Suspect Is Sought In Search For Girl

Suspect is sought in search for girl
Tom Mack
5 May 2007
Leicester Mercury

Portuguese police said today that they believe missing three-year-old Madeleine McCann has been abducted. Guilhermino Encarnacao, director of the judicial police in the Faro region, said detectives have a suspect in mind, but they refused to reveal any details for fear of endangering Madeleine's life.  He said police were hopeful she was still alive and believe she is still in Portugal.  Experts have put together a sketch of a suspect, but no further details were revealed for fear of putting the Leicestershire youngster's life in danger.

Madeleine, from Rothley, was last seen by her father sleeping soundly at about 9pm on Thursday at the Ocean Club resort in the seaside village of Praia Da Luz in the Algarve.  At 10pm, when her mother, Kate, went to check on her, she found the shutter slid up, the bedroom window open and her daughter gone.  Madeleine and her two-year-old twin brother and sister, Sean and Amelie, were left alone in their apartment as their parents dined at a tapas restaurant 200 yards away.  The resort offered a creche service, but the couple opted to leave the children sleeping at the apartment and took turns to check on them at regular intervals.

Last night, Madeleine's father, Gerry, issued an emotional appeal to anyone holding his daughter captive to release her.  He said: "Please, if you have Madeleine, let her come home to her mummy, daddy, brother and sister.  "We can't describe the anguish and despair we are feeling as parents of our beautiful daughter, Madeleine. We request that anyone with any information related to Madeleine's disappearance - no matter how trivial - contact the police and help us get her back safely."

Staff and guests have joined the desperate search of the complex, while Portuguese border police, Spanish police and airports were also alerted.  Last night, police with miner-style headlamps scoured the complex as the search continued.

Three family liason officers with Leicestershire police have flown out to the Algarve at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  A Leicestershire police spokeswoman said: "They are simply there to assist the family. They are not going to have anything to do with the investigation at this stage.  "Everything pertaining to the investigation remains in the hands of the Portuguese authorities.''

The British ambassador, John Buck, who came down from Lisbon to support the family, said the search had been both "intensive and extensive" and the police had assured him everything possible was being done.

Mr McCann is a consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital and Mrs McCann is a GP at Latham House Medical Practice in Melton.  Staff at Latham House have been praying for the toddler's safe return.  Practice chairman Dr Brian Kirkup said: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Kate, Gerry and all the family and friends who are devastated by these events."  Colleagues of Mr McCann at Glenfield Hospital said the mood among staff was "one of great concern".

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