Where Are Madeleine McCann’s Parents Now? A Look at Their Lives After Their Daughter's 2007 Kidnapping

3-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared while on vacation with her family in Portugal

<p>LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty</p> Kate and Gerry McCann pose with an artist


Kate and Gerry McCann pose with an artist's impression of how their daughter might look now at the age of nine on May 2, 2012.

Madeleine McCann has been missing since May 3, 2007 — but her parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, have never given up hope of finding her.

The British family were on vacation in Praia da Luz, Portugal, when Madeleine vanished from their rental apartment toward the end of their trip. At the time of her disappearance, Gerry and Kate were having dinner with a group of friends at a restaurant on the resort’s property.

The couple left Madeleine, then 3 years old, and her 2-year-old twin siblings sleeping in a bedroom and periodically returned to the apartment to check on them. After several check-ins, Kate returned around 10 p.m. to discover that Madeleine had gone missing while her brother and sister slept nearby. Police were quickly alerted, beginning a worldwide search for the toddler.

With the recent 17th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance, detectives continue to search for leads in the case. While there are numerous theories about what could have happened to her, German authorities believe a prisoner in the country could be a person of interest. In 2022, a new suspect was formally named — but specific information has not been released.

Through it all, Gerry and Kate have continued to advocate for their daughter and believe that they will one day be reunited with her.

“It’s 17 years since Madeleine was taken from us. It’s hard to even say that number without shaking our heads in disbelief. Whilst we are fortunate in many ways and able to live a relatively normal and enjoyable life now, the ‘living in limbo’ is still very unsettling,” they shared on the Find Madeleine website.

They continued, “Your support continues to encourage us and bolsters our strength to keep going. We know the love and hope for Madeleine and the will to find her, even after so many years, remains, and we are truly thankful for that. Thank you again for remembering Madeleine and all missing children.”

So where are Madeleine McCann’s parents now? Here's everything to know about Gerry and Kate McCann and the latest developments in their daughter's disappearance.

Who are Gerry and Kate McCann?

<p>JOE GIDDENS/AFP/Getty</p> Kate and Gerry McCann during an interview with the BBC's Fiona Bruce on April 28, 2017.


Kate and Gerry McCann during an interview with the BBC's Fiona Bruce on April 28, 2017.

Prior to Madeleine’s disappearance, Gerry and Kate lived a quiet life with their small family in Leicestershire, England. The couple married in 1998 and went on to welcome Madeleine on May 12, 2003. Soon after, her twin younger siblings, Sean and Amelie, were born.

“We were a perfectly ordinary family. Boring, even. Since settling down to bring up our longed-for babies, Gerry and I had become such strangers to the fast lane that we were often the butt of good-natured teasing from our friends. We’d give anything to have that boring life back now,” Kate wrote in her book Madeleine: Our Daughter’s Disappearance and the Continuing Search for Her.

While raising their three children, both Gerry and Kate worked in the medical field. Throughout her career, Kate was involved in obstetrics, gynecology and anesthetics before moving to general practice. Meanwhile, Gerry has primarily worked as a cardiologist.

What happened the night of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance?

<p>Steve Parsons - PA Images/PA Images/Getty</p> Gerry and Kate McCann in Luz, Portugal.

Steve Parsons - PA Images/PA Images/Getty

Gerry and Kate McCann in Luz, Portugal.

On April 28, 2007, Gerry, Kate and their three children arrived in Praia da Luz, Portugal, for a week-long holiday. They were joined by a group of friends as well as their children. During the trip, the McCann family stayed at a privately owned two-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a building, a part of the city’s Ocean Club resort.

The family's location meant that they were close to their friends and restaurants but also on an easily accessible road. Over the next few days, they spent time at the pool, restaurants and the resort’s children’s club.

After putting the kids to bed in the evenings, the nine adults on the trip would eat dinner at a local outdoor tapas restaurant.

Per Madeleine, the families had requested a specific table that overlooked the apartment building, alerting hotel staff that their children were sleeping inside. Unbeknownst to them, the note about their kids was in a book accessible to all staff — and potentially passerbys.

On the second to last night of the trip, May 3, the group once again headed to the restaurant around 8:30 p.m., arranging for the parents to periodically return to the apartments and check on the children.

Behind a gate and a small flight of stairs, there was a back door, which could only be secured from the inside that was left unlocked so that Gerry and Kate could enter during their check-ins.

Per Vanity Fair, Gerry stopped by the apartment and saw Madeleine sound asleep around 9:05 p.m. He later noted that at the time, the door to the children’s room was wide open despite having left it only slightly ajar, and closed it again.

When Kate headed over at 10 p.m., she discovered the front window had been opened and quickly realized Madeleine was gone.

What happened during the initial police inquiry into Madeleine McCann’s disappearance?

<p>Collect/Handout/Alamy</p> Madeleine McCann.


Madeleine McCann.

Following Kate’s discovery that Madeleine was gone, Gerry sent a friend to alert the hotel and call the police. By 10:30, the resort had begun its missing child search protocol, with staff and guests searching the property for any signs of Madeleine. Police arrived shortly after with search dogs but have since been criticized for mistakes made in the vital hours following the disappearance.

According to The Guardian, it was hours before the border and marine police were provided with descriptions of Madeleine, and authorities reportedly did not go door-to-door looking for the little girl. Meanwhile, Kate shared in Madeleine that it was 12 hours before roadblocks were put in place, and many people who may have been potential witnesses were allowed to leave without being interviewed.

Additionally, it would be five days before Interpol, or the International Criminal Police Organization, shared a global alert about Madeleine.

Then, when DNA samples were later tested from Madeleine’s room and the surrounding area, it was realized that since the crime scene had not been immediately secured, samples could have been compromised from the number of searchers entering the area, per BBC.

In the months after Madeleine’s disappearance, the Portuguese police began their initial inquiry. Several leads were followed, including two separate sightings of men carrying a child through the resort around the time Gerry and Kate were having dinner. One of those instances was reported by their dinner companion, Jane Tanner, who claimed to have seen a man carrying a child while she was on her way back from checking on her own daughter around 9:15 p.m.

Although the unidentified man was later ruled out as a suspect, according to BBC, it did lead to the police naming the first person of interest. With the initial information that a man had been walking away from the McCann’s apartment, police believed he could have been on his way to the home of Robert Murat.

The British-Portuguese man lived nearby, and several witnesses claimed to have seen him shortly after Madeleine’s disappearance. He also began involving himself in the case, offering translation services and had spoken to several media outlets, according to a BBC profile. After interviews and searches, his suspect status was eventually dropped.

In October of that year, Chief Inspector Gonçalo Amaral was removed from his position and Paulo Rebelo, deputy national director of the Polícia Judiciária, took over, Reuters reported. With an expanded group of detectives, a case review and interviews were conducted.

By July 2008, it was determined that Murat nor the McCann’s were involved in Madeleine's disappearance, and the first inquiry was officially closed, according to The Guardian.

Were Gerry and Kate McCann ever suspects?

<p>CLEMENS BILAN/DDP/AFP/Getty </p> Kate and Gerry McCann at a press conference on June 6, 2007 in Berlin, Germany..


Kate and Gerry McCann at a press conference on June 6, 2007 in Berlin, Germany..

During the first inquiry, Gerry and Kate were briefly considered suspects involved in Madeleine’s disappearance. In the summer of 2007, a trained canine detected body odor in the couple's apartment and car, the latter of which they rented several weeks after Madeleine went missing.

After the dogs alerted officers to the presence of DNA, samples were taken for testing. Before the results were available, though, authorities officially named Gerry and Kate suspects.

According to The Guardian, it was later revealed that the sample from the car was inconclusive and could not be determined to belong to Madeleine. While it did contain some components that could be a part of her DNA, scientist John Lowe said the “result is too complex for meaningful interpretation or inclusion.”

As suspects, police accused Gerry and Kate of hiding Madeleine’s body after she died in an accident while the couple was at dinner, according to NBC News. In the following months, the investigation delved into potential charges of “abduction, homicide, exposure or abandonment of a child, and concealment of a corpse,” per The Telegraph.

Although the review continued, in July 2008, Portugal’s attorney-general, Fernando Jose Pinto Monteiro, said the police had found no evidence linking the McCann to Madeleine’s suspected abduction. They were declared no longer suspects, coinciding with the end of the first inquiry.

“It’s hard to describe how utterly despairing it was for us to be named arguido [suspects] and to subsequently [be] portrayed in the media as suspects in our own daughter’s disappearance,” Gerry and Kate said in a statement. “It’s been equally devastating to witness the detrimental affect this status has had on the search for Madeleine.”

What happened during further police inquiries into the case?

<p>Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty</p> Kate McCann and Gerry McCann before the start of the 'Miles for Missing People' charity run on April 2, 2011 in London, England.

Dominic Lipinski - WPA Pool/Getty

Kate McCann and Gerry McCann before the start of the 'Miles for Missing People' charity run on April 2, 2011 in London, England.

In the years since the conclusion of the first inquiry, authorities and private investigators have followed numerous leads and conducted searches for Madeleine. In 2011, British authorities took an invested interest in the case, and Prime Minister David Cameron announced a British inquiry called Operation Grange.

Since then, a team of detectives have investigated 60 people of interest, taken over a thousand statements and looked into countless potential sightings of Madeleine around the world, per The Guardian.

Through their investigation, many potential leads were uncovered. In 2013, it was revealed that in the months leading up to Madeleine going missing, there had been an increased number of burglaries in the immediate area, according to BBC.

Two incidents occurred on the same block as the McCann’s rental apartment within 17 days before their arrival. There were also other reports about home invasions in the years prior.

Apart from British and Portuguese inquiries, German authorities have delved into the case.

In 2020, they identified German prisoner Christian Brueckner as a suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance. Brueckner, previously called a “sexual predator” who committed crimes “against little girls,” was in Praia da Luz at the same time as the McCann family while he traveled around Portugal in a camper van.

German prosecutors believe Brueckner may have killed Madeleine but have not charged him because, although they have findings that suggest his involvement, they don't have enough evidence to convict him.

A suspect was formally named in 2022, although authorities have not revealed if it is Brueckner or someone else.

How did the media respond to Madeleine McCann’s disappearance?

<p>MELANIE MAPS/AFP/Getty</p> Gerry and Kate McCann read a statement to the press outside on May 11, 2007.


Gerry and Kate McCann read a statement to the press outside on May 11, 2007.

Madeleine’s disappearance immediately drew massive attention from the media. For months following the incident, the McCann’s made front-page news and were featured across numerous websites and social media platforms. In 2008, Vanity Fair reported that newspapers selling copies with the family on the first page sold an extra 30,000 copies a day.

In order to manage the press attention and utilize it to help the search for Madeleine, Gerry and Kate hired public relations consultants a few months after their daughter's disappearance. They often made media appearances, sometimes traveling to different countries to follow leads.

Still, being so prominently featured in the media, the couple faced harsh criticism about their decisions, particularly their choice to leave their children alone while they had dinner. Viewers criticized Kate’s cold demeanor — which they later said was something that was advised by British police.

“That was one of the things they were told right from the beginning,” Justine McGuinness, an early spokesperson, told Vanity Fair. “Don’t show any emotion, because whoever took the child could get off on that, and take it out on the child. Or the abductor might find tears stimulating in some way.”

In 2011, Gerry and Kate faced more scrutiny when Portuguese detective Gonçalo Amaral, who had previously served as the inquiry’s coordinator, published a book about Madeleine’s disappearance.

In Maddie: A Verdade da Mentira, Amaral said he believed that the little girl had died in an accident in the apartment and her parents had covered it up by faking an abduction. Kate and Gerry filed a libel lawsuit against Amaral, and they were awarded €500,000 in damages, per The Guardian.

Was Madeleine’s kidnapper ever found?

While there have been several people of interest in Madeleine’s kidnapping through the years, no one has ever been charged in connection with the crime.

There are several theories about what happened to Madeleine, with various experts believing she may still be alive.

One theory presents the idea that Madeleine could have been kidnapped into a sex trafficking ring. Since her body has never been found over the past 17 years, it’s possible she is still out there.

Some investigators say that as a white child from a wealthy country, she would have been seen as “high value” for both traffickers and pedophiles. Trafficking is on the rise in Portugal, and because of its location, it offers abductors easy escape routes to other countries.

Others believe that the little girl may have disrupted an attempted burglary and was kidnapped and later murdered by her captors.

Where are Gerry and Kate McCann now?

<p>JOE GIDDENS/AFP/Getty</p> Kate and Gerry McCann during an interview with the BBC's Fiona Bruce on April 28, 2017.


Kate and Gerry McCann during an interview with the BBC's Fiona Bruce on April 28, 2017.

Gerry and Kate have continued to advocate for their daughter and search for answers regarding her disappearance. The couple say they have not given up hope for finding their little girl, who would now be in her early 20s.

“All we have ever wanted is to find her, uncover the truth and bring those responsible to justice. We will never give up hope of finding Madeleine alive but whatever the outcome may be, we need to know, as we need to find peace,” they said in a statement in 2020.

In an update shared on the 17th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance, Gerry and Kate said they were grateful to be able to “live a relatively normal and enjoyable life now,” despite still living in limbo about Madeleine’s fate.

Gerry currently serves as a research professor in experimental medicine and a professor of cardiac imaging at the University of Leicestershire. Meanwhile, Kate shared in Madeleine in 2012 that she had not returned to her job as a doctor, spending more time with the couple’s other children and focusing on the search for Madeleine.

In 2017, they said they were still buying gifts for Madeleine on special occasions, continuing to make her a part of their life.

“I think every kind of event that we do, whether it be a birthday or a family occasion or even an achievement or something, that is kind of when you really feel her absence,” Kate shared.

Gerry added, “So, we are marking the anniversary. I think it’s been good for the general public to hear police say there’s no evidence that she’s dead, and that there is still an active investigation, and there is still hope. So certainly from my point of view, somebody knows what’s happened.”

While the pair does not often make public appearances and opted not to be featured in the 2019 Netflix docuseries The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, they are typically seen at an annual vigil in their village to honor Madeleine.

They were notably absent in 2024, which could have been related to a message shared in 2023 about their younger children, who do not wish to be in the spotlight.

“As we do every year, we gathered in our village yesterday evening to mark the anniversary of our daughter Madeleine’s abduction,” Kate wrote on the Find Madeleine website in 2023. “I was dismayed, however, that this sadly provided an opportunity for a local journalist to exploit the presence of our younger daughter who does not wish to be photographed or interviewed and was made to feel uncomfortable, especially at such a special moment of hope for Madeleine.”

If you have any information about Madeleine McCann’s whereabouts, please send an email to investigation@findmadeleine.com or call the official investigation line at +44 845 838 4699.

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