Gerry and Kate McCann's anguish deepened tonight as
police followed an anonymous tip off which claimed that
their daughter's body was buried in
scrubland nine miles from where she was abducted.
The anonymous letter
included a map pinpointing a dirt track in
an area near Odiaxere, north east of Praia
make an appeal in Morocco
Mr and Mrs McCann, who are clinging to the hope that
Madeleine is still alive, were with detectives when they
were passed an anonymous handwritten letter and map.
It claimed the four-year-old was buried in scrubland,
"under branches and rocks", seven metres from a road.
The map pinpointed a dirt track in an area near Odiaxere,
north east of Praia da Luz, where Madeleine was
kidnapped from her bedroom 41 days ago.
The letter was sent to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf and
passed on to the Portuguese police today.
Police said they are trying to verify the claim, but
have yet to start searching the area, amid concerns the
co-ordinates are not detailed enough.
A source close to the family said they were with
Portuguese detectives when news of the letter came
"They found the whole thing very upsetting," the source
said. "There was talk of a body and Kate was
particularly distressed. It is being taken as seriously
as any other line of inquiry."
It is believed the tip off may have come from the same
anonymous source who predicted where the bodies of two
murdered children would be found in Belgium last year.
The handwriting on the letter is said to be similar to
that on a map received by the same newspaper, De
Telegraaf, in June 2006, which correctly predicted the
shallow graves of Belgian girls Nathalie Mahy, 10, and
Stacey Lemmens, seven, who had disappeared while playing
in front of a cafe in Liege.
A Moroccan man is awaiting trial for the murder but the
anonymous source was never traced by police. De
Telegraaf said the new handwritten letter was two
paragraphs in length and written in Dutch.
The source said: "We received an anonymous letter with a
map in it marked with the spots where Madeleine was
"The police in Holland are taking it very
seriously because it looks like the same sender as one
we received one year ago in another case of missing
"The letter said the girl should be found six to seven
metres from a road. We have been there but haven't seen
anything but the area is so wide that you should be
there with 100 searchers."
Both letters used the same phrases such as "the
presumable hiding place", the handwriting was similar
and both were accompanied with an A4 map printed from
the website www.routenet.nl.
Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa said the information was
being investigated and "everything necessary" was being
done to validate the allegation. He said: "We are
checking the information like we check everything in
this case for importance."
Asked if any search would involve digging, he said: "If
the information gives us a precise location where we can
look, we will do it."
Portuguese Police said they have kept hundreds of
visions and tips from clairvoyants about Madeleine's
whereabouts in a file three inches thick. They have
followed each one in case they are from the abductor.
Philomena McCann, Madeleine's aunt, said that the
potential lead is upsetting and said she may fly out
from her home in Glasgow
to be with the parents in the
Police chiefs were meeting this evening to discuss the
possibility of sending specialist sniffer dogs to the
area from Lisbon.