Ten years on after she disappeared from their holiday resort in Portugal’s Praia da Luz, the parents of Madeleine McCann have said it it is “unfair” to criticise the millions spent on the investigation.
In an interview to mark 10 years without Madeleine, the McCanns added that her disappearance had also brought the cases of other missing children to the forefront.
Madeleine was nearly four when she vanished in 2007 from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, as her parents dined with friends at a tapas bar nearby. Kate and Gerry McCann, of Rothley, Leicestershire, have previously spoken of their bitter regret about leaving her and two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie alone.
Madeleine would now be a teenager and her room stands as she left it, though it brims with birthday and Christmas gifts purchased for every year she has been missing.
In the decade since their daughter vanished, the McCanns have often taken solace in the stories of other abducted children who have sensationally been found alive, holding out hope that they too will eventually be reunited with Madeleine.
Jaycee Lee Dugard – Missing for 18 years
Jaycee Lee Dugard was 11 when she was abducted from a South Lake Tahoe street in 1991. She was kept behind fences in a maze of tents and sheds and even gave birth to two of her abductor’s children in the suburban backyard compound less than 200 miles from her childhood home.
In 2011, convicted sex offender Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy pleaded guilty to kidnapping and rape. Garrido was sentenced to 431 years and his wife received 36 years to life imprisonment.
Two months after being freed, Dugard told People magazine: “I’m so happy to be back with my family. Nothing is more important than the unconditional love and support I have from them.”
Natasha Kampusch – Missing for 8 years
Kampusch was kidnapped at the age of 10 and kept captive in a dungeon by Wolfgang Priklopil for eight-and-a-half years. Thought Priklopil would occasionally take her outside of the property – once even bringing her on a short skiing holiday – he coerced her through fear, often beating, starving and raping her.
Kampusch escaped in August 2006, fleeing while Priklopil, 44, answered a telephone call. He killed himself shortly afterwards by jumping in front of a commuter train. In a strange twist, the home where Kampusch was kept prisoner for those long years was awarded to her as part compensation for the ordeal she suffered.
In a recent interview with ITV, Kampusch gave a tour of the house and sent a message to the McCanns, urging: “Please stay strong and never give up yourself, and I hope that Madeleine appears.”
Steven Stayner - Missing for 7 years
Steven Stayner was just seven when he was kidnapped as he walked home from school in California in 1972. Stayner was forced to live as the “son” of his abductor, Kenneth Parnell, a convicted child molester.
When Stayner was 14, Parnell kidnapped another boy, five-year-old Timmy White. Stayner later escaped, taking Timmy with him. Parnell was convicted of two counts of kidnapping and sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison in February, 1982, after an 18-day trial in Hayward.
Sadly, Stayner died in a motorcycle accident in 1989 when he was 24.
Elisabeth Fritzl – Missing for 24 years
In August 1984, Austrian father-of-seven Josef Fritzl incarcerated his daughter Elisabeth in the cellar under his Amstetten home when she was 18. The convicted rapist went on to father six further children with her, until his monstrous behaviour was finally uncovered by the police.
A seventh child, a twin named Michael, died shortly after his birth in the basement in 1996. The child had breathing difficulties and died in his mother’s arms when he was around 60 hours old. Fritzl burned his body in an incinerator.
In March 2009, Fritzl was jailed for life. Initially he denied all charges, including rape, incest, murder by neglect and enslavement. But on the third day he changed his pleas to guilty, claiming that watching video testimony from Elisabeth (who refused to face him in court) made him change his mind.
Elisabeth and her children live under new identities and continue to adjust to their lives outside of the dungeon. None of them have ever been photographed or given interviews.
Shannon Matthews - Missing for 24 days
Shannon Matthews was reported missing on the evening of 19 February 2008 after she failed to return from a school trip.
In less than 24 hours, more than 200 officers from West Yorkshire Police were involved in the search.
On 14 March – 24 days after she was reported missing – Shannon was found alive and hidden in the base of a divan bed at a house in Batley Carr, West Yorkshire.
Michael Donovan, the uncle of her mother’s partner, Craig Meehan, was arrested at the scene. Three days later, her mother Karen Matthews was charged with child neglect and perverting the course of justice over her daughter’s disappearance. In January 2009, both were sentenced to eight years in prison.
It later emerged the McCanns were stopped by police from giving £250,000 to help search for the then-missing girl.
Shannon now lives under a new identity and with a new family.
Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight - Missing for 10 years
In 2013 three women were discovered in an Ohio, Cleveland house, ten years after they went missing in separate incidents. Ariel Castro, 53, was charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape after Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, Michelle Knight, 32, and a six-year-old girl were rescued. The women had been chained up, raped and tortured.
The McCanns responded to the news in a statement which said: “The discovery of these young women reaffirms our hope of finding Madeleine, which has never diminished.
“Their recovery is also further evidence that children are sometimes abducted and kept for long periods. So we ask the public to remain vigilant in the ongoing search for Madeleine. Our thoughts are with the women in America and their families.”
Castro, who was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years in prison, was found hanged in his cell later that year. In a victim impact statement read out in court, Knight told Castro: “You took 11 years of my life away and now I have it back. I spent 11 years in hell and now yours is just beginning.”
Elizabeth Smart - Missing for 9 months
When she was 14, Elizabeth Smart was abducted at gunpoint from her home in Utah by a homeless street preacher in 2002. Her captor, Brian David Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee, held her for nine months before she was found by police near Sandy, Utah. Smart was raped and threatened throughout her ordeal.
Both Smart and her father have become vocal advocates for missing children and increased child abduction legislation, launching the Elizabeth Smart Foundation. The pair regularly participate in ongoing missing persons cases, using their platform to help raise public awareness about individual abductions.
In 2012, Smart told American TV personality Anderson Cooper she believed there is a “great chance” that Madeleine is alive. She said: “With her being as young as she was, I think there is a great chance of her still being alive and being out there, whether she’s been sold or whether someone’s trying to take her or raise her as their own.”
Smart has met the McCanns, recalling: “They are a wonderful family. But at the same time it’s very saddening seeing this gap in their family that’s been left by Madeleine. She is still very much a part of their lives.”
Four years earlier, Smart had urged the McCanns: “Don’t give up... because miracles DO happen.”
Speaking ahead of the 10th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said there are “significant investigative avenues” that are of “great interest” to both the UK and Portuguese teams.
He added: “I know we have a significant line of inquiry which is worth pursuing, and because it’s worth pursuing it could provide an answer, but until we’ve gone through it I won’t know whether we are going to get there or not.
“Ourselves and the Portuguese are doing a critical piece of work and we don’t want to spoil it by putting titbits of information out publicly.”
In a statement published on the Find Madeleine website, Kate McCann said: “Ten years- there’s no easy way to say it, describe it, accept it. I remember when Madeleine first disappeared I couldn’t even begin to consider anything in terms of years. Shawn Hornbeck abducted and kept hidden for over four years, Natascha Kampusch for over eight years. I couldn’t go there. And now here we are... Madeleine, our Madeleine - ten years.
“Most days are similar to the rest - another day. May 3rd 2017 - another day. But ten years - a horrible marker of time, stolen time.”