Abducted girl's relatives now 'fear the worst'

Abducted girl's relatives now 'fear the worst'
Marc Horne
6 May 2007
Scotland on Sunday

RELATIVES of the young British girl missing in Portugal "fear the worst" after police revealed they believe they know the person who abducted her.

Three-year-old Madeleine McCann, known as Maddy, went missing from a rented apartment in the Algarve last Thursday while her parents, Gerry and Kate, ate in a tapas restaurant a few hundred yards away.

Officers say they have a suspect in mind and believe the youngster remains alive and in the area where she and her family were on holiday.

Guilhermino Encarnacao, head of the judicial police in the Faro area, said "all the evidence" pointed to Madeleine, who turns four next Friday, having been abducted and that all other options had been ruled out.

Officers are working on the assumption she is being held between two and three miles from the resort.

Encarnacao revealed his force had received more than 30 calls from potential witnesses and created an artist's impression of a suspect, but he refused to confirm whether the suspect was a man or a woman, British or Portuguese. More than 150 officers are combing the areas around the holiday resort.

Brian Kennedy, great uncle of the missing toddler, said: "We fear the worst, but we are hoping for the best."

Kennedy said the youngster was a big fan of Doctor Who and that a special customised cake was being made by a family friend for her birthday next week.

On the night of Madeleine's disappearance, the McCanns went out at 8pm after tucking their three children into bed and watching them fall asleep in their apartment beds. The couple, who have family in Glasgow, checked on the children every half hour up until 9pm. Mrs McCann found Madeleine missing when she next walked into the room at 10pm.

The family believes an intruder broke in and abducted the girl while her two-year-old twin siblings slept peacefully in their cots. The family said the shutter had been slid open and the bedroom window had been "jemmied".

"Kate and Gerry weren't out for long and they could see the apartment from the restaurant," said Brian Healy, Madeleine's maternal grandfather. "Someone must have come in the window and gone out the door with her."

The family were staying in a luxury resort in Praia de la Luz which features North African-style villas and sub-tropical gardens overlooking an idyllic beach. The Ocean Club resort offered a creche service, but the couple decided to leave their children in the apartment.

Resort staff knocked frantically on the doors of holidaymakers to get them involved in the search for the missing girl.

"At 11.30pm I went out in my dressing gown and a distressed gentleman told me that a child had been abducted and asked if we could help with the search," said British tourist Paules Moyes.

British Ambassador John Buck accompanied the couple, who live in the Leicestershire village of Rothley, during the search yesterday.

On Friday evening, the parents made an emotional appeal for the safe return of their "beautiful" daughter.

"We cannot describe the anguish and despair we are feeling," said Mr McCann. "Please, if you have Madeleine, let her come home to her mummy, daddy, brother and sister."

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