Gerry McCann, the Glasgow-born father of missing British child Madeleine McCann, has spoken out about his daughter over the years, describing her as funny and “absolutely amazing.”
Madeleine’s case is being featured in the Netflix series The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, which streams on March 15, 2019. The child vanished at a Portugal resort while her parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, were at dinner. It’s a true riddle without any clear public suspects (at the moment, at least), motive, or answers.
Madeleine was only 3-years-old when she vanished and became one of the highest-profile missing person’s cases in the world. The family has shared videos about their child and continuing search for Madeleine on their YouTube channel. In 2017, on the 10th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance, Gerry McCann told BBC: “I think that day and the poignancy of it, we don’t tend to go back to the time because it’s so draining, but inevitably on anniversaries and on her birthday, they are the hardest days. By far.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gerry McCann Is a Doctor Who Has Described Madeleine as ‘Very Energetic’ & ‘Incredibly Loving’
The McCanns are both doctors. According to the Sun, they were both born in 1968 and live in Rothley, Leicestershire. “They are Roman Catholics. Kate Healy is from Huyton, near Liverpool and graduated in 1992 with a degree in medicine from the University of Dundee,” Sun reported.
“We need her back where she belongs,” Gerry said in a video appeal posted to YouTube. “Someone knows what happened to her… someone’s holding information that would bring her back to her family…it’s not too late. Please pass this information on to us.”
Gerald Patrick McCann “was born in Glasgow and graduated from the University of Glasgow with a BSc in physiology/sports science in 1989. In 1992 he qualified in medicine and in 2002 obtained his MD,” the Sun reported, adding, “Since 2005 he has been a consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester.” They met in 1993 in Glasgow and dated for five years before marrying.
The McCanns – at times reviled by the public on social media – have continued to tell their story on their website and own social media channels. In one video, posted to their YouTube channel, Gerry described Madeleine in the present tense by saying “Madeleine is absolutely amazing. She’s incredibly bright, funny, very energetic and incredibly loving.”
Kate chimed in: “Madeleine was my little mate really.”
“She looks like Kate, thank goodness for that,” Gerry said.
Kate revealed of her two other children: “We talk about Madeleine every day. When Madeleine comes back what they’ll give her, what they’ll play with…They still have a lot of hope.” Sometimes, when the family does activities together, Gerry reminds people that it’s “not our whole family.”
Shared Kate of Madeleine’s siblings: “My main worry is that they get older…that’s when the pain and the sadness will kick in…We’ve done everything in our power to get their big sister back for them.”
Gerry and Kate McCann have written about the difficulty of holidays on their website, including Christmas 2018. “We couldn’t let a Christmas go by without passing on a warm ‘thank you’ to all our supporters for the kind and continuing good wishes, especially at this very busy time of year,” they wrote.
“We miss Madeleine dearly. Christmas will never be the same without her, but we will continue to make the best of what we have. The investigation is ongoing and our hope remains. May 2019 be a peaceful and positive one for us all.”
Kate and Gerry McCann created the website called Find Madeleine in the continued search for answers about their daughter’s disappearance. They have two other children named Amelie and Sean.
On the website, the parents describe Madeleine’s personality. “Madeleine was born in May 2003 – a long-awaited and very much longed for little girl. She lives in the village of Rothley in Leicester, with her mummy and daddy and little brother and sister, Sean and Amelie,” they wrote.
“Madeleine is a very happy little girl with an outgoing personality. She has always been a very popular little person, appealing to both children and adults alike with her funny and engaging chatter. She has many friends who obviously miss her dearly. Despite her young age, it often felt like Madeleine had been on this earth before.”
The parents described Madeleine’s interests in detail. “Like most girls her age, she likes dolls and dresses (and anything pink and sparkly) but with a definite taste for action-adventure too! She has an incredible amount of energy and even as a little baby, didn’t seem to need much rest. She enjoys running and swimming and is an Everton fan like her mum and grandad” they wrote.
“Madeleine has always been a wonderfully loving and caring big sister to Sean and Amelie. It was certainly not the quietest house on the planet with lots of giggling, singing and the inevitable odd bit of mischief! For Sean and Amelie, there is without doubt, a very important person missing in their life. Madeleine is a warm, life-enriching little person and will never fail we’re sure, to bring joy into the life of anyone she may encounter.”
2. Gerry & Kate McCann Were Dining Together at a Tapas Restaurant When Madeleine Vanished
The lives of the McCann family members changed over a single dinner back in May 2007. Gerry and Kate McCann took their three children with them on a family vacation to a beach town in Portugal called Praia da Luz.
They were there for a week, according to an article in The Atlantic, and were accompanied by a group of friends. In the evenings, the parents would put their children to sleep and join one another at a resort tapas restaurant.
According to the Atlantic, on the night Madeleine disappeared, the parents were at a restaurant located only 180 feet away with their friends, and they said they all took turns checking on the children about every 30 minutes.
Around 10 p.m., the article says, Kate McCann went to check on her children and noticed that Madeleine was missing. The only thing on her bed: “a fuzzy pink toy named Cuddle Cat.” The girl has not been seen since, and it’s unclear what happened to her.
To BBC, Gerry explained, “You adapt and you have a new normality. At some point you’ve got to realise that time is not frozen.” The couple still buys Christmas and birthday presents for Madeleine, they said in the interview.
3. Gerry McCann Was Labeled an ‘Arguido’ or Suspect But Has Been Cleared in the Case
The McCanns faced a barrage of media attention after their daughter went missing, some of it very vicious. At one point during the case, they fell under suspicion of Portuguese police and even were given the label arguido: “suspect.” In 2008, though, the police removed the McCanns’ arguido status, the Independent reports. Over the years, Gerry has expressed frustration over the investigation.
Some online critics trolled the McCanns for leaving their children (briefly) unattended, but prosecutors found that the parents “could not have foreseen that, in the resort in which they had chosen to spend a brief holiday, they would be placing the lives of any of their children in danger,” reports The Sun.
The Independent reports that the McCanns went so far in 2007 as to hire forensic specialists to disprove speculation that they might have sedated their children. They used hair samples from Madeleine’s siblings.
They are the authors of a book about their daughter’s disappearance.
The Guardian reported that the Portuguese police file showed “that days before the McCanns were formally named as suspects, a British scientist had warned that tests on DNA recovered from the family’s hire car were inconclusive.” In addition, the news site, reports, Kate McCann “refused to answer 48 questions about her daughter, apparently fearing they were intended to implicate her in the girl’s disappearance.”
British authorities later reopened the case and launched a massive investigation, but they’ve never solved the riddle of Madeleine’s disappearance.
4. Gerry & Kate McCann Don’t Think the Netflix Series Will Help Find Madeleine
The McCanns did not participate in the new Netflix series. They’ve explained they didn’t think it would do any good.
On their website, Kate and Gerry McCann placed a statement explaining their views on the eight-part Netflix series. “We are aware that Netflix are planning to screen a documentary in March 2019 about Madeleine’s disappearance,” they wrote.
“The production company told us that they were making the documentary and asked us to participate. We did not see and still do not see how this programme will help the search for Madeleine and, particularly given there is an active police investigation, could potentially hinder it. Consequently, our views and preferences are not reflected in the programme.”
They concluded: “We will not be making any further statements or giving interviews regarding this programme.”
5. The McCanns Were Awarded Damages After a Libel Suit Against a Police Official
It’s not just online trolls or the news media who have challenged the McCanns since their daughter disappeared.
The McCanns sued the ex-police chief in Portugal Goncalo Amaral, after he wrote a book in which he claimed they faked Madeleine’s abduction. They stated the claim was false, and they won a libel judgment against him, BBC reported.
“It was entirely focused on the effect of the libels on our other children and the damage that was done to the search for Madeleine,” the spokesperson for Kate and Gerry McCann told BBC.
The network reported that a court ordered Amaral to stop publishing the book, and quoted Kate McCann as telling the court, “It was very painful to read and I also felt anxious and fearful because of the damage I felt it was doing here in Portugal.”