Let's start with a question we commonly hear about possible suspect sightings: when someone is spotted near a crime scene who has nothing to do with the crime but never comes forward and says, "That was me," doesn't that prove that the person spotted is indeed the suspect?
Not necessarily. First of all, the sighting may not even be a fact. Jane Tanner's sighting lacks credibility, so is no surprise that some innocent man carrying a child in his outstretched arms hasn't come forward (although Stephen Carpenter, another British vacationer, admitted to crossing the road fifteen minutes later with his wife and children). On the other hand, the Smith family sighting at approximately 9:50-9:55 is very credible since nine witnesses saw the man and they have no connection to the McCanns. So, that no one came forth to admit being that man may be because he is really the one carrying off Maddie.
Secondly, some people just don't want to admit it was them and then have the unpleasant repercussions of having to deal with the police and the media. Look what happened to Murat.
Smith sighting suspect carried the child up against his body in a more normal carry position. The child's arms were hanging down which would be absolutely the case with a dead child (although it is also possible with a live one). Mr. Smith later saw a video of Gerry carrying one of his remaining children and thought the man his family had seen could well be him. The Jane Tanner sighting has the abductor holding a limp child in his outstretched arms. This is an odd way to carry a child any distance as it is awkward and tiring. Also, if the man abducted the child, he would be far smarter to carry the child up against his shoulder where he could duck his head down alongside the child's head and keep his own face somewhat hidden. Carrying the child at waist level leaves one's face exposed and draws attention to the person due to the odd positioning of the child.
And how does it make sense that the abductor would carry the abducted child that way? If he scooped Maddie up from her bed, her head would naturally end up over his right arm and Jane Tanner wouldn't have seen two little feet. And how does the man get out the door and close it behind him with both hands cradling the child? (Not to mention, closing the door when you are in a hurry - since "the abductor" already have left evidence of a break-in with the open window - it is hardly is worth the effort.)
Mr. Smith believes Gerry McCann may be the man he saw on the Rua da Escola. Some say this is an impossibility because Gerry was dining in the Tapas Restaurant at the time of the sighting. Well, he is if you believe some of the statements of the Tapas 9 but there is no independent corroboration by any of the waiters that he was there exactly when Kate sounded the alarm after 10 pm nor can any independent witness put Gerry in the Tapas restaurant for the period of time prior to Kate raising the alarm. So there is nothing to say that this wasn't Gerry that the Smith's saw who then dumped the child he was carrying and returned to take his seat in the Tapas just before Kate showed up.
But, could he have made it to the location of the Smith sighting and back in time? Before I went to Praia da Luz I was told by some the idea was laughable, that the Smith sighting was quite a distance from the Tapas - half a mile is what the McCanns claim in their documentary, Madeleine was Here.
Voice over: It is possible that JT is not the only person who saw Madeleine being carried away by the abductor. 40 minutes after J(T)’s sighting and half (1/2) mile away from the Mc’s apartment a family also saw a man carrying a young girl away from the town.
When I looked at a map before I went to Portugal on Google and put in the locations, I did come up with 800 meters (half-mile) but that was by car and followed a rather circuitous route. the walking route didn't seem that far and, indeed, Google said it would take six minutes.
This is the advantage of going to the location of the crime scene. I walked the route myself from the McCann's apartment and the Smith sighting and it took me exactly five minutes at a moderately fast pace. It took me another minute and a half to reach the beach. So, the time Gerry would need from the time the Smiths would have seen him and get back to the Tapas bar and include a body drop off is about eight minutes. He could be in his seat before Kate raised the alarm. And that is eight minutes if he didn't run back, in which case, he could be arrive sooner.
And, yes, it does take a bit of time to hide the body, but, in a pinch and a panic, I saw three good places to ditch a corpse in a hurry; a storage shed right by the road only part way to the beach (cutting an extra minute or so off the trip), a large clump of reeds where the road accesses the beach and one could quickly stuff the little body into, and, also at that location, a number of overturned small boats one could temporarily store a body underneath. At this point in time, if one would just trying to lose a dead child, any place might do, including a dumpster of which there were a number of in the area. If the body is later found in any of the those places, it could be suspected that a sex predator dumped his victim there, and, if the body wasn't immediately discovered and one had time to find a better spot to prevent the child being found and an autopsy done, any of these places could be revisited and the body moved in the dark early morning hours. If there was no one out searching, these locations are dead quiet and no one is around; I can testify to since I spent from 3 am to 5 am wandering about Praia da Luz and never ran into anyone.
Which sighting is more likely to be Madeleine McCann? The Smith sighting, clearly, but the McCanns will have none of it unless it is the same man that Jane Tanner saw. I repeat what I stated in my last blog; there is no reason for the McCanns to disqualify the Smith sighting as a stand-alone sighting of the person who took Madeleine unless Gerry does not really have an alibi for 9:50-9:55 pm.
Criminal Profiler Pat Brown