Madeleine McCann's Mother Suspect
CNN Newsroom - September 7, 2007
TH : You would have been surprised -- Jon, you would have been surprised if the authorities hadn't looked at the parents, wouldn't you ?
JC : It makes -- I can't explain it. It makes no sense. It makes no sense.
TH : Do you or do you not..
NANCY GRACE - Parents Named as Suspects in Portugal
Nancy Grace : Breaking news tonight. A beautiful 3-year-old (SIC) little girl snatched during a luxury resort TOUJOURS LUXE, 4 MOIS PLUS TARD vacation while her parents party 100 yards away at a dinner party. Tonight, stunning evidence emerges. After a global campaign to find baby Maddy, millions of dollars raised for reward money, even a private meeting with the pope in Rome, in the last hours, police name Maddy`s own mother a suspect. And just minutes ago, the father also named, the police claim the baby`s blood discovered in the car rented by Maddy`s family a full 25 days after Maddy is reported kidnapped. Police hone in on Maddy`s parents, conducting nearly 20 hours of intense questioning. Is a plea deal on the table? Are police pressing Maddy`s parents to confess?
Voix off (F) : Gerry McCann, the father of Madeleine McCann, is now a formal suspect in the disappearance of his daughter. That's along with his wife, Kate McCann. We heard of the news that Kate was a formal suspect in this case earlier on, on Friday. But a short time ago, her husband emerged after hours of questioning in the local police station in Portimão, and it emerged then in a statement that he, too, is now a formal suspect in the disappearance of their 4-year-old daughter, Madeleine, who went missing on the 3rd of May and has not been seen since.
GRACE: Good evening. I'm Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. First, breaking news, a 3-year-old girl reportedly snatched from a luxury resort vacation, tonight police name baby Maddy's mom and dad, as we go to air, suspects. (1)
Voix off (F) : Portuguese police on this day formally announcing that the two parents are now suspects, formal suspects in the disappearance of their daughter.
Voix off (F) : A family member says Madeleine McCann`s mom may have been offered a plea deal in return for admitting she killed her own daughter.
Voix off (F) : ... tried to get Kate to confess to having accidentally killed Madeleine by offering her a deal through her lawyer, which was, If you say that you killed Madeleine by accident and then hid her and then disposed of the body, then we can guarantee you a two-year jail sentence or even less. You may get off because people feel sorry for you it was an accident.
Voix off (F) : Madeleine, of course, vanished during a family vacation in Portugal. It`s been four months now since that happened. The apparent new break in the case comes after Madeleine`s blood in a car that her parents rented 25 days after the little girl was reported missing.
NG : Let's go straight out to Portimão, Portugal. Joining us tonight, Paula Hancocks, CNN correspondent. As we go to air, we learn the father now joins his wife as a police suspect in the disappearance of baby Maddy. Paula, thank you for being with us. What's the latest?
Paula Hancocks : Well, yes, just in the last half hour or so, we heard that Gerry was going to join his wife, Kate, as chief suspects. And it really just shows exactly what can happen in a day so much. Twenty-four hours ago, these were two parents who had lost their daughter, they thought. They had the sympathy of millions. They had millions of dollars coming into a fund. They had a Web site with blogs. They were meeting the pope. And now, just 24 hours later, the Portuguese police have decided that they are two formal suspects. Now, they can't leave the country. They have to come back and talk to the police on a number of occasions now. And it`s just amazing what can change in 24 hours in a case like this. (2)
NG : Paula, it really is. Now, if this were any other police force, I'd be down with it. But remember, they also named Robert Murat a suspect, questioned him for hours upon hours upon hours. Remember, he lived nearby that luxury resort where baby Maddy was stolen. Now we have't heard another word about him. And now they say they found blood in the car 25 days after baby Maddy went missing ? What has led up to this twist, this bizarre twist tonight, Paula?
PH : Well, (inaudible) Nancy, we're not actually hearing that much from the Portuguese police. All of this is second hand from the McCann family, spokesperson for the McCann family lawyers. They're saying that, yes, they did find these traces of blood 24 hours -- 24 days after -- this car was actually rented 24 -- 25 days after the disappearance. And this is just very confusing for everybody. People are speculating on what that could mean. The Portuguese media has certainly cooled towards the McCanns over the past couple of months, so they're speculating more than most. But even the British media, which is known for being quite rampant in taking no -- pulling no punches, that's started to also question what exactly happened that night.
NG : Well, another issue -- out to Jon Leiberman with "America`s Most Wanted." Didn't police -- wasn't it leaked at some juncture that baby Maddy`s blood had been found inside that luxury condo they were renting ? Everyone, the reason this is happening in Portugal is because the parents had taken baby Maddy and her two little twin siblings on a luxury vacation there in Portugal, and baby Maddy allegedly went missing. The parents were about 100 yards away, the size of a football field, having a dinner party, leaving their three children alone back in this luxury condo. (3) Jon Leiberman, whatever happened to the theory that was leaked that baby Maddy`s blood was in that condo? Right or wrong?
Jon Leiberman : Well, police say that they did find blood inside of that condo. They tell us tonight that they do have DNA back, but they won't tell us if that DNA is Maddy's blood inside of the apartment. My problem with it, Nancy, is the Portuguese police have bungled this thing from the beginning. They didn't even find that blood until two-and- a-half months after Madeleine went missing. They didn't know that there had been a rash of break-ins in villas around where Madeleine went missing for three months after she went missing. And they didn't question hardly any potential witnesses or people that lived around that area for days and days after Madeleine went missing. So why should we now believe the Portuguese police ? If they had the goods on Gerry and Kate, then why not charge them with the crime ? (4)
NG : I want to go to an esteemed expert in his field. You all know Dr. Joshua Perper, medical examiner and author. Dr. Perper, yes, it has taken police a long time to find this evidence, if the evidence is accurate. But blood on a wall or on the interior of a car doesn't just disappear in time, it can be found years later and still reveal accurate DNA results. Yes or no?
Joshua Perper : Yes. Yes. You can make this kind of analysis months and sometimes years, unless the area is cleaned or wiped.
NG : So back to Paula Hancocks, CNN correspondent covering the story. She's there, joining us at Portimão, Portugal. Paula, we have alleged blood from baby Maddy in the condo. Police didn't claim the parents were suspects then. It seems as if this is all turned on finding blood in that rental car. Tell me what you know about this rental car ? And how many hours have the mom and dad been under questioning by Portuguese police ?
PH : Well, your second question first, Nancy -- 11 yesterday for Kate McCann, another 5 hours today. And for her husband, he`s been spending about 8 hours before he came out and had to let his lawyer admit that he is now a proper suspect, as opposed to just a witness.
The fact is, this all happened about 48 hours ago, a little bit more than that, when we got some DNA results from that condo from the British laboratory. And there was something in that -- they`re not telling us what, but there must have been something in that made the Portuguese think, We want to interview both Kate and Gerry, but we don`t want to interview them together, we`ll interview them separately. And at the end of both those interviews, they then say that they are suspects. So there`s something within those DNA results. That`s the speculation here.
NG : To Bill Majeski, former NYPD detective. He`s with the Safenowproject. Bill, welcome to the show. Thank you for being with us. It is not unusual at all -- in fact, it`s SOP, standard operating procedure -- to split up the parents and question them separately, is it not.
NG : I want to go out to the lawyers. Let's unleash them. Joining us, Susan Moss out of New York, Daniel Horowitz, defense attorney out of San Francisco, Renee Rockwell, defense attorney out of Atlanta. Here's the kicker, Daniel Horowitz. Being named a suspect in Portugal is not the same thing as being named a suspect here in the U.S. Explain.
Daniel Horowitz : Well, Nancy, a lot of these foreign jurisdictions, foreign to us, have an investigative type of system. Just like with the Natalee Holloway case, they arrest people, hold them. They have judges supervising what goes on. And they really grill suspects much more vigorously than we do. But on the other hand, they do not have the forensics or the professionalism of U.S. police forces. (5)
NG : And that brings up an interesting point. And I want to go to a guest before I go to the other lawyers, Susan and Renee. Joining us now is Philomena "Phil" McCann. This is Madeleine McCann's aunt. Philomena, thank you for being with us. Maddy went missing on May the 3rd, and today, almost five months later, they -- police find that they have found blood evidence. Why five months later ? Do you find that unusual, Philomena ?
Philomena McCann : Well, I find it incredible, actually. They're not actually saying it's blood, they're saying it's bloody fluid.
NG : Oh, inside the car?
PMC : Uh-huh.
NG : Bodily fluids inside the car. Philomena, do you believe that it's true that police are trying to get a plea deal out of baby Maddy's mother in exchange for a confession of some sort ?
PMC : Yes. Kate told me that was the case. (6)
NG : And what is her response?
PMC : Well, it's actually unsayable, but in effect, she told them to get stuffed. (7)
NG : Ms. McCann is with us. This is Maddy McCann`s aunt. She's joining us by phone from Scotland. Philomena, she must have been shocked when police named her as a suspect.
PMC : Well, in some ways, she was, but she knew in advance before she went because they were informed on Monday night in the house. The police had sent someone out to speak to them to advise them of this and to make them aware of their rights, that their change in status would allow them to have legal representation and that they could now refuse to answer questions in case they would incriminate themselves.
NG : Yes. With us is baby Maddy's aunt, Philomena McCann. Do they have lawyers with them, Philomena?
PMC : They have a lawyer. They have a Portuguese lawyer with them.
NG : Are they answering the questions ? I understand Portuguese police told them they had 22 questions that they wanted to ask them. I don't know, 11 is a long time for 22 questions. But are they answering the questions ?
'PMC : As far as I'm aware (inaudible) Gerry (inaudible) tried in every aspect to accommodate the police and be helpful. Kate said that she just, you know, made (inaudible) because she felt the questions were (inaudible)
Pat Brown : Well, obviously, there's something there. I mean, this -- all the things the police are doing now, admittedly, they should have done right up front. They should have separated the parents in the beginning, along with their friends, got the different stories, got their alibis, got their timeline to make sure that there was nothing strange or that there wasn't time for them to do something and move Madeleine's body by putting her in the boot of the car and then later on taking her someplace. They should have done that right then. But they maybe didn't because they didn't suspect them.
I can't blame them for doing it now, if they've found evidence. And if they have found evidence in that rental car, that's a hard thing to explain away. And I believe that they only went there because they got some other information that was very concerning, as well.
NG : Pat Brown, what do you believe the police theory is ?
BROWN: Well, my guess is they believe something happened earlier that evening, before they met and -- something tragic. Either the child was overdosed with some kind of medication because they wanted the children to sleep so they could go party. And then maybe they put the child in the boot of the car while they went and played sort of, Hi, hey, we're here and everything's OK, and then they went back to check and -- the police wouldn't even look in the boot of their car if they're looking for a stranger abduction.
So then later on, at some point in time when they're not being watched, the child could be moved. Dad could say, Hey, I got to go search for my child. He could jump in the car, take off for hours and no one would pay attention to that, come back, and then they move on. I think that might be the theory. I don't know that, but that's what I`m guessing.
NG : Out to the lines. Dana in Illinois. Hi, Dana.
Dana : Hi, Nancy. Thanks for taking my call.
NG : Yes, ma`am.
Dana : I am just wondering, if -- this is very premature, but if they are taken to trial and found guilty, can they be -- the parents be held accountable for all of the money that has been spent on the search ?
NG : I would say definitely so, but let's go to Larry Sutton, editor at "People" magazine. Larry, they have raised tons of money and reward money, haven't they?
Larry Sutton : Indeed, they have. But the good news, if there is good news here, is a lot of that money is going to broader agencies that are looking for missing children everywhere. It wasn't totally focused on just this one little girl. (8)
NG : Larry, were you surprised when you heard the mom and now the dad named as suspects?
LS : Well, I was surprised when I heard the mom, but I figured the dad was going to come 15 minutes after that because you can't have one without the other. Yes, it is suspicious. It is surprising. But you know, there were no other suspects. And look at the -- who the police interviewed when the case first started back in May, and they went through everyone. And these were possibly the last people left they could talk to. So not all that surprising, in that sense.
Susan Moss : It's like JonBenet Ramsey, but without the make-up. If there is a substantial amount of blood or other bodily fluids, then yes, she's in real trouble. But if there's only trace amounts, then not only is she not going to be convicted if taken to trial, but it will totally ruin the entire investigation and the true abductor will never be caught. (9)
NG : But if there are trace amounts of Maddy in that car 25 days later, that's incredibly damning !
LS : Unless it came from some other item from the apartment.
PMC : ... tried to get Kate to confess to having accidentally killed Madeleine by offering her a deal through her lawyer, which was, If you say that you killed Madeleine by accident and then hid her and then disposed of the body, then we can guarantee you a two-year jail sentence or even less. You may get off because people feel sorry for you it was an accident. (10)
NG : That is Maddy`s aunt, Philomena McCann, who is joining us tonight. As you know by now, breaking news in the baby Maddy search, both mother and father named suspects in the baby girl`s disappearance. Out to the lines. Theresa in Florida. Hi, Theresa. I think I`ve got Theresa. Are you with me?
Theresa : Yes.
NG : Hi, dear. What's your question?
Theresa : I just wanted to say one thing. God bless you on your children to be and...
NG : Thank you! Thank you so much!
Theresa : ... you. You`re my favorite person -- you`re my favorite person on TV. And I wanted to say...
NG : And they have been dancing and doing taebo all night long. I'd just like you to know that. OK. Go ahead, dear.
Theresa : OK. I wanted to say is, how do they know that this blood was not in that car before they rented that car? And you know, to me it's like speculation. It reminds me of the Holloway case.
PH : Well, to be honest, Nancy, if I could answer that, I think I'd be quite useful on the investigation team. I mean, it's not something you can -- you can really speculate on. The fact is, this has all come from the spokesman of the McCann family, saying that this is what the Portuguese police are saying to -- to this lady, to Kate McCann, saying that these fluids were definitely there. Now, of course, we can't physically see the evidence. The Portuguese police are not showing any of the media anything, so it's very difficult to answer that one. (11)
Voix off (M) : Now to Portugal and new developments in the disappearance of little Madeleine McCann, the British girl who vanished in May in Portugal. A family spokeswoman said her mother, Kate McCann, is now a suspect, though she's not been charged. Police say traces of the child's blood were found in the car the family rented 25 days after her disappearance. Portuguese authorities have not made any public statements yet on these new developments in Portugal.
NG : Breaking news tonight as we go to air, not only the mother but the father, as well, named as a suspect by Portuguese police, baby Maddy taken on a luxury vacation to Portugal by her parents, never seen again. Out to Paula Hancocks, CNN correspondent, joining us from Portugal. Will there be more questioning of the mother and father ? They've already logged about 20 hours of intense questioning by Portuguese police.
PH : Absolutely, Nancy, yes, there will definitely be more questioning. We don't know the timing of it, though, but certainly, we`re going to be seeing McCanns back here at this police station in this small town in southern Portugal. What they'll be asked is anybody's guess, but the fact is, now they are suspects, they do have the right to remain silent.
Voix off (F) : Kate McCann was questioned yesterday in Portimão. She was speaking to police officers there for some 11 hours. She emerged from that looking tired and drawn. She returned for further questioning today, Friday. And she had more questioning later on in the day. Her husband, Gerry, was called in to speak to authorities. At that point, as we understood it, according to a family spokeswoman, he was going in just to be questioned as a witness. But a short time ago, it emerged that now both Kate and Gerry are both formal suspects in the disappearance of their daughter.
NG : Breaking news tonight in the global search for a little girl snatched at a luxury resort during a vacation in Portugal. Out to the lines, Jolene in Florida. Hi, Jolene.
Jolene : Hi, Nancy, I love your show.
NG : Thank you for watching, dear.
Jolene : With all the crimes happening on these children, when parents or anybody is charged like that and they're actually being charged with the crime, can't they also be charged with filing false police reports, and interfering with an investigation, and improper disposal of the body, just rack the charges up on them to, you know, get these people what's just deserved to them ? (12)
NG : Jolene, when I was prosecuting, I always tried to get the judge to run sentence consecutively, because we all know people will parole out, and about half do, 70 percent of their jail time sentence.
Out to Renee Rockwell, a veteran criminal defense attorney. If these allegations turn out to be true -- and you've got to keep in mind that these are the Portugal police that have bungled the case so far. Look, I'll put it out there: They've bungled it so far. If these allegations are true, shouldn't the parents be held responsible for going on television, and crying, and acting like they had no knowledge of what was happening, raising all those millions of dollars of reward money ?
Renee Rockwell : Well, Nancy, but these are not people -- sure, they can be held responsible for wasting time and all that. But these are not people that are acting like suspects.
NG : No, they're not. (13)
RR : They have lawyers. They continue to answer questions, even though they're lawyered up. They're there. They could have left this country months ago, Nancy, but they're still there. It looks like there's just a police department that's trying to close a case, so they're going to point at the parents now. I don't buy it, and I'm behind these parents 100 percent.
NG : To Lillian Glass, Dr. Lillian Glass, psychologist and author, I've had a lot of cases where police looked at multiple suspects trying to solve a case before they finally cracked it. And you can't hold, for instance, that Robert Murat guy -- again, police, remember they questioned the neighbor because he was acting suspiciously to them ? They questioned, questioned, questioned, named him a suspect, and ultimately did not arrest him. You cannot hold it against police that they investigate more than one person before they crack a case.
Lillian Glass : No, absolutely. You're so right. And when you look at these people, either way, psychologically, your heart goes out to them, because if it was an accident, the mother is devastated. And just what she's going through right now, so from a human level, you can really feel what the parents must be going through.
NG : Back to Philomena "Phil" McCann. This is Baby Maddy's aunt. Ms. McCann, thank you for being with us. Have either parent agreed to take a polygraph ?
PMC : No one's asked them to take a polygraph. They have answered the questions and cooperated with the police fully in all of this. And, fundamentally, they're suspects. They're not charged with anything. And both Gerry and Kate are completely innocent of this heinous crime. And at this point, the Portuguese police are using this as a smokescreen to cover themselves, because they have made an absolute botch-up of the investigation. (
NG : You know, I want to go to Larry Sutton, editor with "People" magazine. I threw it out there that they have botched the case; that doesn't mean they can't recover. That doesn't mean they can't call a Hail Mary and save the day. But what do you perceive, Larry -- you've been covering this from the get-go -- as failures in their investigation ?
LS : It seems to be more of a trend. You might recall a case out in Chicago a couple months ago where the father killed the wife and the kids in the car. That was another case where they sort of let him go, they waited, they waited. And then a few weeks later, they brought in all the evidence and brought charges against the guy. This seems very similar to me. I think it's kind of a trend in the sense of...
NG : Take a look at your monitor, Larry. Take a look at this. Didn't check the video of vehicles leaving the resort, didn't check motorway cams, you know, like at toll booths and so forth. Didn't notify the border patrol until 15 hours later. Ignored tips... (14)
LS : They did not treat this as a monstrous case from day one, and they should have, yes.
NG : But, Larry, what do you make of this most recent development naming the mom, then the dad as suspects ? Remember, in Portugal, where this vacation took place, suspect doesn't -- or aguido and aguida -- does not mean the same thing as in the U.S.
LS : Actually, it's beneficial towards the people who are named as suspects, because from this point on, the police have to tell them every bit of evidence that they collect against them. So it helps them prepare for a trial should charges eventually be filed.
NG : You know, Jon Leiberman, with "America`s Most Wanted," remember, of course, with John Walsh and his wife when their son went missing, with Marc Klaas when his daughter, Polly, went missing. The first thing they did, they said, "Search my house, search my car, search me. I'll give you polygraph, I'll give you DNA, whatever you want. Would you advise the parents, Jon, at this juncture to go full steam ahead, give a polygraph, whatever they want so the police can continue looking for the killer ?
Jon Leiberman : Absolutely. I have no indication that they haven't been fully cooperative. In fact, Nancy, a McCann family member told me today that police told Kate that one reason why she was a suspect was that they found Maddy's DNA all over a bunch of her clothing and that the sniffer dogs were very "agitated" near Kate McCann. I mean, that is just the flimsiest... (15)
NG : Well, that doesn't mean anything, for a mother to have their child's DNA on her?
JL : No, it`s the flimsiest evidence I`ve ever heard.
NG : But the car, the car, Jon Leiberman, if this evidence about baby Maddy's DNA being in the car, a car rented 25 days after Maddy went missing, that's some hard evidence.
JL : Oh, yes, that is absolutely hard to overcome. However, if they have Maddy's DNA in that car, why not charge the parent ? I mean, it just -- it doesn't make any sense to me. Look, Gerry McCann came here to the U.S. He met with our producers here. He went over to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He urged everybody to keep Madeleine's case in the media. He urged scrutiny. I mean, it just doesn't seem like a man who could be responsible for the disappearance of his kid. (16)
NG : Out to the lines, Dale in Ohio. Hi, Dale.
Dale : Hi, Nancy.
NG : What`s your question, dear?
Dale : My question is, after all this time, they're a little slow over there, aren't they, that the evidence that they found now would be contaminated?
NG : You know, that's an interesting point. To Dr. Joshua Perper, in my analysis, after looking at many, many DNA cases, time would only possibly degrade or contaminate DNA. And if they get a positive match of baby Maddy's DNA in this car after all this time, I find that to be very strong, if it's true, Dr. Perper.
JP : Well, that`s true. But it`s also very important toward the configuration, what is the pattern of the blood spots ? Are they indicative of dripping blood ? Are they indicative of somebody shaking someone who has a bloody area ? So we really don't know what kind of pattern this blood had, what it was inside the car. If the amount is minuscule, it might be from a doll or from something else which was brought to the car. Those are essential questions.
NG : Dr. Perper, you are so correct. When analyzing blood evidence, you have to look at the type of blood evidence. For instance, was it a drip from a nosebleed ? Was it a splash from a skinned knee of baby Maddy ? Or was it a blood spatter that occurs from a hit with a blunt object or a shooting ? So the type -- or smear. A smear of blood can be very incriminating, Dr. Perper.
JP : Correct.
NG : So in this case, we don't know what type of blood evidence we have. We don't even know if it is sufficient blood evidence, Dr. Perper.
JP : That's correct. That`s absolutely correct. We don't know exactly what kind of evidence is available to the police. And, therefore, we don't know whether they have legitimate conclusion which can be drawn.
NG : To Terry in Washington. Hi, Terry.
Terry : This is Virginia actually, but that`s OK.
Terry : My question is, if you look back on cases in the past where mothers have killed their children, like the Yates case and the Susan Smith case, they didn't leave the rest of the other children alive. They killed all of the children. My question is, why was this little girl singled out ? And, you know, God forbid...
NG : Terry, very interesting that in a majority of cases of parents killing children or abusing children, they very often pick on one. So it isn't always a whole wipeout of the family. And very quickly, Susan in Pennsylvania, what's your question, dear ?
Susan : Yes, Nancy. Since this was a rental car, shouldn't the Portuguese police be checking the rental records of that car the night that Maddy disappeared ? Isn't it possible whoever had that car rented that night was somehow involved ?
NG : Interesting question. I don't know when they first got the car. As a matter of fact, we're investigating that right now, Susan.