PRIORITIES Cases involving children are considered urgent. Very often a
disappearance turns out to be a crime of homicide.
by Rute Coelho
92 missing people appear in the Polícia Judiciaria's database, including
adults and children. The inspector Ramos Canico points out a fundamental
difference between homicide cases and the investigations to missing
people: “Missing people cases never expire. Homicide cases lapse 15
years after the crime, if an arguido [formal suspect] isn't
In the investigations to the missing there is also a principle
investigators have already in mind. “Most adults disappear on their own
free will.” This means the investigations to missing children are always
a priority. And then there are cases that are kept in the missing
persons database even though they are classed with a different category.
“Madeleine McCann is a case registered as an abduction, even though
there aren't any evidences that she was kidnapped.”
In the cases of the missing found dead, the cause of death is, usually,
an accident. Ramos Caniço gives the the example of an elderly man who
was found dead by the police section that investigates missing person
cases in Lisbon, just six days after being reported missing. “He fell
down in a ditch close to a river three kilometres away from his house.
He died of cold.”
In 2010, the missing persons section of Lisbon started investigating a
case that turned out to be an homicide. “The corpse of a man was found
floating in a dam in Alentejo. The man was reported as missing, however,
it was an homicide case. We found the suspect in Lisbon withdrawing
money with the victim's credit card and the case was transferred to the
In cases of missing children, the missing persons section of Lisbon
guarantees that “at present, there is no child aged up to ten years old
missing in the Lisbon area.” The exception to this being the very old
“Processes: In 2011 the PJ had almost 60 homicide cases to
solve.(...) This year alone the Homicide section of the
Polícia Judiciária had to investigate 56 homicide cases
carried over from last year. In 2010, the PJ initiated 187
inquests for homicide, of which 131 were verified as such,
clarified and concluded. In addition to the homicides there
are 92 persons still to be found. That is, over 150 ongoing
investigations remain open in two areas alone: homicides and
missing persons. (....)” (Note: extract from the article
“More than 150 crimes waiting for a solution”, page 18,
paper edition of Diário de Notícias)
“Solution of the Maddie Case is in the Process”
3 questions to...
former Judiciary Police coordinator of investigations
Do you feel somewhat frustrated because the Madeleine case wasn't
Not exactly, in the Madeleine McCann case there was always plenty
evidence and those are in the process. The solution to the Maddie case
is in the process. I never had any doubts whatsoever of what took place
that day of May 3, 2007. I didn't have doubts nor did the British
police, the parents of the child were the ones who had doubts. There are
more ideas of what happened in this process than in Rui Pedro's case.
How to prove the Judiciary Police thesis?
If a reconstruction of the events of that day had been enacted that
would be enough. However Kate and Gerry McCann refused to participate.
It's a shame.
Did you have many unsolved cases in the 30 years working for the
A few, not many. But I've spent most of my time working in drug
trafficking cases. In the Azores, I got two unsolved homicide cases, but
they were old cases of the 80's.
in: Diário de Notícias, January 2, 2012 - page 18, paper edition