A new search operation in the missing person case Maddie McCann attracted attention this week. A forensic expert explains what led to the new search.
Praia da Luz – Even 16 years after the disappearance of Maddie McCann, the missing person case remains unsolved. Efforts to find the then three-year-old girl are ongoing. On Thursday (25 May), the first major search operation in several years at a reservoir in southern Portugal was completed. Details on the background and specific findings were not initially disclosed. In an interview with the British tabloid Daily Mirror, a renowned forensic expert from the University of Kent now names three theories about the background to the search operation.
Maddie McCann case: Forensic expert provides three theories as to what triggered the new search operation at the reservoir
This week, a multi-day search operation with sniffer dogs and drones at the Arade reservoir in the Algarve in Portugal came to an end. According to local media, the investigators had also taken soil samples and picked up scraps of fabric. "The collected material will be handed over to the German authorities," the criminal investigation department said on Thursday (25 May), but did not give details of the finds or the specific goal of the action. What had triggered the new search also remained unknown at first. However, the search operation is based on "recent developments," according to a spokesman for the Braunschweig public prosecutor's office.
An expert expresses three theories about Maddie McCann's new search operation. (kreiszeitung.de montage) © Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Media/dpa
Investigators believe that Maddie was kidnapped and murdered by Christian B., now a 46-year-old German. In an interview with Mirror, scientist and forensic science expert Robert Green of the University of Kent sees three possible theories as to why there was a new search operation years after the girl's disappearance. New evidence may have triggered the action. The evidence [investigators] "allegedly have against Christian B. could be a photo of him posing with the body," Green believes. Another theory of the forensic scientist is related to genetic material. "Or they could actually have found his fingerprints or conventional biometric features at the crime scene," the expert told the Daily Mirror.
However, the search operation could also have been triggered by new information that came from other people and pointed to the perpetrator. Christian B. "could have confessed to someone in prison or outside [the crime]," says forensics expert Green. Hans Christian Wolters of the Braunschweig public prosecutor's office had emphasized on Wednesday, however, that the evidence that something could be found at the reservoir did not come from the main suspect Christian B.
Scientist on missing person Maddie McCann case: "She will be found" – DNA should help
Forensic scientist Robert Green clarified that it is difficult to predict the direction of the investigation, since he is not working on the case himself. Green, however, expressed confidence that the case would eventually be solved and Maddie would be found: "I think she will eventually be found and I hope they find her alive." Green had worked on high-profile, unsolved murder cases in the past and worked at times in the British Home Office, according to the Daily Mirror.
"If I were to advise anyone to do something, it would be to look at Madeleine's genetic profile – look at the case of Joseph James DeAngelo," Green continued. The forensic scientist was referring to the case of serial killer Joseph James DeAngelo, who became known as the "Golden State Killer". He was active in California in the 1970s and 1980s, but was not identified and arrested until 2018 through DNA evidence.