For perhaps what is the most ambitious project that the Craccum team have ever undertaken, we booked flights to Portugal in order to aid the investigation of the Madeleine McCann missing person case. Eleven years have passed since she was first reported missing by her parents while on holiday in the Portugese town of Praia da Luz, vanishing from her room while they were down the road dining at a tapas restaurant. It was clear that if the experts were unable to follow her trail, then the Craccum team would be the ones for the job.
With the morning of the flight arriving, we eagerly gathered at the office, with Cameron ready to drive us to the airport. Unfortunately, Cameron (as usual) had lost his keys, so we were left stranded at our office. Dejected, and with our budget blown, we sat at the meeting table prepared to review our notes on the cold case that has perplexed experts for over a decade.
Brian: Whoever’s idea it was to order tapas, this is delicious.
On the evening of 3rd May 2007, Madeleine McCann was discovered missing by her mother Kate McCann in their ground-floor holiday apartment, in the Portuguese coastal resort town of Praia da Luz. Born the eldest daughter to British physician parents Kate and Gerry McCann, the family were on holiday with seven of Kate and Gerry’s friends, who were cruelly dubbed by media as the ‘tapas seven’ in relation to their whereabouts during Madeleine’s disappearance.
Brian: We should start calling ourselves the tapas seven
Tapas One (Daniel): Tapas is the shit. Depends on what you order though.
Tapas Two (Cameron): Tapas is great. I’m a huge fan. I especially like tapas when you leave your kids 150m away across a pool. That’s what makes it that extra bit good.
Tapas One (Daniel): If there’s less people you don’t have to share.
Madeleine and her twin siblings had spent the day at the resort Kids Club, and were put to bed by Kate at around 7pm. At 8.30, Kate and Gerry left the apartment to dine across the pool with the tapas seven. The plan was for the patio door to be left open through the night with the curtains drawn, so the diners could take turns checking on the children every half-hour. The first check was conducted by Madeleine’s father shortly after nine. The children were asleep and all was well, except that he recalled having left the children’s bedroom door slightly ajar, and now it stood almost wide open. He pulled it closed again before returning to the restaurant.
Brian: I don’t know about you guys, but shit’s starting to get a little freaky.
Cameron: Why didn’t he wonder why the door was open? Also, I’m wondering if this was actually true, or if he recalled it to suggest something was up.
Lachlan: Everyone kept changing their story as to whether the door was closed, or whether the window had been opened.
Cameron: Was there a window? Also, didn’t Gerry like not really bother to check the children were there at all.
Brian: Gerry sounds like he damn well messed up here.
What follows is the most prolific sighting of the Madeleine investigation, and comes from tapas seven constituent Jane Tanner. At around the same time, Tanner was coming back from checking on her own children when she sighted a man carrying a young child walking across the junction in front of Madeleine’s bedroom. The child in the man’s arms was wearing light-coloured pink pyjamas with a floral pattern and cuffs on the legs, similar to Madeleine’s. Tanner described the man as white, dark-haired and of Mediterranean appearance, and said he did not look like a tourist. Tanner had said she encountered Gerry McCann close to the time of this sighting, and with Gerry not recalling the encounter, her story was initially discredited by Portuguese police.
Cameron: Could it be that they [the friends] were into drugs and owed money and so the dealer stole the daughter or something?
Cameron: The whole ‘our friend checked’ in between thing was weird too
Lachlan: Look at the Wikipedia, they found who that was. Apparently some other resort stayer guy.
In October 2013, Scotland Yard had said that a British holidaymaker had been identified as the man Tanner had seen. They were “almost certain” the Tanner sighting was not related to the abduction.
Brian: Damn, well that theory’s dead.
Cameron: Are we sure that’s the only thing in this investigation that’s dead.
The dismissal of the Tanner sighting led investigators to reports of another suspicious sighting in the area, by couple Martin and Mary Smith. They had spotted a man who looked uneased, carry a child fitting Madeleine’s description in the opposite direction down to the beach. By unfortunate coincidence, the Smith’s sighting bore some resemblance to Madeleine’s father Gerry McCann.
Lachlan: Need I more proof that the parents did it?
Brian: What? That’s ridiculous, it doesn’t even match the timeline. Besides, I’m sure there are a lot of people in the world that look like Gerry McCann.
Another theory is that Madeleine wandered off herself out of the room, and fell into roadworks trenches dug up along neighbouring roads. It was believed that if Madeleine had wandered off, it was likely she would have encountered and fallen into them. According to the book Looking for Madeleine (Kate and Gerry are really franchising here), “some locals were concerned about points where roads had been opened for drainage and cable-laying operations.” Officials dismissed this theory because it was believed the holes were not large enough to trap Madeleine.
Lachlan: As New Zealanders, we are skeptical of the idea that roadworks can be completed and sealed over at a speed any shorter than 18 months.
Cameron: How big was the trench?
Brian: Officials claimed the holes to be under 0.7m. That’s not to say it couldn’t have been deeper in areas, as well as locals claiming manhole covers were open on streets around town.
Cameron: It’s a bit of a stretch.
Brian: Not if she was lying down.
Perhaps one of the most popular theories surrounding the investigation (and one that certainly sits well with our arts editor Lachlan) is that Kate and Gerry themselves orchestrated the kidnapping of their own daughter. In fact, at one point Portuguese police favoured this theory so much that they presented Kate and Gerry as the chief suspects in the Madeleine investigation. Now, we here at Craccum joke about a lot of things, but we would never stoop as low as to suggest Kate McCann would have any involvement in the death of her own daughter.
Lachlan: I think they sedated her and accidentally killed her in the process and being rich long-standing tories from a well-to-do area of southern England, they were protected.
You know what, never mind. Apparently we do stoop that low.
Cameron: What did they sedate her with? Because from my limited knowledge, it would have to be a massive oversight if they were playing with like a sedating antihistamine. Now, if they were playing with like Michael Jackson level stuff, then that’s a whole new ball game
Lachlan: She could have been sold or sedated. I don’t know. Just that whole part about them printing the famous eye defect photo when Portuguese police were like “if she’s been taken, she’ll be killed the moment that picture hits media.”
Daniel: Yeah, maybe let’s lay off the Kate and Gerry accusations so we don’t get sued.
Lachlan: It’s more that the following actions reeked of the stinkiest horseshit to me.
Brian: And yep. There goes our editorial independence.
Since we explore all avenues here at Craccum, our investigators have stumbled upon a new theory in the Madeleine investigation, surfaced from Craccum Arts Editor Lachlan Mitchell circa 2019. Lachlan speculates that she walked off to get some curry and chips, and is definitely coming back.
Lachlan: Value for money and the ratio is outstanding.
Cameron: I love them. Fucking fantastic.
Lachlan: Please don’t tie Jewel of Bombay into the Madeleine McCann investigation. I don’t think my heart could take it.
Brian: You were the one who suggested she left for curry and chips and didn’t come back?
Lachlan: I completely forgot that joke serious accusation. The Brits do love their curry and chips though, you never know.
Following this lengthy and constructive editorial team discussion on the manner of Madeleine’s disappearance, Lachlan took it upon himself to conclude the subject of the meeting in a respectful and tolerant manner befitting of the fragile nature of the case.
Lachlan: I finished the Maddie doco and I still believe the parents did it.
Brian: Oh come on, poor Kate and Gerry have been through enough.
Ways to support: If you or anyone else have knowledge of any information relating to Madeleine’s disappearance, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We would also like you to know that Kate and Gerry have made limited-edition Madeleine McCann merchandise available at http://findmadeleine.com/online_store/. We here at Craccum take Madeleine’s disappearance extremely seriously, and are positively certain that Kate and Gerry might not have done it.