Madeleine McCann aged four, left, and how police think she may look like today. Officers believe she was abducted by a stranger. Photograph: Teri Blythe/Metropolitan Police/PA
LONDON, United Kingdom — (DMN/Guardian) – Scotland Yard is calling for the investigation into Madeleine McCann‘s disappearance to be reopened, as detectives revealed there is evidence to suggest she might be alive. Senior detectives within the Metropolitan police have been reviewing the Portuguese inquiry into the girl’s disappearance for a year. On Wednesday – as the fifth anniversary of her disappearance approaches – police released an age-enhanced image of what she might look like now.
Madeleine, whose ninth birthday is on 12 May, disappeared from a Portuguese resort on 3 May 2007. Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said he believed she was abducted by a stranger, adding that there were 195 “investigative opportunities”. Redwood said he “genuinely” believed Madeleine could be alive, though the team is following an equal line of inquiry that she might now be dead. The officer is leading a team of 37 detectives dedicated solely to carrying out an active investigative review of all the evidence in the case.
They are sifting through 40,000 pieces of material, and within them Redwood said officers have identified 195 historic investigative opportunities. He said the team was developing new information about what happened to Madeleine five years ago, when she disappeared from her parents’ holiday villa in Praia de Luz. “We are currently developing material which we believe represents genuine new information,” said Redwood. He said officers had carried out a forensic analysis of the timeline of events, and had identified opportunities when the child could have been taken in a criminal act.
Dismissing conspiracy theories about Madeleine’s parents’ involvement, Redwood said he believed the girl’s disappearance was the result of “a criminal act by a stranger”. He appealed directly to anyone who might know where Madeleine was to contact the police. The Met team is working with a Portuguese review team in Oporto, which is separate from the original inquiry and, said Redwood, was as committed as Scotland Yard to getting to the bottom of what happened to Madeleine. “The Metropolitan police service wants the investigation reopened,” he said. But he added that the decision had to be made by the Portuguese.
The Yard team is passing its information directly to the Portuguese review team. Redwood has visited Portugal seven times in the past year. The review was set up last year on the fourth anniversary of the child’s disappearance after Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, appealed to Prime Minister David Cameron, for Scotland Yard to look at the case. Redwood said: “We have approached the material with a completely open mind. We have sought to put Madeleine McCann at the heart of everything we do.”