The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann is a 2019 Netflix documentary series.
If you learn nothing else from this review, know that the McCanns had nothing to do with their child’s disappearance.
6 out of 10 stars. This was painstakingly made with great attention to detail. However, they have way too much time devoted to Goncalo Amaral, the Portuguese detective in charge of the case who protected the pedophile ring who operates in that area and villainized the McCanns in order to get them to leave Portugal so tourism could resume (along with the pedophile ring operations). Why give this psychopath a platform to speak on?
Ocean Club Resort, Praia de Luz Portugal
In early May of 2007 a British couple, Gerry and Kate McCann, took their three children on holiday to southern Portugal to the area known as Algarve and the village of Praia de Luz at the Ocean Club Resort, a resort owned by British millionaire Mark Warner. Their two youngest children, twins, were a year and half old. Their oldest child Madeleine was three years old. The McCanns were both medical doctors and were accompanied on this vacation by several other couples who were medical doctors.
The Ocean Club Resort was a sort of social resort. There were various activities for the men, the women, and the kids to do together. There were multiple tennis courts, swimming pools, and a kids club that even took the kids in boats out onto the ocean. The resort is owned by a British millionaire and most of the guests are British so the McCanns felt fairly safe. They didn’t know there was a pedophile ring and a human trafficking ring in Algarve or that Algarve is the portal through which all child trafficking took place between Europe and other countries because of it’s immediate vicinity to Morocco (Africa). Unfortunately, they didn’t discover this until Madeleine was taken from them.
Each night the parents would put their kids down to bed at 8:30 pm and go to the Tapas Restaurant on the other side of the swimming pool in front of their apartment 5A. Every 30 minutes they would walk back to the apartment and check on the kids. But they left the patio door unlocked so they could easily enter the apartment.
On the evening of May 3, 2007, they tucked in the kids at 8:30 pm and walked to the Tapas Restaurant to meet their friends. At 9:05 pm Gerry went to check the kids and they were fine. At 9:25 pm it was Kate’s turn but a friend Matt Oldfield volunteered to check on their kids after checking on his own. He noticed the door to the kids room was halfway open and there was a light which meant the blinds were open. He heard a noise, and assuming it was the kids turning over in their sleep, he left without actually going into the room. Madeleine’s kidnapper was probably inside the room with her or had just left. At 10:00 pm Kate went to check the kids entering through the unlocked patio door. She found Madeline gone, the window open, and the blinds raised which was not how she left the room. She ran out of the apartment screaming. People in nearby apartments reported that she was howling (keening the loss of her child). That’s not something that can be faked.
They had the resort call the police. They never came. Meanwhile the McCanns and all of the guests and staff had begun searching frantically for Madeleine. Then the McCanns asked the resort to call the police again. This time the GNR (local police) came. It wasn’t until 12:00 am that the GNR called the PJ (Judicial Police) and they sent an investigator, Goncalo Amaral.
This is all revealed in Episode 1. It isn’t until Episode 6 that we learn the depth of Goncalo Amaral’s depravity. On the day Madeleine disappeared and he took over her case, Goncalo Amaral was named an alguido, or chief suspect, in the disappearance of an eight year old girl named Joana Cipriano who disappeared in 2004. Without any evidence, Goncalo arrested Joana’s mother and uncle and tortured them until they “confessed”. Photos of the mother immediately after the so-called confession were mercilessly graphic. She had obviously been beaten severely all over her body and face. The confession her uncle made was confusing and contradicted it itself all over the place. It was also proven impossible. Yet the mother was sentenced to 20 years in prison and the uncle to 19 years in prison. When photos of the mother’s beating surfaced, the case was not reopened, but Goncalo became a chief suspect. Then he was handed the Madeline McCann case. :0 Why???
Jane Tanner, a friend of the McCanns, saw a man carrying a child in pajamas at 9:15 pm that evening. He was right behind the McCanns’ apartment. Not until episode 8 are we told that Jane’s sighting was actually of another Brit carrying his daughter.
At 10:00 pm Martin Smith and his family saw a man carrying a girl in pajamas across his shoulder. The girl was blonde (like Madeleine) and sleeping. The police didn’t even bother to interview the family.
The previous evening when the parents returned, Madeline had asked her mom, “Mummy, why didn’t you come when Sean and I were crying?” It is believed the kidnapper attempted to take her the night before, but the kids woke up and he ran.
The Lying Reporters
This is the point where journalists descend on this poor family and destroy their lives, printing rumors and innuendo as facts with nothing to support them. Jon Clarke, a British journalist, is hired by the British newspapers The Mail, The Mirror, and The Sun. Portuguese reporter, Sandra Felguerias begins stalking the family and kids accusing them of killing their daughter.
In episode 3 we learn about the Portuguese journalists Margarida Davim and Felicia Cabrita, who write and post an article on June 3, 2007 accusing the parents of murdering Madeleine outlining a fictional narrative of how they did it and claiming that their doctor friends covered it up under a “pact of silence”. What is especially disgusting about the Portuguese reporters Sandra Felguerias, Margarida Davim, and Felicia Cabrita is that they knew and had reported on a massive pedophile network in the area called Casa Pia, named for the state orphanage that was selling children for sex trafficking. The reason they attacked the McCanns, was because they refused to be interviewed because they were threatened by the police with jail time if they talked about the ongoing case. In Portugal it is illegal to discuss ongoing cases and carries a three year jail sentence.
Algarve Portugal Pedophile Capital of Europe
Algarve is the southern beach area of Portugal and covers what appears to be a 100 kilometer long area of the coast. It is only one hour away from Morocco, which is the supplier of marijuana and hashish to all of Europe. As a result there are drug rings from every country operating out of Praia de Luz and the Algarve area. According to the Praia de Luz police, there are “lots of murders and violent crimes” and “70% of Portugal’s hashish busts were in Algarve”.
Portuguese Police Refuse to Investigate
From the very beginning, the Portuguese police were hostile toward the McCanns and refused to investigate Madeleine’s disappearance. They never performed a search. They didn’t guard the apartment. They didn’t even provide an interpreter for the McCann’s or the many British witnesses. In fact, they didn’t even interview most of the witnesses. That would take 4 years when the British Metro Police became involved. In Portugal, a missing person is a not a crime and disappearances aren’t investigated.
Fortunately for the McCann family the guests and staff of the resort, along with most of the locals, performed extensive searches of the area for several days. Eventually, the GNR search the area with dogs but find nothing. That’s when the Mayor of Praia de Luz and the head of the Algarve Tourism Board start openly accusing the McCanns of killing Madeleine. Even though there is no evidence they had anything to do with it and they have a rock solid alibi. The Algarve politicians were worried about tourism. Brits were afraid to go to Algarve on holiday.
Meanwhile no one was looking for Madeline and valuable time was wasted.
In Portugal the only CCTV footage is at gas stations. Hours after Madeleine’s disappearance, CCTV footage shows a little blonde girl in the company of an older woman. The police never follow up this lead and the CCTV footage is taped over. At around the same time, British tourists videotape the Portuguese police at the border to Spain where they supposedly have a roadblock and are supposed to be searching cars for evidence of Madeleine McCann. In fact, they are sitting in their cars staying out of the rain and watching vehicles pass into Spain without even recording their license plates. The video shows a van with its windows blacked out driving right past the police.
British Government Tries to Help
After it was clear the Portuguese police were doing nothing, the British government call out to all British tourists who were in Portugal during that time period to please turn in their photos of people and they comb through these photos looking for anything that will lead to Madeleine.
False Accusations Against Robert Murat and Sergei Malinka
Ten days after Madeleine’s disappearance, the local Portuguese police bring in Robert Murat for questioning. They grill him for 11 hours. Murat is a British ex-patriot living in Praia de Luz who speaks fluent Portuguese and so, at his mother’s request, volunteered to serve as an interpreter for the McCanns. The police find no evidence against Murat after searching his house, but they declare him a prime suspect. Then they bring in his website designer, 22 year old Sergei Malinka and search his home too. They find nothing there either but make him another prime suspect.
In episode 8 we learn that Murat later sued 11 newspapers and 1 news station for false reporting (libel) and won a 600,000 pound judgment. He even got an apology. Among the British newspapers found guilty of printing lies were The Daily Express and editor Peter Hill as well as The Sun and editor Kelvin Mackenzie.
Someone Please Look for Madeleine
After 50 days, the McCanns were deeply heartsick. Their daughter was quite obviously abducted and no one was searching for her. So Gerry called the International Center for Exploited and Missing Children, and the director, Ernie Allen, told him to keep the focus on Madeleine in the media. So the distraught parents begin a media tour going country by country doing news programs trying to get the public looking for Madeleine. The McCanns who are deeply religious Catholics, even saw the Pope who tried to spur interest in Madeleine. But the Portuguese media villainized the McCanns led by Sandra Felguerias, Margarida Davim, and Felicia Cabrita. They nickname this tour by the McCanns “The Roadshow” and once the British press pick this up, the tide turns against the McCanns as the media becomes obsessed with selling papers and not facts.
Deeply disturbing were the attitudes of the Portuguese people who thought the McCanns were attention seekers because other missing children didn’t receive the same attention as Madeleine. That’s called good parenting.
Many witnesses who called in leads to the local police were never followed up. Mari and Ray, a couple vacationing in Marrakesh, saw Madeleine with a man and Madeleine asked him, “Can we go see Mummy now?” They reported it to the police who never interviewed them.
The Wonderland Club was a pedophile network that operated in Europe. Over 750,000 films of child rape were confiscated and still shots were made available to parents looking for their missing children. Lui Pedro, an 11 year old Portuguese boy who was kidnapped was found among these photos. Portuguese people were angry that Lui Pedro’s case never received the same media attention as Madeleine and they blamed the McCanns.
Martin Grime’s Unreliable Dog Sniffers
One of the things that led to the media referring to Portugal as a third world country was the use of a British man’s dog sniffers as an investigation tool. The dogs were highly unreliable, but the police posted their results as fact. Martin Grime was promoting his two Springer spaniels as forensic dog sniffers able to sniff out human decomposition/cadavers (Eddie) and human blood (Keela). They were not professionally trained as such nor were they certified in any way.
On July 31, 2007, 89 days after Madeleine’s disappearance, Grime brings in his two dogs and lets them sniff. Eddie (cadaver scent dog) barks at a spot in the parents’ closet and at the window in the kids’ room. Keela (blood scent dog) points to a spot under the kids’ window. Three days later, they take the dogs to the new villa where the McCanns are staying and Eddie barks at the Cuddle Cat stuffed animal that belonged to Maddie and which Kate has been carrying around with her for comfort. The police then let Grime’s dogs loose on the McCanns’ rented minivan which they rented after Madeleine’s disappearance. Both dogs bark at the driver’s side door and Keela points at the trunk in the bank.
The Portuguese local police tear up the carpets and material in both the house and the car and send it to a United Kingdom forensic lab for testing, along with most of the McCanns belongings including their clothes. It comes back negative for human blood and negative for Madeleine’s DNA. But the Portuguese police falsely announce that it came back positive and that the McCanns are now prime suspects. Immediately more than 70 reporters descend on the family like vultures, terrorizing the remaining two children who are only one and half years old.
At this point I was wondering how stupid people could be to believe this. Think about it. Mom is devastated and carrying around Maddie’s stuffed cat that was left on her bed after her kidnapping. IF the DNA had been found (and it wasn’t), it would most assuredly have come from the stuffed cat which was taken everywhere. That’s such an obvious explanation. But the Portuguese police were like the three stooges bumbling around in the dark and the Portuguese and British people were believing them.
Goncalo Amaral Leaking Information to Reporters
126 days after Madeleine’s disappearance it became obvious that Goncalo Amaral was leaking information to the reporters that wasn’t true and was in defiance of the law that made it illegal to discuss ongoing cases. He was specifically giving it to Portuguese reporter Sandra Felguerias who was constantly attacking the McCanns. Her reports were filled with the lies that she claims Amaral fed her which fed the British journalists.
Goncalo Amaral‘s theory was that the parents had drugged Madaleine and she accidentally overdosed. Two medical doctors from Britain? Really? In fact, none of the doctors gave their children drugs of any kind. The Portuguese were trying to make the Portuguese hate the McCanns so they would go home and tourism would come back. In that vein, they brought in Kate for questioning and grilled her aggressively for 11 hours. Then they told the media she killed Madeleine. The next day they brought her in again and each time they called all the media outlets ahead of time and told them when and where she would be so she’d be ambushed. On the third day they brought in Gerry for questioning.
The day after Gerry’s questioning it was clear that Goncalo Amaral was protecting the pedophile ring in the area, had stopped anyone from conducting any investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance, and was harassing them out of Portugal so the tourists would come back. So they left and returned to Britain to protect their remaining children from the onslaught of the aggressive Portuguese reporters, especially Sandra Felguerias.
Not Even Safe at Home
Four months after Madeleine was kidnapped from their apartment at the Ocean Club Resort in Praia de Luz, Portugal, Gerry and Kate McCann took their kids back home to Rothley, United Kingdom to protect them from the onslaught of the nasty reporters who were reporting lies as fed to them by Goncalo Amaral. No one was looking for Madeleine. No one had even started an investigation yet. Reporters descended on their tiny town and harassed the family until the children were terrified. They’d knock on the windows, wait for the kids to come to the window, then snap photos. :0
Then a Scottish millionaire named Brian Kennedy came forward and offered to give them monetary support to find their daughter. He hires a Portuguese lawyer for the McCanns, Rogerio Alves. At this point, Sandra Felguerias had worked the Portuguese people into such a fury with her reports that they spit on Alves. She got away with this because in Portugal libel isn’t taken seriously. It’s rarely prosecuted and when it is, the fines are minimal.
After the Portuguese and British journalists began aggressively attacking them, the social media fanatics started in. 99% of the people who wrote the McCanns were supportive and only 1% were hateful, but in social media those 1% made the loudest noise.
Goncarlo Amaral’s Report
150 days after Madeleine’s disappearance Goncarlo Amaral issued a report listing all of his “evidence” against the McCanns:
- Grime’s dogs (which the forensic lab proved completely fabricated and false)
- DNA evidence (which the forensic lab proved was not Madeleine’s and wasn’t even blood)
- Inconsistencies in statements of the McCann group (most of their statements were taken without a translator)
Regarding #1, in the U.S. cadaver dogs are usually bloodhounds or German shepherds, never spaniels which don’t make good sniffing dogs.
Regarding #2, Amaral claimed the UK forensic lab he sent the DNA to lied for the McCanns even after subsequent labs also proved the same conclusion as the UK forensic lab.
Regarding #3, if the statements were exactly the same then there should be suspicion. It’s normal for statements to vary. In fact, it happens 99% of the time. Goncarlo Amaral followed this report by creating criminal dossiers for everyone in the McCann group and listing them as “criminal associations” of Kate and Gerry McCann. :0
And the Portuguese people let him.
Goncarlo Amaral’s theory was that the McCanns killed Madeleine with an accidental overdose of a sedative then put her in a freezer until later. Then why didn’t the sniffing dogs pick up any scent around the freezer?
When Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown calls the Portugal government, Goncarlo Amaral is finally fired.
Paolo Rebelo takes his place and does nothing. He should have immediately cleared the names of all the suspects, but he didn’t because he was worried about tourism. The Portuguese police stopped the world from looking for Madeleine and still had not investigated her actual disappearance.
The Kennedys Investigate
When there is a sighting in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco of a girl fitting Madeleine’s description, Brian Kennedy takes his son Patrick and they go to investigate. He’s the Scottish millionaire who tries helping the McCanns. They find the girl and it’s not Madeleine. They also find a recessive gene in the Moroccan population that carries with it blonde hair. There are dozens of blondes there.
What they learn from this venture is that they don’t have the skills for private investigation so they go to Spain’s Metodo 3 Detective Agency and hire Julian Peribanez, who was actually very good and ended up taking down a pedophile ring in Spain. He sets up a hotline and combs through thousands of reports from 42 countries. They hire a sketch artist to make a drawing of the man Jane Tanner saw and that’s when it’s revealed that it was another British vacationer with his daughter, not Madeleine. Julian, along with Patrick Kennedy, surveil local pedophiles, a pig farm, Robert Murat, Sergei Malinka, and a few others. That goes nowhere.
Then at 262 days missing, he discovers another sighting. A week before May 7, 2007, a man matching the sketch was going door to door collecting money for an orphanage which included three British orphans. Gail Cooper reported him. So they send a sketch artist. They also learn that the previous tenants of apartment 5A had the same issue with the same man and a group of men. On the day Madeleine disappeared there were four other appearances of this group of men collecting for this fake orphanage. And they were scoping out the children in these houses. One reported that the day afterward he came into her house and tried abducting her three year old daughter. That was the same age as Madeleine.
Julian believes it’s a well-organized group of pedophiles. Algarve is pedophile center for Europe. He even tracks down the cellmate of Joana Cipriano’s uncle to find out what the uncle and mom had to say. And the cellmate claims that the uncle sold Joana to a group of traffickers because he needed money to feed his drug habit. Two weeks after she was sold the traffickers took her photo and sent it to him. The cellmate claims to have seen the photo. The uncle never said this because he was terrified of the traffickers and of the Portuguese police, who were protecting the pedophile ring.
By now Julian has exhausted any sources in Praia de Luz and moves onto the dark web to find a pedophile ring that may have taken Madeleine. He befriends a pedophile who gets him into an exclusive network where he downloads thousands of videos and images of child rape. A Belgium pedophile ring had placed an order for a young girl three days before Madeleine disappeared. He later gives all of these to the Spanish National Police who take down the pedophile ring and arrest 13 pedophiles. Ten are charged.
Unfortunately for Julian, his boss at the Metodo 3 Detective Agency, Francisco Marco, lies to the press and tells them that he knows who took Madeleine, has seen pictures of her alive two days after she was taken, and knows where she is. He doesn’t. He has had no part in the case. Brian calls Julian, finds out Francisco lied, and fires the agency.
The Oakley International Scam
Brian Kennedy hires Oakley International, an American company supposedly with experienced former CIA and FBI agents. The CEO, Kevin Halligen, claims to do a long list of things, but after two years the Kennedys discover he didn’t do any of them. He collected more than half a million dollars from the Kennedys but did nothing. It was all one big scam.
What he claimed to have done:
- Interview all the witnesses, recording their interviews then sending them through software designed to detect lies.
- Interview Martin Smith and his family and had a sketch made of the man they saw carrying a blonde girl in pajamas.
- Viewed exclusive government satellite photos of Praia de Luz the evening Madeline was taken. (They were vague Google Earth images.)
- Sent in a couple with a three year old girl who looks like Madeleine as bait.
Kevin Halligen turns out to be an Irishman, not American, and is eventually arrested for fraud on another case.
The Libel Lawsuit Against Goncalo Amaral
Meanwhile at the same time, 1 year and 79 days missing, Portugal officially states they have no evidence against any of the primary suspects including the McCanns and they are no longer suspects. Goncarlo Amaral is so angry he publishes a book three days later calling the McCanns murderers and listing his fabricated evidence as facts. He also publishes a documentary that claims that McCanns confessed to murdering their daughter (which never happened). The McCanns sue him for libel and win. In 2009, a judge bans both his book and the documentary.
Further Private Investigation
Following the Oakley International scam, Brian Kennedy continues to hire private investigators David Edgar and Arthur Cowley. They uncover a report that in the morning hours after Madeline was taken at 2 am, a woman with an Australian accent approached a man asking him if he was delivering her new daughter. She asked him three separate times then panicked when she realized she was approaching the wrong man. He gives a sketch artist a description of the woman.
Another report is of Carole Tranmer who was visiting her aunt who lived in the apartment directly above the McCanns in apt 5A. She saw a man earlier that day closing the gate and making sure no one saw him.
The Leveson Inquiry
At this point Madeleine had been missing for three years. Her family was devastated, especially knowing that the police had never investigated and the journalists in Portugal and Britain were publishing Goncalo Amaral’s lies as facts. So they pressured officials to look into the culture of British journalism that allowed them to print libelous remarks. The inquiry revealed that The Daily Express with editor Peter Hill and The Sun with editor Kelvin Mackenzie were guilty of libelous stories against the McCanns. These two editors didn’t fact check a single story.
In response to the Leveson Inquiry, British Home Secretary Alan Johnson meets with the McCanns and gives Madeleine’s case to Jim Gamble of Britain’s equivalent of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Jim does nothing.
The Met Investigation
After four years, the McCanns in desperation write an open letter to the Prime Minister of England, David Cameron, asking that Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan Police investigate Madeleine’s disappearance because she is a British citizen. Finally the case is given to the Met Police in May of 2011 and they begin investigating under “Operation Grange“. It is led by DCI Andy Redwood. He convinces Portugal to put together a new police group to handle inquiries on their end.
In 2013 several witnesses come forward that saw a man with pockmarks on his face lurking outside the McCanns’ apartment. Two blond men were scene lurking around one of the other apartments.
In 2014, they discover that there were 12 incidents of child rape in the Praia de Luz area, all British children who were on holiday. Of the five girls, two stayed in the same resort as Madeleine and no one warned the parents. Further investigation reveals a total of 28 cases, all the children of British tourists. In one case, the girl was raped while her parents were sleeping in the bedroom next door and her sister slept in the same room. Her rapists was described as a dark skinned man with short black hair who spoke English with a foreign accent and said he was her daddy when he wasn’t.
Another report that comes forward is of a British witness who noticed a couple in a car and the woman kept looking in the back seat as if there was a child back there. This was at 10:45 pm that night. The witness knew the couple and they were unable to have children but were desperate to have one. They were heading to the marina.
At 6:00 am the next morning another witness, George Brooks, was on his way to his pizza restaurant on the marina when his headlights picked up a couple rushing across the street with a child in their arms. They were trying to conceal the child. He reported it to the police who never followed up.
The Met also discovered that the Tapas Restaurant had made a note next to their reservation that the McCann group would be meeting at the same time every night all week long and their children would be alone in their apartments. This note was obvious to anyone who glanced at the calendar.
Madeleine’s Aged Photo
In 2016 Jim Allen of the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children had Madeleine’s photo aged for the McCanns (to how old she would have been at the time, age 9) and the Metro police so they could post it. Quite obviously Madeline is no longer three years old or even nine. Now she would be 16 years old, almost an adult.
One of the things that Jim Allen pointed out was that 900 missing children have been recovered and found alive. So don’t give up.
6 out of 10 stars. This was an 8 hour program that should have been 3 hours. It was obviously a well-researched documentary series and was taken from the book “Looking for Madeline” written by Robbyn Swan and her husband Anthony Summers. The problem is that they included a lot of red herrings and disinformation put out by Goncarlo Amaral and didn’t bother to expose it as lies until the very end. This is how disinformation is perpetuated. If you print something or say something you know is false, you state that immediately after it. What if I had stopped watching after episode 3??? Dumb, really dumb, and unfair to the McCanns.