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Image / Self / Real-life Stories

The last time Madeleine McCann’s parents saw her she was a toddler. This month she turned 18


by Amanda Cassidy
23rd May 2021
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The last time her parents ever saw her, she was just three years old. Madeleine, on holidays in Portugal with her family, spent the day of May 3rd 2007 at the kids club of the Ocean Club resort at Praia da Luz on the Algarve.

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Her mother described her as a little more tired than usual after a day playing out in the sun. She read Madeleine and her siblings a story and tucked them into bed.

It is a story we all know. What happens next has haunted Kate and Gerry McCann for over a decade. They left the apartment to dine at a tapas restaurant nearby with friends. The group collaborated with a make-shift baby-listening service with one parent departing at regular intervals to check in on the children.

It had worked well throughout the holiday until Madeleine’s mother came into the apartment at 10 pm that night to find her children’s bedroom window open, the shutter lifted and her 3-year-old daughter missing from her bed. The subsequent horror, panic and confusion are charted in the 8-part Netflix documentary, often in laborious detail.

As with anything Madeleine related – there is a morbid fascination with the details, however scant. But this show does little to advance the theories on her disappearance or shine a light on new suspects.

Instead, it is padded out with lengthy interviews with random tourists, locals with little to do with the investigation and a strange side-bar about the history of tourism in the Algarve. Kate and Gerry McCann are heavily featured although they did decline to take part in this series fearing it might hinder the British investigation that continues to this day.

Her 18th birthday, this month saw her family post another heartbreaking message online. “Happy 18th Birthday Madeleine,” the family wrote on their Facebook page dedicated to finding her.

“We love you and we’re waiting for you and we’re never going to give you up.” Despite going missing in 2007, the family has not given up and continues to search for Madeleine.

Developments are ongoing in the case that has eluded the police for 15 years. Last June, German police named a suspect for the first time; convicted paedophile, Christian Brueckner. He is currently serving time in jail for drug-related offenses.

Children’s clothes and swimwear were reportedly found in his campervan, which caused him to become the lead suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

May is the month that not only marks the anniversary of her disappearance but her birthday too – something her parents say makes things harder.

Every May is tough – a reminder of years passed, of years together lost, or stolen. This year it is particularly poignant as we should be celebrating Madeleine’s 18th birthday. Enough said,” they wrote.

“The COVID pandemic has made this year even more difficult for many reasons but thankfully the investigation to find Madeleine and her abductor has continued.

“We hang on to the hope, however small, that we will see Madeleine again. The COVID pandemic has made this year even more difficult for many reasons but thankfully the investigation to find Madeleine and her abductor has continued.

“We hang on to the hope, however small, that we will see Madeleine again.

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