Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa has said detectives investigating Madeleine McCann’s disappearance have a “positive feeling” about the inquiry as they await key DNA test results.
Inspector Sousa’s comments came amid reports that Madeleine’s parents have been told not to leave Portugal amid hopes of a breakthrough. Maddies parents were warned not to leave Portugal amid hopes of a dramatic and imminent breakthrough in the 15-week hunt. Police urged Kate and Gerry, both 39, to stay in Praia da Luz after learning that they were considering returning to the UK next month.
Police are stepping up the hunt this week by launching fresh searches, police leave has been cancelled and search warrants issued.
Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa also acknowledged for the first time that the four-year-old may be dead, and added that new clues, taken together, had given “intensity” to that line of inquiry. He was referring to traces of blood found inside the apartment room where Madeleine was sleeping, which are now being analysed by forensic scientists in Britain. Investigators are awaiting results of DNA tests on samples from the McCann holiday flat.
Inspector Sousa refused to confirm or deny reports in the Portuguese media that British sniffer dogs had detected odours of a dead body that had been in the apartment in Praia da Luz.
It was also announced that more than one person is likely to have kidnapped Maddie. Inspector Sousa said: “It’s natural that in a crime of this nature more than one person took part.”
He also added that police decided more than a month ago that Madeleine, four, was probably dead, but they don’t have a final view of what happened. He also denied reports that they already knew who killed Maddie.
Sources revealed that there could be developments and it’s right that the McCanns are in the country. An officer was careful to tell them it would be a bad time to leave. They have only been told the investigation has changed, and that there was absolutely no suggestion that the McCanns are suspects.
Portuguese reports claimed police were poised to arrest Dr Russell O’Brien who was with the family on holiday. But Dr O’Brien, of Exeter, UK, angrily denied any involvement and said: “I’ll robustly defend my reputation.”
The McCanns have also called for a faster response in Europe when a child is reported missing, something like the system used in the United States where they have an Amber Alert, so that within two hours of a child being reported as missing a police report has to be filed.