Cracking Madeleine McCann?

With no World Cup 2014 news today (apart from the fact that that Luis Suarez was given a hero’s welcome on his return to Uruguay from the World Cup after having been banned for 4 months and 9 internationals for his 3rd round of biting), it’s time to move to something more interesting.

No, not Andy Murray´s defence at Wimbledon, which of course is on all the giant TV screens in taverns across Luz as the temperature starts to settle down from another very hot day.

Today´s centre-piece is Madeleine McCann and how to solve the disappearance.

In Dec 2007, the Daily Mail on-line reported that a PJ officer, who replaced Gonçalo Amaral in charge of the investigation, had resorted to ‘old-fashioned’ policing.  He had obtained ALL the calls made on mobiles in the region that covers Burgau to Luz to Lagos.  Then police officers had made personal calls on everyone in Luz making a call from 9:30PM onwards.

This story is problematic.  In Dec 2007, Jane Tanner’s sighting of a man carrying a child very close to the McCann apartment had not been discounted, and that sighting was a fair bit earlier than 9:30.  As to why the Mail thinks calls of interest were restricted to 9:30 onward, the article does not make clear.

In Oct 2013, Correio Da Manha (Morning Post) reported that the PJ, the detective branch of the Portuguese police, had already been in Luz for a month, seemingly to map out the ground with reference to mobile phone signal masts.

This report is also problematic.  First, no-one in Luz that I know noticed this activity on the ground.  I cannot say that ‘my contacts are everywhere’, so I’m not going to claim this did not happen.  Second, the report would rely on a leak from inside the police, in an active investigation.  This is something that is supposed not to happen, but who can say for sure?  Third, a period of a month to map antennas or signal strength sounds ludicrously long.  With a mobile phone, I could map signal strengths in the area in 4 days maximum, and that is on foot.  All of this does not prove that the report is incorrect.  Perhaps the detectives took around a month to map the area.  Maybe they were doing it in minute detail.  In Portugal, that is called diligence.

Here is my non-diligent first attempt at a map of the cell phone masts in Burgau – Luz – Lagos.  These are the ones that have the most chance of cracking the Madeleine McCann case.

The orange circle is the McCann apartment.


The six yellow circles are the six nearest cell phone ‘towers’ as of May 2007.  Of these, five can be dated back to May 2007 or earlier, though I can’t say if they were operational etc.  The sixth is the one a little to the left/above the McCann apartment.  That is the water tower in Luz.

The water tower was definitely there in May 2007.  The water tower was definitely a mobile communications mast in Aug 2009.  It makes sense that this was part of the network because it is the highest point in Luz.  However, I cannot prove it was there and active in May 2007.  Only 2009.

But look at the pattern.  The McCann apartment is a really fine balance between three masts.  Those should provide a truly high-quality ground map of who was where when on the night.

Plus the three outlying sites are critical in finding out who left the area, (or not), and in which direction.

My prediction #1.  Give me an hour with the 2007 phone data and I have an 80% chance of finding the culprits.

My prediction #2.  My chances of getting an hour on the inside track = zero!

It is quarter to 8 on a fine day in Luz.  Time for dinner.  And yes, the sun is shining.




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