Alive when taken. Kidnapper put cuddle cat on ledge then picked her up.

Alive when taken
Exclusive Madeleine: 100 Days of Hell
Kidnapper put cuddle cat on ledge then picked her up.
The blood spots in apartment are not hers say cops
The Sunday Mirror
12 August 2007
Lori Campbell in Praia da Luz

Missing Madeleine McCann's favourite pink Cuddle Cat toy was taken from her arms as she slept and placed beyond her reach by her kidnapper. That is why police are certain Madeleine was snatched while she was asleep - and was NOT killed or injured in the holiday apartment.

When her mum Kate, 38, tucked Madeleine into bed, the four-year-old was cuddling the toy - but it was later found placed on a ledge that Madeleine could not have reached.

There is also further "concrete evidence" that Madeleine was still ALIVE when she left the holiday apartment. Her kidnapper had a window of just five minutes to strike - from when dad Gerry last checked on the children until family friend Jane Tanner saw a man carrying away a child she is sure was Madeleine wrapped in a blanket. The new revelations rubbish reports in Portuguese newspapers yesterday that she was murdered or died in an accident inside the villa.

However, local police Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa admitted for the first time that Madeleine could be dead. He said:

"In the past few days there have been some developments and some clues that have been found that could point to the possible death of the little child. But until this moment we are waiting for lab results of the evidence collected and all lines of inquiry are open."

Now, the Sunday Mirror can give a true picture of what happened when Kate found her daughter missing. We can reveal:

Police have specific evidence from the apartment that she was still alive

Madeleine was kidnapped as the toy she had fallen asleep with was left on a ledge placed too high for a child to reach

There was a window of less than five minutes for a kidnapper to pounce - not enough time to kill her and clean up

Police do not believe blood found in the apartment was Madeleine's as it was not consistent with signs of a struggle

The patio doors were unlocked but the intruder used the window to escape with Madeleine as the shutters were forced up.

We can also reveal that devastated Kate was reduced to tears several times by the aggressive questioning of Portuguese police this week. And yesterday the parents were hit by further cruel claims in Portuguese papers linking them to Madeleine's disappearance on May 3.

But our dramatic information confirms Madeleine was most likely to have been abducted by a stranger who had watched the family's routine for up to four days. And it shows Portuguese police from the beginning have had firm evidence Madeleine was still alive when she was taken from the ground-floor apartment.

The McCanns were told in a secret meeting with police within days of Madeleine going missing what this evidence is.

They have been unable to discuss it publicly in case it jeopardises the investigation - and have even been banned from telling close friends or family.

Kate has refused to say where she found the Cuddle Cat toy when she returned to the villa in Praia da Luz at about 10pm to find her daughter's bed empty.

But she has hinted the bedroom was left in such a way that she knew almost instantly Madeleine had been kidnapped.

Our police source said:

"When Kate tucked Madeleine up in bed earlier in the evening, she had the toy tightly in her arms as she did every night. So Kate was terrified when she spotted it had been left in a place too high for her to reach. Kate also noticed the window was wide open and the shutters jammed up. It was because of these things that she had no doubt Madeleine had been kidnapped and she ran out to scream for help."

The Sunday Mirror has been told there was a window of opportunity of less than five minutes from the last time Gerry checked on their child to the reported sighting by family friend Jane of her being carried away by a man.

Our source said: "Although there has been much speculation about a 'lost hour' in which Madeleine could have been taken, it was actually less than five minutes. The kidnapping must have been meticulously planned. Police found no fingerprints or DNA on the Cuddle Cat or in the room, indicating the intruder wore gloves.

There was so little time that whoever took Madeleine must have been watching the family closely for several days so they knew exactly when to strike.

"Kate and Gerry left Madeleine and the twins Sean and Amelie alone every evening of their week-long holiday to eat dinner 50 yards away and followed the same routine of checking on them. The kidnapper would have known this."

The patio doors at the back of the apartment were left unlocked so Kate and Gerry could check on the children easily. But police are unsure if the intruder used them to slip in or if the shutters to the window were forced open from outside.

Sniffer dogs flown over to Portugal last week by British police were taken into the apartment and found specks of blood missed in an initial search.

The results of DNA tests are expected this week but detectives are convinced it does not belong to Madeleine because if it was fresh, it would have been spotted when they first scoured the apartment.

But that has not stopped the Portuguese media leading a hurtful smear campaign against Kate and Gerry which reached a new low with the suggestion Madeleine was killed inside the apartment and that Kate was somehow involved.

The spiteful rumours forced Kate and Gerry to insist they would not be bullied out of Portugal. But yesterday there were more cruel accusations as they marked 100 days since Madeleine disappeared.

Portuguese newspaper Sol alleged the toddler died in the apartment before her parents went to dinner. It says British sniffer dogs picked up traces of her corpse and signs she was moved. An "unnamed specialist" told the newspaper:

"For the dogs to detect a body, it would have to stay in place where it died for a minimum of two hours."

The report also alleged the McCanns' silver Renault Scenic hire car may have been used to get rid of Madeleine's body. A McCann spokesman yesterday dismissed the allegations as "complete nonsense".


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