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Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Find the Body and Prove We Killed Her

Original Source: SATURDAY 10 MARCH 2012

No body, no case. While this is not always so, it is quite rare to see homicide or manslaughter charges levied against someone unless there is exceptionally strong evidence that a person has been killed and there is also substantial proof of how they were done in and who did it. As it stands today, we have no such level of proof in the case of missing Madeleine McCann; what we have is a child who hasn't shown up in five years, no evidence of abduction, alerts from cadaver dogs, and very concerning behavior and statements from the McCanns and their friends and family.


Let me reiterate; I find no proof of abduction nor proof that Maddie is alive. I believe the evidence more likely supports the theory that Maddie died in the vacation apartment and her body was removed from there. If the cadaver dogs are accurate in their alerts that a body was in the apartment on May 3rd, 2007 and was moved in the hire car that the McCanns rented weeks later, then the body was hidden locally and moved to another location at a later date. If we follow this theory, the following scenario is the one I believe most likely, having now spent time in Portugal and Praia da Luz.


Following physical and behavioral evidence, I would theorize that Maddie died in the apartment and lay behind the couch until she was discovered. With panic ensuing, the body would most likely have been moved by Gerry in a hurry to a location far enough away from the apartment to not immediately have suspicion fall upon the parents. This location would not be very secure, but because of the very limited time frame Gerry would have had to work with, Maddie would have been simply hidden in the weeds, or under an object or in an open isolated structure. Then, I believe with an hour or so to work with in the early hours of the morning, Gerry may have decided it would behoove him to find a better hiding location and this I believe is most likely to be in a gully on the side of the Rocha Negra, accessible from the beach and full of loose dirt, stones, and rocks that would allow for a quick burial (see previous blog; On Moving and Hiding Bodies).


Then, when Kate told the PJ that she had a dream about Maddie's body being on a slab of rock and the cadaver dogs were heading to Praia da Luz, Gerry might have decided it would be better to find a location away from the town where she would never be found. Some think the body was stored in a freezer at some point but I find this unlikely. If there is some evidence in the vehicle of a body having been on ice, I would be more likely to believe it was literally on ice in the boot. In other words, ice was placed in the boot in a bag or bags as a method of keeping the body cold during transport. Taking the body to an inside location, storing it in a large freezer, and then moving it yet again seems like an awful lot of extra moving of the body and, usually, a person works in the direction of having the body disappear and doesn't take the risk of bringing the body  closer t him and keeping it around for discovery. Bodies found in freezers or kept in freezers usually have that location as the first place of rest, not an intermediary one.


There is also speculation that Gerry and Kate might have had a contingent of helpers outside of the Tapas 7 which I also find hard to accept. The more people one brings in on a criminal undertaking, the more likely it is that someone will open their mouth, even accidentally. Gerry is smart enough to know this is an unacceptable danger (any of the Tapas 7 knowing anything is bad enough but this may have been unavoidable and they may have more at stake to keep them quiet than people uninvolved in the evening of May 3rd and previous days and nights). He is also controlling enough to want to take care of things as best he can by himself.


Before coming to Portugal, I entertained a number of possibilities: the Huelva baths in Spain where the McCanns went just as the cadaver dogs were arriving, removal back to the UK, and incineration. Each had its interesting possibilities but each also seemed a bit too difficult to accomplish (although by no means am I saying such actions would have been impossible) and it is a pretty good rule of thumb that people do what is easier to manage and simpler to pull off. Because of this, I came to two more probable conclusions, both involving Gerry driving the body to a location he felt was secluded and unlikely to be discovered. I was particularly interested in the activities of the McCann in the days before the Huelva trip when Gerry's phone pinged repeatedly in an area to the west of Praia da Luz along the road to Budens, (estre EN125). I also found it interesting that the day he was to leave for Huelva, he was not feeling well, having a bit of an upset stomach. This led me to theorize he could have used that day to move the body or to recover from moving it the day before. I decided when I got to Praia da Luz, I would take a trip down that road to the west and see whether there were any suitable places to lose a body forever.


The first place I looked for was the kind of location for a “proper burial” to occur, a place with some kind of religious significance like an isolated spot in view of a little chapel so that Kate and Gerry could feel they had done right by their daughter, a place they could find again and stop by to spend time with Maddie, to pray for her. Being that Portugal is a heavily Catholic country, I imagined there might be dozens of small chapels along the route much as one can find a plethora of little mandirs (temples) in India as one travels down just about any rural road.


Cemetery on Outskirts of Town

Interestingly, I found none to speak of. I found churches but they were all stuck right in the middle of town. I did find a couple of graveyards on the outskirts of town which had curious possibilities in that inside the walls of these


small cemeteries, there were quite a few graves with just a mound of dirt over the body rather than a concrete structure; some folks obviously lacked the money to pay for these nice amenities and had to bury their loved ones in a very simple fashion. When they came into more money, they could then top the grave site with a proper tombstone. In theory, if one could access such a location, one could bury a small body in an already dug grave, put back the displaced dirt and no one would be the wiser that the grave contained an extra corpse.

Not a bad concept, but these graveyards appeared to be locked and monitored, so one would have to scale the walls to get in.

 Possible? Yes, but not probable


So, I found no really good location within the ping area for Gerry to give Maddie a spiritual resting place.

I did find an interesting spot, however, that I thought might have stood in nicely as it had a beautiful view which included the Rocha Negra in the distance


And up at the top of a hill  overlooking the spot, there appeared to be a cross which would lend some special religious significance, like God looking down upon Madeleine in her final resting

place. This location, the Forte de Almadena, is open to the public down a short road that one can access after dark. During the day, there appear to be times when no one is there.



There are the remains of a fort and, nearby, odd mounds of soft dirt that actually already look like a set of graves. Retired British police officer, PM, and I brought out the metal detector and spade and investigated a number of them.



The metal detector found nothing. Since it was possible Maddie could have been buried in the oft-discussed missing sports bag, I was wanting to see if the detector would find any metal, metal that might be on that bag. If Maddie's body were buried shallowly under the ground in a sports bag, metal rings attaching a strap or metal zippers (although zippers these days are almost all vinyl) could set off the metal detector. Unfortunately, it remained silent.




Then PM dug trenches across the mounds; we found nothing. Then we drove up to look at the cross we saw on the hill; it turned out to be a windsock. So much for the religious significance, although, if we thought it was a cross, so could Gerry. 



Does that mean Maddie couldn’t be buried at the Fort? No, it is still possible. There is a bit of land around it that we did not have the time to totally explore. But, then, I found a better place.


Gerry seemed to be on that road west over a period of three days which to date has not been explained. Was he looking and looking for a spot to bury a body? Driving off the main road to see if there was a good place to move Maddie to? PM and I found an excellent place within hours of leaving Praia da Luz, so I see no reason why Gerry couldn’t have found it as well. However, there is no religious significance to this location; it would simply be a great place to hide a body and never have it discovered.


Would he choose this? Part of me fought against it, thinking these parents, especially Kate, would find comfort and some validation as good parents and Christians if they buried Maddie in a religious place of some kind. However, Gerry seems to be quite practical and rather cold and calculating and he simply may have decided, Kate’s feelings be damned, that making sure the body was never found was of paramount importance and they would have to live with it.


Monte do Jose Mestre. This huge, desolate area covers many square metres and is filled with a considerable network of dirt roads. Looking down on the area from atop the highest hill is a row of windmills. Small trees and bushes are scattered throughout and the dirt is not impossible to dig in. Gerry had just returned from England and I wouldn’t be surprised, if he is involved in disposing of Maddie’s body, that he brought a small shovel back with him, one that could be tossed into the bushes when he finished digging the grave or thrown away in a dumpster on the way back to Praia da Luz. If the body is buried out there, it would be unlikely to ever be found unless a large contingent of searchers and dogs descended upon the area and then it would still be pretty lucky if they located a grave. I hope, however, this is done sometime in the future.  I would like to know if Maddie is there or not.


Views of Monte do Jose Mestre below.



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