Six Years Later, Still No Sign of Madeleine McCann

The parents of Madeleine McCann, who disappeared from a resort in Portugal in 2007, think the police are getting closer to discovering the truth. Barbie Latza Nadeau reports.

05.04.13 8:45 AM ET

It has been six years since Madeleine McCann, then just shy of her fourth birthday, disappeared without a trace from a Praia da Luz holiday resort in the Algarve, Portugal, while her parents were at a tapas bar just 130 yards from the apartment. Since then, her parents, Gerry and Kate, have searched relentlessly—and so far in vain—for their daughter. They have left the young girl’s room intact in their home in Leicestershire, England, and still celebrate her birthday each year.

The McCanns have endured a barrage of criticism for leaving Madeleine and her younger twin siblings unattended, and they have been the victims of a vile online conspiracy hate club that sees them as the perpetrators in their daughter’s disappearance. But through it all, they have remained stoic and vigilant in their belief that she is still out there somewhere—and their patience might soon pay off. Both Kate and Gerry McCann have said that they believe the police are moving closer to finding the truth about what happened to their daughter.

The case was officially closed in 2008 when the Portuguese police dismissed Madeleine’s parents as subjects. In May 2011, Scotland Yard launched a shadow investigation called Operation Grange to examine more than 100,000 pages of investigative documents. In their initial review, they found nearly 200 leads they believe the Portuguese investigators missed, including leads to known pedophiles who could have taken the young girl and reports of suspicious vehicles in the area at the time. So far, the missed leads they have followed up on have all turned cold, but the McCanns believe they are getting closer to finding Madeleine. "With the review the Met have been doing over the last two years I think we are closer to finding out what happened," Gerry McCann told SKY news ahead of the anniversary of his daughter’s disappearance. "But for Kate and I, until we find Madeleine or the person responsible then we're still miles away."

On Friday a service was held in the chapel of the family’s home village to mark the day Madeleine disappeared. Poems and prayers dedicated to Madeleine were read, as they have every year since the toddler disappeared, but Gerry says it wasn’t intended as a memorial service. “It marks the day she was taken, but it is really just another day she is still missing,” he said.

The McCanns continue to distribute posters to those traveling to the Algarve with a time-lapse image of Madeleine to show what she might look like at 10 years old, in hopes they will hang the flyers up and someone will call the toll-free line with information. They also keep in regular contact with detectives working on the Operation Grange investigation and provide information and answer questions to cooperate fully. They say they have found a new normal in their life, but it has not been easy. “It's a horrible, confusing, uncomfortable situation to be in,” Kate told the British press. “As time's gone on we've obviously got stronger and you do adapt to living in that situation.”

Kate believes that as long as they continue to talk about Madeleine’s disappearance, someone will remember something or see a young girl who looks like their daughter. “Someone knows—not just the people involved in the crime,” she told SKY. “Other people will know as well, or will be strongly suspicious.” She’s hoping that suspicion will lead someone to make a call that might lead them to the truth about their daughter.