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You are in: Leicester > People > Your Stories > Madeleine McCann: Timeline

Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal

Madeleine McCann: Timeline

Take a look at the timeline of events and the story background to Leicestershire toddler Madeleine McCann's disappearance on 03 May 2007. Listen to the interviews...

Four-year-old Madeleine McCann from Rothley in Leicestershire disappeared from an apartment in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve on Thursday 03 May 2007.

She is believed to have been taken from her bed while her parents were eating at a nearby restaurant. They regularly checked on her and their two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie.

At the very end of May, Madeleine's parents visited the Pope and received his blessing.

Since the initial weeks of speculation, little in the way of hard and fast fact has emerged.

What follows is a month by month account of the main events from June to the present.

"Kate and Gerry McCann have spoken movingly of the night their daughter Madeleine vanished, a year after the three-year-old disappeared. "

BBC News

Timeline of Events:

June 2007

Gerry and Kate McCann make an appeal on Crimewatch for help to find their daughter.

0n 03 June - It is four weeks since Madeleine McCann went missing. Ben Jackson looks back over BBC Radio Leicester's coverage of the Leicestershire toddler's disappearance...

Hostile questioning from a journalist provokes the McCanns to deny involvement in Madeleine's abduction.

On 13 June - It is announced that the tributes and toys left at the Rothley war memorial will be cleared away. The ribbon-strewn scene in the village is by now a familiar image in television news bulletins.

On the same day many competing in the Rothley Road Race donate the money they raise to the Madeleine Appeal. BBC Leicester's Ben Jackson spoke to Madeleine's Great Aunt, Janet Kennedy...

Pupils at Madeleine's playschool make a film to raise awareness of child abduction.

On 22 June - It's the 50th day since the disappearance, This is marked in 50 cities.

Missing: Madeleine McCann

July 2007 

A woman who claimed to be collecting money for Madeleine but instead used it for drugs is jailed for three months.

Author J. K. Rowling asks bookshops worldwide to display posters showing missing Madeleine.

The Prime Minister is assured that everything is being done to find Madeleine.

The tributes and ribbons placed around the war memorial in Rothley are all removed.

August 2007

The police in Portugal announce that they have found nothing in the house of Robert Murat, an official suspect.

Tests are carried out on suspected traces of blood found in the McCann apartment.

On 10 August - Madeleine has been missing 100 days.

The McCanns announce they are to sue a Portuguese newspaper which claimed they killed their daughter. They say, "We are deeply hurt by the allegations."

September 2007

Kate McCann is officially declared a suspect.

Family and friends rally round Kate. The grandmother of Madeleine declares this development 'absurd'.

On 09 September - Kate and Gerry McCann return to their home in Rothley amidst huge media interest. They say they are determined to clear their names.

The villagers of Rothley again declare their support for the McCanns.

The McCanns say that the money raised to help find Madeleine won't be used to clear their names.

On 19 September - Portuguese prosecutors say there is no new evidence to justify the questioning of the McCanns.

Madeleine's parents, Gerry and Kate McCann

Madeleine's parents, Gerry and Kate

October 2007

The police chief investigating Madeleine's disappearance is taken off the case.

On 21 October - Gerry McCann says he welcomes the announcement that the friends, who were on holiday with them in Portugal, are to be interviewed again. 

Writing in his internet blog, Gerry says he wants them to be eliminated from the enquiry as soon as possible.

He adds that he and his wife will continue to hope that one of the lines of investigation leads to Madeleine being found safe and well.

On 24 October - Kate and Gerry McCann  indicate that they may take legal action over some media reports about the disappearance of the daughter.

The couple give their first broadcast interview since being declared suspects in the case. 

They tell Spanish television that some of the coverage had been ludicrous and hurtful.

On 25 October - The parents of Madeleine McCann have released an artist's impression of the man they believe abducted their daughter. The sketch depicts a man of southern European or Mediterranean appearance walking with a child in his arms. 

It is drawn by an FBI-trained forensic artist using details from a friend of the McCanns, but the face is blank because the witness wasn't certain about some details.

The fighting fund set up to help find Madeleine McCann was used by her parents to make two mortgage payments, their spokesman says. Clarence Mitchell says: "The fund has always had the ability to assist the family financially if necessary."

He says Kate and Gerry McCann stopped using the fund in September when they were made formal suspects in the case.

Aerial view of the Mark Warner Ocean Club

Aerial view of the McCann's apartment complex

November 2007

On 01 November - Gerry McCann goes back to work at  Glenfield hospital, Leicester.

Listen to BBC Leicester's Julie Mayer's report from the hospital and to Gerry McCann's statement to the press...

On 03 November - Six months since four-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared. The following  evening  families in  Rothley are invited to attend a special church vigil.

Rothley's four churches come together to pray for Madeleine and other abducted, trafficked or exploited children. Kate and Gerry McCann spent almost an hour at the service in the church of St Mary and St John near their home.

In the six months since the disappearance the village of Rothley has found itself in the media glare - at times that's made life quite difficult for those who live and work there.

Sam Spillane runs her business from the heart of the village. She spoke to BBC Leicester's Ben Jackson about how she and her neighbours have learned to deal with that intrusion.

Percy Hartshorn chairs Rothley Parish Council - he explains how the village is managing to weather the storm and is hopeful for a positive end to what's been a challenging time...

On 29 November - Forensic experts from the UK and Portugal meet at Leicestershire Police headquarters to discuss DNA samples collected during the inquiry.

The war memorial in Rothley

A beacon of hope

December 2007

On December 22 - Mr and Mrs McCann send a public message to Madeleine: "Our only Christmas wish is for you to be back with us again."

January 2008

Early in the month there is much speculation that a film about Madeleine is going to be made. Gerry McCann plays down  the story.

On 20 January - The McCanns release police sketches, based on a statement given by a British holidaymaker, of a man they believe may have abducted Madeleine.

February 2008

On 23 February - Portuguese justice minister Alberto Costa says the police investigation into the young girl's disappearance is nearing its end.

March 2008

On 19 March - Mr and Mrs McCann accept £550,000 libel damages and front-page apologies from Express Newspapers.

April 2008

On 07 April - Portuguese police arrive in Britain to observe as the friends of Kate and Gerry McCann are interviewed by local police about the night Madeleine went missing.

On 08 April - Gerry and Kate McCann are asked to return to Portugal to take part in a large-scale re-enactment of the hours surrounding Madeleine's disappearance.

On 11 April - Madeleine's parents responded angrily to publication of leaked transcripts of interviews with Portuguese police last year.

On 14 April - Portuguese police investigating Madeleine's disappearance deny leaking details of statements made by her parents to officers.

On 30 April - Kate and Gerry McCann speak movingly, in an ITV1 documentary, of the night their daughter Madeleine vanished, a year after the three-year-old disappeared.

To find out more about the latest developments, click the link below...

Leicestershire toddler Madeleine McCann

Missing Madeleine McCann from Rothley

Background on the Story

Madeleine's mother, Kate, discovered that her daughter was missing at approximately 21:30 on Thursday 03 May.

Portuguese law prevents the police from revealing details about an investigation while it's ongoing, so Kate and Madeleine's father, Gerry, made an emotional appeal outside their holiday apartment for Madeleine's return.

Kate said that they were very grateful for the support they'd received from the townspeople in Praia da Luz:

"Gerry and I would just like to express our sincere gratitude and thanks to everybody, but particularly to the local community here, who have offered so much support.

"We couldn't have asked for more, so I just want to say thank you, and please continue to pray for Madeleine – she's lovely."

Tying yellow ribbons to the railings in Rothley

Ribbons for Madeleine in Rothley

The reaction at home

The reaction in Leicestershire was heartfelt, as family and friends of the McCanns expressed their concern.

Local people have left messages, yellow ribbons, candles, flowers, toys and pictures at the war memorial in the centre of Rothley as gestures of support for the McCanns.

Kate's father dismissed the criticism levelled at his daughter and her husband for leaving their children alone:

"You couldn't meet a more considerate, caring set of parents. I'm proud of my daughter and I'm proud of her choice of husband. They really care for their kids and they would never do anything to jeopardize them."

Public acts of sympathy and remembrance were held across the county, including a prayer vigil outside Glenfield General Hospital, where Gerry works as a cardiologist. A colleague said: "Their anguish must be great and we're all hoping for good news soon."

Emotion also ran deep in the McCanns' home village of Rothley. Neighbours, friends and well-wishers came together on Tuesday 08 May to hold a silent vigil by the war memorial, and yellow ribbons were tied around the railings.

Valerie Armstrong, the landlady of the Royal Oak pub in Rothley and a friend of the family, said the entire village is sending the family its support:

"The whole of the green was full and I didn't dare turn around because it was very emotional. It just shows that this is what people wanted to show the family – that the village are behind them and they really do care."

Prayers for Madeleine McCann

"Everything possible is being done"

But alongside the compassion, friends and family of the McCanns have been voicing criticism of the Portuguese authorities. The British Ambassador for Portugal, John Buck, stepped in to defuse the tension:

"I have been in touch closely over the last few days with cabinet ministers in Portugal, with the Prime Minister’s office, and with Portuguese police authorities. They all assure me that everything possible is being done to ensure the safe return of Madeleine."

Madeleine's Fund

On 16 May 2007, nearly two weeks after Madeleine's disappearance, Madeleine's family launched the Madeleine fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned appeal.

The money donated is being used to help find Madeleine McCann, support her family and bring her abductors to justice.

Contributions can be made to Madeleine's fund by post, with cheques payable to 'Madeleine's Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned', and should be posted to:

'Madeleine's Fund' c/o The International Family Law Group 26 Southampton Street Covent Garden WC2E 7RS

Internet donations can also be made into the following account, and will be processed free of charge:

'Madeleine's Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned' Sort Code 60 40 05 Account Number 32130058

If you would like to download a 'Bring Madeleine Home' poster or if you would like to add your message of support for the McCanns, click on the links below:

last updated: 30/04/2008 at 17:36
created: 10/05/2007

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