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Pat Brown American Criminal Profiler probes McCann mystery

Original Source: ALGARVE123: THURSDAY 23 FEBRUARY 2012
By Natasha Donn  Translations Bruno Filipe Pires (PT), Astrid Kuehl (DE)| Photos © Bruno Filipe Pires/Pat Brown 2012



Pat Brown

American Criminal Profiler probes McCann mystery

She arrived in Lisbon from Washington, D.C wheeling a travel-worn suitcase and carrying a metal detector. Inside her suitcase, she’d packed a soil probe and a spade.

 Pat Brown - Criminal Profiler, TV commentator and author - was on a mission. As social networking sites buzzed with the news – split between those that wished her well, and those that vociferously didn’t – Brown was undeterred. “This has nothing to do with self-publicity. I am simply trying to get to the truth”. We caught up with her when Brown arrived in the Algarve after meetings in the capital with Gonçalo Amaral and others who have put their reputations on the line in an attempt to solve the millennium’s greatest mystery.


One of the first questions we asked was why an American criminal profiler and TV personality felt the need cross the Atlantic to Portugal to investigate a missing person’s case that was almost five years old?

“Two reasons,” she told us. “One is that I have always been passionately involved in a search for the truth. It’s not something that makes me popular, but it’s something I care about above my own reputation as this case threatens to prejudice the way missing person’s cases are handled.

“We have a situation here where there are two parents who have refused to cooperate fully with a police investigation – who have refused to answer questions, who have changed their stories and fled from jurisdiction – but who have then taken their story - in the way they want us to believe it - to the media, asking people to donate money to fund a search for a child who, statistically-speaking, is almost certainly dead!

“I can understand bereaved parents doing some crazy things, but never have I seen parents like this before! Their actions have opened the door to speculation.

“My other reason is to show support for Gonçalo Amaral and freedom of speech”. Amaral faces trial for defamation of the McCanns over the publication of his book, “The Truth of the Lie” in which he maintains that three-year-old Madeleine McCann died in apartment 5a on the night of May 3rd 2007. His trial was originally set for February 9th -10th, but postponed. Brown decided to take advantage of her booked flight to see if she could learn anything new by visiting the crime scene.

And did she?

“Yes, absolutely. I discovered more about the situation on the street; I learnt about the locks on the doors and how they work; how the shutter and window would be impossible to open from the outside; about the kind of terrain here – but my line of thought has remained the same: there are two simple answers to this crime.

“The simplest answer is that Madeleine was abducted by a local predator (in which case she would almost certainly have been killed within two to three hours) – and the second simplest answer is that she died in a tragic accident and her body was disposed of.

“To eliminate the second simplest answer, we have to establish without doubt that there was an abduction – and that hasn’t happened”.

Does she believe, like Gonçalo Amaral, that what’s needed is a reconstruction of the night Madeleine went missing?

“Hell yes! And that’s what they have consistently refused to go along with – all of them: the McCanns and the rest of the Tapas group! The McCanns particularly have been their own worst enemies. They could provide answers in a number of ways: by taking part in a reconstruction, by submitting to polygraph testing. You see, they have to be eliminated in order for the first simplest answer to be the highest probability!

“Another aspect that truly bothers me is the promotion of mythology. Sex rings have become the new bogeyman. Every parent has been made to fear that their child could be grabbed by a sex ring – but sex rings do not operate in hotel complexes!

If a sex ring wants a child, it grabs one off the streets in some poor neighbourhood. It doesn’t snatch a middle-class child from its bed while on holiday, particularly when - if the stories we’re led to believe are true - all the parents were jumping up and down from their dinner table every 15 minutes to check on their children! Any abductor would be lying in wait thinking “when the heck am I going to get a chance to break into an apartment!”


Brown’s experience of profiling began when she was already in her 40s and had been working as a sign language interpreter on hospital trauma wards for over a decade. During those years she “saw everything”: gunshot wounds, stab and rape casualties, victims and villains. The experience taught her a lot about life, crime and circumstance – and then she found herself having rented a room for four weeks to a man she believed should have been “a person-of-interest” in a brutal sexual homicide.

This unsettling experience was the start of her interest in profiling and how homicide cases are handled. It took six years for the police to bring the man in for questioning and declare him a suspect in the murder – and it led to Brown specialising in a profession that invariably finds itself called in way too late.

“One of my ambitions is to make profilers a prerequisite on all police forces,” she told us. “We need to be called in right at the beginning. Crime scenes need better handling”.

“If parents were separated when police first arrived on the scene, along with everyone else involved, it would be much easier to verify everyone’s stories - and a true timeline could be established.

“In this case, the McCanns and their friends were given days to confer with each other. The result is that in order to look better maybe, or to explain things that are embarrassing, they may have screwed up the timeline to the extent that they look guilty. Or, if the McCanns were involved in the death of their daughter, they had a chance to get their stories straight”.

So what’s the bottom line? Will this case ever be solved? “If it could be proved that Gerry McCann was at the dinner table in the Tapas restaurant between 9.15 and 9.55” (when a man looking apparently very much like Gerry McCann was seen by an Irish family carrying a child in pink pyjamas over his shoulder as he walked in the direction of the beach) “then that would be proof that there was an abduction”.

“If the cadaver dogs were right” (brought in three months after Madeleine went missing, and which reacted positively to the possibility that a dead body had lain in the apartment) “then there was no abduction”.

And for those two details to be established, we’re back to the reasoning of former police officer in charge of the case, Gonçalo Amaral: there has to be a reconstruction of that fateful night of 3rd May 2007 – using all parties involved.

“But so far as we know, that doesn’t look like happening any day soon!” Brown shakes her head. “I honestly don’t know what the Metropolitan Police are doing with their current review of the case - which is costing millions of pounds. As far as I can see, they haven’t started where they should have started – with crime scene reconstruction.

“That’s where there’s the best crack at getting to the truth!”



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