Apartment 5A – keys and cleaners

Maria Viegas supervises the cleaners and describes the system used regarding the keys.

The cleaners normally work 10:00 to 18:00, with an hour off for lunch. Most take their lunch in the laundry area.

Maria works 09:30 to 18:00. She has a day and a half off per week, with no fixed schedule re days off. She visits the apartment to replenish bedclothes and cleaning products.

A single copy of each key is held in a safe in the laundry area. Maria suggests there may be another copy at reception. There is no master key. The system is a unique key per apartment.

The cleaners get keys and assignments at the start of each shift. It is normal for a given cleaner to work the same apartments repeatedly. The cleaners hand the keys back at the end of the shift, where they are checked by a supervisor and locked back in the safe.

So a given cleaner has access to multiple keys for the duration of the shift. One cleaner says she took lunch-breaks off site, without handing the keys back There appears to be no check on the keys during the shift, only at the end.

Note Maria works 09:30 to 18:00, but rather oddly she was on site cleaning in the Ocean Club until 21:20 on 3rd May, without anyone asking why. In her statement she says she worked in blocks 2, 3 and 4.

The Ocean Club numbering system is quirky. There are several block 4s. Around apartment 5A the numbering is block 1, block 2, block 4, block 5 and block 6. Block 3 is the block on the map that is not part of the Ocean Club.

Ocean Club map

Blocks 2, 3 and 4 would place Maria to the north of Millennium restaurant, roughly 650m from apartment 5A on foot. Maria states that the laundry area was by the Tapas Restaurant, which suggests she must have gone back that way to return the keys to blocks 2, 3 and 4, right around the time the event was developing.

Apartment 5A was normally cleaned by another Maria, Maria Da Silva, and her statement is intriguing. In it she says that is not normal for other cleaners to work in 5A during the week, but on the Saturday that the McCanns were due to turn up, she had help in 5A from a second cleaner.

At that time she knew that 5 people would be using the flat, without a breakdown into adults and children. During that clean, Mark Warner staff turned up with cots, and that was the first point at which she became aware that children would be using the apartment.

Maria Da Silva last cleaned 5A on Wednesday 2nd May, and she gives an interesting description of the layout.

She says the bed pushed up against the window in the front bedroom looked like it had been slept in. There was only one cot in the room. The other bed, near to the door, did not look like it had been slept in.

According to Maria, the rear bedroom, the pool-side one, also had a cot in it.

Maria’s statement is so odd that I checked when she was interviewed. It was the afternoon of 7th May, so if she got this wrong, she got mixed up very quickly.

Another snippet from Maria Da Silva’s statement is that the apartments she cleaned included 5C, so it was part of the Ocean Club. She was not cleaning it at the time because it was not occupied. Why this was not used for the Paynes to put all 4 families on the ground floor is not clear.

A final thought is that Maria Da Silva says her daughters Fatima and Dora were also cleaners in the Ocean Club, so this trio had legitimate access to a significant number of keys in total.

There was at least one other supervisor handing out keys and tasks to staff at the start of the day and getting the keys back at the end of the shift.

The friend who helped Maria Da Silva to clean 5A prior to the McCanns arrival kept quiet about being in the flat.

A previous occupant of 5A stated that the cleaner would enter the apartment faster than he and his partner liked. Locking the door made no difference, which is what I would expect. He tried locking the door and leaving the key in the lock but says the cleaner still came in. That seems very odd indeed.

In summary, a number of the cleaning staff had legitimate access to the key of 5A with relatively lax key control in place. This does not prove that any cleaner was involved, but it does show the front door of apartment 5A was vulnerable to anyone with a key, and of course, that would leave no trace.

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8 thoughts on “Apartment 5A – keys and cleaners

  1. Me again… this occurred to me last week when I read this, but forgot to post it at the time.

    ‘She says the bed pushed up against the window in the front bedroom looked like it had been slept in. There was only one cot in the room. The other bed, near to the door, did not look like it had been slept in.’

    So, the cleaner was cleaning on the Wednesday. Is it not the case that the McCanns had their tiff on the Tuesday night? She states she took offence to Gerry heading home to hit the hay, so she decided to get back at him by kipping down in the children’s room. So the slept-in bed by the window would perfectly match that having happened. Big tick for the veracity of the McCanns’ statements since. Also, another example of information they’re putting out that doesn’t necessarily paint them in a rosy light of perfection (e.g. like MBM’s question on the morning of the 3rd).

    Also, it occurs to me that MBM’s bed seemingly not having been slept in… same thing was said of it on the 3rd…. is it not simply the case that she was such a tiny wee mite that she wouldn’t necessarily disturb the bedclothes much?

    Final note: by the account of a certain independent investigator, and contrary to press reports, the T9 drank a relatively modest amount of wine at their meals. Shockingly abstemious in my book… but then, I love wine. So they weren’t falling about drunk at dinner. But afterwards they’d tend to have some cocktails at the bar. Was this all included in the price of the holiday, like the meal? Not sure, but knocking back cocktails in a country where they don’t use measures could get you fairly squiffy.

    I don’t want to pry into private matters. KM has said they don’t argue as a habit. I’d tend to believe that too. But does that Tuesday tiff seem a little like the result of a wee bit of booze having been consumed? Not a crime at all… enjoying a holiday with a tipple or three. But, of course, it is important for one reason. I’m sure you can guess what I’m getting at?

    • Kate’s book “Madeleine” chapter 5 “MISSING” opens with ‘On Thursday 3 May I awoke in the children’s bedroom.’

      Perhaps one of their statements refers to such an incident, though I can’t see why it would cover this.

      IF the cleaner is correct, that bed got used twice. Kate insists otherwise.

      After dinner drinks occurred, it seems, on one night only, Wed 2nd May (book + waiter statement). These were not included in the price. Gerry went off and was asleep and snoring within the minutes it took Kate to arrive. Whether that was down to alcohol or not, I don’t know.

      • Oh, so I was getting muddled, and the wee tiff happened on the Wednesday night? Following drinks in the bar. Sounds very much like a little excess to me that evening, but if that’s the case, spare bed having been used on Tuesday night still isn’t explained?

        Next question, though- if they only went for drinks on one night, then where were they on the Tuesday from ten o’clock news to Paxman time, when Mrs. Fenn stated she heard a child she presumed to be MBM crying for a lengthy period? Or do you think Mrs. Fenn got the day wrong, and that happened on the Wednesday?

        And drinks only on one night of a holiday? And the PI I mentioned states that 7 adults between them usually consumed only 4 bottles of wine? That, by my book at least, is pretty much abstention. I wonder can that be the case?

      • Mrs Fenn gave her statement months after the event.

        Whether I am right or I am wrong is definitely debatable. However, I make the crying incident Wed 2nd May, when the McCanns went back later than usual (book).

        This late return in itself is problematic. The cleaner had already cleaned on Wednesday and makes the window bed used in the kid’s bedroom, which does not match Kate’s book. Plus, the cleaner puts one cot in the parent’s bedroom that Wednesday. This appears nonsense, as Kate insists the cots were always in the kid’s bedroom from the time the McCanns set things up on arrival.

        Here’s the bits of the puzzle that simply do not fit in. Kate has Madeleine relating the crying incident on the morning of 3rd May. All cool if the McCanns stopped out late the night before. By that, I mean at least in the sense that Madeleine could have cried for longer as the checks got looser.

        That matches with Mrs Fenn, obviously only if you move her statement that the crying was on Tuesday to the crying was on Wednesday. That fits in with the phone records, which strongly suggest that Kate was back in 5A at normal time on Tuesday, making and receiving phone calls. Therefore, no extended crying by Maddie on Tuesday.

        The problem creeps in with Wednesday. The T9 have after dinner drinks for a change. The child checks slip and the time between them grows. Madeleine cries, and Mrs Fenn hears it, and since there is no one around to comfort the child, it goes on for a long time, enough that Maddie raises it the next morning.

        Gerry arrived home on 3rd May before Kate (book) by a few minutes, just enough to get to bed and start snoring. What was Madeleine doing at that precise moment? Had she cried and dropped off to sleep again? Did Gerry come home, find Maddie crying, and oh-so-quickly get her back to sleep before – 1) he could make it to bed – 2) he could have a good snore and – 3) Kate would arrive and decide to sleep in the kids bedroom?

        If Mrs Fenn is correct and the crying occurred on Tue night, then Kate was on her phone during that period, so I’ve got to think that is not good.

        If Mrs Fenn is a day out and Kate is correct (as supported by the phone records) then here’s the problem.

        There should be no incident of Madeleine asking why her parents did not come when she cried. If she cried on Tuesday night, Kate’s phone records show she was in 5A at the time. If Madeleine cried on Wednesday night, then Gerry, whether a bit boozy or otherwise, should have been the one who consoled a crying child. (Just in time to head for peeps before Kate arrived.)

        The problem with these little parts of the puzzle is that nothing fits.

        Changing topic to drinks consumed. The OC thought one bottle of wine per adult was reasonable over a meal that could easily take a couple of hours. The T9 drank slightly under this. I hope that Gerry does not do heart surgery the night after a bottle of wine, just as I would not like the pilot of my plane to be flying me home on the early morning flight after a bottle of red the evening before.

        The amount of alcohol consumed strikes me as totally irrelevant. If they had no alcohol whatsoever but never checked on the kids, they are not good people. If they hit the OC wine limit plus paid for a bit more, they are not bad, unless of course they ignored the kids.

        It’s not about the alcohol. It’s about the kids.

      • I’ll have to look at the records, but I think something can be ascertained by solving the crying incident(s).

        Agreed. It’s not the alcohol, it’s the checking of the kids. Alcohol consumption is relevant, however, as the more you consume and relax the less likely you are to be performing stringent checks on the kids to a rigid timetable. To me, that’s a huge part of this case. That’s one major issue I don’t believe the T9 on.

        They’ve suggested, just to recap, that they checked their kids regularly at intervals ranging from 15 to 30 minutes. They didn’t check each other’s kids (except on 3/5). Four couples. Eight kids, right? So every 15-30 one member of each couple gets up and walks back to check their own kids. And they’re working off their own clock, and not necessarily going together at certain times. So, if it’s the 30-minute checks, the minimum claimed (and by the McCanns), then in one hour you have 8 adults traipsing back and forth around 5A. That’s about one careful parent passing by just under every 7 minutes. JT claims 20 mins. That would mean 12 adults marching by 5A per hour, or one concerned parent every 5 minutes. Most frequent was 15 minutes, so 16 adults jack-booting it by 5A per hour, or one vigilant parent checking all is well every three and a bit minutes. Now, if they’re all telling the truth, and there were those on 15, those on 20 and those on the half hour, the average will be somewhere in the middle.

        But, I ask you, if you were planning a kidnapping, even at the upper line, would you fancy your chances of getting away with it with parents of the group passing by G5A with such frequency?

        And all that marching- they could have enlisted for square-bashing and done less. Do you really think one parent walking round every 3 and a bit to 7 minutes is a sensible system (for making sure the kids were ok, rather than preventing a kidnapping… I mean, for the latter it’s pretty good, but for the former?)?

        They claim they were inspired by the idea of MW’s listening service provided at other resorts, and thought they’d do their own. That would imply one parent strolling by outside the windows to hear if there was any crying. And checking the lot. Yet they insist their checks meant going into the flats.

        And in that case it would still make far more sense for one parent to check the 4 flats. Yet it was only on the 6th night that one of them offered to check on another couple’s kids. Really? 1st night kids were with them. Then 4 and a half evenings of incessant marching before someone offers? That was their system? Hmm.

        I think not.

      • “And in that case it would still make far more sense for one parent to check the 4 flats. Yet it was only on the 6th night that one of them offered to check on another couple’s kids. Really?”

        Technically, as the Paynes had a working baby monitor on the first floor in 5H, all you needed to do was a listening check at 5A, 5B and 5D, all on the ground floor.

        Therefore, anyone with an IQ higher than 80 should have realised that between the 6 parents of 5A, 5B and 5D, you could do a check every 10 minutes if you just were nice to each other and listened at their apartment.

        This does not make the T9 guilty. It simply makes them sound dumb.

  2. Ok, trying to solve the Tue/Wed/crying… firstly, to be frank, I think the kids were being left alone for longer periods than suggested. What I’d say to you is that there is no reason to link MBM’s question on the Thurs morning to the hour and 15 crying Mrs Fenn says she heard on the Tues, and thus think she’s off by a day. It could be the case. But MBM could equally have cried on both nights.

    I also read Mr. Reis’s article on this issue when I first got interested in this case and reread it just now. He suggests a Tuesday tiff, and there could be something in that, but also that KM was at home alone making frantic phone calls minutes before MBM cries for 75 minutes. Implication being she got miffed about her husband paying attention to the boobilicious aerobics instructress, phoned a mate to have a moan, then gave MBM a serious beating, let her cry for all that time, then finished her off, hid body, falsified crèche records, got all friends and staff onside to help her cover up the murder and planned a staged abduction for two day’s time.

    Really?

    I’m not saying the supposed deletion of phone data does not look suspicious, but that’s a bit of a jump. Nice piece of fiction, though… it’s really sinister.

    Here’s one major problem. Reis admits phone activity could be incoming or outgoing, and could be phone call or SMS… and also, supposedly, could be unanswered call. So, six activations from 2216-2227 on the Tue does not necessarily place KM in the flat at all.

    I think he could be right quoting Mitchell and suggesting they left their phones in the flat during dinner. So, by that token, KM’s phone could have been being contacted by one insistent person via calls and then perhaps texts, to no reply. Perhaps that was what woke MBM up, and she then cried for 75 while her parents were getting oiled.

    Equally, maybe Reis is wrong, and they had their phones with them. Then, KM could be phoning and texting from the table or the bar. Either way, that activity cannot be said to place KM in G5A.

    (Tell me, why is it they have precise details of some calls and messages, giving a number at the other end, and none for those six on the Tue? Is that down to the deliberate or accidental deletion of data from the handset?)

    • There are pages and pages of data on the phone calls, just for the T9, around that week.

      So, admission #1, I have had a quick glance through the calls, absolutely nothing in detail whatsoever.

      Admission #2. A phone call going through Luz tower does not place a person in 5A. If it did, boy were they having a party in 5A. Therefore Kate’s phone could be anywhere else that activated Luz tower, while Kate could have been somewhere her phone was not.

      Admission #3. A very cursory scrutiny of Kate’s phone calls suggests that she would leave her phone in 5A, have her evening meal, then pick up again before she went to bed. It’s not that she went frantic on the phone. It’s simply that if she got ‘you have missed 5 messages’ she would call to find out what she had missed.

      Admission #4. I love this stuff. I love it because I don’t know what the outcome will be. Will I get some of the points above right? Or am I going to eat humble pie?

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