I have decided to look at similar incidents to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The one that popped out at the top of the list was Carolina Santos, a 3-year old girl who was nearly abducted not far from Luz about 4 months or so before Madeleine went missing. This seemed so similar it was surely relevant, but what actually happened in the Carolina Santos case?
There are 3 main variations of this tale, so let me start with a one line summary of each.
Portuguese media reported that a threat to steal a 3-year old girl had been made on 22 May 2007, and this had been investigated by the police.
UK media reported that the girl had nearly been abducted on Christmas Day 2006, and that the police had stated no crime had occurred so they would not investigate.
Portuguese media reported that the girl had been nearly abducted on Christmas Day 2006, and that a threat to steal the girl had been made by a second individual on 22 May 2007.
The odd thing about these three variations is that they all date to 25 May 2007, so what was going on?
Diário de Notícias was the Portuguese source which reported the threat on 25 May 2007. A link to the original article in http://gazetadigitalmadeleinecase.blogspot.pt/2007/12/sun-produces-another-fake-report.html no longer works. DN has code in its site that blocks search engines and the Wayback Machine. So the following relies on the integrity of gazetadigital.
Diário de Notícias, May 25, 2007 : Moroccan man threats (Secondary headline from a main story about the McCann first TV interview)
“A 30 year-old man, from Morocco, threatened to kidnap the three-year-old daughter of a woman who rents a coffee shop at Fonte de Luzeiros, between Silves and São Bartolomeu de Messines.”
“The mother told DN that the kidnap threat was made last Tuesday (22 May 2007), by the man “who no-one knows what he does for a living”, after provoking a disturbance at the café Falcão, when he was clearly drunk. ‘I will kidnap your daughter’, the man told Lina Carreira who, at the time, was holding her daughter close to her.”
“Lina Carreira filed a complaint with the GNR from Silves, the next day, and was contacted yesterday by investigators from Polícia Judiciária, to whom she told what happened.”
“Talking with local residents, DN found that the man in question is a street seller and a well known trouble maker.”
So, about 3 weeks after Madeleine disappeared, a drunk appears to be making a threat based on the Madeleine McCann case.
Carolina Santos does not appear in the PJ Files. Lina Carreira does not appear in the PJ files. If the DN story is correct, there is no reason why they should.
But notice also that Carolina Santos is not mentioned in the DN report, if gazetadigital has covered this in full. The girl is simply referred to as the daughter of Lina Carreira.
Correio da Manha, May 25, 2007 : Moroccan threatens to kidnap girl
In this version, the café is in Fonte De Louzeiros, and the threat is made near to it, following an incident in the shop itself.
The girl is not named, but is described as 4 years old, blonde, with blue eyes, similar to Madeleine.
This time the mother relates a second part, which occurred on 25 Dec 2006, involving the same girl. A Moroccan man called the girl to get her next to a car, promising the girl a doll. Inside the car were two more people, with the door open and ready to take off. The mother yelled to the daughter, causing her to turn round.
Both incidents were reported to the police, and CdM knows the GNR has identified the man, but the PJ has yet to carry out an investigation in the area. The man is described as a strange person, and no-one knows where he lives or works.
Although the CdM report does not make it clear whether there is one man in both incidents or two different men men, the latter part ties up with the street seller in the DN version.
The Times May 25, 2007: Parents vent frustration at ‘slow’ search for Madeleine
David Brown, and Steve Bird in Praia da Luz
… (the main story about the slow pace) …
It emerged yesterday that Portuguese police are now investigating an attempted abduction last December by a Moroccan man of a girl with a passing resemblance to Madeleine. Carolina Santos, 3, was led away from the front of her parents’ café in Fonte de Louseiron, 30 miles from Praia da Luz, on Christmas Day. Her mother, Lina, 28, said: “I searched, and saw her some way away on the road with a man I took to be Moroccan. We started towards them, shouting, and Carolina stopped and turned towards us. He disappeared around the bend.”
Mrs Santos reported the incident to police but was told they could not make a formal complaint as no crime had been committed.
Note that in another report, a police spokesman said attempted abduction definitely was a crime and would have been investigated.
So by 25 May 2007, the Times had the Christmas attempted abduction story, but not the second person making a threat on 22 May 2007. The version related here has no car, no additional two men, and is slightly inaccurate re the place name. However, it does name the child as Carolina Santos.
The Sun, Dec 5, 2007: Hunt for copy-cat snatcher
“THE parents of a Madeleine McCann lookalike who was the victim of a kidnap bid are to be quizzed by private detectives.”
“Blue-eyed blonde Carolina Santos, three, was snatched by a Moroccan-looking man four months before Maddie vanished. Carolina’s parents Abel and Lina were working in their cafe at Fonte Louzeiros when Carolina vanished last Christmas Day. They spotted her with the stranger 300 yards away. When they caught up he fled. Lina said: “If we hadn’t come out at that moment I don’t know what would have happened.”
“Carolina’s parents Abel and Lina offered to help cops two weeks after Maddie, four, disappeared but were never questioned.”
“Lina Carreira filed a complaint with GNR from Silves, the next day, and was contacted yesterday by investigators from Polícia Judiciária, to whom she told what happened.”
“It is feared Maddie may have been snatched to order and taken to Morocco. Metodo 3 said: ‘This could be relevant.”
There is no mention of the 22 May threat. This man is alone and walking, and 300 yards distant from the couple when spotted. In this version, both the GNR and PJ have been involved.
Here is the photograph the Sun used to illustrate 3 year old, blue-eyed, blonde-haired Carolina Santos.
Make up your own mind if this child can be described as blonde. Some reports describe her instead as brown-haired.
You can also visit the café, the Falcão.(the falcon). It is in Fonte de Louzeiros, with a z Google does not find it if you use a z, but Google Maps does find Fonte de Louseiros, with or without the ‘de’ and puts a pin exactly where the café is. It is now in white, without O Falcão on the front, but if you go back to the 2009 version, it looked like this.
You may wish to wander through Fonte de Louzeiros to see if you can make any of these versions sound plausible. It should not take long as the place is tiny.
My personal conclusion is that the Christmas 2006 attempted abduction did not take place, so Carolina Santos is not on my list of potentially related incidents.