Saturday, July 14, 2012

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: To Dig or Not to Dig

South African businessman Stephen Birch says he has proof of some sort of cavity beneath a second pebble driveway (put in after Madeleine McCann's disappearance) and he believes that Maddie may be buried in that particular spot, a possible grave he located with a geo-radar machine he ran over Robert Murat's property (where his mother is living) a number of times quite illegally. He admits he had no permission to be on the grounds and, under the cover of night, slipped onto the property and ran his tests. He recognizes he may be sued for this and has his lawyers in place to deal with the possibility.

I am not going to speak of legalities and ethics in this particular post. Personally, I do not approve of trespassing on private property, possibly terrifying anyone at home (although some will claim I am the pot calling the kettle black because I touched the shutters on Apartment 5A when it was vacant which were accessible from the public walkway in the resort at which I was staying). Anyway, the issue at hand I am wishing to discuss is not whether Mr. Birch should be dealt with legally, but whether there is any merit to his claim and if anyone should dig at the spot on the driveway and who that should be.

 First, to the issue of Mr. Birch's theory that Madeleine was dead on May 3rd and buried on Murat's property the same night. I will not get into his entire theory as to who was involved and why. Suffice it to say, his theory is possible, if not all that probable, at least from this profiler's experience. IF his theory were to be true, it would be a major anomaly. If Maddie is buried on Murat's property, I would have to believe that Robert Murat was himself involved in the crime, that he was a child sex predator who saw a lucky opportunity, grabbed the child, and ran back to his house with her. Then, finished with his enjoyment of the child, he would have done what most child sex predators do; kill the child straight away. Then, he would have buried her on his own property believing that he would not become a suspect and, thereby, her body would not be found with his DNA on it somewhere on the side of the road.

Do I believe that this is what happened? Do I believe Murat is involved? No, but only because the evidence, in my opinion, doesn't point in his direction (see all my blogs on the case and my Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann). I don't believe Maddie was abducted, I do believe the McCanns are involved, and my Number One choice of where Maddie would be found buried is Monte do Jose Mestre, a desolate area west of Praia da Luz where Gerry McCann's cell phone pinged.

If Murat were not involved in the disappearance of Maddie McCann and the Gerry and Kate McCanns did have something to do with their daughter's demise, I would find it highly improbable that Maddie would be buried by one of her parents (with or without the help of any of their friends) nearby on someone's private property. I find it would be extraordinary, that  under great duress right after finding her dead that evening,  Gerry would have the audacity and balls to go onto someone's property, dig a hole, and bury Maddie there in an attempt to to frame someone in the community. I could believe someone burying their child on some stranger's farm in the country in some remote and area easily accessible to the road, but just down the street on a property behind an inhabited house in the middle of town, this is too unbelievable to me. If the McCanns were involved and Gerry was seen trotting toward the beach with Maddie by the Smith family, that behavior is more in line with known behaviors of parents involved in the death of their child; he would have been in a panic and quickly trying to get her body away from the vacation residence and to a remote place where any predator could have dumped her. What might have happened after that would all depend on luck and circumstances and having more time to think things through. But to place her just down the street on someone's property, I doubt it. Could be true, but it would be extremely odd.

Now, on to the issue of should the property be dug up at that spot just to make sure? I don't object to it. Who the suspect would be if it turned out Maddie was buried on the property is secondary to locating the chid and seeing justice done for her. Also, if the theory she is buried there does not pan out, perhaps Mr. Birch and others will take that machine and a search party over to Monte do Jose Mestre and see if they can find Maddie over there.

But who decides if the driveway at Murat's should be excavated? If the police do not have probably cause and they don't believe Birch's video of his radar scanning means much, they are not going to be knocking on Murat's mom's door. Is there really any evidence pointing to the Murat property or Murat? Is that video really indicative of a grave? If it is, could it be the grave of a dog? Could that cavity be the result of some other disturbance to that ground could cause a scan that looks to Birch like a grave?

Next, should Robert Murat just say, "What the hell! Let me just shut this guy up!" and allow the driveway to be dug up?  I would say if he wasn't worried about a body being there, he could do that. But, on the other hand, even if he had nothing to do with Maddie's disappearance, he might now be paranoid someone has put her body there and he will indeed be framed, or that someone has planted some kind of evidence to make it look like a body might have been there. If I were in his shoes, I don't know what I would do.

Should the McCanns push the police or Murat to take action? Well, if I were them and I were innocent, I would damn sure want that ground dug up because it would drive me crazy not to know if Maddie was really there or not.

What do I think will likely happen? Nothing. I think the police don't have probable cause, Murat won't want to take the chance, and the McCanns, in my opinion, already know whether she is under that driveway or not. So, nothing will happen unless the Murat family no longer owns the property and the new owners have no problem with the matter being settled with a little digging on the drive. I don't think we are going to see that coming down the pike any time soon.

What I wouldn't be surprised to see is Stephen Birch ending up on the end of a Carter-Ruck lawsuit via the McCanns for claiming Maddie is dead.  We all know how the McCanns deal with differing opinions, don't we?

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

July 14, 2012


Anonymous said...

If I was Murat, I would have no idea what to do. Is this a distraction gone wrong from TM. According to the Van Wyks he has stolen the information and struck out on his own.

If there are any remains on Murat's property he is going to be hard pressed to explain it. I thought early on that Murat was a friend and stooge of the McCanns but not sure now.

SteelMagnolia said...

There have been South African connections from the beginning in this case Pat.

Phill McCann and John McCann have both been in contact with people in SA!

Is it possible that after the garden was dug up by PJ and when the ground was loose , someone moved Maddies body from her hiding place and put it there. Murat at this point was the ONLY suspect. I have a couple of links to show you how this may be possible and why they did it to buy Murats silence. A long shot but interesting as we are this morning looking at long shots.

I shall return

SteelMagnolia said...

OK here is the long shot.

Three arguidos. The McCanns knew the case would be shelved and never reopened they were scott free, they had no intentionss of asking for it to be looked at ever again.(Scotland Yard are corrupt so forget about any review) BUT what about Murat he said he wanted to clear his name.

Amaral said that at anytime the arguidos could ask for the case to be reopened that meant Murat also...Many including myself wondered why he did not. McCann and Co had tried to frame him I would certainly want the world to know that.

Now take a look at this link from our good friend Tony Bennett.

Read it very slowly and think, is it possible Murat was told at that meeting in November 'Madeleine is now buried in your garden', whether she is or not is beside the point , Murat had been a suspect and had not asked for the case to be re-opened which was his right. Maybe he did not do so because he was threatened with this information on Madeleine's new burial site.

Then along comes Stephen Birch who I am sure has someone pretty powerful behind him pulling the strings to place Murat back in the frame just before the libel trial where I am pretty sure Amaral has some secrets that have yet to be disclosed.

If I were Murat I would be sweating..he kept his side of the bargain and did not request the reopening of the case through blackmail..but have the McCanns stitched him up AGAIN ?

Conspiracy or could it be possible?

SteelMagnolia said...

After Rebelo took over this is when everyone started to move. The visit to Murat AND his mother ? with McCann lawyers ??? and Kate McCann sent a letter of desperation to Rebelo asking him to to'share' information. He placed her letter in the PJ files and did not respond.

Here's an old report from 24 Horas - Portuguese newspaper. It said the leading line of enquiry was that Murat helped the McCanns dispose of the body:

"New team led by Paulo Rebelo tries to discover

Murat may have hidden Maddie's body

Robert Murat, a friend of the McCann couple, is the main suspect of having made the body of Madeleine disappear, on May 3. This is the belief of the Portuguese investigators that are connected to the case. But evidence that confirms this theory has not been obtained yet, as 24Horas has discovered with sources close to the investigation. Therefore, the new team led by Paulo Rebelo, a top officer at Judiciaria, is verifying in detail all the steps that were made both on the day that Maddie disappeared, and on those that followed after the authorities were alerted.

But, until yesterday, there was no concrete lead as to the girl's whereabouts. Live or dead. Therefore, Murat's house will reportedly be visited again by authorities this week.

"There is a time frame between 6 and 10 p.m. that is filled with contradictions that must be clarified. This implies that the McCanns and the friends that were having dinner with them are heard again. But that task must be performed by British authorities, given the fact that the addresses they provided for the case files are those of Leicestercity. In Great Britain we have no authority, unless our collaboration is officially requested, which has not happened yet", a judicial source explained to 24Horas.

The main theory of the PJ investigators who were connected to the investigation since the beginning is that in the McCanns' house there were all the children of the couples who participated in the dinner that was held at the Tapas - as 24Horas had advanced in its edition of October 9. Which might explain the fact that they took turns at checking whether the children were fine. PJ only has the confirmation - obtained from residents at the resort - that the only apartment that was indeed visited by the dinner participants was that of the McCanns.

The Judiciaria believes that, while they were having dinner, little Maddie left the apartment looking for her parents and, while still sleepy, fell off the flight of stairs that exist at the apartment's exit, dying accidentally and ending up being discovered by Gerry McCann, who then asked for Murat's help.

The fact that she may have been under the effect of sedatives - according to a source at the National Institute of Forensic Medicine, the twins were asleep with sedatives - led the couple to get rid of the body, for professional reasons. For that, they contacted Robert Murat, who advised them to return to the restaurant. During that period, the friend carried the body and took it to his house, which is approximately 200 meters away from the apartment where the McCanns were staying. What happened next is a mystery. The only clue that exists are the alleged fluids that belong to Maddie and which were discovered in the Renault Scenic van that they rented 25 days after the child's disappearance.

Who got rid of Maddie?

"The body was probably kept at Murat's house, and later, the couple or someone who had access to the vehicle got rid of it. But we are talking about conjecture. Nothing is proved. Therefore, the work of evidence revision that is being performed now, is extremely important. New people can also bring in new visions on the case. We are in a phase of internal analysis of everything that was done, but aware that everything possible was done at the time", says an officer from the PJ's Homicide Division who requested anonimity due to the order that was sent out by the Public Ministery of "absolute silence on the Maddie case"."

Pat Brown said...

As to Murat being involved; he would have to be a pretty damn good friend of the McCanns to mess with something like this (unless he was a child sex predator and did it alone). Surely, while "good friends help frieds move bodies," they don't move them onto their own property, especially one so small. He might help them move the child later, for some reason, but that he would bury her on his own property for someone else and incriminate himself makes little sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Too many unknowns Pat.
A 'cavity' in a garden: a buried pet, a rotting tree stump, a post hole from a previous boundary....a garden structure. Etc. I don't accept the definitive interpretation of 'bones'.

And what of the surrounding area? Did Birch simply land upon a cavity and then do a runner (having got what he wanted)? Perhaps the garden environs is riddled with such cavities, in which case this is no anomaly at all. It is pure nonsense. And I suspect the PJ are already well aware of this. They will have their own data sets, surely.

Birch is a chancer who looks to be making this up as he goes along. The only question is whether this has anything at all to do with the McCanns. Is this TM in proactive mode...muddying waters? Or are they on the backfoot?

I strongly suspect the latter. This is crisis management, floundering against increasing uncertainty.

At least that's my opinion!

Planting a body at a later date would be a huge risk. Wouldn't there be too many forensic tells?

Murat's lawyers would easily blow holes through this.

What attaches him to the scene? Jane Tanner? Do the McCanns really want to give that scenario a chance in court?

They might have to... One day! It's all they've got.

Anonymous said...

My question is how stupid to declare to the whole world to see where the cavity is. A PI investigating the case for years, with the knowledge of the parents of the missing child, apparently with their 'blessing'. A friend lurks in the back ground, one day hears what they are busy with and requests to be part of the investigation. Get's extremely irate when he can't get hold of some material when he wants them. Two questions: apparently he is a property consultant, and the property business has really heat a snag, he is no longer able to rake in the $$$$, ok here's a way for a quick 'buck' or he is friends of some whom wanted to know what were in the files of the PI working quietly in their own time. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that the PJ with the services of a geologist from the Universidade de Aveiro went over the grounds of Murat's property with the same kind of machine Birch used in July 2007. If a body had been buried there it would have been found at the time.

Anonymous said...

But Pat, the theory doesn't say that
she was abducted, it say that she wandered out looking for her parents, and somebody find her and take her to his home.
There is also a friend of RM that
witnessed him being drinking heavy
that night in a pub.( And RM's
attorney denies it completely.
Maybe coming back home?
God help us!

Pat Brown said...

Anonymous, there are a multitude of theories and that may be one of them, but it was not the one I was speaking of. Also, IF Madeleine wandered out (which there is no evidence of) and was taken to someone's home never to leave, that IS an abduction, just not one from the residence.

SteelMagnolia said...

There is plenty of evidence that Madeleine was a wanderer Pat. McCann in his arguido statement confessed that she ran off one evening but he included the twins (a lie, adding her siblings to me seems it may be more important than just running off)Locals spoke with an author named Danny Collins, he wrote the book Vanished. It might be worth you having a chat with him, he claims she ran off often and has witnesses to back it up.

My thoughts are this, they found her outside , she had had an accident and the group pushed the sofa out of the way so they could perform CPR...hence the reason cadaver was found near the window..that is where Madeleine died.

Something else, as I have already said something very powerful would be needed to prevent Murat from asking for the case to remain open, he was desperate he said to clear his name.

Brian Kennedy and a meeting that made no sense in November 2007. BUT it could make a lot of sense if Kennedy arranged for Murat and his Mom to be out of the house for sveral hours so Maddies remains may be moved and buried in his garden. If he was later informed of this that would buy his silence.

Link to Tony Bennetts thoughts.

SteelMagnolia said...

Murats Garden dug up and pool drained August 6th 2007

McCanns blog for that date , they had an early night. While diggers could be heard working through the night looking for Maddies remains. They had no interest in the days events nor was it ever mentioned as friends of McCann continued to point the fingure at Murat.

Curious, all three arguidos BUT only the mug shot of Robert Murat was released, more political strings pulled there !

Sarah said...

Occam's Razor.

SteelMagnolia said...

Pat it is as plain as the nose on your face what is happening here. Looks like the Lawrence family are already suspicious. Lets hope they search the internet and find you.

Anonymous said...


Can I just do a friendly "hijack" of your blog to praise "Steelmagnolia" for her site. Not that she needs it but I think she presses all the buttons almost daily.

Anonymous said...

The Portuguese ought to take the lead on having the driveway dug up. No asking questions, no wondering whether or not Murat was actually involved, no wondereing whether or not either or both of the McCanns was invloved. This is a lead and while it might be a long walk off a short pier somebody must FGS dig that drive way up It might be nothing in which case Murat would be in the clear!

Anonymous said...

Is this below true about the cadaver dogs, please lay out the evidence, thank you.

Anonymous said...

Assuming the child was buried there (and I am inclined to agree with Pat Brown's this is most unlikely) then it would (in principle) have to be someone who was aware the property had been throughly searched by the PJ and it was unlikely it would be searched again. This would make Casa Liliana the perfect place to bury a child and keep the "official" "abduction theory" alive - as drafted by the McCanns' & Friends and endorsed by Clarence Mitchell/ Burson Marsteller, David Cameron and Scotland Yard (...) True, if by a twist of fate the child was found there, then the suspicions would fall upon Murat, a former suspect - even if the dogs' alerts had been in apartment 5A and not in Casa Liliana... because in terms of acceptable evidence one fact outweighs the other - particularly with a new driveway on top of it. That said, how "da hell" would one bury a corpse there with Murat's dogs in residence - even assuming they were inside the house! Trust me, the dogs would bark! Same applies to Birch's said entry unless the dogs had gone out with the owner...

May be it all boils down to "reputation management".

I do find SteelMagnolia hypothesis thought-provoking particularly when she quotes "24 Hours" (newspaper). I had forgoten that...

BTW I understand Robert Murat had sued Jane Tanner but it seems the case has came to nothing - at least Amaral seemed to suggest that in an interview he gave to Portuguese TV -following Scotland Yard's "195 new leads" PR claim.

Rogerio Alves - the McCanns' designer lawyer in Lisbon says the PJ should check this. Someone should ask his opinion about Pat Brown's Monte do Jose Mestre theory :). I don't think Rogerio would have an opinion on that - it was his client's mobile that pinged, not Murat's...


I have read your book "Only the Truth". What a beautifully written lovely little story! Kind of a psychological thriller I would say. You got me hooked to the very end. You ARE good Pat! Yes you are! :)

Anonymous said...

As others alredy mentioned, Murat's house was checked from top to bottom by the PJ, they used a machine similar to the one of S. Birch. The architect that designed the house was interviewed and gave many details about the house, he revealled the existance of a vault (sort of an air-box) under the living room. It all was searched with a fine-toothed comb, police search dogs were taken inside the property and nothing was found, no cadaver smell, no forensic findings such as hairs, blood, etc., nothing!
If Madeleine was buried there it could only have happened after those searches, yet, if they were to choose that property to do it, I believe they would make sure they would do a very good job, and what Mr. Birch claims to have found does not show a good job...he said the hole is only about 60cm(2feet?) under the pavement, that sure is not very deep for a grave that must never ever be found, is it?! Mrs. Murat has dogs, big dogs, two Serra de Estrela dogs, I'm sure they would smell something on that spot and start digging at it, or at least hang around the place and calling everyone's attention...
No, I'm sure they would have dug the grave deeper than 60cm and place cement over it, not just gravel.
I have no idea waht is Mr. Birch's agenda, but I sure do not trust him one bit!

Helen said...

It could have meen moved there after that search