Preserving that Crime Scene

crime-scene-150x133Or lack of..

There is much discussion about the McCanns allowing their friends and other people to walk through the apartment of 5A hence contaminating the crime scene. Yes there is no doubt that initially there were many people walking through the apartment, but once the Police arrived they should have sealed the crime scene, removed everyone from the apartment except the parents and preserved the scene so that forensics could do their jobs. In a report called “Subject: Despatch of Report on the Searches carried out in P da L” it states:

1. On 3rd May at about 22.40 the Lagos GNR post was contacted by telephone and informed about the disappearance of an English girl, Madeleine McCann, aged 3, who was on holiday with her family at the OC, Block 5, apartment 5A, P da L, Lagos.

2. This situation immediately led to the deployment to P da L of members of the GNR emergency patrol, consisting of officers José Maria Batista Roque and Neslon Filipe Pacheco da Costa, who, at the moment the communication was received, were in the Odeaxere area and who immediately left for the OC, where they arrived at 23.00, with the aim of finding out about the situation.

3. The patrol found the situation to be somewhat strange as the way the child had disappeared was not clear as she had been sleeping inside the apartment with the twins, whilst her parents were out dining 50 metres away in the same resort, and therefore the officers contacted the GNR post commander at 23.17, to tell him that the parents were holding the hypothesis that the child had been abducted.

4. The commander of the Lagos post, Sargeant Antonio Henrique Conceicao Duarte immediately left for the site the girl had disappeared from, telling the officers to preserve the apartment, and arrived at 23.50 at the OC, where he was informed about the situation together with the patrol officers and where he saw that searches had already taken place, carried out by the girl’s father and locals, but without any results.

II Development of Action

1. On 4th May, after having evaluated the situation surrounding the disappearance, the Lagos Post Commander ordered searches for the child to take place and contacted officers who were at home, forming a force of nine officers who searched during the night and early morning.

2. At 02.00 they arrived at P da L and began searching with the Portimao sniffer dog teams, the terrain searches were extended until the morning with the dogs and officers on the scene, as well as the night guard and local people who volunteered to help in the searches that took place throughout the night.

Sargeant Antonio Henrique Conceicao Duarte told his officers to preserve the crime scene.  He confirms this in his statement dated 16th May 2007.  He states the following:

He has been a GNR office since 1982. He holds the post of sergeant and is currently the Commander of the Lagos GNR Post. At about 23.10/23.17 he heard from a telephone call from the Patrol Commander, Officer Roque, that there had been a disappearance at the OC resort, P da L.

Roque was on duty that day with Officer Nelson Costa.

He was told that (Roque) had already gone to main reception of the complex in Rua Direita and had met the father of the little girl who had appeared in the reception with a friend. Together with employee Silvia (service manager of the OC and who also acted as translator, the father (Gerald McCann) and the friend they went inside the apartment from which Madeleine McCann had disappeared. After Roque checked that the child was not in the apartment, he gathered information from the mother and father. He was told by the patrol, that the father had put forward a theory saying that it could have been an abduction. He was also told that there was a shutter that had been ‘raised’.

The witness, from the description and supposed seriousness of the facts related, ordered the immediate preservation of the scene, and said he would go to the site and communicate the facts to the PJ (this was done from the Post, he does not remember which officer did this but thinks it was Officer Patricio).

However in the statement of PJ Deputy Specialist statement of João Franciso Páscoa Luis Trigo Barreiras who arrived at the scene at 00.50 at the latest and at least 1hr 10 mins before the dogs arrived he stated the following:

At about 00.10 on the morning of the 4th, he had just finished filing a report about a fire, when he was informed that a child had disappeared in Praia da Luz.

He was brought into service together with an Inspector from the station. It was the inspector’s duty to take notes of the services as well as all the information relating to them. The inspector who accompanied him on that date, Vitor Martins, informed him that the case in question was that of the disappearance of a small girl, of British nationality, who was staying at the OC with her parents.

They immediately left for the scene and arrived about 30 – 40 minutes later, at about 00.40/00.50.

When they arrived at the scene, which they immediately identified due to the presence of GNR officers, as well as quite a lot of people who were walking around the street searching for the child, they immediately went to the apartment in question, where they found several people, including some GNR officers, as well as the head of the Lagos GNR station. He states that the people inside the apartment and close to it, entered and left the building and circulated in the whole apartment, completely freely, in other words, without there being any restriction or care in preserving the scene.

So by 00.50 on the 4th May 2007 the scene still had not been secured and the GNR Sergeant who gave the order to preserve the crime scene had been there for one hour and still not carried out what he told his own officers to do.

But hold it, it did not end there.  Along with the unsecured crime scene and officers failing to carry out orders we now have a situation where canine footprints and dog hairs make it impossible for forensics to gather evidence, as per Forensics collection Report carried out on the 4th May 2007  in apartment 5A, where it states the following:

Photos 21 to 23: Displays of the the bedroom with two single beds of the target apartment.

Then began the detailed observation of the apartment interior ending with the search and recovery of forensic trace material relevant to the present examination.

Initially the search began for latent shoe-prints it being verified that dozens existed on the floor, in the various rooms of the apartment, which invalidated the attempt of identifying those of the perpetrator. Also, innumerable tracks [footprints] that were taken to be canine in origin mixed with red- and white-coloured chemical products, as used to see fingerprints, and an enormous quantity of hairs probably of animal (dog) origin that made it difficult to find possible traces, especially in the bedroom of two single beds and two children’s cots from where the minor disappeared, and next to the aluminium window/door leading from inside the living room to the exterior area behind the apartment.

All the above does rather make a mockery of this passage from Goncalo Amaral’s book, where he states the following in Chapter 3:

It is midnight when I receive the news about the disappearance of a little four-year-old English girl. The police officer on call was informed about it by the National Guard of The Republic (GNR) At the time of her disappearance, the little girl was supposed to have been sleeping in an apartment while her parents were dining a hundred metres away. An inspector is sent to the scene immediately to establish the initial facts. A forensic expert assigned to security of the premises will join him. All precautions are taken to preserve possible clues and elements of evidence.

By reading the above forensic report you can clearly determine that they send the samples off for analysis but not the bedding. Which according to a Daily Mail article was another blunder. The article states

By the time officers returned to the Ocean Club apartment more than 24 hours after Madeleine’s disappearance, cleaners at the holiday complex had washed the sheets, blankets and pillowcase.

A source from the Portuguese police laboratory said: “Some important clue could have been found on those items besides hair, which was what was sent to the institute.

“They forgot that the items in the bedroom could hypothetically have had fibres belonging to a possible abductor or even a fingerprint.”

Well the bedding is still there in the pictures of the forensic report carried out on the 4th May 2007 so it is obvious then that the cleaners went in and removed it instead of Forensics bagging and tagging it and sending it for a detailed analysis to becarried out back at the Lab.


So it is evident from the files that the McCann’s were NOT solely responsible for contaminating the crime scene.  The Police NEVER secured it properly as far as I am concerned.  It is all there, in black and white yet people still want to blame the parents.

And why don’t they (the anti-McCanns) ask the question why did Police Officers disobey a director order given by a superior officer?

Of course, there will be some wannabee Einstein who will now say the McCann’s adopted every stray dog going prior to phoning for the Police and another forum myth will be born.


2 comments on “Preserving that Crime Scene

  1. Well said Bren!

    • Thank you Annie, for the life of me I don’t know why they allowed the search and rescue dogs into Apartment 5A.  Surely common sense tells you that it is best if they are kept outside and whatever is used as a scent cloth is taken out to them?

      The McCann’s take all the blame in some people’s eyes and at the time if you really think about it, they had a child missing, they were frantic as to what could have happened to her and I doubt very much if preserving the crime scene entered their heads initially.   That is what the Police are supposed to do, take control and preserve evidence.

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