Eight Years And $15 Million Later, Search For Madeleine McCann Shrinks To Four Officers
Three-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared eight years ago, and police have spent $15 million trying to find her. But on Wednesday, they announced the force of 29 officers dedicated to the search have been scaled down to just four.
This isn’t a sign that the search for Madeleine McCann is over. However, it marks a transition in the investigation, from the initial collection and review of evidence to a continued, but less intensive, probe based on that gathered evidence.
The London Metropolitan Police‘s (the Met) Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley told the Guardian that the four-man team will zero in on a “small number of focused lines of inquiry,” because a “significant amount of work [was] approaching completion.”
“We still have very definite lines to pursue, which is why we are keeping a dedicated team of officers working on the case. We have given this assurance to Madeleine’s parents.”
Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, have accepted the shift in the investigation and praised police officers for their hard work as they hold out hope that their daughter — who’d be 12 now — will someday be found, NBC News reported.
“(We’re) reassured that the investigation to find Madeleine has been significantly progressed and the (police have) a much clearer picture of the events in Praia da Luz leading up to Madeleine’s abduction in 2007,” they said. “Given that the review phase of the investigation is essentially completed, we fully understand the reasons why the team is being reduced.”
The hunt for little Madeleine McCann has been stunning in its sheer scope. The investigative team has tackled 40,000 documents, 8,600 sightings, investigated 650 known sex offenders and 60 persons of interest, taken 1,338 statements, and collected 1,000 exhibits.
Still today, the 29 officers on the case receive 200 emails about McCann every week.
Since Operation Grange was launched in 2011 to search for Madeleine McCann, the Met has spent more than $15 million to find the child; a further $3 million has just been granted to continue the investigation until next April, the Telegraph added.
Madeleine McCann vanished without a trace during a vacation at a Portuguese resort city of Praia da Luz in 2007. Mr. and Mrs. McCann have since worked tirelessly to try to find her, convinced that their child is still alive given the lack of clear evidence that she was physically harmed, the Daily Mail added.
Despite an intensive search, no trace of Madeleine McCann has ever been found. Police have had numerous sightings and false alarms, but none of them has led to Madeleine and no one has ever been arrested or charged with her kidnapping.
Over the years, officers have returned to Portugal several times, performed exploratory digs around Praia da Luz, and in 2013, investigated possible links between Madeleine McCann’s disappearance and some fraudulent charity collectors who were going door to door at the time.
And just last year, detectives brought sniffer dogs to Portugal and searched scrubland 1,000 feet from where McCann disappeared, both on their hands and knees and with radar scanners. Still, no trace of Madeleine was found.
Kate and Gerry McCann recognized the years of “meticulous and painstaking work [the force has] carried out over the last four and a half years” to find Madeleine.
“Given that the review phase of the investigation is essentially completed, we fully understand the reasons why the team is being reduced. Whilst we do not know what happened to Madeleine, we remain hopeful she may still be found given the ongoing lines of enquiry.”
The four detectives who will continue to search for Madeleine McCann will be led by a senior investigating officer and are part of an existing homicide and major crimes investigation team.
[Photo By Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images]