Just five hours in May

What really happened to Madeleine Beth McCann?

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Aktenzeichen XY

On 16th October 2013 ZDF broadcast a feature on Madeleine McCann (Der Fall Maddie McCann) in the Aktenzeichen XY programme. The German reconstruction differs from the BBC reconstruction.

It can be viewed here: →YouTube

Here is a rough transcript: ZDF Aktenzeichen XY, 16th October 2013 – Madeleine McCann


Kate: She’s a huge part of our live and she always will be. We were 5, now there’s only 4.

Gerry: We miss her every day though. Without her a lot of things are no longer fun. It’s not the same.

Reporter: Madeleine Beth McCann. Just a few days before her 4th birthday. This holiday photo that shows Madeleine with her father and sister is the last that Kate and Gerry have of their child. The photo was taken the afternoon of 3rd May 2007. Few hours later she was no longer there.

Kate: It’s still very hard to get your head around. That something so catastrophic, so incomprehensible has happened to our daughter.

Reporter: Praia da Luz on the Portuguese Algarve. It is Saturday the 28th April 2007 when Kate, Gerry and their 3 kids arrive at the holiday resort.

Gerry: It’s very relaxed and quiet little town in the pre-season. We were totally relaxed, the kids had fun. It really was ideal holiday.

Reporter: The group exists of 9 adults and 8 children. Madeleine and her siblings, the twins Sean and Amelie who are 2 years old. In the Ocean Club a hotel complex that is mainly visited by English tourists the families occupies several holiday apartments. The McCanns are staying in apartment 5Athat is situated outside the actual complex.

Gerry: Madeleine was incredibly excited when we arrived and wanted to go in the pool right away.

Kate: She said, mummy let’s go swimming. It was freezing. It just seemed a very calm, peaceful resort to be in really. I couldn’t imagine that something as horrendous as what happened to Madeleine could happen.

(footage of them in the pool, playing with rubber duck)

Reporter: Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood leads the specially set up Scotland Yard investigation from London.

Redwood: Since 2011 I have worked on this case with my team that is made up of 37 police officers and staff. We have analysed over 30,000 documents, from Portugal, the UK and from Private Investigators. New findings and a fresh look enabled us to take the next step in our investigation. And interesting element of this case is the fact that the family and friends had a clear routine. Every evening they ate in the Tapas Bar of the Ocean Club. There was a book in which all reservations of everyone in the Tapas were visible. (book is shown in film).

Reporter: What the McCanns didn’t know was that in the following days, near their apartment, unknown men were seen that acted suspiciously.

Redwood: 30th April a girl at 8 am a girl saw a man observing the McCann’s apartment. He has very short blonde hair and sun glasses on. Two days later the girl saw him again near the Ocean Club reception. Thursday 3rd May 2007 a few hours before the dramatic happenings two men are seen at an apartment just a few metres from the McCann’s apartment. Normally this would not be strange, but this apartment was not rented out. We want to know what these men were doing. We believe they were speaking either German or Dutch. A few hours later a woman observes something. She’s visiting her aunt who lives above the McCann’s apartment. The woman who was looking over the balcony saw a man with short blonde hair. He shut the gate very carefully as if he didn’t want to be seen or heard. We don’t know if these sightings are linked. Though on 2nd May again two men are seen close to the Internet Cafe. They spoke German. We want to know who these persons are.

Reporter: At about 6 pm of the same evening another man is spotted near the apartment (stairwell). This man does not want to be seen.

Redwood: Together all these sightings are of interest to us. In April 2007 there were burglaries in holiday apartments shortly before the McCanns arrived.

Reporter: About 7pm Kate and Gerry take the children to bed.

Kate: We did the usual nappies, toilet, teeth and said goodnight.

(Film footage: Kate leaves door slightly open and says so.)

Gerry: It was just really quiet, the kids had fallen asleep straightaway. We were having a glass of wine.

Kate: It was about 8.30, went to the Tapas Bar.

(They leave through patio doors.)

Reporter: The patio door that opens onto the terrace, is closed by the McCanns, but not locked from the outside. The bar is 50 metres away.

Gerry: The Tapas restaurant was so close to the apartment that we thought it’d be all ok to eat there. To me it was a bit like having dinner in the garden whilst the kids sleep in the house. Every 30 minutes or so one of us went to check that no one had woken up really.

Kate: I mean I think if you had to think about it for a second that it wouldn’t safe, it wouldn’t have happened. It felt safe. It wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Gerry: We never think for a second that Madeleine could be in danger. And unfortunately you can’t change that decision.

Reporter: It is shortly after 9 o’clock when Gerry does his first check.

(About 9.05 pm Gerry enters through patio doors )

Gerry: When I walked in and I saw that the door to the children’s room was open. I thought that is odd. Madeleine was sleeping in same position. At that moment I thought how lovely she was and how lucky as a family we were at that point. Actually that was the last time I saw her.

(Gerry leaves through patio doors.)

Reporter: On the way back Gerry sees an acquaintance with whom he had played tennis in the afternoon.

(Gerry crosses the road)

Reporter: They chat. Barely 5 minutes later Jane Tanner, friend of the McCanns goes for check on her children who sleep in one of the apartments. Janes sees a man carrying a child in pyajamas.

(he walk to the left?)

Her sighting became the basis for countless theories and attempts at an explanation. Did Jane Tanner unknowingly witness Madeleine’s abduction or is it different to what it seems?

Redwood: Over the last 6 years we thought that Jane Tanner saw the abductor. Our findings question this. We found a holiday maker who with his daughter in his arms went from a nearby crèche to his holiday home at the same time in the same place. We now think that the man Jane Tanner saw is not the abductor.

(View of table, which is rectangular)

Redwood: At 9.20 pm the whole group was again at the table and started to eat. Was this the moment to strike?

(Cue creepy man in alley.)

Reporter: Only 5 minutes later Kate wants to check on the children. But Matt Oldfield also goes to check (puts hand on Kate’s shoulder, looks like he’s persuading her that she doesn’t need to check, Kate looks reluctant not to go. Russell [the actor looks more like David Payne] follows him.

Kate: He was staying in the apartment next to us. It was one of those situations in which one thinks shall I go myself or not. And then I said, it’s ok. I’ll do check next time.

Reporter: About 21.30 Matt Oldfield enters apartment through patio doors. This time the door the children’s room is half open. Because everything is quiet Matt doesn’t see reason to enter the children’s room.

Kate: Matt came back and said all’s quiet. Half an hour later at 10 I said I’ll go check.

(Kate leaves to check)

(shot of Rubber Ducky in pool)

(Kates opens patio door, enters, and slides it to.)

Kate: All was quiet and I could see the children’s bedroom. The door to the children’s room was wide open and I thought that’s unusual. At that point I thought perhaps Matthew had opened it during his check and left it open. So I was just gonna pull it over a little bit. It was like it’d been caught by a draught. I looked to see if I’d left the patio door open, but it wasn’t open. So as I opened it I was looking at Madeleine’s bed, however I couldn’t make her out. Finally I realised she wasn’t there. Has she gone through to our bedroom? Maybe she’s in our bed, maybe that’s why the door was open. But she wasn’t there. I felt the fear, panic. Just as I got into their room, the curtains which were closed kind of went pssssssssss. The window was pushed right across and the shutters had been pushed up. That’s when I knew someone had taken her.

(Kate screams Madeleine, Madeleine, looks frantically for her, picks up cuddle cat form the bed. Looks in other rooms. Opens patio door, goes out, shuts patio door. ) Runs to Tapas bar. Shouts: “Madeleine ist weg, Madeleine ist weg” Madeleine ist weg, sie ist weg. = Madeleine is gone, she is gone.)

Gerry: It’s incredible from one minute our live that looked so perfect, changed, in the worst situation imaginable.

(They all pile into the apartment to look for her. One of the men is on the phone saying: At the Ocean Club. Come quickly, a child has disappeared.)

Kate: The only reason I could see was that someone had abducted Madeleine. Of course you hope she’s somewhere nearby, you run around calling her name and you’re hoping that she’s just in bush hiding.

(some looking outside for her.)

Gerry: The worse scenario goes through your head, that she is abducted by a sex offender. That was, I mean why do children get stolen. Everyone has heard of these sort of rare but horrible cases.

(About 10pm)

Reporter: About 10 minutes walking distance form the McCann’s apartment witnesses see a man carrying a small child that seems to sleep on a street towards the beach.

Redwood: Could the man who went in the direction of the beach with a child be completely innocent? He could be, perhaps a holiday maker on the way home. But on the grounds of the timeframe it seems very probable to me that this man is Madeleine’s abductor. We need to know who this person is. That’s why we are showing 2 e-fits of this man that haven’t been made public before. We know that Madeleine McCann was abducted, we don’t know why. Was it a planned abduction or a burglary that went wrong when Madeleine disturbed the perpetrator but what I know for sure is that our investigation has raised new clear questions.

(Film, they return to apartment. Kate and Gerry crying and comforting each other.)

Gerry: Every second felt like an hour, every minute a lifetime when a child goes missing under such circumstances.

(Shot of rubber duck in sea)

Presenter: The search for Madeleine throughout the night was without success. The following day the Portuguese Police combed the area around Praia da Luz

(original footage of search shown).

With every hour that passes Kate and Gerry are more convinced that Madeleine was abducted. On the advice of friends they decide to address the abductor through the media.

(Footage of Gerry’s plea to abductor.)

(Footage of Kate’s plea to abductor.)

Reporter: Worldwide search for Madeleine starts; Pope visit; Four months later made arguidos.

The Portuguese believes that Madeleine had a fatal accident in the apartment and was hidden by her parents.

(Footage of them being made arguidos.)

Kate: Leaks, lies, misinformation that went to the media in August 2007 gave the impression that Madeleine was dead and that we had something to do with it. Whoever caused this, tried to tell the world that Madeleine is dead. And then people stop looking for her. For us that was just desperate.

Reporter: This also leads to closing of the investigation (???) On 21 July 2008 after almost 15 months the Portuguese close the investigation.

Gerry: I don’t think any parent of a missing child can every stop looking. That bond is so strong. You just have to know where they are, what happened.

Kate: We miss Madeleine incredibly . I know she will be different living with other people (???), but she is still our daughter. We’re her mum and dad and she has a little brother and little sister. She belongs with us. Please have empathy and find the courage to tell us where she is and what has happened.

Gerry: I would like to tell her how much we loved her and that we won’t give up looking for her.


The dismissal of the Tanner Sighting by Scotland Yard, thus making the Smith's-Sighting with the SY suspect No.1 e-fit the main suspect to be searched for, was one of the main new advances which led to the new interest in the Maddie-Case in late summer 2013. Which then lead to the new Crimewatch and Aktenzeichen-XY TV shows. The obvious similarity of the newly released E-Fit with Madeleine's father Gerry McCann was already mentioned by the Crimewatch audience. As by pure chance in the German Crimewatch edition the new SY suspect No.1 e-fit was placed directly behind Gerry McCann while Operation Grange Chief DCI Redwood was talking to the german moderator Rudi Cerne. This led to some speculation which are still circulating on Twitter. Such a “PR glitch” didn't appear on BBC Crimewatch but unconsciously two days later (16th Oct. 2013) at the German ZDF TV-Station.