisputable.
If the cadaver dogs were brought in on Day 3, as they should have been then (even with a compromised crime scene) any alerts would have been unambigious and forensic evidence could have more likely been extracted and identified. Instead 3 months later, after the McCanns and 4 other families had moved in and out of the apartment cleaning it numerous times, Amaral introduced scent dogs into the apartment. It has been scientifically verified and indisputably demonstrated that once a body has been removed from a scene, the ‘cadaver scent’ (the scent which the dog alerts to) has a limited shelf life in which any reliability can be placed. Scotland Yard calls this the ‘critical scent’ and puts it at 28 days, whilst independent peer-reviewed scientific research puts this period more reliably and indisputably at 576 hours (24.1 days). Because Amaral had waited 3 months for scent dogs to be introduced, the reliability of the alerts has been seriously diminished, even ridiculed, and therefore, even if evidence from dog alerts could have been forensically verified, the dog-alert evidence could not have been used in any legal or practical sense. After such a length of time it would have been impossible for the dogs to alert to human cadaver as there would be not a trace of any cadaver scent remaining (scent from a dead body takes around 2 hours to take hold. Once the scent takes hold it can remain indefinitely for as long as the body is in situ. Once the body is removed the scent begins to exponentially dissipate [to understand the meaning of exponentially, imagine somebody offered you the choice between £100,000 cash now or 1 penny which would be doubled every day for 30 days: Day 1 = 1p, Day 2 = 2p, Day 3 = 4p, Day 4 = 8p, Day 5 = 16p, etc. £100,000.00 now, or a penny doubled every day for a month? The 1 penny doubled every day for 30 days is an example of exponential growth – after 30 days of penny-doubling you’d have over £5,000,000.00 (five million pounds)]). So with exponential deterioration, the scent gets less and less, exponentially deteriorating each day, so much so that after 576 hours the scent has completely deteriorated – vanished without a trace, if you like. Literally, there is nothing left to detect.
If the parents were indeed responsible for their Madeleine’s disappearance, and Amaral had followed procedure, then the parents would have certainly been caught with sufficient evidence to prosecute. Their guilt would have been indisputable!
If the parents were not responsible and the child had either wandered off or had been abducted, then there would have been a better chance of finding the child if procedure had been followed. They would have contact details from all witnesses in the area at the time (there’s still 700 unaccounted for). With residents’ private CCTV they would have images and videos with times of anybody who had passed outside of the apartments. Alerts would have made it less likely for anybody to cross a border with a small child in tow (remembering that Portugal is a known place for child-traffickers on the way to Morroco).
Amaral did none of this. He did not interview the parents under suspicion and so made no effort at all to eliminate them. After reaching a dead-end, he presumed it was the parents after all (no evidence at all of this) then decided to close all other lines of enquiry. The case was closed for Amaral – as well as his career.
Amaral, after receiving an 18-month prison sentence (albeit suspended) for dishonesty, retired and wrote a book in which he layed total blame on the parents of Madeleine McCann (rather than himself for totally bodging the investigation) and wrote a self-pitying account of how badly he had been treated! He was later sued over the book and was ordered to pay damages, though this was later overturned on appeal making his book available for worldwide sale.
Anybody with any knowledge of criminal investigation who has read the book (I’ve read it three times so far) would be flabbergasted. If you were a professional investigator and had made so many mistakes and blunders during an investigation of this magnitude, would you want to write about it? Would you want anybody else to witness your incompetence? I wouldn’t. The first time I read Amaral’s book I was gobsmacked. The media had reported the work of the investigators involved as professional, but reading Amaral’s book left me shaking my head in disbelief. Later events confirmed this.
The investigation was bodged from Day One . Procedures or protocol were not followed or were totally ignored. The potential crime scene wasn’t sealed off, instead it was highly compromised from the very beginning, rendering any evidence unreliable, destroyed or completely unreadable (forensically speaking). All of the necessary alerts which may have located the missing & vulnerable child straight away were not put out. The parents (and the last person to have claimed to have seen the child) were never interviewed under suspicion and therefore Amaral failed to eliminate them at the earliest opportunity. Because of this they were never suspects until much later and no surveillance or investigation was allocated to them until several weeks later. Contact details were not taken and recorded of all of the people in the immediate area. In the early stages, people who could not speak Portuguese (and we’re talking about a holiday resort here) were never interviewed, nor their contact details ever taken! These were potential witnesses (maybe even suspects)! The residents of nearby apartments, houses or businesses were not spoken to (if they had done so, they would certainly have learned of the in-house CCTV cameras and would undoubtedly have received information of video footage showing anybody passing that particular place, especially if they had been carrying a small child. This could have also ruled out certain routes that it was supposed the guilty party had travelled). Amaral failed to bring the cadaver dogs into the alleged crime scene until 3 months later ensuring any evidence which was discovered was unreliable, ambiguous and useless in every sense. After stating that the alerts meant nothing without evidence he changes his position when the forensic results come back as negative. He then makes a series of spurious allegations which he knows cannot be forensic tested with any degree of certainty. He still continues to make numerous untested assumptions and allegations (many of which were found to be untrue or impossible, yet he still persists with them).
Believe it or not, despite all of this, there are some gullible people, who have neither looked at the evidence objectively, or with any degree of impartially, nor who have sufficient knowledge of how an investigation such as this should have been carried out – and these people have contributed money to Amaral! This is for somebody who failed Madeleine! Anybody who has contributed money to the cause of Amaral does not have any respect for the memory of Madeleine McCann. He failed Madeliene from Day One.
What happened to little Madeleine McCann is still open to speculation. Some people still blame her parents (there’s no evidence, but who knows?); some believe she was abducted from the apartment (although there is no evidence of a break-in, certain facts have since come to light which now makes this a likely scenario: apparently there were numerous break-ins around this time in the immediate area where burglars had used either skeleton keys or lock-picks to enter the apartment. Some of the burglaries were then staged so that it appeared as if the burglars had entered or left via a different route – such as an open window); some believe that the apartment hadn’t been locked by the parents (to facilitate the checks by the Tapas 9) and that Madeleine had simply walked out of the apartment looking for her parents, or even running away, and befalling some catastrophe. A lot of people seem to have a strong opinion on this subject. They seem to be either pro-McCannn or anti-McCann. Though it is quite clear that there is no direct evidence either way. For that we have to be thankful for Amaral’s ineptitude as a investigator.
It is possible that Madeleine is still alive somewhere (there is, as yet, no evidence to the contrary) and living in some remote part of the world.
*Some people (including Amaral) have stated that Madeleine was dead because Madeleine’s cuddle cat reeked of human cadaverine . Here’s the story behind the indications by Eddie the cadaver dog (it’s reminiscent of a Carry On film):
Eddie enters the room where the cuddle-cat is, walks up to the cuddle-cat, sniffs it – gives no indication of any cadaver scent at all. If the cuddle cat had even the remotest trace of cadaverine scent – the scent of death – then you would have expected a cadaver dog to alert to this. Eddie gives no indication of anything even resembling a positive alert when approaching or sniffing the cuddle-cat. Eddie leaves the room. Eddie later re-enters the room where the cuddle-cat is, again walks up to it, again sniffing it. Again there is no alert at all to the cuddle cat. None whatsoever. Not a flicker. Grimes then points to the cuddle cat. Eddie again goes over to the cuddle-cat & sniffs it, Again, Eddie does not alert. Grimes gives Eddie the cuddle-cat to play with. Eddie plays with the cuddle-cat. There is still no alert at all to the cuddle-cat (which some people have stated as fact, reeked of cadaverine). Eddie though does give a positive alert to a kitchen surface which has dirty dishes and left-over food on it. Grimes (Eddie’s owner) tells the person filming to “just ignore that” (alerting to a false positive – in this case, food).
Eddie is then taken out of the room, still alerting to the food on the kitchen surface. The cuddle-cat (which Eddie had walked passed twice, and even played with, without any indication of a positive alert) is then placed in the cupboard below the kitchen surface which Eddie had already alerted to. Eddie re-enters the room and again alerts to the food & dirty dishes on top of the kitchen surface (look at Eddie’s face in the video, he is looking at the kitchen surface and not at the cupboard below it). Grimes then walks over to the cupboard below the kitchen surface, pulls out the cuddle-cat from the cupboard beneath, holds up the cuddle-cat to the camera as if to say, “look what we’ve got here.” Even at this stage, Eddie is still not even looking at the cuddle-cat and is still looking to and alerting to the food on top of the kitchen surface. Despite this ludicrousity, the cuddle-cat was forensically tested. The results of the tests indicated that there was no trace of human cadaver at all. Nil. Not a trace. And you will still hear some people cite this as ‘proof’ of Kate McCann’s guilt! Such a person is clearly an idiot bereft of human sanity with little or no common sense. Amaral also believed it! He even cited it as evidence for Kate’s guilt in his book!