Four years after a British girl disappeared, there are more questions than answers
by Chris Freind
April was a busy time for the Royal Couple.
Preparations had been underway for months to deal with all the publicity that was sure to come. Facebook pages were established, marketing pieces created, a book written and carefully scripted interviews arranged, as publicists and advisors worked round-the-clock for the famous British duo. No detail was too small when planning such a momentous event, as the global media once again turned its focus on two of Great Britain’s most…interesting people.
Most amazing, all of this was accomplished despite the distractions caused by the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
May 3rd marked the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of then-3-year-old Madeleine McCann, who disappeared from a resort in southern Portugal because her parents chose to leave her — and her two younger twin siblings — alone in an unlocked room while they ate and drank the night away with friends.
But when you’re Gerry and Kate McCann, you take a backseat to no one, and certainly no wedding is going to upstage your “anniversary.” And so, in typical McCann fashion, they put on another strong display of offense in the ongoing “search” — not so much for their missing daughter, but for self-promoting headlines.
Who can blame them? Playing defense is no fun, doesn’t raise money nor generate publicity. And best of all, blaming everyone but themselves for an eminently preventable tragedy allows the McCanns to ignore reality about a poor little girl’s horrible fate.
For the folks needing a refresher, you read it right. The McCanns, both physicians from Rothley, Leicestershire, in England, left their three children — with a COMBINED age of seven — alone, night after night, in their ground-floor resort apartment. Despite ample financial resources, they chose not to bring a nanny and refused to utilize the resort’s babysitting services.
Instead, they deemed it safer for the children to go it on their own, entrusting Madeleine to get her siblings and herself to safety in the event of a fire — hence the alleged reason for the unlocked door. Hey, I’m all for self-reliance, but, she was 3!
The story perpetuated by the McCanns is that Madeleine was kidnapped, despite virtually no evidence to support that claim. But the tragic nature of a girl gone missing gained international attention, and the search was on. Well, at least by the people who were actually out there looking for Madeleine.
Gerry and Kate took a different approach. Rather than get bogged down in the grunt work of looking for their daughter in places she might actually be, the parents decided that becoming international globetrotting celebrities was a lot more fun. Putting blood, sweat and tears into finding a missing child is tough, but hanging out with celebs and dignitaries is, well, cool!
So they arranged a private audience with the Pope, traveled to the United States to meet with America’s top leaders, kept web diaries about Gerry’s daily jogs, and threw lavish affairs. Of course, if Madeleine really had been kidnapped, she wouldn’t be in America, at black-tie events or in the Vatican.
If only they had thought to turn the “Find Madeleine” campaign into a money-maker! Oh wait, they did. To the tune of millions. And the result? To this day, many more questions than answers.
Despite being named suspects by the Portuguese police based on evidence that raised eyebrows — inconsistencies in G and K’s stories; elite dogs, trained to identify death, providing positive responses in Madeleine’s room; reports of Madeleine’s blood found in the trunk of a car the McCanns’ rented 25 days AFTER she disappeared; more blood discovered behind a sofa in the apartment, to name just a few — the case was eventually suspended without any arrest. And for that, we can thank the British government that exerted enormous pressure on the Portuguese.
With the complicity of the British media, everyone but the parents was blamed for Madeleine’s disappearance. The Portuguese detectives bumbled the investigation, the resort’s security was too lax, leads weren’t followed up in a timely fashion. And as numerous publications discovered, anyone who dared question the McCanns’ role were slapped with libel lawsuits by England’s most powerful barristers. And don’t forget the lead Portuguese investigator who was legally banned from giving interviews and publishing his book courtesy of Team McCann (those rulings were subsequently overturned) and was sued for millions in “damages.”
Kate’s book on the affair, (in which rumors spread that she was assisted by world-famous Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling) will be released this week. In it, she blamed the resort restaurant for making a note in their reservation book that the McCanns wanted a table within sight of the room, since the children would be alone.
“[The reservation] book was by definition accessible to all staff and, albeit unintentionally, probably to guests and visitors, too…To my horror, I saw that, no doubt in all innocence, the receptionist had added that we wanted to eat close to our apartments as we were leaving our young children alone there and checking on them intermittently.”
Nice try, Kate. But somehow, you forgot to mention the “horror” your daughter must have felt after being abandoned by her parents night after night, left alone in an unfamiliar environment in a foreign nation. And you also conveniently left out the fact that you couldn’t see the apartment from your table anyway, due to the six-foot wall obstructing the view. Translation: the tapas were more important than your three children, two of whom, interestingly enough, weren’t “kidnapped.”
So we’re supposed to believe that a child kidnapper just happened to be dining at the resort’s restaurant that night, on the off-chance some British couple’s child-care arrangements (or lack thereof) would be recorded in the restaurant’s reservation book? Which, by the way, is usually kept behind a desk, not in public view.
Either that, or someone on the kitchen staff, waiting in the wings for one of the McCanns to return from allegedly “checking” on the children. Maybe that’s why the tapas were so late in being served!
Frankly, I’m surprised that Osama bin Laden snatching Madeleine wasn’t in the book as a potential theory. Or that evil Voldemort from Harry Potter wasn’t somehow responsible.
Which brings us back to Rowling.
After hundreds of articles stating that Rowling was helping Kate write the book, the family spokesman finally got around to stating that Rowling did not, in fact, have ANY role in the book.
As with most things McCann, the facts here are loose and the truth sketchy. But as they say, “Any publicity is good publicity!” And Team McCann rolls on, garnering headlines and raking in the dough.
Perhaps most ironic is Kate’s stated reason for the book:
“My reason…is simple, to give an account of the truth.”
Rowling’s help or not, discovering the real story behind the disappearance of little Madeleine McCann will take more than wizards and magic. Too bad we don’t have one of Harry Potter’s Remembralls, though, which fans will recall is the clear orb containing smoke that turns red when detecting that the user has forgotten something.
In Gerry and Kate McCann’s case, I’m betting the Remembrall would be glowing red-hot, since it seems they have forgotten the only thing that can help Maddie.
The real truth.
in The Philly Post, May 10, 2011