Just five hours in May

What really happened to Madeleine Beth McCann?

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Cadaver Dogs

(For some forensics about Cadaver odour in general see article Cadaver Odour)

Eddie and Keela Cadaver Dogs, see more Information at →Cadaver dogs 1; →Cadaver dogs 2; →Cadaver dogs 3 - “A brief introduction to the work of Eddie and Keela, as well as general information regarding the work of cadaver dogs”


The Sun: UK's No1 Sherlock Bones, By Alastair Taylor (Published: 30 Dec 2005) BRITAIN'S most amazing police dog can earn more than her chief constable. Springer spaniel Keela is so smart she is hired by other forces for £530 a day - plus expenses. That is a rate of £200,000 a year, compared to the £129,963 paid to South Yorkshire's top cop Med Hughes. Keela, 16 months, has helped detectives around the country with high profile cases, including the stabbing of Abigail Witchalls, 26, in Surrey. Now she is going to the United States - to show off her skills to the FBI Her sense of smell is so keen she can sniff out blood on clothes after they have been washed repeatedly in biological powder. She can pick out microscopic amounts of blood even on weapons that have been scrubbed clean. And she is able to lead detectives to minuscule pieces of other evidence. Handlers PC Martin Grimes and PC John Ellis devised a special training regime to focus Keela's remarkable sense of smell.

Source: mccannfiles.com/id157.html


Extract from: Intercalary report compiled by chief inspector Tavares de Almeida, for the attention of the Criminal Investigation Coordinator, 10 September 2007

All the inspections were recorded in sound and image and were directed by our British colleagues that accompany the dogs. Among the great number of items and locations that were inspected, the dogs marked the following locations and items:

1. Apartment 5 A, Ocean Club resort, the place from where the child disappeared:

1.1. Cadaver odour detection dog:

* master bedroom, in a corner, by the wardrobe * →living room, behind the sofa, by the side window

1.2. Blood dog:

* →living room behind the sofa, by the side window (exactly the same spot that had been signalled by the cadaver dog);

2. Front garden of apartment 5A:

2.1. Cadaver odour detection dog:

* one of the flower beds (the dog handler commented on the “lightness” of the odour)

3. Apartments where the rest of the group were staying:

* NOTHING was detected by the dogs

4. McCanns’ present residence (at that time):

* NOTHING was detected in the house by any of the dogs

5. In Aldeia da Luz village:

* NOTHING was detected by any of the dogs

6. McCann family's clothes and belongings:

6.1. Cadaver odour detection dog:

* two pieces of clothing belonging to Kate McCann * one piece of clothing belonging to Madeleine * Madeleine’s soft toy * the cadaver odour was detected when the toy was still inside the residence (the McCanns’, at that date) * it was confirmed under out of the house conditions

7. The vehicle that was used by the McCann family:

7.1. Cadaver odour detection dog:

* marked the car key * marked the inside of the car boot

7.2. Blood dog:

* marked the car key * marked the inside of the car boot

8. Car that was used by a family friend that was staying in the same resort, on some of the same days:

* nothing was detected by any of the dogs

9. All the cars that were used by arguido Robert Murat and the people that are close to him:

* nothing was detected by any of the dogs.

(In a total of 10 cars the cadaver dog and the blood dog only marked the car of the McCann family, rented on the 27th of May!) The locations and items that were marked and signalled by the blood dog are being subject to forensic exams, part of which are already concluded. Not less relevant is the refinement of the results that point towards Madeleine’s DNA as being present in apartment 5A, behind the sofa, a spot that was marked by the cadaver and the blood dog. In every place marked by the blood dog, the laboratory confirmed that DNA was present.


How serious can we take Cadaver and Blood-Dogs Evidences?

CyranoNose 320, source: Wikipedia - Cyrano Sciences Inc.

Any odour, like cadaver odour, is a more or less fine dispersion of chemicals into the air. Technical measurement devices as so called “electronic noses” are still far away from the capability of dogs to smell finest odours.

While the human brain is dominated by a large visual cortex, the dog brain is dominated by an olfactory cortex. The olfactory bulb in dogs is roughly forty times bigger than the olfactory bulb in humans, relative to total brain size, with 125 to 220 million smell-sensitive receptors. The bloodhound exceeds this standard with nearly 300 million receptors. Consequently, it has been estimated that dogs, in general, have an olfactory sense ranging from one hundred thousand to one million times more sensitive than a human's. In some dog breeds, such as bloodhounds, the olfactory sense may be up to 100 million times greater than a human's. … Under optimal conditions, a Bloodhound can detect as few as one or two cells. The Bloodhound's nasal chambers (where scents are identified) are larger than those of most other breeds. The number of olfactory receptor cells are 4 billion in a bloodhound, compared to just 5 million in a human and 100 million in a rabbit. The surface area of bloodhound olfactory epithelium is 59 sq.in. compared to human's 1.55 sq.in. (10 sq.cm).

Besides their astonishing smelling capabilities, dogs are also individuals like every mammal creature. Not every dog is a suitable bloodhound or cadaver dog, even when they are of the same scent hound race. It also depends of the education and training of a dog including their leaders.

In the Case of Maddie the most prominent british scent dogs were used. The searches were also documented by videos such they can be gauged by specialists for validation. The videos were also released to the public and can be found e.g. on youtube.

Cadaver Odour in the McCanns Car, Apartment and Clothes

Cadaver Dogs full length video

Allthough there is no cause for distrust of these highly specialized british dogs, they have been heavily critisized by the McCanns and their spokesman. They argue that at some US based tests with some US-scent-dog-teams there was a 30% to 40% rate of incorrect measurements.

However, it must be stressed here, that such statistics depend very much on the dog-teams used. As an analogous example, if one wants to measure the ability of mankind to run 100 Meters in less than 10 seconds, then you can not take any amateur sports boy to test but have to take a highly trained Olympic athlete. The same applies to scent dogs: Those dog-teams used here were some of the most prominent “Olympics” in this game.

The next thing is, how many of those US-dogs did a false negative and how many did a false positive measurement? Cases of false negative measurements, which means no alert but where a dead body definitely was in the past, do not count here, as it would always be in favour for the suspect. Only false positive measurements count, which are however more seldom.

Next, as in every measurement, is the fact of linking a lot of independent measurements. This means, even if one alleges a much to high possibility of a false positive measurement, the question is how much is the possibility that all positive measurements where false in bulk? As we had here 11 principle independent measurements, the possibility of a whole false signal is about one to a billion (taking average 35% false whith average half of this =17.5% being false positive). Even if we would take the absolutely disproportionate possibility of ½ for a false positive we would arrive at 1 to 2000 for a wrong measurement in bulk.

From this simple estimation we can be sure that the dogs didn’t lie. The only way for an alleged failure in the whole would imply a complete deliberate fake by the British dog-teams for some unknown reason.


Gerry researches the dogs' reliability . He sends to the US for evidence against the sniffer dogs in the Zapata case and Kate DOES mention the 6 bodies.

September 17, 2007

The parents of Madeleine McCann have contacted the lawyers of a man charged with murder who successfully challenged sniffer dog evidence. His lawyers claimed it was unreliable and persuaded a judge in the US to throw out prosecution claims that the dogs had detected the smell of a corpse.  Kate and Gerry McCann hope that the case could help them to prove their own innocence. 

Two British sniffer dogs, one capable of detecting blood and human remains, were taken to Portugal in early August to help in the investigation. The dog picked up a scent of death on numerous items, including Mrs McCann’s clothes and her daughter’s favourite soft toy. During police interviews the McCanns, both 39, were repeatedly shown a video of the animal “going crazy” when it approached their hired Renault Scenic car. Mrs McCann could not explain it, but the scent of bodies remains detectable to the springer spaniel “cadaver dogs” for years and her legal team concluded that the scent could have come from her contact with corpses during her work as a doctor.  Portuguese police believe that the couple may have killed their child accidentally and then disposed of the body using a car they hired 25 days later. Although the McCanns do not know the full details of the Portuguese prosecutor’s case against them, they are concerned that it may rest on the dog’s reaction. 

Now their lawyers have requested the case files from the ongoing murder trial of Eugene Zapata in Madison, Wisconsin. His estranged wife, Jeanette, a 37-year-old flight instructor, vanished in October 1976 after taking her children to school. Her body has never been found. more

And guess what? the dogs were right all along.

MADISON, Wis. – Eugene Zapata entered a guilty plea on Monday to a reduced charge of homicide by reckless conduct in connection to his wife's disappearance 30 years ago and was sentenced to time behind bars………Zapata said that he wrapped her body in a tent and drove it to an area near Highway 151 and Reiner Road, where he hid it in some underbrush. He transferred her remains a short time later to some Juneau County land that he owed. There, he buried her body – which remained there for 24 years – before moving her remains to a Sun Prairie storage locker, where it was eventually cut into pieces and later disposed of at a Mauston landfill. He moved the body from the Juneau County because he planned to sell the land…more

KATE JUSTIFIES DEATH ODOUR [she DOES MENTION THE 6 BODIES. ]

Kate McCann didn't negate the fact that her two pieces of clothes and the stuffed animal had been signaled by the English dogs trained to find cadaver odor and justified it by her profession. Madeleine's mother alleged that as a doctor at the Leicester health centre, she was present at six deaths directly before she came to Portugal on holiday, giving the same excuse for Madeleine's stuffed animal, that was with her in the months after her daughter disappeared.

(Text originating from Frances)


What does the found cadavar odour tell us ?

Apart from DNA cadavar odour does not tell us from which individual the odour originated. Thus, cadaver odour can only be judged in comparison with other evidence in an overall view.

Cadaver odour originates when microbes begin to eat up dead bodies. After some time, depending much on environmental conditions, characteristic liquid chemicals are produced with a certain smell which stems from evaporation of those chemicals. The chemicals build up but always need some time, so death has to have occured at least approximately half an hour beforehand. Cadaver odour traces can be found only on objects which had physical contact with a dead body and its fluids. It is usually not sufficient to just be together with a dead body in a room.

The main places where on one or more objects cadaver odour occured were:

  1. In a flower bed beneath apartment 5A
  2. In the car rented by the McCanns weeks after the event
  3. On clothes of Kate McCann
  4. On maddies toy "cuddle-cat"

Nr. 1 and Nr. 2 tells us that an death occured in apartment 5A. Nr. 5 tells us that Maddie's most loved toy was in physical contact with a dead body. Nr. 3 and Nr. 4 just tell us, that in the hired car a dead body was transported and that some of Kate's casual clothes had physical contact with a dead body.

To judge if the “dead body” was indeed Maddie at least in one or more cases of those places, this question can only be answered by going into deep detail of further evidence in an overall view and the resulting pro- and contra-arguments (see also Cadaver Odour for some more scienctific informations).