Alive? We're 100% certain

Alive? We're 100% certain
Exclusive Search for Madeleine Day 199
The Sunday Mirror
18 November 2007
Lori Campbell

Detectives reveal that they are closing in on Maddy kidnapper And new witness tells of seeing her with TWO suspects in van

Detectives hunting for Madeleine McCann last night said they were closing in on her kidnapper in a dramatic breakthrough in the case.

Francisco Marco, head of private detective agency Metodo 3 - hired to track the missing four-year-old by the McCanns - said: "We're 100 per cent sure she is alive. We are sure she was abducted. We are very, very close to finding the kidnapper."

He said a woman had come forward with vital new information.

The member of the public claims she saw a little girl matching Madeleine's description inside a stationary van in central Portugal two days after she was snatched.

The girl was sitting next to a woman while a man stood outside the vehicle, at a spot about 90 miles from where Madeleine went missing in Praia da Luz, Portugal.

The witness then picked out the woman suspect from photographs shown to her by investigators at the Spanish firm Metodo 3 as the woman had already been linked to the case. The man seen by the van has the same description as the suspect the McCanns' friend Jane Tanner saw carrying Madeleine away from their apartment on May 3.

And it's believed a THIRD man was also involved, acting as a spotter who watched the McCanns' routine of checking on their children during their week-long holiday.

Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry were last night praying the sighting on May 5 would help bring their daughter back.

A friend said: "They're encouraged by what investigators are saying and have been given new hope."

Mr Marco and his 40-strong expert team were hired by the McCanns two months ago as they became frustrated by the bungled Portuguese police investigation.

He believes Madeleine was abducted in a carefully planned operation, says he knows the area she is being held and insists the agency is close to discovering exactly what happened to her.

Marco, 45, refuses to say which country they think Madeleine is in, although Kate and Gerry have always been convinced it is Morocco.

The Sunday Mirror has been told the identities of all three suspects but has chosen not to print them so as not to jeopardise the inquiry.

A source inside Metodo 3 said: "We believe the sighting is the breakthrough we've been waiting for. The witness was able to give a detailed description of the man and woman to investigators.

"They showed her photographs, and she was able to pick out the woman with no hesitation.

"Detectives believe the kidnapper was helped by a third person who watched the apartment for days."

The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said last night: "Gerry and Kate will not comment on specific sightings, but are continuing to work closely with and have every confidence in Metodo 3."

The development comes as Gerry told of his belief Madeleine was snatched by a "predator" after the family was watched for days.

In a video diary to be screened on BBC1's Panorama, he says: "I've no doubt Madeleine was targeted and that makes us sick to the core to think someone was watching us and our daughter, then targeted her. I think the true word is a predator."

Kate and Gerry, both 39, left Madeleine and two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie sleeping in their apartment every night while they ate at a Tapas bar from which they could see the back of the flats.

Gerry believes the kidnapper lay beneath the children's bedroom window, hidden by a high wall.

In the film - shot by family friend John Corner as suspicion began to fall on them in August - he says: "We were looking at the back of the apartment and maybe the weak spots were at the front.

"It's a corner flat with trees overlooking it. Somebody could be hiding there watching out of view."

He adds: "I've absolutely no doubt that they've watched me go in, come back out, and then they've thought, 'That's the window of opportunity'.

"And you know a minute or two either side, and obviously one other witness saw him carrying a child away, but not realising it was Madeleine - that could have been a matter of 20 or 30 seconds and that's very frustrating."

A US documentary will also claim Portuguese police no longer believe Kate and Gerry - who are still official suspects - were involved in their daughter's disappearance and that DNA evidence is inconclusive.

Panorama: The Mystery of Madeleine McCann, tomorrow BBC1 9pm.

'We are very, very close to finding abductors'


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