True Crime

Portuguese Police Name Dead Addict as Madeleine McCann Suspect

Forget Scotland Yard’s suspect—the Portuguese police have their own suspect in the British girl’s 2007 disappearance. One problem: he’s dead.

The Portuguese Police may have reopened their missing persons investigation into the mysterious 2007 disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann at the insistence of Scotland Yard, but that doesn’t mean the two countries are following the same leads. McCann disappeared from her parent’s hotel room as they dined nearby with friends. Her younger twin siblings were left unharmed. The McCanns and their friends took turns checking on the children, essentially listening at the door for cries, but only discovered Madeleine missing several hours after she had left them unattended.

In October, Scotland Yard released two e-fit images of the man they believe may have snatched the three-year-old from her parent’s holiday villa at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz, Portugal. The photos depict a white man between 20 and 40 years of age, with short cropped hair, who was seen by multiple witnesses the evening McCann disappeared. At least one witness claims to have seen the man carrying a bundled child.

But this week, the Portuguese police released their own images of a different suspect, a 40-year-old heroin addict named Euclides “Toni” Monteiro from Cape Verde, who was fired by the Ocean Club—where he worked as a waiter—and who, police say, may have snatched the young Briton in revenge. None of Scotland Yard’s known leads point to Monteiro, who was fired one year before Madeleine disappeared. And there is a big problem with the Portuguese suspect: he’s dead. Montiero died in a tractor accident four years ago but Portuguese police are reportedly investigating the property where he lived in Lagos, Portugal with his wife.

Monteiro was a known drug addict who was fired from the resort after allegedly stealing from guest rooms to feed his heroin addiction. According to the local newspaper, Correio de Manha, Portuguese police picked up Monteiro’s cellphone ping in the area the night McCann disappeared during a review of phone records instigated by Scotland Yard. He had been on their “watch list” after numerous Ocean Club employees had reported him as a suspicious character during interviews in the days after McCann’s disappearance. But because the Portuguese cops were only interested in Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry as their suspects, they failed to follow up on leads like those that could have potentially fingered Monteiro.

Now that Monteiro is dead, any new evidence leading to his alleged involvement into McCann’s kidnapping is greatly compromised. His wife, Luisa, who was interviewed by the Portuguese authorities last week, has admitted her late husband had problems, but she has flatly denied his involvement. “It is disgusting they are not looking for a dead man as a scapegoat,” she told local reporters. “It’s very easy to blame someone who can’t defend themselves anymore. My husband would never be capable of committing such a crime.”

In fact, many people who worked with Monteiro said that he was a known petty thief who was a “slave to his addictions,” but that it would have been out of character to kidnap a child, even in revenge for losing his job. There are no material witnesses who placed a black man at the scene the night of the disappearance, and the cellphone ping could be an anomaly, or it could mean that Monteiro was snooping around the resort to ransack rooms. Monteiro’s sister Paula told a Portuguese television station that her brother was constantly selling and swapping his cellphones, and that he had more than one phone in 2007.

Correio de Manha, which is a popular Portuguese tabloid paper, reports that investigators are working on the theory that Monteiro was hoping to ask for ransom for the young child, but that he allegedly killed her when the story went global. Portuguese investigators refused to comment on the Monteiro angle to The Daily Beast. But with the absence of McCann’s remains and no material witnesses putting him at the scene, the Monteiro theory will be almost impossible to prove. Meanwhile, the search is still on for Scotland Yard’s suspect. After a BBC Crimewatch segment aired last month, investigators received thousands of calls. The case remains unsolved.