|An employee of the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz found note in the doorway|
of apartment 5A, where Madeleine vanished, on the first anniversary
of her disappearance
An employee of the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz found the letter in the doorway of apartment 5A, where Madeleine vanished, on the first anniversary of her disappearance.
The handyman, who we are not naming but was formerly employed by the holiday resort, immediately handed in the note to the police in May 2008.
He described the letter as being headed: “Madeleine Beth McCann”, with a description below of how she had been dumped in the Barragem da Bravura reservoir, nine miles from the holiday resort.
He said: “It was raining that night so it was soaking wet when I found it. It clearly said Madeleine’s name at the top. It was written in Portuguese.
“Beneath it was a location for what it claimed was her final resting place.
“I spoke to the other staff about it and they said to hand it in to the Portuguese police. I gave it to them, but I have no idea what they did about it.
“It would be the perfect place to hide a body.”
|"Perfect place to hide a body": Words of handyman who handed note in to police|
Tonight a spokesperson for Kate and Gerry McCann said they would “welcome” any new searches of the area.
Clarence Mitchell said: “Kate and Gerry will be informed of what this witness is telling the Daily Mirror.
"We would welcome any new searches. But they cannot comment on any specific detail as that is entirely a matter for Operation Grange and the Portuguese authorities.”
|Mirror reporter David Collins by the Lake in Praia da Luz|
In October 2007, five months after Madeleine disappeared, officers from the Civil Guard helped search the large area of woodland, which has a lake in the middle supplying water to surrounding towns and villages.
The search was re-ordered by lead investigator Paulo Rebelo, who took over the stalled investigation, after concerns the area had not been searched properly when Madeleine went missing.
Detectives believed it was a possibility the youngster’s body may have been weighed down with rocks and disposed of in the huge expanse of water.
However reports at the time say police, along with specially trained sniffer dogs, spent just two hours at the site and are not thought to have deployed underwater search teams.
One eyewitness, who was there at the time of the search, said: “I never saw any divers physically trawl through that lake. The water is dark and murky and would need to be searched thoroughly.
”It’s so close to Praia da Luz, and such an obvious place to hide a body, that I’m amazed following an actual tip off this hasn’t been done.”
|Map of the area where the lake is|
It has previously been reported how a Dutch newspaper was sent an anonymous letter and a map of the area near the same reservoir bearing a cross and the words: “Where Madeleine is buried.”
The desolate Barragem da Bravura lake, or the “Reservoir of the Wilderness”, occupies an area two-and-a-half miles wide and a perimeter of 25 miles. Only a handful of isolated dwellings dot the beauty spot.
Many of the Ocean Club staff believe the four-year-old could have been taken there after she vanished from the McCanns’ holiday apartment.
In February 2008, a team of divers hired by Portuguese lawyer Marcos Aragao Correia searched the Barragem do Arada reservoir, which is 35 miles east of Praia da Luz.
The human rights lawyer claimed that underworld criminals told him Madeleine was dumped in a nearby lake that was “deserted with lots of trees and a beach area” - however the search came to nothing.
Kate, 46, and Gerry, 45, of Rothley, Leics, were at a tapas bar about 80 yards from their apartment when Madeleine vanished.
Gerry checked on her and her brother and sister at 9.15pm. At 10pm Kate found she had gone.
|Kate and Gerry McCann|
It has been reported they also plan to re-interview expat Robert Murat, 41, who was cleared by the 2007 inquiry.
A friend of the McCann’s from Rothley, Leics, said they were desperate to find out what had happened to Madeleine and were confident Scotland Yard would “do everything in their power” to unravel the mystery.
The friend said: “They hope police search any potentially significant new place but until there is evidence to suggest otherwise Kate and Gerry remain hopeful that Madeleine could still be alive.
”If an anonymous letter has come to light which suggests their daughter’s body could be in a lake in a barren area not far from Praia da Luz then they know police will be thinking ‘Was this area searched before and do we need to look at it again?’
”They would hope it has been acted on before but if there is new information it will surely be in police hands.”
Former GP Kate and heart doctor Gerry, both 46, rarely comment on the huge multi-million police inquiry ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron.
But in a joint statement released this summer when cops were digging up part of the resort from were three-year-old Maddie was snatched in May 2007, they said: “We are very pleased that significant activity has taken place in Praia da Luz over the last eight days with police officers and support teams from the UK working closely with the Portuguese Policia Judiciaria and the Guarda Nacional Republicana.
|Summer search turned up nothing|
Kate and Gerry’s Portuguese lawyer Isabel Duarte told the Mirror: “They want to know exactly what has happened to their child.”
A Scotland Yard spokesperson refused to comment.