Madeleine – septic tanks

My task one day had been finding out about the difference between a cesspit and a septic tank. The simplest answer seems to be that a cesspit is closed (it is just a big tank in the ground) but a septic tank is open (everything goes in, solids are trapped, liquids come out again). Both have to be drained.

Here is a photo of the land near our septic tank in Portelas.

Everything around it is the colour of straw, for the simple reason that it is straw. The house was empty for years and the grass grew to waist height. One of the local worthies got an industrial mower onto 3 neighbouring plots, including ours, and baled the crop as winter feed for GNR horses. The straw is what was left. It has not rained in many months so the grass is not re-growing.

The green circle of green grass in the photo is, I assume, where the fluid is allowed to drain from the tank. The grass looks healthy enough, despite the fact that the fluid contains liberal doses of bleach and clothes washing liquid. Maybe the large number of showers is diluting it enough to stop this from being a problem.

To empty the tank of solid waste, there should normally be a manhole cover, with vehicular access for a waste lorry. We appear to have neither of those. At the moment, it appears our tank was installed by a neighbour, but the work has not been completed. It requires a further €6,000 to install a pump. Presumably the pump is needed to pump solid waste from the tank to a mains sewage system, removing the need for a manhole cover and vehicular access.

But the norm would be a manhole cover, used for removal of solid waste.

What does this have to do with Madeleine McCann? As far as I can see, it reduces the likelihood of body disposal via a septic tank or cesspit. I know there was at least one case in the UK in which the body of a murdered woman was put into a cesspit. The police failed to find anything during a search of the property, until a neighbour told them there was a cesspit under the garage. The corpse had not dissolved, and presumably, the cesspit had not been drained since her death.

Whilst the cesspit/septic tank route would be available to a local with knowledge of such and the ability to lift up a manhole cover, it is not a viable body disposal or body concealment option for the McCanns or other members of the Tapas 9.

Advertisements

Madeleine – CMTV O Enigma

CMTV’s 10 year special, O Enigma, aired on 1 May 2017, and to be honest, I did not gain much from it at all.

The format was basically a day in Luz speaking to Gonçalo Amaral with two presenters. While it covered a great deal of ground, it had little depth. And it trotted out a lot of unsubstantiated claims.

It did have a drone camera with some nice aerial pics, but I would say that BBC’s Panorama won the battle of the drones.

The programme took a fairly loaded Portuguese view, but that is roughly what I would have expected, given that the target audience was Portuguese.

Gonçalo Amaral pointed out a number of inconsistencies and changes in early statements by the Tapas 9.

The Tannerman and Smithman sightings were touched on, but again with little detail.

The programme moved on to Calpol. It was incorrectly described.

Then O Enigma moved to events of the night before swiftly moving to Eddie and Keela, and dog alerts. Two pieces of Kate’s clothing, two pieces of Madeleine’s clothing, Cuddle Cat, the key fob, the boot.

Then, was there a frozen body? Was there a chilled body? Whoever believes this bumph does not understand the basics of decomposition. Animal and fish products are gutted to remove the bacteria that would rot the carcass.

The programme then rambled, over a mysterious apartment near the cemetery, a supposed rogatory that does not appear in the PJ Files, and back to Calpol.

O Enigma moved onto the McCanns suing Amaral, and Amaral winning.

There was quite a long section about the coffin in the church with an English lady about to be cremated. There are details in this that I had not heard before, but none of them stack up.

Perhaps the oddest thing was close to the end. Gonçalo Amaral said he should have remained in the PJ while writing his book. Personally, I think he would have got shredded by the Portuguese judges if he had done that.

Madeleine v the double buggy

In the Crimewatch of Oct 2013, the reconstruction shows the McCanns, all played by actors and actresses, in an early trip around the Ocean Club soon after arriving in Luz. ‘Gerry’ is pushing a double buggy containing the ‘twins’, ‘Kate’ is walking in front with an inflated pool ring (which appears to be adult sized) and ‘Madeleine’ is romping out ahead.

I cannot get a clear photo of the Crimewatch double buggy as ‘Kate’ is always obscuring it. This is the best I can do.

20131013-crimewatch-double-buggy

The double buggy is one of the numerous errors in Crimewatch. The McCanns did not take any kind of a buggy with them.

From Kate’s book ‘madeleine’, about their first afternoon/evening in Luz

Afterwards we strolled over to the Millennium restaurant for dinner. … The restaurant turned out to be nearly half a mile away from our base – a bit too far, really, certainly for a gaggle of weary toddlers. As we were only going to be away for a week, we’d decided not to bring Sean and Amelie’s double buggy with us, preferring to travel light. … So there were many stops and negotiations about whose turn it was to be carried by whom.”

Their family beach trip was on Tuesday, 1 May 2007.

In the afternoon Gerry and I decided to take the children down to the beach. … We borrowed a double buggy from Mark Warner to make the walk easier for Sean and Amelie.”

Since Crimewatch didn’t think the double buggy was important, I have no reason to think that they would have checked on the make or model of the double buggy used by the McCanns in the UK.

The double buggy in Crimewatch appears to me to be a relatively lightweight one, though it is hard to tell. By comparison, the McCanns’ UK double buggy looks to be a substantial beast. Here it is in Oct 2007.

20071017-katemccann-double-buggy

Without any sort of buggy capacity, the walk from apartment 5A to and from the Millennium would indeed be a mighty effort. Simply carrying the twins is not the complete answer, due to traffic flow. While Baptista was open (8.30am to 8pm), Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva beside 5A is an important entry to and exit from the supermarket. Jenny Murat describes a near miss as she was returning from buying some bread close to the shop’s closing time.

The fact that Rua Direita is one way (west to east) also affects traffic flow on the major part of the route between apartment 5A and the Millennium. Traffic coming from Lagos on the M537 is forced to turn north at the entry junction to Luz, in order to avoid Rua Direita. Then a 90° curve at the Mirage puts this stream of traffic smack-dab on the McCann route along Rua do Ramalhete.  Here is the McCann journey.

5a-to-millennium

Nearly all of the traffic coming from Lagos gets shunted onto this road. That includes the Lagos to Burgau bus route. (The Burgau to Lagos route is able to travel along Rua Direita.)

From the time that the buses start or Baptista opens to the time that both shut down the route requires control over young children. Assuming Gerry carried one of the twins and Kate carried one of the others, it still required a hand free to make sure Madeleine stayed on the pavement.

According to Vitor dos Santos, the Head of Accommodation at the Ocean Club, who booked-in the Tapas 9 –

For dinner the guests could choose between two options, the Tapas and the Millennium and although the meals are identical, the clients choose the restaurant according to its proximity to their accommodation.

In this case in concrete, the rational choice for dinner would be the Tapas restaurant as it is 100 metres distance from the apartment, whilst the Millennium is situated 600 metres away.”

The diagram above measures the distance from 5A to the Millennium. Senhor dos Santos makes it 600 metres. I make it 650m, which is just above what Senhor dos Santos thinks and a little below what Kate says.

I don’t think a small difference is significant. With or without a buggy, apartment 5A to the Millennium is not a pleasant route nor is it an easy trek. I have been informed by a reliable source that the other 3 families in the T9 group brought buggies. I don’t know what they all did for breakfast. But in the evening they preferred the Tapas restaurant over the Millennium.

And so Madeleine, and all the other children of the T9, would be spending their evenings in block 5 whilst the parents dined nearby.

Madeleine – gold flakes and nuggets

In the story of Madeleine McCann, there are shiny gold flakes and dull nuggets. The flakes are the tiny, tiny slivers of gold that turn up fairly frequently. Miniscule pieces of information that move forward our knowledge of what happened to Madeleine McCann by millimetres at best.

The nuggets, the breakthrough information, are tougher to find, and much less frequent than the grains of gold. They do turn up occasionally, maybe once in every 6 to 12 months.

This little story is a grain of gold that glimmered in the sunlight. To be honest, the weather was very wet in Luz at the time, but even when it is grey and raining it can still be ShiningInLuz.

The occasion was a simple morning meeting for coffee, a date which had been put off for some 3 years now.

In amongst the chat, the topic of Madeleine McCann surfaced. The locals in Luz area are not averse to gossiping about the case. They just don’t wish to speak to the media about their chatter, and mainly prefer to remain anonymous regarding the topic, which I am going to respect. The dreaded ‘unnamed source’.

So here is the tiny tale of one person from Luz 3 May 2007, a person who does not wish to speak to the media. A miniscule grain of gold from an unnamed source.

The venue in question from 3 May 2007 was Boozey Suzey’s. This was a small bar in the commercial centre, perhaps 150 to 200m down the road from apartment 5A, past Baptista. The hostelry has long since disappeared. As yet, I haven’t identified its precise location.

Here is a photo of Boozey Suzey’s from around that time.

boozey-soozey

Based on information gleaned from opening hours and opening days, I was of the opinion that Boozey Suzey’s was probably open at the time Madeleine disappeared. Due to a coffee morning gossip in Burgau, I am now quite confident it was one of the venues that definitely was open at 10pm on 3 May 2007.

This is not earth shattering news. It simply tells us that in the near vicinity of apartment 5A, there was a small pub that was open on the night Madeleine disappeared.

The commercial centre was/is like a rabbit warren, and you could/can get into it by numerous ways, several of which do not take you past apartment 5A.

Further, I have no idea how busy Boozey Suzey’s was that night, so I cannot estimate either pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

What I have now learned is that the bar steward locked up the bar at 11.30pm that night. This should of course have been in the midst of the searching for Madeleine, and starting from a location very close to apartment 5A.

This little sliver may lead to a nugget. The nugget is a clear and correct understanding of general activity in Luz around the time when Madeleine disappeared.

Of course, there has to be a fly in the ointment. My source in question is of the opinion that Kate went running on the morning of 4 May 2007. This is a commonly held viewpoint, as far as I know, within the citizenry of Luz and it explains a lot of the hostility here to Kate and Gerry.

I hold the opinion that early on the morning of 4 May 2007, Kate, Gerry and others from the Tapas 9 were whisked to Portimão to conduct their first interviews. The running up the hill would come later.

Madeleine – Luz weather station 12.37

I discussed whether there was a weather station in Luz with my last tour visitor. The data being presented in support of this idea can be shown to come from the Faro weather station, while there is a weather station much closer to Luz in Sagres. Paulo Rebelo requested the local weather for 3 and 4 May 2007, but when the weather forecasters asked for around €300 for this data, he seems to have declined to take it further.

This November 2016 I decided to try a little experiment. I decided to record the local weather in Luz each day at 12.37. I am recording the temperature (in the shade), the degree of cloud cover, the wind direction and strength. There have been successes and what I can best describe as opportunities to learn.

Lest anyone should think I have lost my marbles, please remember the role that weather plays in the disappearance of Madeleine.

There is the weather experienced by the Tapas 9 and others on that fateful evening of 3 May 2007. There is the question of Tannerman carrying a child without using a blanket. That is followed by Kate’s whooshing curtains and clunking door. And around the same time there is Smithman, also with a child without a blanket.

If you are curious as to where the 12.37 comes in, here is the explanation. Portugal is in exactly the same time zone as the UK. When UK clocks went back in late October, so did Portuguese clocks, to maintain synchronicity. At Greenwich, the sun is overhead and due south at 12 noon. But Luz is further west than Greenwich, and the Earth has to rotate for a further 37 minutes, until it is due south here at 12.37. I can then use the sun as a compass when I am trying to work out wind direction.

It is time to look at what I have learned from this little experiment.

First, trying to remember that 12.37 is approaching and I need to take the readings is not a robust system. I have had ‘wobble factors’ of an hour and a half.

Second, buildings are a major source of interference in working out wind direction. If I stand near our villa, I get how the wind is being channelled rather than the true wind direction. Were Kate’s curtains/door from channelled wind?

Third, a once a day reading is well nigh useless. At 12.38 today, I recorded 90% sun. Within about an hour it clouded over considerably, and now at 16.00 it is 100% overcast and raining. I have been using the video of the McCanns being taken by car for interview #1 on the morning of 4 May as an indicator of the weather the evening before, but my experiment has proved how dangerous this is.

In the same vein, anyone promoting data that does not come from a proper, automated data gathering weather station is promoting rubbish. I might as well keep a diary and rely on my memory of how the day went. I got a lot of vitamin D on my trip to Spar this morning, and I’m glad I chose to go then, because if I was out in it now, I’d be wet, cold and miserable.

Fourth, I have learned that nature can help. My chosen spot away from the house has a couple of clumps of bulrushes. Compared with wetting my finger and doing a 360° turn the bulrushes are much better at telling me the wind direction.

It may that when we move I will buy an automated weather station, given that I now understand the basics of weather monitoring, and the futility of manual checks. Goodness only knows we will have a huge expanse of garden on which we are permitted to do very little. I don’t think I need permission for a small weather station.

Madeleine – Operation Grange update

I have just sent information that I believe to be pertinent to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann to Operation Grange.

I happen to think it is the most likely explanation for the incident, but I am mindful that others who have studied the case have proposed alternatives as to the probable scenario.

I cannot prove this theorem. Operation Grange has access to information that can disprove the theorem, and for all I know, it has been discounted already. Information in the public domain suggests it is not a line of active enquiry by Operation Grange.

I am not in a position to expound this theorem in public. There is still an active investigation ongoing, which I would not wish to derail. And since it is impossible for me to prove the theorem, if I were to explain it, I would very definitely be open to a charge of defamation, though I doubt my blog is read by those involved in my line of thought.

I will simply say that the theorem does not involve any criminality on the part of the Tapas 9 in general, or the McCanns in particular.

And I will add that I did not reach this theorem by excluding the Tapas 9 from my remit. All options were considered. It is simply that the evidence led to the potential solution.

I have made no attempt to communicate this theorem to the McCanns, to the rest of the Tapas 9, or to the media. To do so would potentially influence a live investigation, would leave me open to a charge of defamation, and none of these principals has the capability of testing my explanation in a simple manner.

I have made no attempt to communicate this information to the PJ. The PJ does have the ability to check out my theorem, but the most likely development is that the PJ might forward the information to Operation Grange, as the idea does not seem to fit the Portuguese investigation. And with that route I run the risk of a defamation action, plus publication of my personal details if/when the case is archived.

What will happen if both the OG investigation and the PJ investigation get shelved? Will the McCanns empower a further PI team?

I have not followed the McCanns v Amaral trial, on the basis that I was unlikely to find out anything significant about Madeleine’s disappearance that is not already in the public domain. However, my guest on Luz Tour 4 is knowledgeable about the process, and is of the opinion that judgement against the McCanns would empty the coffers. The figures and calculation method were explained to me, and it would appear to be a mortal blow to further searching.

However, if a further PI team is employed and if it is possible to communicate with them, I will pass on the theorem and the supporting evidence to them. And if they are interested, it would be a case of trying to come up with a different way of skinning this particular cat.

This date should be easily memorable in future. It is the day that we get Clinton or Trump.

Guess what! The weather has turned noticeably cooler in November, but everything is relative. It is 22°C in the shade and of course it is Shining In Luz.

Madeleine – Luz Tour 4 results

Luz Tour #4 has now been completed, with very mixed results, due to the variable weather.

On the first day, my guest wanted to spend the time with a friend, at a market in a town several miles north of Luz. This was a wise choice as the weather turned out to be particularly good that day.

The following day the weather forecast was 92% chance of rain, and I pulled out of a Luz Tour on the basis that when it rains here, it is not gentle rain as per the UK. The norm is as close to a monsoon as Europe gets. As it turned out, the weather forecast was basically wrong, and it was a fine, bright day, only turning to rain after dusk.

On the next day, the forecast was again strongly predicting rain, but after the good weather of the day gone by, I decided to risk it. And of course, that was a mistake. It started to monsoon it down, and on a very short walk from my car to my guest’s accommodation in Burgau, I got completely drenched. I tried towelling some of the water off, but basically my clothes were still wet through.

As the storm was continuing, we decided to call off our planned trip to Lagos, and instead headed across the road in Burgau to the nearest café for a coffee and a pastel de nata (custard tart). And there we sat outside but sheltered, as the rain slowly lightened up.

We were talking for close on 3 hours, with less than an hour on the Madeleine McCann case and the rest on other topics. As per usual with interesting conversation, I lost track of what was happening to me until I reached the stage I was so cold I could not stop my teeth chattering. When I got home I put on dry clothes and a warm winter fleece, but it took over an hour and a hot meal before I reached something close to normal temperature.

The following day the weather improved, but my guest wanted to spend some time with a friend during the day, then meet up with acquaintances in Lagos in the evening.

That left the final day before my guest departed and we decided if it was to be a Luz Tour, then we would tour Luz.

We started off at the top end (the NW end) of Rua Vinte Cinco de Abril to check out a couple of reasons why the June 2014 Operation Grange dig of the mound made little sense. Then we strolled closer to the centre of Luz, to pass some of the STOP signs that had been graffitied in July 2014 to read STOP mccann circus. All of the signs we saw have now had the graffiti painted over, to simply read STOP.

My guest had not eaten breakfast and was feeling peckish. Luz has a wide choice of cafés and restaurants, but most are intended for tourists and charge tourist prices. I had a bit of a think as to where we could get something more typically Portuguese, and we headed to LuzTur, where the choice was Dom Doce at the entrance or Polly’s a little farther in. Polly’s was a little less exposed so we sat outside that and had a chat about the Madeleine McCann incident in pleasant sunshine.

LuzTur features in the case as it was where one of the 4 people made arguidos in July 2014 was living at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance in 2007. I have visited LuzTur on a previous tour, to see if it could be used as a control point in a planned exercise against apartment 5A. You can get a good view of the Tapas zone, the sole entrance to the zone, and the rear of block 5. However, the Tapas restaurant has a solid south wall which would block all observation of the Tapas 9 at their dinner table. You would only see parents checking once they had exited the Tapas restaurant, giving little time for communication and action. It is only my opinion, but there were much better places to observe the Tapas 9 and control any planned raid on apartment 5A, so I doubt LuzTur was used.

My guest and I headed out towards Baptista past the probable site of the missing manhole cover, then up to the Ocean Club to check out a couple of points to do with the statement of Neil Berry.

We headed back to the centre of Luz, which is when we saw the tuk tuk on its tour of Luz, near the church and the ice cream factory. As I said, I did not have a camera with me, but my guest got several photos of the tourist ensemble.

Time was now running out and my guest wanted to check on an idea suggested by a friend. So we headed past the Bull, Kelly’s and Fernando’s to get to just south of the Smith sighting. Assuming Smithman did not head to the beach but instead went down the steps Aoife Smith had just come up, we checked out the route west along Rua das Salgadeiras, then south down Travessa das Fontainhas to get to the rocks beside the sea where the fishermen keep their small boats.

On a bench in the small square on the front a young Portuguese woman was enjoying the pleasant weather and the tranquillity. Beside her, she had a double buggy with very young twin babies, who were taking advantage of the warmth and quiet to have a nap.

My guest and I headed to the boats. Most were keel up to keep out the rain. A couple had not bothered with this, and contained many gallons of water from the two rainy days earlier that week.

However, the thing that really surprised me was a security aspect. I had assumed the boats were secured by the simple device of removing the oars, and in most cases this was true. But at least two had the oars inside the boat, meaning anyone could use them.

Mark Harrison concluded that if Madeleine was dead, one method of body disposal was via the sea. I had never thought much of this, given the incoming tide that night and the need to get far out to sea, but now a viable transport mechanism was in front of us.

To use this method, a person would need to know the boats were kept there, have access to oars, and have the time to row out a considerable distance before returning.

The evidence of the Tapas 9 about what happened that night rules Gerry out as Smithman. Whilst this method might have been used by Smithman for body disposal, the operational characteristics further rule out Gerry.

It was now time to return to my guest’s base in Burgau, leaving ample time to prepare for the long, arduous journey home.

Luz Tour 4 was over.