A child being taken from their own bed in the middle of the night. It’s a sentence that strikes fear into the heart of parents the world over, but that’s exactly what seems to have happened to Madeleine McCann, a 3-year-old girl who vanished during a family vacation to Portugal on May 3, 2007. It’s been nine years since that fateful night and investigators have scrambled for clues that only lead to more questions and followed leads that turned into dead ends.
What happened to Madeleine McCann the night she was last seen? According to a timeline constructed by The Telegraph Madeleine and the two other McCann children were put to bed at 7pm, but members of the other families who accompanied the McCanns on the vacation claimed that it may have been as early as 6pm. The adults all went out for dinner at around 8:30pm as the children slept, each family checking on their own children every half hour.
There are many discrepancies in the stories told to police by the nine people who were with the McCanns that evening on who left the table to check on the children and when. What is known is that at approximately 10pm that evening, Kate McCann left to check on her children, only to return to the table in a panic. Madeleine was missing.
Police have always suspected that it was the McCanns who killed their daughter and hid her body prior to joining their friends at dinner. Could it have been the police’s intense focus on the McCann family that blew this investigation in the first place and allowed other suspects to slip by undetected?
This also leads to the question that if it hadn’t been one or both of the McCanns who killed their daughter, then who else could have taken the little girl, and for what purpose?
These are just some of the questions that arise when looking into the case of Madeleine McCann. For years people have speculated about what happened that night. One theory is that the little girl wandered off on her own, only to drown in the ocean. Others believe that Madeleine was taken and sold into sex slavery. There are also those who believe that if she wasn’t killed by the McCanns, then someone with them that night could have.
Of course, this is all a matter of conjecture. Not even the police are certain what could have happened to the girl and no body has been uncovered to determine whether or not the tyke is still alive.
On November 21, 2016, the first possible clue to emerged in the case in years has given some hope that the girl had survived on the night she disappeared.
An English-speaking teenager was found sleeping on the streets of Rome. She was found with no identification on her and has since given authorities several names. Some believe the girl could be Madeleine McCann, but the mysterious young woman has also been linked to other possible missing persons cases including Amanda Adlai, who was abducted in Michigan in 2008, and a German girl who also vanished in 2008 named Maria-Brigitte Henselmann.
It is believed that the girl may have been a student studying abroad. She refuses to take any money, and several locals have said that she answers to the name “Maria.” Not much else is known about the young woman and authorities have refused to publicly release any other details they know. Internet sleuthers were quick to pick up on the case and are hoping to have the girl reunited with her family in time for Christmas.
The website Missing Persons of America has since set up a page dedicated to “Maria.” They are heading the campaign to uncover the girl’s identity and will be posting updates as this story continues to unravel.