The purpose of this site is for information and a record of Gerry McCann's Blog Archives. As most people will appreciate GM deleted all past blogs from the official website. Hopefully this Archive will be helpful to anyone who is interested in Justice for Madeleine Beth McCann. Many Thanks, Pamalam

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5 - Five Year Anniversary 'Sightings'*

The fifth anniversary of Madeleine McCann's disappearance approaches and the 'sightings' begin...

[This page currently being updated - 29 August 2012]

Police investigate a new lead that places Madeleine McCann in Nerja, 17 April 2012
Police investigate a new lead that places Madeleine McCann in Nerja Diario Sur

Kate and Gerry McCann, parents of the girl, with a poster for their search.
Kate and Gerry McCann, parents of the girl, with a poster for their search.

The General Judiciary Police Commissariat received a request from the Portuguese authorities to verify that information

17.04.12 - 01:37
With thanks to Joana Morais for translation

A clue sent by the Portuguese Police places the girl in Nerja. The Luso [Portuguese] investigators have sent that information to their Spanish counterparts who have already started to work on it in order to check its reliability, according to what SUR was able to establish.

The communication of the authorities from the neighbouring country arrived at the National Police Corps [Cuerpo Nacional de Policía] about ten days ago by an email with detailed data made by an informant, who claimed to have seen a girl in Nerja with a strong physical resemblance to Madeleine, whose whereabouts are unknown since May 2007.

The investigation is being handled by the Unit of Specialized and Violent Crime Unit [UDEV] of the General Judiciary Police Commissariat, the same squad that investigates, among others, the case of Ruth and José, the two siblings who disappeared on October 8, 2011, in Cordoba .

The detectives have already begun to take steps to check this new lead, "as we do with all the more or less reliable information that arrives on Madeleine," says one source from the Judiciary. The UDEV has a file of pending matters in a 'dossier' with all the data that is available to them about the case of the child.

The Investigation in Spain

Not surprisingly, since her disappearance, "numerous" communications from individuals claiming to have seen the child in different parts of Spain have been made. Nor is this the first time that Malaga appears on that map. Another source that we've consulted said that months ago another piece of information, that also placed the girl in Axarquia, was discarded.

Madeleine's trace was lost on May 3, 2007 in a hotel complex in Praia da Luz where she was staying with her parents, Kate and Gerry and her twin siblings. The British family was spending a holiday in the Algarve along with three couples, five children and the mother of a friend.

While the couples went out for a drink on the premises of the tourist resort, they took turns to check their children, that were asleep. That night it was Kate who, while visiting the apartment, found Maddie's bed empty only with the the child's teddy bear [sic, Cuddle Cat]. The bedroom window was open.

Process Archival

The disappearance had, probably, an unprecedented media coverage from that moment. The photograph of the small child, then aged three, went around the world, resulting in a flurry of leads of her whereabouts.

During the following days, the Algarve was screened by land and sea in search of the girl. Then the investigation moved on to the interrogations. After investigating several suspects, between them the parents, the Portuguese police released the suspects and archived the case in July 2008 in the absence of progress [The Public Ministry archived the process, not the PJ]. Kate and Gerry remain convinced that a man took her. On the night of May 3, a friend of the couple saw a man with a child in his arms, his sketch was widely disseminated through the media, without success.

When the process was archived, the McCanns launched the Madeleine Foundation [Madeleine's Fund] in order to start a web site, a 24-hour call centre to receive eventual tips and hire an investigating team. In 2011, the family published a book in which they speak of the tragedy they have to live with in order to collect money so they can continue with the search.

Another 'Sighting' Ahead Of Madeleine Anniversary, 17 April 2012
Another 'Sighting' Ahead Of Madeleine Anniversary Sky News Blogs

Madeleine 'best wishes' card

Martin Brunt
April 17, 2012 9:50 AM

I guess we can expect more of this as the fifth anniversary of Madeleine McCann's disappearance approaches.

Spanish police are investigating a report from their Portuguese colleagues that a girl fitting Madeleine's description is living in Nerja near Malaga.

The information was provided by someone living nearby the girl.

Apparently, Spanish police involved in tracing missing people have three such potential sightings a month.

But who knows where this might possibly lead?

The news comes after Portuguese police began a review of the case, which was initially abandoned 15 months after Madeleine vanished in May 2007.

Police are investigating reported sighting of Madeleine McCann in Nerja, 17 April 2012
Police are investigating reported sighting of Madeleine McCann in Nerja Typically Spanish

Madeleine McCann

By h.b. - Apr 17, 2012 - 10:13 AM

The request to investigate has come from Portuguese police

The police are investigating a clue which puts Madeleine McCann in Nerja. The Judicial Police Commissioner-General received the request to verify the information from the Portuguese authorities.

Diario Sur reports it's understood the request came by e-mail and arrived some ten days ago.

Portuguese investigators received the Nerja clue and they want to confirm it with the Spanish colleagues. A witness said they saw a girl who looked by Madeline in Nerja.

Madeleine McCann has been missing since May 2007 and since then there have been many sightings of her across Spain, although this is the first time the Costa del Sol has been mentioned.

PJ denies the existence of a new lead regarding Maddie's whereabouts, 17 April 2012
PJ denies the existence of a new lead regarding Maddie's whereabouts Rádio Renascença

An official source of the PJ has told Radio Renascença that the news about the Portuguese authorities having given leads about the appearance of the girl in Spain are without foundation.

By Celso Paiva Sol
17-04-2012 17:23
With thanks to
Joana Morais for translation

The PJ categorically denies the news published in the Spanish paper "Diario Sur", according to which the neighbouring country's authorities are investigating a new lead, allegedly provided by the Portuguese police, about the whereabouts of Madeleine McCann.

An official PJ source told Renascença that the news did not have any basis and that it is completely false.

According to "Diario Sur", the new lead arrived at the Spanish authorities ten days ago and reported that a girl with physical similarities to Maddie had been seen in the city of Nerja, close to Malaga.

Madeleine 'spotted in Spain', 18 April 2012
Madeleine 'spotted in Spain' Sunday Express (paper edition)

Daily Express, 18 April 2012

Tip-off raises new hope of finding missing girl


Madeleine McCann 'spotted in Spain' Sunday Express

Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann

By Gerard Couzens in Nerja, Spain
Wednesday April 18,2012

THE parents of Madeleine McCann were given fresh hope last night after it was revealed a police search is under way for her in a Costa del Sol holiday resort.

Detectives are making inquiries in the southern Spanish town of Nerja after a tip-off from police in Portugal of a possible sighting of the girl who would now be approaching her ninth birthday.

As Kate and Gerry McCann prepare to mark the fifth anniversary of their daughter's disappearance on May 3, they have learnt that Portuguese officers received new details of a young girl resembling Madeleine spotted in the town near Malaga.

Officers from a specialist unit in Spain have been mobilised to the region – 270 miles from where Madeleine went missing in Praia da Luz, Portugal – after being sent a report about the sighting.

It is understood the tip-off came from a witness after identifying a girl she believed to have a strong physical resemblance to the British youngster.

The investigation is being carried out by the Specialist and Violent Crime Unit (UDEV) of the Spanish National Police, who have already started to check details. Officers from Scotland Yard have also been informed.

In Nerja, which has a large British expat community, Town Hall spokesman Antonio Gallardo said yesterday: "We urge anyone with any relevant information about Madeleine McCann to assist in the search for her by contacting authorities with that information."

Last night the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "They are aware of this report and remain pleased that the police are co-ordinating and following up any leads where necessary."

He added that they were unable to discuss any operational details relating to police inquiries. A spokesman for Scotland Yard also declined to comment on the reports of the sighting.

But the development is thought to be linked to a fresh review of Madeleine's disappearance by police in Portugal.

A new squad of detectives was recently brought in to re-examine the case. The team, from the northern Portuguese city of Porto, has been instructed to go over the thousands of pages of case files. In a similar but separate case, officers from the specialist crime unit are searching for two siblings who disappeared in a park in Cordoba, southern Spain on October 8.

The youngsters' father Jose Breton is in jail after being arrested over their disappearance. Police have failed to find any trace of Ruth, six, and Jose, two, despite several searches with radar equipment.

The McCanns' Portuguese lawyer Rogerio Alves described the Portuguese case review as a "very positive sign".

He said when news emerged of the creation of the new team: "Obviously the most plausible explanation for what's happening is that information passed to or acquired by the Judicial Police in Porto has put them on the trail of something specific."

Nerja, known for its famous caves, is home to over 23,000 people although its population more than doubles in summer. Around 30 per cent are foreigners including 3,000 Britons, the biggest expat group.

Several groups of children, including girls of Madeleine's age, were playing yesterday at Nerja's rocky promentory Balcon de Europa.

The viewpoint – literally Balcony of Europe – offers stunning panoramas across the Mediterranean and is one of the town's main tourist attractions.

Cafe and bar owners said they had not yet been quizzed about the missing youngster.

A spokesman for Spain's National Police, the force said to have received a request for assistance from counterparts in Portugal, also refused to comment.

But a source close to the inquiry said: "An email requesting help regarding a sighting in Nerja of a girl resembling Madeleine McCann was received from Portuguese police around 10 days ago. The contents of the email have not been widely divulged.

"Spanish police are more hermetic than police in places like Britain and this sort of information is not the sort they'd want to put into the public domain. The unit that received the request has total autonomy to use their own officers on inquiries and not involve other police forces or even inform them if they go on to their patch.

"They specialise in missing person inquiries. It would be totally normal for them to keep things in house."

Madeleine's parents have never given up hope. Last December, up to eight "very important" leads in the hunt were handed to Scotland Yard's McCann squad – Operation Grange – by the Barcelona-based private investigators Metodo 3.

The four-strong British police team had detailed discussions with the private detectives and later took possession of 30 boxes of documents about Madeleine.

Francisco Marco, Metodo 3's director, said he believed it was "very possible" the little girl was taken to North Africa.

The McCanns, both doctors, who live in Rothley, Leicestershire, with Madeleine's younger twin siblings, Sean and Amelie, have spoken of their satisfaction that British police appeared to be making progress. On their website, set up to keep the hunt alive, they insist there is no evidence Madeleine has been harmed.

A message on the site reads: "Madeleine is still missing and someone needs to be looking for her. We love her dearly and miss her beyond words."

Madeleine McCann: Tip-off leads cop team to Costa resort, 18 April 2012
Madeleine McCann: Tip-off leads cop team to Costa resort Daily Star

ABOVE: Police searching for Madeleine McCann were last night probing a fresh sighting

By Jerry Lawton, Chief Crime Correspondent
18th April 2012

POLICE searching for Madeleine McCann were last night probing a fresh sighting.

Spanish officers swooped on Nerja on the Costa del Sol after a tip-off from colleagues in Portugal.

Detectives are understood to have received details from an informant about a girl resembling Madeleine spotted in the town, which is home to 3,000 expat Brits.

The development came after police in Portugal and the UK recently launched separate reviews of the original case.

Madeleine's doctor parents Kate, 44, and Gerry McCann, 43, were last night "grateful" police had acted on the tip-off.

Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry are aware of this report. They remain grateful that the police are liaising with other authorities and continuing to investigate reports of sightings where appropriate.

"We cannot say anything further as it is now a police operational matter." Scotland Yard officers have also been informed of the sighting.

Madeleine, who would now be eight, was snatched from a holiday apartment in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz in May 2007 while her parents dined with pals in a nearby tapas bar.

Last night a source in Nerja, near Malaga, told the Daily Star: "An email requesting help regarding a sighting of a girl resembling Madeleine McCann was received from Portuguese police around 10 days ago.

"The contents of the email have not been widely divulged.

"Spanish police are more secretive than police in places like Britain and this sort of information is not the sort they'd want to put into the public domain.

"The unit that received the request has total autonomy to use their own officers on inquiries and not involve other police forces or even inform them if they go on to their patch. They specialise in missing persons inquiries.

"It would be totally normal for them to keep things in-house and not involve officers outside of their unit."

Best known for its famous caves, Nerja is home to 23,000 people, although its population more than doubles in summer. Around 30% are foreigners many of whom are Brits.

Town hall spokesman Antonio Gallardo said: "We haven't been informed by anyone officially about this sighting.

"However, we urge anyone with any relevant information about Madeleine to assist in the search for her by contacting authorities."

A spokesman for Portugal's Policia Judiciaria said: "We would not comment on something like this."

And a spokesman for Spain's National Police also said they had no comment to make.

Sky News, Morning News Programme - Presenter Eamonn Holmes, 18 April 2012
Sky News, Morning News Programme - Presenter Eamonn Holmes Sky News

Sky News Paper Review

18 April 2012
With thanks to A Miller for transcript

Eamonn Holmes and Louise Court, the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, discuss the headline in the Daily Express - 'Madeleine 'Spotted in Spain''

Eamonn Holmes: And we are going to start Louise, front page headline, and I hope this is true, there is some foundation to this. This is the front page of the Express Madeleine Spotted in Spain we re coming up to the 5th Anniversary of disappearance of young Madeleine McCann.

Louise Court: I think it's the point you've made Eammon I hope it's true. I mean there's supposedly been this tip-off that a girl looking like Madeleine has been spotted in Nerja the Costa del Sol.

Eamonn Holmes: Nerja would be about 270 miles, if you went right across the coast of Spain and Portugal, away from where she was abducted in Lagos.

Louise Court: And it must be totally the news that her parents want to hear. But I just also wonder how they must feel because, you know, your hopes are lifted and, you know, for them to be dashed again. It's just unbearable.

Eamonn Holmes: But you see, part of me just doubts whether this is true or not, or is it about just keeping the awareness, keeping the profile, keeping us all thinking about it? The parents may be complicit in this, I don't know, and encouraging these stories and keeping them out just to keep people aware. I found myself last week amazingly in Lagos, and then you do that thing - Where was the hotel? Where was the church they went to? Whatever. And you know a beautiful small place and you just wonder how it could have happened? But it is right that we all should be aware of this and we only hope there is some truth in that.

Louise Court: But you always seem to get these sightings in the Mediterreanean and in in these coastal towns. And you think, well if you had taken her you would think that you wouldn't have... you know, why would she only be spotted in those places.

Eamonn Holmes: Well, sometimes it's all very close to home.

Brit lad: Madeleine McCann walked past me in Costa resort, 20 April 2012
Brit lad: Madeleine McCann walked past me in Costa resort Daily Star

ABOVE: Madeleine McCann disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Portugal on May 3, 2007

By Jerry Lawton
20th April 2012

A BRITISH holidaymaker has claimed he saw Madeleine McCann in the Spanish resort where police are searching for her.

Student Billy Sousa, 18, was having lunch with three pals in a bar overlooking a beach in Nerja on the Costa del Sol when a girl he believes could be the missing youngster walked past.

One of his friends shouted: "Oh God, she's the spitting image of Madeleine McCann."

The girl, who had dark blonde hair, pale skin and looked "seven or eight", was with a 6ft, stocky, Middle Eastern man in his 40s with dark hair and stubble.

Billy said when the man saw they had spotted him he tugged on her hand and pulled her away.

But the pals did not report the sighting because the pair vanished before they could get a photo and they thought they would be laughed at.

This week Billy discovered police were searching the resort and passed his information to officers.

He said: "I just wish we'd done something about it there and then.

"There was just something so odd about this pale-skinned, English-looking girl walking along the beach front with a man who was of an entirely different race and appearance.

"The girl was looking around as though she was lost or didn't know what was happening.

"I got a really good look at her face. She looked just like Madeleine. She was older obviously, but the features were identical."

Madeleine disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3, 2007, days before her fourth birthday.

Billy, from Portsmouth, was having lunch outside the Olas bar on or around July 18.

He added: "I couldn't take my eyes off her. She looked like all the pictures I've seen of her. The man she was with looked like he was fairly poor, not a drifter but not a rich man.

"One of my friends thought he saw a woman with them but I didn't. I was too focused on the girl."

Spanish police swooped on the resort this week after a tip-off from colleagues in Portugal.

Madeleine's doctor parents Kate, 44, and Gerry, 43, are monitoring the investigation. Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the couple were grateful for any help in the search.

I saw Madeleine McCann playing outside Costa del Sol beach restaurant, 03 May 2012
I saw Madeleine McCann playing outside Costa del Sol beach restaurant The Olive Press

EXCLUSIVE by Eloise Horsfield
PUBLISHED: May 3, 2012 at 7:05 am • LAST EDITED: May 3, 2012 at 9:36 am

Expat pensioner Rose Johnson (below) believes she saw an eight-year-old Maddie (inset - as she might look today) playing outside Merendero restaurant on Penoncillo beach (bottom) between Nerja and Torrox last summer

A BRITISH expat has come forward believing to have seen Maddie McCann in Nerja – exactly five years since her disappearance.

Rose Johnson, 70, reckons she saw the missing girl playing on Penoncillo beach – between Torrox and Nerja – last summer.

The Frigiliana-based pensioner hopes her sighting will help Portuguese police who sensationally sent a request to their Spanish counterparts to investigate other sightings in Nerja just a fortnight ago.

The former cleaner, who has lived in the area for a decade, has spoken out after reading an article in the Olive Press, last issue.

She revealed how she had made the sighting while eating at Merendero restaurant with her partner in August last year.

"We were quite taken aback when we saw this Maddie look-a-like walk off the beach and join a table of what we could only describe as a party of Spanish people or similar," said Johnson.

Rose Johnson believes she saw Maddie McCann on Nerja beach last summer

"They were completely different to her. The whole family was dark skinned, whereas she had fair hair and pale skin and obviously was northern European.

"It was very, very strange. She was about eight and seemed really airy-fairy, and in a world of her own.

"She hardly spent any time with the family and didn't sit with the people she was with at all."

Johnson later saw something equally startling.

"As we crossed the road to our car, just up the road was a dark blue or grey car, a people carrier or similar – possibly a Citroen Picasso or Renault Scenic – with a Portuguese number plate," said Johnson, originally from Buckinghamshire.

"We, like a lot of people, and especially her parents, want her found and any information we can give we would like to think it could help."

Regretting that she did not take a picture with her mobile phone, she added: "We hope people don't think we are jumping on the bandwagon, looking for publicity. This is simply about Maddie and trying to find her."

Her sighting is remarkably similar to another Olive Press reader Yvonne Tunnicliffe who insisted she was '100 per cent sure' she saw Maddie while out on a shopping trip in Alhaurin two years ago.

She described seeing a blonde girl who looked just like her dad Gerry McCann with a man, who appeared to be 'a gypsy', in 2009.

It has been confirmed that Spain's Specialist and Violent Crime Unit (UDEV) is investigating the Nerja connection.

Last night, the Olive Press passed over Rose Johnson's contact details to police to help in their search.

Meanwhile Portuguese police have refused to reopen the case after British police revealed there were 195 new leads, despite Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood saying he 'genuinely' believes she could be alive.

Penoncillo beach looking towards Nerja where Rose Johnson saw Madeleine McCann playing

In addition, a former senior Met officer has said Maddie was 'most likely abducted by a couple' who 'wanted her as part of a family'.

Having spent a week on the Algarve, Ian Horrocks, is convinced a paedophile would have found many easier places to snatch a child.

He also believes the original investigation was flawed because police were looking for a dead person and got it into their minds that the parents were to blame.

Meanwhile the Met Police have issued a photofit of how Maddie might look today.


Readers Comments:

Karen Sisson 'Readers Comment'

Police probe whether German couple could have snatched a 'groggy' Madeleine McCann?, 08 May 2012
Police probe whether German couple could have snatched a 'groggy' Madeleine McCann? The Olive Press

EXCLUSIVE By Wendy Williams and Jon Clarke in Cabopino
PUBLISHED: May 8, 2012 at 11:23 am  •  LAST EDITED: May 8, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Karen Sisson insists she saw Maddie on a campsite in Cabopino three days after she was snatched from Portugal
Karen Sisson insists she saw Maddie on a campsite in Cabopino three days after she was snatched

A BRITISH woman is convinced she saw missing Madeleine McCann with a German or Dutch couple just days after she was snatched.

Mother-of-two Karen Sisson, 49, was so convinced she had seen the three-year-old on a Spanish campsite that she contacted police in three different countries to investigate.

According to Sisson, the mysterious girl did not speak and seemed 'out of it and extremely removed from her family.'

She added that she looked confused and didn't seem to socialise properly with the couple.

But despite filing a report with both British and Spanish police at the time, giving descriptions and a car numberplate, Sisson, who lives in Gibraltar, is certain the sighting was never investigated.

Intriguingly The Olive Press has now managed to locate details of a German family – under the name 'Karsten Meyer' – who did indeed check into the Cabopino campsite, near Fuengirola, three days after Maddie disappeared.

An easy drive from where Maddie went missing in Praia de Luz, in neighbouring Portugal, it would certainly have been a good place to lie low for a week, with few tourists at that time of year.

Even more intriguingly, records from the campsite show that the couple actually paid a supplement on arrival on May 6 for an 'extra child' having originally booked themselves in as one family.

They had a blue Mercedes Vita van and were towing a caravan.

A numberplate recorded by the campsite, which began 'BE' with five letters has not been used in Germany since 1974, although the first Vita van's were only manufactured in 1996.

While photographic records of the car they were driving have now been deleted, a receptionist agreed the entire booking seemed 'a little odd'.

"I don't know why they wouldn't have booked everyone in together in the first place," said an employee, who was working at the campsite at the time.

"But this is the first we have heard about any possible Maddie sighting here and police have certainly never been in touch."

It is this discrepancy that has so irritated Sisson, who this week once again contacted UK police investigating the case.

"There was something strange about it all," explained the Durham-born artist, who explained that the couple were of slim build and looked to be in their late thirties.

"It was like the girl was alienated and completely different to her family. It really was most peculiar," said Sisson.

"She was sat on her own, not playing but just standing swaying as if in a dream. She looked really out of it."

She continued: "It was also strange that they also had two toddlers, with curly blond hair, eerily like Sean and Amelie.

"And there were children's toys, a bike and rollerblades around the caravan for a girl her age, so I had the impression maybe they had lost a girl and seen Maddie and wanted to replace her," she added.

"I deliberately went to look at the girl again the next day and she was wearing the same clothes as the day before even though it was 27 degrees heat.

"A mother would know that this was a strange thing as children of that age go through so many clothes and love to strip off in the heat.

"I have a little girl myself who is just a year older than Maddie; it makes me think about it even more."

She continued: "At one point the girl started to move towards the pool to play with other children and the lady came and got her and lead her back by the hand.

"She obviously did not want her playing with the other kids."

Cabopino campsite near Marbella

Sisson had been on holiday with her husband Richard, a buyer for an electrical business in Gibraltar, when she first set eyes on the girl.

So convinced was she that it could be Maddie she actually made a two hour round trip a week later to check the family out again.

"I literally could not sleep, it haunted me and I decided to drive back to have a second look," she said.

"It definitely looked like her, and again I contacted Crimestoppers and even my local Gibraltarian police, but nothing seems to have been done."

The campsite confirmed that a Karsten Mayer had stayed there from May 6 to May 18, 2007.

As well as confirming the car number plate and a date of birth from 1970, they were also able to furnish a passport or ID number.

The Olive Press is now trying to track down the couple and the information has been passed on to police and the family.

A spokesman for the McCann's said: "This lady has done exactly the right thing in reporting what she saw to police."

The information has been passed on to Scotland Yard's Operation Grange, now probing the crime.

The new sighting comes just days after a woman claimed she saw Maddie McCann on a beach near Nerja.

Rose Johnson, 70, told The Olive Press, that she saw the girl two summers ago with a family very different to her.

Hers is not the first sighting in the Nerja area, and just two weeks ago Portuguese police contacted their Spanish counterparts to investigate some leads in the area.

"The whole incident was just so haunting it really stuck in my mind," concluded Sisson.

"It would have been so easy for them to get to the campsite from Portugal. I am sure they could go under the radar.

"She could easily be on the Costa del Sol and they didn't look like your average holidaymakers, but much more like expats who might be moving around.

"People have asked me why didn't I just get hold of her, but you just don't feel like you can.

"You also don't like the idea of being caught taking photos.

"You want the police to do their job and not you having to do it for them.

"I really think she's still out there, and I hope they take these new leads seriously and not just put them in a pile."

Did you stay at that campsite in 2007? Can you help locate Karsten Meyer? Please contact or

Spanish Maddie mystery solved, 09 May 2012
Spanish Maddie mystery solved The Olive Press

PUBLISHED: May 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm • LAST EDITED: May 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Spanish Maddie mystery solved
'Maddie' spotted on Cabopino campsite was actually Karsten Mayer's daughter

THE mystery has been solved over a possible Maddie sighting on the Costa del Sol.

Karsten Mayer, whose name has appeared in newspapers around the world in the last few days, has come forward to insist he has nothing to do with the inquiry.

The Swiss father-of-three was traced after the Olive Press handed details over to the police and German media.

Swiss detectives are now believed to be interviewing the 41-year-old, who voluntarily went to the police.

He confirmed that he had been at the campsite in Cabopino just days after the toddler vanished in 2007 but that the blond girl mistaken for Maddie was in fact his own daughter who was the same age.

Cabopino campsite near Marbella

"I did have a girl around about Maddie's age in the car – she was my own daughter who also happens to have blonde coloured hair and was about the same age as Maddie at the time," said Mayer, a German-speaking Swiss native who lives near the capital Bern.

"I was at the camping ground with my family. It is really unbelievable that I am some kind of suspect because we read about Maddie's disappearance on a notice at the campsite. We were shocked and we felt for the parents.

"It is quite possible that my daughter appeared distant. She was tired after a very long road trip.

"We spent 12 days at the camping ground we journeyed further around Portugal. I don't think a kidnapper would have done that."

It comes a day after it emerged British mother-of-two Karen Sissons, 49, had contacted police in three different countries after becoming concerned about a girl on a campsite who did not speak and seemed 'out of it and extremely removed from her family.'

Even more intriguingly, detectives investigating the British toddler's disappearance had been told a German family had paid a supplement for an extra child after arriving at the campsite on May 6, 2007.

And it was discovered the numberplate recorded by the campsite, which began 'BE' with five letters has not been used in Germany since 1974.

However the number plate has since been traced to Mayer's home near Bern.

"I find these media reports about me unbelievable and am reporting to police immediately before I am arrested!" added the self-employed businessman.

Maddie in Spain?, 17 May 2012
Maddie in Spain? The Olive Press

By Wendy Williams
PUBLISHED: May 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm • LAST EDITED: May 18, 2012 at 11:31 am

Penoncillo Beach, where Rose Johnson (bottom) said she saw a girl who looked like Maddie playing
Penoncillo Beach, where Rose Johnson (bottom) said she saw a girl who looked like Maddie playing

EVERY hour – even every minute – children go missing around the world.

Due to a lack of coherent data the exact number is unknown but the estimations are extremely disturbing.

This year alone eight million children are expected to go missing, and some of these will never be found.

With this in mind, May 25 marks International Missing Children's Day.

It shares the date with the day six-year-old Etan Patz went missing in New York in 1979, never to be seen again.

The day is intended to encourage everyone to remember the children who are missing and send a message of support to the parents who have often campaigned tirelessly to find answers.

One of the most high-profile campaigns is, of course, that of Madeleine McCann (below, how experts believe she would look now) who vanished from Portugal on May 3, 2007, just days before her fourth birthday.

Her departure is very much back in the news – particularly in Spain – with the fifth anniversary having just passed, heralded with a spate of sightings and a new police probe launched around Nerja.

"It is only since Madeleine was taken from us, that Gerry and myself have become aware of just how many children go missing each year," explained her mother Kate McCann this week.

"The scale of the problem is huge. In fact, it is terrifying.

"It is the most painful and agonising experience you could ever imagine," she added.

"My thoughts of the fear, confusion and loss of love and security that my precious daughter has had to endure are unbearable – crippling. And yet I am not the victim, Madeleine is.

"No child should EVER have to experience something so terrible."

Image of what Madeleine McCann would look like now five years after disappearance

The last confirmed sighting of Madeleine was in the early evening of May 3 by Miguel Matias, manager of the beachside Paraiso restaurant, who saw dad Gerry dancing with his daughter while the family ate a meal on the terrace.

Since then there have been many reported sightings of Madeleine in both Portugal and Spain as well as elsewhere in the world, yet, oddly perhaps, not one has produced any firm leads.

Nor, however, have most been conclusively eliminated.

This month marks the fifth anniversary since Maddie vanished, and police have issued a new photo of what they believe Maddie may look like now.

It comes a year after the Metropolitan Police – at the bidding of Prime Minister David Cameron – ordered a complete review of the case.

Since then there has been a renewed surge in publicity, as well as in sightings.

And Kate McCann is, at least, upbeat insisting 'the chances of finding Madeleine are now significantly greater'.

"The term 'mystery' (commonly used by the media) is not applicable until all possible avenues have been explored.

"They haven't been, and can't be until the case is reopened," she insisted.

Intriguingly, as reported in the Olive Press, many of the apparent sightings have been around Spain, with lots of people believing she could easily be living here.

It would have been easy for a possible kidnapper to sneak the toddler across the border and disappear into Spain.

Particularly as Portuguese police failed to inform the border of a missing toddler for 12 hours and, crucially, the CCTV on the A22 motorway was not working on the night in question.

This suspicion was heightened when a taxi driver came forward a fortnight ago claiming he had taken four adults with a young girl, looking like Madeleine, from a pick up in the Algarve towards Spain.

Antonio Castela, 72, went to Portugal's CID, after three men, a woman and a young girl got into his cab on May 4 2007 in Monte Gordo and driving the group to Vila Real de Santo Antonio, where they drove away in a blue jeep.

Gerry McCann has always maintained there is a 'very real possibility' his daughter is in Spain.

"It's about 90 minutes drive away so if the perpetrator had a car waiting, she could easily have been moved to Spain," he has said.

Indeed in August 2009 it emerged that just 72 hours after Madeleine disappeared, two British men were approached, in Barcelona, by a 'Victoria Beckham lookalike' who reportedly asked: "Are you here to deliver my new daughter?"

Two detectives working with the Met Police's Operation Grange actually flew to Spain in November 2011, to re-investigate that incident.

According to reports they have been back on various occasions since, always refusing to comment on the case.

Most recently Portuguese police sent a request to their Spanish counterparts to investigate a sighting in Nerja.

Rose Johnson believes she saw Maddie McCann on Nerja beach last summer

Off the back of this, Olive Press reader Rose Johnson (left), 70, came forward to insist she saw the missing girl playing on Penoncillo beach – between Torrox and Nerja – last summer.

It came just weeks after another Olive Press reader Yvonne Tunnicliffe insisted she was '100 per cent sure' she saw Maddie while out on a shopping trip in Alhaurin two years ago.

Since then the Olive Press has also investigated sightings in nearby Sayalonga and Cabopino.

Many people have questioned the value of investigating these sightings but the McCann family continues to ask the public to report anything that could provide a clue.

"People have asked (usually in a critical manner) why has Madeleine received such attention when there are thousands of missing children around the world?

"My feeling is that the publicity surrounding Madeleine's abduction was not inappropriate. Every child in such a situation should receive this same amount of attention, but it shouldn't be down to the family to instigate it," said Kate.

As we go to print, Portuguese police are still refusing to officially reopen the case, despite British police claiming there are 195 new leads as a result of Operation Grange launched last year.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood even went on record this month to say he 'genuinely' believes she could be alive.

He added that the original investigation was flawed because police were looking for a dead person and got it into their minds that the parents were to blame.

There are still several vocal groups that continue to uphold this theory and there are websites dedicated to bringing the parents 'to justice.'

But the only thing that is certain is that Maddie is still missing and her parents are continuing the campaign to find her.

Just as parents around the world are campaigning to find their missing children.

Here the Olive Press looks look at a few of the cases of children who have gone missing from Spain...


Irish teenager Amy Fitzpatrick vanished without trace while walking home on New Year's Day in 2008.
Despite a high profile campaign no trace of the 15-year-old has ever been found.
A lot of mystery surrounds the disappearance and, as reported in the Olive Press, police files emerged last year allegedly confirming she was a wild child living a lifestyle spiralling out of control.
An Olive Press reader recently dismissed claims that Amy 'had to forage for food in the bins' but confirmed that the teen spent four months living with her, 'on and off', instead of with her parents.
Incredibly, mother Audrey Fitzpatrick has recently claimed that Amy could have been murdered by convicted killer Eric 'Lucky' Wilson.
Wilson is currently serving 23 years in prison for shooting down Dan Smith outside the Lounge Bar, in Riviera, in June 2010.
Audrey made a formal statement to police in Ireland after 'an underworld source' approached them alleging Dubliner Wilson had boasted about killing Amy.


Yeremi Vargas was just seven years old when he disappeared from outside his family home on Gran Canaria five years ago.
His bespectacled smiling face has since become well known across Spain.
But there has been no trace of him.
This despite the police insisting at the time that they were confident he could not have left the Canary Islands as all boats were stopped from leaving within hours of his disappearance and those that had already left were searched when they reached their destination.
His mother Ithaisa Suarez, who was just 16 when Yeremi was born, maintains her son was kidnapped. "I called him in for lunch and he nodded and said he'd be there in a moment," she says.
"Five minutes – it couldn't have been more than five minutes, I put my head round the door and he was gone."
There were no witnesses to his disappearance but police reopened the case in March this year, exactly five years after Yeremi vanished, following a new lead involving a white Opel Corsa, seen in the area at the time.

Jose and Ruth

The two siblings Jose and Ruth Breton, two and six, disappeared from a park in Cordoba last October.
Their dad Jose Breton has since been arrested over their disappearance and is being held in prison.
Meanwhile their mother Ruth Ortiz has publicly declared she believes her ex-husband murdered them.
Police have failed to find any trace of them despite several searches of his family home with radar equipment.
But the judge in the preliminary hearing has now said a third party could be implicated.
Security cameras show Breton arriving at his parents home with another man.
And Judge Jose Luis Rodriguez Lianz thinks this other man could have moved the children, and acted 'through friendship or even for money'.

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files


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