May 25 2013
The Daily Mail
Thank god for the British police. They can solve any case going.
No need to dig up Robert Murat’s driveway.
Stephen Birch wasted his 50 Grand.
Apologies for ever doubting the McCann’s sincerity.
It was the dead fella that did it.
Was Maddie snatched by monster who killed this little lookalike? That’s the dramatic new lead uncovered by British detectives. . . so why are the Portuguese police refusing to investigate?
- Scotland Yard detectives have a list of 30 potential suspects
- One of them is peadophile and child murderer Urs Hans von Aesch who killed himself in woodland
- Von Aesch murdered five-year-old only five months after Maddie disappeared
- But Portuguese police STILL dragging heels over investigation
Have you seen me? asks the little girl in the poster. The youngster is Madeleine McCann; not the Madeleine we all remember, but Madeleine as she might look today as a ten-year-old.
Her once-blonde hair is darker, the button nose has gone, along with those babyish chubby cheeks, and while the distinctive black ‘flash’ in her right eye — where her pupil runs into the iris — is still visible, it is not nearly so distinctive.
Behind this latest digitally created picture of Madeleine, now being circulated on the Continent, is renewed hope: that one day Madeleine’s parents will find out what happened to her, and so end perhaps the most enduring and haunting mystery of modern times.
Linked? Five year old Ylenia Lenhard (left) from Appenzell in Switzerland who was killed by Swiss man Urs Hans Von Aesch just months after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann (right)
That hope, if truth be told, had been all but extinguished, such were the shortcomings of the original Portuguese police investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance on the Algarve a few days short of her fourth birthday in May 2007.
Only now, with the intervention of an elite team of detectives from Scotland Yard which has been carrying out a review of the case on David Cameron’s orders, has evidence been properly accessed and analysed. It may be six years late, but at least this basic groundwork is finally being tackled.
The 30-strong squad working on the inquiry — codenamed Operation Grange — has identified 20 potential suspects, among them several Britons, as the Mail reported last week.
But who are they?
One of the 20, the Mail has learned, was a notorious paedophile who kidnapped and murdered a five-year-old girl in his native Switzerland less than three months after Madeleine vanished from the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz.
Urs Hans von Aesch, 67, shot himself dead after poisoning and sexually abusing Ylenia Lenhard.
Like Madeleine, Ylenia was blonde and blue-eyed. At the time Madeleine vanished, von Aesch was living in Spain, but he had visited the Algarve in the past and was known to have friends there.
Interpol twice contacted the Portuguese authorities about von Aesch, but information supplied by the Swiss about possible links with Madeleine was not followed up because senior officers in the Policia Judiciaria — the Portuguese CID — were wrongly convinced that Madeleine’s parents were implicated in their daughter’s disappearance.
The ‘very urgent’ messages from Interpol are there, in black and white, printed in publicly available documents in Portugal.
Unlike the Policia Judiciaria, however, detectives from Operation Grange did rigorously pursue this line of inquiry. Last year, they flew to Switzerland to probe von Aesch’s movements. He is still believed to be a ‘person of interest’.
Two other convicted child abusers — including one believed to be from Britain — who were on the Algarve at the relevant time, are also understood to be on the Scotland Yard ‘list’, together with a number of hotel workers and lorry drivers.
Detectives are now ‘actively’ examining mobile phone traffic in the Praia da Luz area on the day Madeleine was last seen.
Although the Policia Judiciaria had this information at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance, they did not find out who the phones were registered to, even though ‘cell-site’ analysis is now a crucial investigative tool and the catalyst for solving countless crimes.
Had standard police procedures been followed back in 2007, it is conceivable that you would not be reading this article now, for the mystery of Madeleine’s disappearance may have been solved.
Nevertheless, Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, are said to be encouraged both by the progress of Operation Grange, and recent events in the U.S., where three women who had been missing for a decade were found alive and well in Cleveland, Ohio.
Kate and Gerry, both doctors, still refer to Madeleine in the present tense.
‘She lives in the village of Rothley in Leicester with her mummy and daddy and little brother and sister, Sean and Amelie,’ is how they introduce her on the ‘Find Madeleine’ website.
‘Madeleine is a very happy little girl with an outgoing personality’ . . . like most girls her age, she likes dolls and dresses (and anything pink and sparkly).’
Madeleine was wearing pink pyjamas, with an Eeyore motif, on the night she was taken from apartment 5a on the ground floor of the Waterside Gardens at the Ocean Club complex.
Her parents were at a tapas bar with friends a few hundred yards away, taking it in turns to return to the flat every 30 minutes to check on the children.
It was Kate who made the final, fateful check at around 10pm. She found the twins were asleep inside but Madeleine’s bed was empty, a moment Kate would later relive in her book, Madeleine.
‘My heart lurched,’ she wrote, ‘as I saw now that, behind them, the window was wide open and the shutters on the outside raised all the way up. Nausea, terror, disbelief, fear, icy fear. Dear God, no! Please, No!’
Experts will tell you that what happens in the immediate aftermath of a child going missing — the so-called golden hour — is critical. Yet Portuguese police took four days to even issue a description of Madeleine.
They failed to ‘lock down’ the resort or set up road blocks because they assumed she had just wandered off. The apartment itself was not taped off until 10am the following morning, by which time dozens of people had traipsed through the ‘crime scene’.
Ash from policemen’s cigarettes would later be found among contaminated forensic samples from the flat. Not all the staff and guests at the Ocean Club were traced and interviewed. Those who were interviewed were not always properly eliminated.
And a photofit picture of an early ‘suspect’ consisted of nothing more than the sketch of a face with hair parted on one side but with no actual eyes, nose or mouth.
The catalogue of mistakes and official complacency is almost endless and culminated in a shameful shadow of suspicion over Kate and Gerry McCann, who were treated as suspects themselves until their ‘arguido’ (suspect) status was removed in 2008, the same year as the inquiry into Madeleine’s disappearance was formally suspended.
There were, declared the Portuguese police, simply no more leads to pursue.
Within months of Operation Grange being set up in 2011 — after Mr Cameron received a direct appeal for help from the McCanns — dozens of fresh leads had been identified.
The only British involvement in the case before this was that of Leicestershire police, the McCanns’ local force, who were responsible for collating all the investigation work carried out on behalf of their Portuguese counterparts, such as interviewing British witnesses.
All this evidence was later made available to officers from Operation Grange, drawn from the Met’s highly skilled Homicide and Serious Crime Command.
Two detectives first visited Praia du Luz in October 2011 and spoke ‘informally’ to staff at the Ocean Club. Colleagues are understood to have returned there up to ten times over the past two years.
Of particular interest were the numerous holiday flats, some of which were sub-let at the time the McCanns were staying at the resort. They have spoken to residents on the phone in recent months as well as emailing them questions.
‘When I spoke to the police they were asking about other crimes happening in the area at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance,’ said expat Christie Jones, who works for her family’s villa management company.
Two private detectives employed by the McCanns, Dave Edgar and Arthur Cowley, have also been interviewed.
‘They [detectives from Operation Grange] came to see me late last year about specific people who were of interest to them,’ said Mr Cowley, a retired detective sergeant, who lives in Holywell, North Wales.
One of those people, of course — according to a source close to Operation Grange — is the aforementioned Urs Hans von Aesch.
His exact whereabouts when Madeleine was abducted on May 3, 2007 are unclear. He was living near Alicante in Spain with his wife, but border records show that, driving a white van, von Aesch re-entered Switzerland on July 10.
Still out there? Senior Met Police officers believe Madeleine (pictured left, and in an artist’s impression of how she may look aged nine, right) may still be alive and said the Cleveland kidnappings show there could still be hope
Less than a month later, he used this vehicle to abduct Ylenia as she left her local swimming pool in Appenzell. The day after she vanished, von Aesch was discovered in woodland with self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head.
Ylenia’s bicycle helmet, rucksack and a scooter were found nearby. All of the items contained von Aesch’s DNA. Shortly afterwards, the remains of Ylenia were found in a shallow grave in nearby Oberbueren, a 20-minute drive from the spot where she was abducted.
At von Aesch’s home in Spain, police seized diaries — in English — revealing his dark sexual fantasies about children and computer discs containing evidence that he had frequently visited child sex websites and forums on the internet.
Swiss police officers were immediately struck by the physical similarities between Ylenia and Madeleine, who had both gone missing within weeks of each other. They alerted Interpol which, in turn, contacted the Portuguese authorities about its suspicions on August 17.
When it did not get a response, it contacted them again on September 3. Again, there was no response, we were informed by sources in Interpol.
We now know why.
Just four days later, on September 7, Kate and Gerry McCann were named as arguidos in the Portuguese investigation. On September 11, police submitted a summary of their case against them to prosecutors.
Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell
In his report, Chief Inspector Tavares da Almeida concluded — without a shred of hard evidence — that Madeleine had died in the flat, her parents had hid the body, then faked an abduction and got their friends to lie to the police.
‘Kate McCann and Gerald McCann are involved in the concealment of the cadaver of their daughter Madeleine McCann,’ he wrote.
Could a police officer have made a more catastrophic misjudgement?
Meanwhile, Ylenia Lenhard’s heartbroken mother Charlotte believes her daughter was not von Aesch’s only victim.
‘I am convinced that my little girl was not the only one,’ she told the Mail. ‘I simply cannot believe that a man, at the age of 67, suddenly chooses to become a killer. It was in him all the time and I am certain he has struck before.’
Indeed, after von Aesch’s death, Swiss police re-opened inquiries into the disappearance of five girls who disappeared from the area in the Eighties, before he moved to Spain.
These include five-year-old Sarah Oberson, whose neat features and bobbed-hair are also reminiscent of Madeleine McCann, and who went missing in September 1985 when cycling to her grandmother’s house 50 meters away; doe-eyed seven-year-old Loredana Mancini, who vanished in April 1983 and was found dead in September of the same year: and eight-year-old Rebecca Bieri, who disappeared in March 1982 and was found dead five months later.
The police were unable to prove links between von Aesch and the missing girls.
Under Portuguese law, a case can be reopened only if there is new evidence.
Yet the senior Scotland Yard detective who oversaw the two-year-review of the evidence before he retired says it is ‘perfectly probable’ that information that could identify the suspect responsible for Madeleine McCann’s disappearance was already in the Portuguese files.
‘Of course, there is a possibility she is still alive,’ said former Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell. ‘But the key is to investigate the case and, dead or alive, we should be able to try to discern what happened.’
It is the very least Kate and Gerry McCann, indeed any parent of a missing child, deserves.
Additional reporting: Neil Sears in Praia du Luz
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2330660/Madeleine-McCann-Was-Maddie-snatched-monster-killed-little-lookalike-British-detectives-uncover-dramatic-new-lead–Portuguese-refusing-investigate.html#ixzz2UI16lMzy
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