THE parents of missing Madeleine McCann spoke of their fury
tonight about claims their daughter lies buried just miles
from where she was kidnapped.
Nathalie Mahy, ten (left), Stacy Lemmens, seven
Portuguese detectives spent today trying to verify an
anonymous letter which said the four-year-old was hidden in
scrubland only nine miles from Praia da Luz where she was
snatched 42 days ago.
Kate and Gerry McCann carried on as normal, taking care of
two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie and collecting a friend
from Faro airport.
It is understood they do not believe the claim to be
But the couple from Rothley in Leicestershire were furious
that Dutch newspaper
De Telegraaf printed the allegation
before Portuguese police had a chance to investigate.
Mr McCann, 39, said the Policia Judiciara (PJ) had no time
to examine its credibility or consider searching the area
before the revelations were made public.
Describing the move as “insensitive and cruel”, Mr McCann
said he and his wife Kate were deeply upset by what had
Speculation surrounding the case reached fever pitch today
after rocky ground north of the village of Odiaxere was
highlighted as a possible crime scene.
Television crews, photographers and journalists poured into
the area but there was no sign of a formal search.
PJ spokesman Olegario Sousa said police were taking the
claim seriously but insisted it was one of a number of leads
they were looking at.
He said they could only start searching an area if they had
a precise location.
Mr McCann said they were told about the claim when they met
police yesterday to be updated on the investigation.
Writing his blog on the Find Madeleine website, he said they
were “extremely disappointed” that the details had been
“Although all information will be taken seriously, we were
very upset that the credibility of this letter had not been
examined and, more importantly, published before the
Portuguese police had an opportunity to investigate the
claim, and search the area if appropriate without massive
“We feel strongly that this was an irresponsible piece of
journalism and, even if it were true, is insensitive and
He continued: “One can imagine how upsetting it is for Kate
and I to hear of such claims.”
Madeleine’s uncle John McCann was also wary of the
newspaper’s claim: “For papers to print that without having
any meat to it is, to be honest, silly.
“Let’s leave out the emotion and stick to the facts.”
De Telegraaf received the letter on Monday and passed it on
to police, delaying publication of the information until
The newspaper made no formal response to Mr McCann’s
It claimed one of its reporters found a beach towel near
where Madeleine’s body was supposed to be lying.
A suspect wanted in connection with the case was seen
carrying a girl wrapped in either a towel or a blanket,
making the find potentially significant.
Dutch police said the anonymous tip-off was being taken
seriously because it was similar to information sent to the
same newspaper last year, giving details of the rough
location of the bodies of two missing Belgian girls.
Stacy Lemmens, seven, and her step-sister, Nathalie Mahy,
10, disappeared while playing outside in Liege on June 10
Their bodies were found near a railway line on June 28, the
same day as De Telegraaf received a letter from an unknown
Police spokesman Rob Van der Veen said: “With the tip about
the Belgian disappearance in the back of our minds, this
letter grabbed our attention.
“The writer of that letter had closely pinpointed the area
where the girls’ bodies were eventually found.
“That particular letter was posted in Rotterdam the day
before the bodies were found.
“We are therefore not ruling out the fact that this letter
regarding Madeleine could be very important.”
Mr Van Der Veen continued: “While this letter is slightly
less professional than the one regarding the Belgian
children, we are looking at it seriously and are in contact
with the Portuguese police.”