Crime Scene – The PJ View

Early in the morning of 4th May 2007 a member of the PJ photographed what the crime scene looked like a few hours after Madeleine had disappeared.

By the time the photographs were taken, Kate McCann had searched the apartment, and members of the Tapas 9 had repeated the search.   People from the Ocean Club had been in the apartment.  The GNR (Guardia National Republica) had been in the apartment and had also checked that Madeleine was not simply hiding.

So it is not a pristine crime scene, but it is about as good as it gets in this instance.  This shows the photos the PJ technician took that night.  The McCannPJfiles also have a slightly different version showing a few extra (very interesting) photos from that night which are not included in the report.

After this, I hit a real problem.  The plan of the apartment in the link I have given is wrong in a number of ways that are critical to describing the crime scene.  Further, I cannot find a plan or schematic that is correct

Stick with the diagram in my link and compare it to reality and you should get some idea of the problem.

First, an interior photo clearly shows the wall separating the kitchen and living room continues on and becomes the wall at the entrance to the children’s bedroom.   The diagram makes these walls offset by yards.

Second, the diagram shows a window in the parent’s bedroom.  The photos show instead a door identical to the patio door in the living room.  This means there is another patio door.  And this means there is another potential entrance/exit to apartment 5A that needs to be considered.

Third, despite the diagram, the apartment is not a nice square or rectangle.  The front door is not flush with the front – it is recessed.  The front wall (on the face to the car park) is not a straight line.  The wall of the children’s bedroom projects more than the kitchen, albeit by a small amount.

The living room is not square, and this may prove critical.  The living room has one window that is on exactly the same bearing as the kitchen window, the same wall.  Then it has another window in what forms a shallow extension, a slightly offset wall.   The second window on this wall pokes out a little bit.  That may become important in blood spatter analysis later.

The rear end of the apartment is not a straight line.  Out of the living room patio door is a small breakfast patio.  Out of the parent’s bedroom patio door is an even smaller sliver of the same patio.  This is because the parent’s bedroom sticks out into the patio more than the living room.

Next, the wardrobes.  The photos suggest that in both bedrooms, the wardrobe was inbuilt, and to the right of the door as you entered.  It looks like a double wardrobe in the parent’s room.  The children’s room is harder to interpret.  There is a built-in wardrobe immediately to the side of the door.  Then it seems to go to nothing.  Just a wall.  A lot of useful space that seems to be used for nothing.  The outside photos show lots of electrical boxes residing in this space.  Is that what is taking up this space?

A summary of this crime scene is – Kate searched the site.  Some friends searched the site. Other people seem to have been in the flat. The GNR searched the site. The  PJ arrived.  Kate, Gerry and the twins were moved to another apartment.   The PJ then photographed what remained.  Now it is over to you.




12 thoughts on “Crime Scene – The PJ View

  1. Hi again,

    Thanks for that – interesting stuff. That link didn’t work for me, but I had a look at the diagram in question, and of course it us indeed shockingly poor. I’d like to know your thoughts on blood spattering, as I’m not sure what you’re getting at, so can’t really suggest an answer.

    There’s lots of discrepancies that could be important in the diagram. One in particular, which is shown both one way and the other is various sketches and reconstructions, but seems to be of vital importance to the case, is that of the children’s bedroom door, and which way it opened. It’s quite irritating how this gets treated as incidental, and is represented as opening in to the left and in to the right

    • Hi,

      I’d like to leave blood spatter to later, because (as far as I know) the first respondents did not find blood spatter. It only showed up later when the dogs were brought in. The shape of the wall around the spatter may, or may not be important. I’m simply parking the shape for later in case it indeed is important.

      Around a year after Madeleine’s disappearance, Gerry went back to apartment 5A. The video is on YouTube. The children’s bedroom, if you are outside in the living room, facing the door, has the door handle to your left, and the door hinge to your right. The door opens from your left and goes back into a space on the right hand wall of the bedroom. After the space, an in-built wardrobe juts into the RHS of the wall.

  2. (Sorry, on tiny phone… cont.)

    It is really hard from the photos, but I see it as hugely important for two reasons.

    A quick glance at Gerry’s account, that he gazes lovingly at his beautiful daughter for the last time and feels blessed, that he thinks the abductor was in the room and hiding most likely behind the door. Both of those strongly suggest (and the latter is only possible if) the door opened into the bedroom with the handle on the left.

    Now take arguably the most important witness extra-familiar witness, Matthew Oldfield. He’s could have been last person to see the child before the alleged abduction. He claims light was coming into the room from the window, suggesting open shutters. But crucially he states he did not see Madeleine, but only saw the twins sleeping in their cots.

    Now, how far open was the door? Again, this seems to vary in the statements. Gerry pulled it back to say 10-15′. If the door were ajar and handle on the left, peeping through he would have only seen Madeleine, and not the twins. If the handle were on the right, he would have seen wall.

    If the abductor had been through that door again, and it was halfway, as Oldfield suggests in his detailed statement, then the walls and angles you mention become very important to get right.

    If the door opens with the handle on the left, coming from the living room, again it seems to me, though I can’t be sure, that he’d see Madeleine’s bed from outside the room, and not the cots. I’d think he’d need to stick his head in to see those.

    If the door opened with the handle on the right, he would have seen neither twins’ cots nor Madeleine’s bed without putting his head around the door. But if he did in that case to peep in, it’s the only way I can picture him seeing just the cots and not Madeleine’s bed.

    If I’m not missing something, and please let me know if you see it, then Gerry’s statement only works with the door as in the terrible diagram, and Matthew’s only becomes possible if the door opens the in the opposite direction.


    • What Matthew Oldfield could see and did or did not see strikes me as critical.

      The moving door, the amount of light, the view you get when you don’t simply carry out a listening check (as per 9:00 pm) but make the effort to go inside and carry out …. a listening check. Strange stuff.

      I too am finding it hard to understand how Mr Oldfield saw the twins, did not see Madeleine’s bed and did not see the window/shutter.

      Reconstruction time?

      • Indeed. I must correct- he does mention seeing a corner of Madeleine’s bed later on in his rogatory interview. But what he saw is crucial, and as you say, it’s very hard to make sense of.

        The position of the door and shutter could help to delineate a true time-line down to the minute. I do think this case can be solved with the information currently available.

        But I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s possible that the frequency of checks on the children could well have been exaggerated in the accounts of the holiday and even the night in question. The other thing that strikes me as odd is that Oldfield checked the McCann children twice on the 3rd of May, according to the statements… yet he had never done so before then. And the McCanns never checked anyone else’s kids either.

        So you’ve a week of a holiday, where 4 couples eat together every night and one of each couple gets up to check their own children every 15 (in O’Brien/Tanner’s and the Oldfields’ words to 20 minutes (Paynes’ account of friends’ checks, as they never checked themselves) to 30 minutes (McCanns), but not anyone else’s. That’s a lot of traipsing and footfall and missed courses and drinks to discover finally only on the sixth night one person doing the check for all made more sense. Add in very sick children being left in (O’Brien and Tanner’s kids) all alone, the baby monitor (Paynes), and two nights of the McCann kids crying (for one hour and forty-five minutes in one case) and you get a picture of sadly negligent parents who were acting as a group, reassuring each other that it was ok. It wasn’t. Tragedy ensued.

      • I am more biased to believe the statements made very shortly after the incident, as opposed to the rogatory interviews a year after the media had analysed everything in minute detail.

        The timing of Matthew Oldfield’s check appears important. Either Madeleine was gone before, which cuts things down a lot, or she wasn’t, which cuts things down a lot.

        Frequency of checks, who is checking on who’s child. To me, the pattern certainly is odd, but that is not evidence. If Matthew checked around 9:30, that check should tell us whether Madeleine was already gone, or whether she disappeared later.

      • Right, I agree. However, and this is as far as I go in the direction of any conspiracy on this topic, but judging by the evidence at hand it’s quite likely the checking routine was exaggerated during the holiday and even on the night in question. They certainly were not checking the children on a half-hourly basis on the other nights. Actually, they’d often have a few cocktails at the bar after dinner, and I can’t see that helping the frequency.

        Against that you have the fact that the McCanns, and Kate in particular, were feeling guilty because Madeleine had asked them that morning why they hadn’t come when she and her brother were crying. So, it is actually plausible that the time-line is correct, and they did perform more checks on the night in question for that reason.

        Yet, it’s also sadly possible, if difficult to envisage, that Kate discovered the child missing, and during the rather long period between 10pm and when the police eventually arrived towards midnight, perhaps one of the friends had a word. That word might have been ‘we’ve been negligent parents the lot of us, we simply cannot tell the police we were leaving our kids for 2 hours plus at a time while we ate and drank… we’ll have to say we were checking more often. Let me add in a check or two to a time-line.’

        It’s far-fetched, and hard to imagine anyone acting like that in a crisis… but I do think it’s a possibility.

    • In short, what I’m suggesting is perhaps Oldfield’s check didn’t actually happen- and that’s why he’s so fuzzy on all details, why he explains he’d never checked their kids before, but chose that occasion to do it, why he can see some things he shouldn’t be able to see clearly, and others he should see not at all, and why his story supports his friends in their assertions without adding anything of substance at all.

      Maybe he said ‘sure, it’d be no harm if I said I’d checked at 9.30 too’. That, of course, would mess up the investigation, and also would cause discrepancies in the accounts which then led people to consider them deceptive and eventually suspect them of something heinous, when they were perhaps simply trying to keep the focus on the abduction of the poor child rather than their terrible parenting habits. All speculation, of course.

      That said, Gerry’s check does seem to have been made, if Jez’s statement is correct. I can’t see them bringing him into any kind of embellished time-line, as he only heard about the disappearance the following morning, if I am not mistaken. (His wife wrote a very interesting account for the Guardian)

      I believe Gerry’s check happened. I also believe the abductor was present in the apartment at that stage. Oldfield may or may not have made his check, but it’s really incidental for the time-line, because his testimony is so poor. If he had seen Madeleine, or established the position of the shutters, then you could place the abduction at 9.10-9.30, and most logically just after Gerry leaves. As he didn’t, you’re still left with 9.10-10.00, and if he did make the check, again, and Madeleine was present, then so was the abductor, and he likely made his escape with the child as soon as Matt left. Most likely he lifted the shutters to check the coast were clear out front, before simply heading out the front door, as any checkers were arriving via the patio doors.

      One thing that occurs to me, though, is there were in theory people walking by the front of the apartment during the 9.30-10.00 period, and Oldfield himself said you would notice an open shutter for sure. Jane Tanner returned to her apartment to allow O’Brien to finish his dinner. That’s at least two of them walking by what should at that stage be open shutters, and neither of them clocked anything. Seems odd, unless the kidnapper didn’t leave just after a check, but stayed and left just as Kate was returning.

  3. Ugh, that’s shameful. Wish there were an edit button. If I post again will do it from a computer. Let me know if you can make out the gist.

  4. Ok, just to examine that slightly further, without clogging up your page too much- if the door were open fairly wide, and handle on the left, it’s likely possible for Oldfield to see just the twins’ cots and not Madeleine/absent child if he not only didn’t cross the threshold, but didn’t even go right up to it. The top of her bed would be obscured by the wall. However, look at the terrible diagram again… I’m certain Oldfield’s statement isn’t quite right.

    He claims in his rogatory statement that the door was ‘halfway’ and certainly not open fully, so as to be against the wall. So forget other possibilities, the door opens as we thought, and as in the diagram. But, what else does he claim he can see? The twins’ cots- he says he can see them as soon as he’s at/through the patio doors; the end of the bed by the window (which end? you’d assume the top, right, as the door way half-way, and he’s coming from the right? he doesn’t say…); he doesn’t mention seeing any portion of Madeleine’s bed, oddly… (he’d have been able to see some of it, and might have specified he could but not where she’d have been sleeping, but omits her bed entirely); crucially, he says he does not know if the shutter was up or down because it was obscured by the curtains, which he saw were fully closed.

    So, Oldfield has a half open door, which opens with the handle on the left, and he doesn’t go into the room, but checks from outside, and he can’t see any of Madeleine’s bed even (or doesn’t mention if he can), but he has a clear and full view of the window, and can see both curtains are fully closed. Remember, the window had been slid to the left, so open o the right- he’d have had to have been able to seen the relevant part to make that statement, in theory, if it is correct. How is that even remotely possible if the door is halfway? The door would need to be fully open, and he’d need to be right up against the bathroom wall to see the window around the wardrobes.

    And, while we’re at it, how thick were those flimsy curtains if he couldn’t tell if the shutter behind were raised… yet he claimed light were coming into the room from outside in his original statement, so through the curtains. Then in the rogatory he has an inkling that there was moonlight shining in from behind him, just to confuse the issue, through an apartment which was lit by a lamp… I mean, is he just a terrible witness, or is he deceptive, or is he inventing something? He’s utterly incoherent, in any case.

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