mother of three-year-old
Madeleine McCann yesterday begged
people to pray for her daughter as the police effort to find the
missing girl appeared to be floundering. Speaking in the upmarket
Algarve resort from where Madeleine vanished last Thursday night,
Kate McCann said: "Please continue
to pray for Madeleine." Her voice cracked as she added: "She's
husband, Gerry, said the family continued to "hope for the best
possible outcome from this for us and Madeleine".
the police hunt for the missing girl seemed to have hit a brick
wall. About 150 police have been involved but the only lead appeared
to be a fleeting glimpse of a man seen from behind with a blond girl
not far from the apartment where the McCanns were staying.
Portuguese detectives have refused to release a sketch that has been
prepared of the suspect for fear it might panic him if he is holding
Madeleine alive. The picture is understood to feature a man with
dark, parted hair and bushy sideburns.
other witnesses came forward yesterday. One was an English man who
has told police he saw a couple behaving suspiciously at the side of
a main road near the resort shortly after Madeleine disappeared. He
had an impression they were carrying a child, but they turned away
from him as his headlights caught them. A second was a foreign woman
who may have seen someone acting suspiciously near the
apartment on Thursday night. She only realised the girl was missing when she
returned to the resort yesterday.
police have been criticised for not reacting more quickly when
Madeleine went missing. They did not inform border police until the
following day, a delay that could have given a kidnapper time to
cross into Spain. Three British police officers arrived in the
Algarve at the weekend and will liaise with the family and the
Madeleine vanished from an apartment inside a complex run by the
Mark Warner as her parents dined at
a tapas bar about 100 metres away within the same centre.
and Mrs McCann, a cardiac surgeon and GP, were checking the girl,
who was sleeping next to her two-year-old brother and his
twin sister, every few minutes. But when they returned at the end of
their meal, Madeleine's bed was empty.
Police have taken fingerprints from a metal shutter on a window that
looks on to a narrow car park and street. One theory is that an
abductor forced the shutters.
and Mrs McCann, and members of their extended family who have flown
to Portugal to offer their support, yesterday attended mass at the
village's Catholic church. At the start of the service Mrs McCann
knelt, clutching Madeleine's favourite cuddly toy kitten.
priest, Jose Manuel Pacheco, told the family: "We are with you, the
parish is with you." Later he said to the couple, who are Catholics:
"Our hearts are full of compassion, like God's."
After the service, Mr and Mrs McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire,
were enveloped by parishioners, first elderly women, then mothers
with their children. Mrs McCann, 39, said: "I would like to offer my
sincere gratitude to everybody, particularly the local community
here who have offered so much support. I couldn't have asked for
more. I just want to say thank you. Please continue to pray for
Madeleine. She's lovely."
McCann, 38, added: "From today's service, the thing we're going to
take from this is strength and courage and hope. We continue to hope
for the best possible outcome from this for us and Madeleine."
international child protection group Innocence in Danger claimed
that corruption and indifference among the Portuguese authorities
hampers the country's investigation of paedophiles and child
traffickers. Homayra Sellier, founder of the group, said she had
tried to set up an office in Portugal but gave up because of
pressure from the authorities. "I stopped it because I thought I
couldn't fight against a country where the people do not want to
know the truth," she said.