I have now done a pass on some of the telephone records for the Tapas 9, in and around the time of Madeleine’s disappearance, and this has turned up additional masts and some useful information on the PJ phone maps in the files.
Let me comment on the PJ phone maps first. I don’t know how these were produced, in particular whether some form of mapping software was used, or by hand. What I do know is that some of the locations of masts on PJ maps are correct, while others are highly misleading.
On one PJ map, there is a mast near the junction of the A22 and the N125, just to the east of the junction i.e. nearer to Lagos. I have spent ages searching for that mast on a couple of occasions and failed to find it. I failed to find it in my current search, so I went to the raw data and looked at that. The raw data showed that this mast is actually the mast in the centre of Lagos. It is merely the PJ map that gives a false impression.
Another happens to be the map at Bensafrim. This mast is not located to the south of Bensafrim, as per the PJ maps. It is located on a hill to the north of Bensafrim.
A combination of accurate call locations added to the phone records and added to a knowledge of what was going on that day allows a crude coverage map to be drawn up. This is something that Scotland Yard needs if it is to build up a proper analysis of records for everyone in and around Luz that evening.
For example, on one of the days that a member of the Taps 9 was taken for an interview in Portimão, the phone use is in Luz multiple times, then two contacts via Lagos, then a quick switch to Porto de Mós, then a quick switch to Bensafrim, then a multitude of contacts in Portimão, and finally another batch of calls in Luz.
At first sight this looks weird. Porto de Mós is on the coast between Luz and Lagos, so why did it appear after the Lagos contacts?
The Lagos mast is over a block of flats in central Lagos, and the flats are pretty close to sea level. The road in from Luz is at a much higher elevation. While the A22 at the N125 junction then runs between a couple of very deep culverts.
Making sense of this, the person makes calls in Luz before getting in the PJ car to head to the interview. That exits Luz via the old road to Lagos, hits the junction near Boavista and turns right towards Lagos. The Lagos mast activates when the car is approaching the N125/A22 junction. As the car turns north on the A22, the Lagos central mast drops out, due to the culverts, and the Porto de Mós mast takes over. The car makes it through the culverts and the Bensafrim mast takes over. The PJ car must have being going at the speed limit or faster, as the time the cellphone connects to Portimão mast is only a few minutes later.
My method in finding the masts was to use a combination of logic, Google Streetview, and Google Earth. This was time consuming to say the least.
Take the Porto de Mós mast that appears in the records. I had looked around Porto de Mós before I knew of that record, and I had concluded there wasn’t a mast in the locality. From further away in west Lagos, you can establish line of sight with the mast to the east of Luz on Boa Vista golf course, and the Boa Vista one is close enough to cover Porto de Mós. There is no need to have a mast on Porto de Mós.
So when I saw there was a Porto de Mós record on file it was time to go back for another check. Again, I could find nothing, and Porto de Mós is relatively flat, so a prospective site should be sticking out.
On the horizon, a prospective sight was sticking out, only it was in Lagos. It was a tall building of some sort, so I hunted for that.
The western side of Lagos is much more elevated than the centre, and so is ideal for another mast. It turned out the location was west Lagos, the building is a water tower, complete with sewage treatment and telecomms capability. It is around 0.9 miles of the A22/N125 junction, and well placed to handle those pesky culverts on the A22.
I have updated my previous map to show two more locations that have turned up in this area, namely Lagos centre and Lagos west.
I have tried to position each as accurately as I can, verifying position comparing Google Earth to the map in my graphic. As a result, I doubt if any of my locations are out by more than 10m.
What may be incorrect is that I may be missing a tower or two to the north. The ares to the north of Almádena – Espiche seems to be out of range for the masts I’m showing. However, at least at the moment, I don’t see how more masts in that particular area is relevant.
The area around Portelas may be more interesting. Portelas was the home of Tractorman, and getting the map accurate around there may be necessary in a proper analysis of the full records.
I have checked Portelas in detail, and ruled out all the usual places where it is normal to stick a mast. So at the moment; Portelas seems to be in a Bermuda Triangle for phone masts, a long way away from Lagos Centre, the one to the east of the A22/N125 junction, Bensafrim, and another mast in Odiáxere. Whether this is good or bad for tracking Tractorman depends entirely on what the connection pattern looks like for someone moving around the Portelas area.
As part of this trawl, I have come up with a fair number of masts that are not in the area covered by my graphic below. These include one to the north, and quite a few to the east. These may turn out to be relevant in future, particularly if a phone starts in Luz around the time Madeleine disappeared then heads off in a traceable direction.
One example of this is Faro airport. I am not suggesting for a moment that Madeleine was flown out of Faro. However, the possibility exists that a perpetrator carried out the abduction, dropped Madeleine off, then flew out ASAP.
Another example is the eastern border with Spain. I believe I now have potential mast locations on the route to the border, so at some point I will get around to locating such masts and producing the relevant map.
For the moment, it is a case of learning to walk before I try to start running. And I still have the majority of the PJ analysis to work through.