Madeleine McCann still alive - and could be minutes from where she disappeared, claims ex-detective
BARREN scrubland, caves and sun-baked rural communities stretch for miles beyond the orderly white buildings that make up the resort where Madeleine McCann disappeared.
It is somewhere in that unregulated, sprawling wilderness that Dave Edgar believes the little girl with the unusual imperfection in her right eye is languishing.
His theories of what is now happening to her will bring no comfort to heartbroken parents Kate and Gerry.
Dave believes two things about Maddie — the now 14-year-old is alive and is most likely being held as a sex slave or being brought up by a family.
After three years scouring the world for the youngster, he is sure she is being held just 10 or 15 miles from where she was snatched.
The former RUC man, whose search for Maddie stretched from 2009 to 2011, told Sunday Life that believing Maddie is not dead also keeps her ex-GP mum Kate (49) and heart doctor dad Gerry (48) clinging to the hope that one day they will be reunited with their daughter.
“There’s one reason I’m sure Madeleine is alive — a body hasn’t been found,” he said.
“In my experience as a detective, when strangers kill children, or if strangers kill anyone for that matter, they do one thing very quickly and almost automatically — they dump the body of their victim so they’re not caught with it. That’s just the way it works.
“So, without a body, somebody must have taken Maddie away and be keeping her alive.”
Dave’s theory is drawn from the 30 years of experience he accrued in the RUC and Cheshire Police.
As an officer in the RUC, which he joined in 1978 aged 22, he was shaken by the deaths of two of his pals.
Sergeants Stephen Fyffe (28) and William McDonald (29) were killed in the 1983 IRA bombing of the Ulster Polytechnic in Jordanstown.
As a Detective Inspector in Cheshire, Dave solved some of the most gruesome abduction and murder cases in British criminal history.
The retired investigator, who grew up on Belfast’s Woodstock Road, said: “Another element in cases where strangers commit murder is that they often dispose of their victim’s body in the open.
“People just often make little or no effort to conceal the body. Again, that’s just the way it is.
“All my experience tells me a stranger or strangers took Madeleine and that she’s still alive.”
The reason Dave thinks Maddie is being held so close to the Ocean Club’s resort in Praia da Luz, where she was last seen by her family, is that his investigation has taken in most of the world, with no success.
Together with former Merseyside Detective Sergeant Arthur Cowley (65), Dave formed the Alpha Investigation Group to hunt for Madeleine.
Dave and Arthur were recruited along with an interpreter/translator and former police administrator when the McCanns became disillusioned with the work of Spanish detective agency Método 3.
The Barcelona-based business began to look for Madeleine in 2007 after the McCanns became convinced Portuguese police had given up. It reportedly charged £50,000 a month and its director, Francisco Marco, was criticised after boasting about his ability to locate Madeleine. In December 2007, he caused a stir by claiming he knew who had kidnapped her and hoped to have her home by Christmas. Método 3’s six-month contract ran out in January 2008.
During Dave and Arthur’s time on the case, they investigated leads in Australia, Germany and Barcelona.
While Dave investigated child sex offenders, almost 80 rapists and more than 20 vagrants as part of his worldwide hunt, he could never shake the feeling Maddie was being held in a cellar or underground cave in the wasteland a short hike from Praia da Luz.
“When you get beyond the Algarve, it turns into countryside and there are any number of small villages where Maddie could have been kept,” he explained.
“I’m not talking miles and miles into the countryside. When you get up 10 or 15 miles beyond Praia da Luz, there are loads of very rural communities — farming communities concerned with growing oranges and crops. She could be being kept in one of those quite easily.”
Despite previous reports, Dave told Sunday Life he did not believe an organised child sex trafficking gang or paedophile ring snatched missing Maddie.
Rather, he feels a Josef Fritzl-esque character seized the child and may still be keeping her as a sex slave.
“I don’t believe it was an organised group that kidnap children for sex who took Maddie,” he said.
“If that had been the case, someone would have broken ranks by now and come forward.
“They would have done it to either get the money, because there was so much reward money on the table at one point, or they would have been caught doing something else and they’d have wanted to trade information about Maddie to save their skin.”
Dave does believe the youngster could have been taken by a single sex predator who could be keeping Maddie underground or in a cellar in one of the many rural communities near Praia da Luz.
However, he feels that if that is the grim reality facing the youngster, her captor is being protected by a loved one or partner in crime.
“I believe, if it was a lone wolf kidnapper, they would have confided in someone else,” Dave said. “These type of people just can’t keep a secret like that inside.
“Whether they have told a lover, wife, husband, sister or associate, I believe someone else other than Maddie’s kidnapper knows where she is.”
In April, former police chief Paulo Pereira Cristovao said he believed Maddie was being held in a network of caves at Burgau beach, under the resort where she was snatched.
But Dave doesn’t agree. “I stick by the theory she is in the countryside,” he said. “Those caves are hard to get to and there is a distinct lack of real evidence that’s where Maddie was taken.”
Dave first spoke to Sunday Life about his search for Madeleine in 2009, when he claimed the youngster could be oblivious to the worldwide hunt for her as her captor or captors could have brainwashed her into forgetting her family and taught her a different language.
There are now a string of cases around the world supporting his theory that she may still be alive.
In 2009, the year Dave started his search for Maddie, US kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard was released from her sex offender kidnapper Phillip Garrido, who grabbed her from the street when she was 11 and raped her repeatedly, with Jaycee fathering two of his children.
Elisabeth Fritzl had seven children by her father, Josef Fritzl, after he lured her into his windowless cellar when she was 18, keeping her there for 24 years.
Austrian Natascha Kampusch was just 10 years old when Wolfgang Prikopil snatched her from the streets in 1998, subjecting her to eight years of sex slavery before she escaped.
These cases and Dave’s theories will be torture for the McCanns. On the one hand, they will want their daughter to be alive but, on the other, will not want to imagine her suffering like Elisabeth Fritzl.
But Kate McCann has shown her steely mindset by speaking about how she researched the realities of child sex slavery as part of her search for her little girl.
She wrote on the Find Madeleine website: “Child sexual exploitation and child pornography, in particular, is sadly and shockingly extensive worldwide.
“It is a multibillion-dollar industry aided by the use of the internet, with the ‘thirst’ for younger victims growing.
“My ‘bubble’ of a life burst as I began to discover the facts relating to this now global crisis.
“As we travelled through Europe in an attempt to raise awareness of Madeleine’s abduction and appeal for help, we were repeatedly made aware of the unbelievable existence of such a horrifying activity and its vastness in our so-called civilised society.
“My eyes have certainly been opened to a whole new world out there — a very worrying one.
“As a parent of an abducted child, I can tell you that it is the most painful and agonising experience you could ever imagine.
“My thoughts of the fear, confusion and loss of love and security that my precious daughter has had to endure are unbearable — crippling. And yet I am not the victim, Madeleine is. No child
Belfast Telegraph Digital