Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

South African Entrepreneur Shares New Evidence in Case of Missing Child Madeline McCann

Steven Birch and Madeline McCann, inset

Steven Birch and Madeline McCann, inset

Stephen Birch, a South African real estate developer, initially unconnected to the case of Madeline McCann, 7, who went missing in Portugal on May 3, 2007, developed an interest her disappearance, as people often do in high-profile missing child cases. Birch however, went quite a bit further, investing $50,000 of his own money to conduct a ground-penetrating radar search for evidence of her remains on the property of Jenny Murat, mother of Robert Murat, who was at one point a suspect in the case. Birch believes that his equipment turned up irrefutable evidence that something, about the size of a child, was buried with a shovel under a small gravel driveway, installed in the rear of the property after Madeline’s disappearance.

Night photo of the ground-penetrating radar used by Birch, and his results, inset.

Night photo of the ground-penetrating radar used by Birch, and his results, inset.

Unfortunately Birch admittedly trespassed on private property several times to conduct the search, and didn’t notify police of the evidence until after he was safely out of country. Birch says that he shared his findings with experts in the field, and made his findings public on the Internet. He wrote to British and Portuguese investigators asking them to follow up on the case, but police, who are still analyzing the evidence, have not made any decisions as to whether or not to search the property again. According to the video, Birch does not intend to point any fingers at the Murats, but says only that finding Madeline will help to solve the case. In an Interview with Expresso posted on Youtube.com, Birch stated his belief that Madeline was killed the same night as her abduction and buried by one or more persons, who knew that the property was accessible and unguarded.

Madeline disappeared from her family’s hotel room while they were on vacation in Praia da Luz, Portugal. The case was investigated by both British and Portuguese police, but Madeline was never found, and no arrests have been made. Her mother has repeatedly told the media and investigators that she returned from dinner to check on the Madeline and their young twins, and found that Madeline was missing. She immediately alerted her husband and other guests at the hotel, but police never developed any solid leads in the case. The parents were interviewed extensively by police, who concluded that they had nothing to do with their daughter’s disappearance. The Murat property is the closest to the scene of the abduction. Murat was at one point made a suspect after investigators from Scotland Yard told Portuguese authorities that they had observed him and found his behavior suspicious.

Slideshow: Snatched by a Stranger

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