Disappearance of Madeleine McCann: UK police say missing girl may still be alive
LONDON – Missing girl Madeleine McCann, who vanished while on a family vacation in Portugal five years ago may be alive, UK police said Wednesday.
London’s Metropolitan Police said they are still investigating the disappearance of the girl, who vanished shortly before her fourth birthday in May 2007 from a condo at a resort while her parents ate at a restaurant nearby.
CNN reports police have released a new image of the girl created in cooperation with the family that shows how Madeline might look at age 9. Her ninth birthday is May 12.
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said he is leading a team of more than 30 police officers who are focusing on the case.
Portugal police closed their investigation in 2008 but Scotland Yard says it wants the case reopened. An investigative review was formed in May 2011 and has been going through case details.
According to CNN, investigators are now searching through about 100,000 pages of information for more details. Redwood and his offers are reportedly reviewing all the evidence that has been gathered so far by British and Portuguese police. They are also looking at evidence obtained by private investigators hired by McCann’s parents.
“As a result of evidence uncovered during the review, they now believe there is a possibility Madeleine is still alive and are appealing for anyone who is able to provide direct information as to her whereabouts to contact the team,” police said in a statement.
“Officers have so far identified around 195 such opportunities within the historic material, and are also developing what they believe to be genuinely new material.”
Authorities said the investigation is split equally with one team assuming that Madeleine is dead while the other the team operates as if she is alive.
He said forensic evidence of the sequence of events around her disappearance shows that there are moments when she could have been snatched by criminals.
There has also been no reliable indication of what might have happened to the girl despite numerous reported sightings from around the world. Last year, a report of a girl bearing a resemblance to the child created a social media frenzy.
Her disappearance has drawn global media attention, partly because her parents were at one point questioned as suspects by the Portuguese police. They were then cleared of any part in the disappearance. Kate and Gerry McCann have since headed a campaign to keep the case in the public eye, publishing a book and appearing on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” to tell their story.
UK police said the investigation has cost 2 million pounds ($3.2 million) so far.