hunt was going on last night for
three-year-old Maddy McCann, feared
snatched from her holiday flat.
A HUGE hunt was going on last night for
three-year-old Maddy McCann, feared
snatched from her holiday flat.
Maddy is believed to have been taken as
she slept in the complex on Portugal's
Algarve as her doctor parents ate at a
bar 120ft away. Her scent was picked up
by a police sniffer dog. But it petered
out after 400 yards.
Yesterday, 24 hours after the young
child vanished in quiet Praia da Luz,
anguished parents Gerry and Kate, both
38, of Rothley, Leics, begged for her
A friend said: "Kate rang us totally
hysterical, saying Maddy was abducted.
The appalling news that three-year-old
Maddy McCann was feared kidnapped from
her holiday flat came in a distraught
phone call early yesterday from her dad.
Heart specialist Gerry McCann rang his
sister Trish in Scotland after Maddy
vanished from her cot placed between
two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.
Trish revealed yesterday: "He was
breaking his heart, saying 'Madeleine's
been abducted, she's been abducted'."
Gerry and wife Kate, both 38, had been
checking their three children in the
family's ground-floor flat every 30
minutes as they dined with friends 120ft
Trish said: "When Kate checked, she came
out screaming. Maddy had gone. The door
was open and the window in the bedroom
and shutters were jemmied open. Nothing
had been touched and no valuables taken.
"They think someone must have come in
the window and gone out the door with
Close family friend Gill Renwick, of
Liverpool, who also spoke to GP Kate
yesterday, said: "Poor Kate and Gerry
don't know where to turn.
"Madeleine has obviously been taken. She
couldn't have gone out on her own and
the shutters were forced."
Maddy went missing at the Mark Warner
Ocean club resort in the coastal village
of Praia da Luz on Portugal's Algarve. A
trail of her scent picked up by police
dogs at the flat was followed to a
supermarket just 400 yards away where it
A 24-hour search by police, hundreds of
villagers and British holidaymakers
failed to find any trace of the child.
Last night Gerry and Kate, of Rothley,
Leics, issued a statement saying they
were hopeful Maddy would be found safe
and well. It read: "This is a
particularly difficult time for the
family and we are all comforting each
other. We have received lots of support
from friends, family and the public and
are very grateful.
"All the family's focus is in assisting
the authorities in securing Madeleine's
A woman friend of the McCanns - one of
their holiday party of nine adults and
eight children - said: "We went for
dinner at 8.45pm in a restaurant near
the apartments as we've done every
"A parent from each family went back to
check on the children every half hour.
"Someone checked at 9.15. But when Kate
went later Madeleine had gone.
"The window shutters, which had been
closed since we arrived on Saturday,
were open along with the window. They
can be opened from the outside.
"The window opens on to a car park. The
door to the room was shut. It looks as
if someone has come through the window
and possibly left through the door."
Close family friend Jon Corner, of
Liverpool, told how tearful Kate sobbed
down the phone early yesterday: "Someone
has taken my little girl."
Jon, godparent to the McCanns' twins,
said: "She was in an absolutely
hysterical state - very, very
distressed. She blurted out Madeleine
had been abducted.
"Kate said the shutters of the room were
smashed. Madeleine was missing It looks
as though someone had gone straight past
the twins to get to her. Kate was
incredibly upset. I've spoken to her
since, and she's still completely
"She's also very upset that the police
don't seem to be doing more to find
Madeleine. She thinks there's too little
Mr Corner described the McCanns as a
"superb mother and father". He said:
"They are a very loving family."
The McCanns' apartment is set in a
self-contained complex which boasts
villas and apartments together with
supermarkets, restaurants, cafes,
boutiques and bars.
Mark Warner management denied there were
signs of forced entry at the flat
claiming instead that roller shutters
had been slid up and the bedroom window
The firm added that police were keeping
an open mind over whether Maddy had
managed to leave the apartment on her
The McCanns were said to have chosen the
complex as a "family-friendly resort."
But they declined to take advantage of a
baby-sitting service which would have
left their children supervised while
Resort manager John Hill said around 60
staff and guests had searched until
4.30am yesterday as police contacted
border authorities, neighbouring Spanish
officers and airports.
Mr Hill said: "It was a very emotional
and very frantic night and everyone did
a fantastic job of getting involved and
trying to search the area.
"There are a criminal investigator and
around 20 officers here but
unfortunately there's still no
information. If I was in the McCanns'
situation, I'd be frustrated as hell. If
there were 100 police here I'd want
The British Embassy said it had been
informed about Maddy's disappearance.
Portuguese police said: "It's a
sensitive case. It involves a child and
we cannot give more information for
Officers sealed off the five-storey
holiday block with crime scene tape and
fingerprinted the shutters and window
sill outside Maddy's room. A patio to
the rear of the block, believed to be
attached to the family's two-bedroom
apartment, was also sealed off.
By late afternoon the hunt for Maddy had
intensified with helicopter crews,
firemen and maritime search teams
A special criminal investigation team
from the Policia Judiciria was
travelling down from Lisbon.
Sky News weather presenter Jo Wheeler
said local police had been giving out
maps and telling people where to look.
She said: "It's very well organised."
Wheeler said Maddy could not have
wandered on her own back to the beach.
She said: "She'd have to have taken a
long and tortuous journey, crossed
several roads and walked three quarters
of a mile."
Back in the UK police stood guard
outside the McCanns' five-bedroom home
in a quiet cul-de-sac. Neighbour Tracey
Horsfield, 32, a nurse, said: "They're
delightful people - a normal, caring
family. They idolise their children.
They'd never let them out of their
sight." Another neighbour Penny Noble
said: "We're absolutely devastated.
They're a really nice family. We see
them going for walks. Madeleine is a
happy-go-lucky little girl."
Last night Kate's father, Brian Healy,
of Mossley Hill, Liverpool, was
preparing to fly out to Portugal. He
said: "We're worried sick. It's a very
Gerry McCann is said to be one of
Europe's top heart specialists and a
consultant cardiologist at Glenfield
Hospital in Leicester. The hospital is a
centre of excellence for heart surgery
in the UK.
Doug Skehan, also a consultant
cardiologist at the hospital, said: "He
is a popular, hard-working colleague for
whom we have great affection.
"The mood here is one of great concern
and we hope that Kate and Gerry will
have their daughter back very soon.