Monday, March 26, 2012

FOR ONCE, THE TRUTH ABOUT GETTING BOOK PUBLICITY


Montel and I discuss the Madeleine McCann case
by 

Criminal Profiler
PAT BROWN






(Blogs and Websites for Writers - feel free to repost this article on your site as long as it is the full article and there is a link back to The Daily Profiler and links included within remain operable)
           
I am going to make your day, self-published and traditionally published struggling authors! You can stop wishing you were me because, in spite of the fact Nancy Grace and Dr. Drew both mentioned my new mystery novel, Only the Truth, when I was on their shows last week, I didn’t see any dramatic jump in book sales. So, stop worrying if you aren’t on television and you can’t afford a publicist to get you on. I do television at least three times a week and I can tell you, while constant visibility does keep one’s name and book out there, getting on a television show doesn’t mean you are going to become an overnight bestseller, well, unless you are on Oprah which you can’t be anymore.

And I am sure you are likely discouraged by all those bestselling authors who seem to come out of nowhere and hit it big; let me clear that up. One, some of those are lying like dogs and are simply giving themselves the “bestselling author” label and claiming they sold way more of their books than they actually did. Proving someone is a liar is pretty difficult when it comes to questions of success in the book market.  Others who actually achieve success may not get it the way they would like us to believe, by having a great literary accomplishment.

Now, before I get successful authors throwing heavy objects at my head and calling me “jealous” or “bitter,”  - I do already have two traditionally published books, Killing for Sport (Phoenix 2008) and The Profiler; My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths (Hyperion 2010) and two more traditionally published books coming out in the next year, How to Save Your Daughter’s Life (HCI Sept 2012) and The Murder of Cleopatra (Prometheus Feb 2013) - let me state that they are some fabulous writers out there and they have become well-known and  lauded for their outstanding books and the merit of their writing. I am inspired, impressed, and proud of each of these authors who have reached such heights through wonderful work and effort.  I love reading their works and I recommend their books to my friends and I wish them continued best of luck.

But, a good portion of selling authors are not making money due to the brilliance of their word-craft or even tolerably good storytelling; many are mediocre at best, and some are downright abysmal and you wonder how they hell they are selling books by the thousands each day or week while you are struggling to sell one per month. It is this group I want self-pubbed authors to understand so they can realize they are not failing to sell their books because they aren’t good.  I also want struggling authors to stop believing a lot of the rot published in anything titled close to  “How to Sell Millions of Your Self-Published Book ” or “100 Top Tricks to Get Your Book on the Bestselling List.” Some of the books are making good money off of desperate authors by selling them an illusion (let that author write a book that doesn’t have to do with selling books and watch him crash and burn) and some of them can’t even sell a book about selling books!  So at no cost to you at all, no price of a book or a seminar, I will give you the scoop right here.  Actually, if I told you the truth in a book or a seminar, no one would invite me back because no one pays for giving out bad news. Not all bad news, but enough bad news that I can’t sell what I have to tell – I am not out to make bucks by shamelessly motivating you with bullshit. Okay, so how do authors sell books?


Well,let’s take a moment to examine authors who are lucky enough to get an agent (I have been fortunate enough to have four and very happy with my present literary agent, Claire Gerus, who just got me my two last book deals) and that agent gets you a publishing deal with the average advance (read: small).  If you want to make really great sales, you have got to get in the front of the bookstore. You need to have your book cover facing out in a nice column on a front rack with a poster next to it. If your book is displayed at the entrance with pomp and circumstance, your publisher is guaranteeing you to make a shitload of cash on your book and they are paying, yes, paying for that prime real estate. But, if your publisher gave you a small advance, he isn’t spending a fortune on a bad gamble, so no front-of-bookstore for you. You can be confident, as crap, if you are not Dan Brown or another hot selling author or an industry insider who saw more than five zeros on their advance check (not counting those with a decimal point in between), your book is not going to be there. It is going to be on the back shelves with the other tens of thousands of books serving as wallpaper for the front runners. Yes, there are a few slightly cheaper paid spots in a bin near the front of the store or on the ends of the racks that might make you a few dollars, but don’t hold your breath that those spots are going to throw you onto The New York Times Bestseller list. 

So, most of you, if you have a traditional publisher and aren’t already famous, you will be on the racks of doom for about six weeks at which time your book will be summarily executed if it hasn’t sold its two copies by then. Most disappear rapidly, a few hang around a number of months, and there are those that eke out an existence in certain genres in a moderate way.

 Book launch? What’s that? Book tours? No way. Publicity from the publisher? Maybe a tad. Pretty much you are on your own when it comes to book promotion, unless you are Dan Brown or a hot selling author or already famous and then you get fifty top book reviews and a couple hundred good reviews from Amazon Vine before the book goes on sale, NPR, lots of big TV, a massive radio tour, full-page ads, book tours, parties, and global attention. But I repeat myself.  What happens to regular published authors is that they are told to get a publicist and to spend about $4000/month for at least six months to make sure their book sells. And the publicist gets the author on some local radio shows, a few small television shows, and gets them book reviews on a few blogs and in a few small regional magazines.  They send out a lot of press releases that bring in very little interest because you are not Dan Brown or a hot selling author or already famous (damn…did it again). Then, instead of making $5000 on a published book, an author can lose $19,000 because that kind of limited publicity isn’t going to rock the buying public’s world especially if they can’t even find your stupid book in the bookstore. So, if you are going to hire a book publicist, make sure they have some level of reasonable book visibility to improve, that they aren't charging you to move your book from ten sales to twenty sales per month.

But, wait! You get an opportunity to have a book signing at your local Barnes and Noble. Awesome! You invite all your friends and business associates and you are the star for a couple of hours, selling and signing twenty books. You are on your way! You manage to finagle another book signing in a small bookstore out of town by fifty miles and at that one, you stand there like a dope in front of a bunch of empty chairs. Finally, a few people come up. Two want to rest their feet and eat their sandwiches and the other one wants to ask you how to sell books (like you know). Humiliated, you skulk out of the store with your publicity material and never do another signing. 

So, why did the first one go so well and the second one feel like an exercise in masochism? Well, the first one was your Tupperware party. The Barnes and Noble manager knew, since you are a local author, you would bring all your friends in to buy books, mostly other people’s books. They get a free event and new customers and you get a moment in the sun. Out of town, reality stinks.

(disclaimer: Not all publishers and publicists follow these general rules, certainly no one I work with).

Feeling goooood now? Okay, that is the raw deal for the majority of authors published by traditional publishing houses. Now, to the worse news. The self-publishing world.  Lets’ say you do what those experts say (the ones you just wasted $9.99 per click buying their ebook of tips) and you have an awesome cover (that you paid for), a manuscript that was well-edited (that you paid for),  and a great story (that you gave up paid work to spend time writing), and you are ready to go. You get help with formatting it for Kindle (which you pay for) and up it goes to take its joyful place among 4,000,000 other hopefuls, a needle in a haystack unless you GPS someone to your book's exact location.  And there the bugger will sit while you spend another $50 buying five more ebooks on how to promote your darling. So you Tweet and you Facebook and you get on message boards, send out postcards, get on some small blogs, and send hundreds of emails…..and you sell one book per month. Desperation and depression set in; you wonder what you are doing wrong. Why are other self-published authors becoming millionaires and you are getting nowhere? You have read some of their books and you think most of them suck eggs; you would never buy a second one of their tripe. Some of these big sellers even have more one-star Amazon reviews than five-star ones. What are they doing right and you doing wrong?

Give yourself a break. Big self-published Kindle authors may just be lucky or they may be master salesmen; they don’t necessarily have far better books than you. Some of them were known published authors with large followings before they went the self-pubbed route and they brought their fans along with them. So they have a big head start. Some of them are able to sell a couple of their books as loss leaders to draw people into their other books, so they have a lot of stuff to sell. Some spend sixteen hours a day/seven days a week promoting in every way possible, studying trends, and spending money on advertising and, still, they need to get lucky as well; many can do all this and still just sell small numbers of books. But you hear about the ones that hit the lottery (and they often make sure that you do because then they can sell more of their books). Some truly just get incredibly lucky that their book came out at the right time,  got a review in the right place, hit the reading public with just the right story, and the thing went viral. Sometimes you can’t figure out exactly what caused an author or a particular book to hit the tipping point and get bestseller status, a thousand books a day in sales, and a movie option. It could be you tomorrow, who knows?  Likely not, but you might just get the golden ticket, so here’s rooting for you.

Now that I have shot down most of your bright hopes, what do I recommend to the aspiring writer and self-pubbed author? Enjoy writing. Love your book. Go ahead and promote your book, be clever if you can, watch trends, encourage folks to put reviews for your book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords, try to get  thebig book reviews if you can find a way,  and try stuff to see if it works (change pricing, go on Kindle Select, blah, blah, blah), but, for heaven’s sake, be realistic enough not to feel like a loser in a race with few winners and don’t drive yourself crazy looking at your book sales every hour of the day (only to see the same number again and again). And don’t waste your money on a lot of guru garble. I am not saying there isn’t some useful advice out there (sometimes one bit of info can make the difference) and I have bought certain motivational and sales books from select guys I consider brilliant in that arena. But beware of salesmen bearing fool’s gold, making big money off of other people’s dreams; yours.

Before I leave you to prepare and plan for your publishing future, let me at least give you some tips on what does make a huge difference in sales, publicity you can aspire to get, that if you do, you may find yourself with a book rising to the top of the rankings. 

1)    Hard work, and by that, I mean years of hard work, not overnight sensation stuff. I got my first agent because I had already been on television regularly for a number of years. As my appearances on television hit over 2000 for the last decade, I had more options because my name was well-known by then. Other avenues  could be working hard in the literary field, in academics, in some specialized field, journalism, in publishing, in any media outlet – places you can build a reputation in either something specific or in the art of writing or make great contacts that will then be willing to back your new novel or nonfiction book.

2)    Build up that social networking even if it doesn’t exactly mean a Tweet or a Facebook post to 20,000 people is going to generate hundreds of sales; it won’t. But your presence out there, a verifiable presence, gives you some clout rather than just being Jane Jones from Noplacesville, never heard of you, lady, and when I Googled you, you didn’t exist. Get a blog and website going as well. All of this is work, work, work, but it may pay off in ten years.

3)     If you are a schmoozer, make well-known friends who can endorse and back you.

4)    Television can be useful.  But, usually we are talking about big, big shows like the ex-Oprah, The Tonight Show, The Today Show which reach huge numbers of people with a particular message and the message must be about your book.

5)    Radio can move things along but you either need to be doing hundreds and hundreds of little shows to get a little buzz or do NPR and make you book soar. Good luck getting on there.

6)    As to book reviews: if you check out the big authors, you will notice they have reviews in big papers, magazines, and blogs like The New York Times and Marie Claire and Forbes. If you check out small authors, you will find them in Tennessee Camping Monthly and Betsy’s Best Books. Bigger is better. Good luck getting in these, too.

7)    Forewords and blurbs written by well-known authors and celebrities. They do this because they a) adore your book, or b) it gets them publicity. B is what happens 99% of the time, so if your book won’t get them good publicity, they probably aren’t going to bother giving you a blurb or writing your foreword, unless they happen to be a very close relative (like your mother).

8)    Find a rich mate who will fund your writing business and let you work full-time making no  money for decades.

9)     Don’t croak too young.

I hope my advice and my tips help you navigate through the world of publishing, traditional and self. Good luck to you all, my writing friends. Meet you at the top of the publishing world or at least at the pub.


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Pat Brown’s ONLY THE TRUTH

Harkening back to the writing styles of the earlier American authors – John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, and Carson McCullers, "Only the Truth" is a story of soul searching, a psychological mystery which examines the question, “Whom should one love and when should one quit doing so?” Billy Ray, a lonely and rather slow, uneducated African-American man living in the mountains of Tennessee, runs across a mysterious young woman at the railroad tracks. She asks to go home with him and Billy Ray takes her with him as she requests. He comes to love this woman, Charlene, unconditionally. She is the only woman he has ever loved, and life is finally good for Billy Ray. Then Charlene shoots the neighbor and burns down the neighbor’s house. His happy life destroyed, a confused and devastated Billy Ray is at a loss. Is the woman he loves “just a troubled girl” or a psychopathic killer? Billy Ray sets out on a quest to find the truth, only the truth, whether it leads him to be able to save Charlene from a death sentence or it frees him from her spell.


About the Author

Pat Brown is a nationally known criminal profiler and television commentator. She is the CEO of The Sexual Homicide Exchange and president of The Pat Brown Criminal Profiling Agency. Having made over two thousand television and radio appearances in the United States and worldwide, Pat Brown is well known for her crime commentary and for her profiling and forensic analysis. She can be seen regularly on MSNBC, CNN, FOX, NBC, and CBS, and is a frequent guest of Nancy Grace, Dr. Drew, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Inside Edition, and The Today Show, Pat Brown was the host and profiler for the 2004 Discovery Channel documentary, The Suspicious Death of Cleopatra and the 2010 Discovery Channel "Mystery Files" in which she revealed a new Jack the Ripper suspect. Pat Brown is also the author of "Killing for Sport: Inside the Minds of Serial Killers" (Phoenix Books 2008), The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths (Hyperion Voice 2010), and the upcoming How to Save Your Daughter's Life (HCI Sept 2012), and The Murder of Cleopatra (Prometheus Feb 2013).

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Find the Body and Prove We Killed Her


No body, no case. While this is not always so, it is quite rare to see homicide or manslaughter charges levied against someone unless there is exceptionally strong evidence that a person has been killed and there is also substantial proof of how they were done in and who did it. As it stands today, we have no such level of proof in the case of missing Madeleine McCann; what we have is a child who hasn't shown up in five years, no evidence of abduction, alerts from cadaver dogs, and very concerning behavior and statements from the McCanns and their friends and family.

Let me reiterate; I find no proof of abduction nor proof that Maddie is alive. I believe the evidence more likely supports the theory that Maddie died in the vacation apartment and her body was removed from there. If the cadaver dogs are accurate in their alerts that a body was in the apartment on May 3rd, 2007 and was moved in the hire car that the McCanns rented weeks later, then the body was hidden locally and moved to another location at a later date. If we follow this theory, the following scenario is the one I believe most likely, having now spent time in Portugal and Praia da Luz.

Following physical and behavioral evidence, I would theorize that Maddie died in the apartment and lay behind the couch until she was discovered. With panic ensuing, the body would most likely have been moved by Gerry in a hurry to a location far enough away from the apartment to not immediately have suspicion fall upon the parents. This location would not be very secure, but because of the very limited time frame Gerry would have had to work with, Maddie would have been simply hidden in the weeds, or under an object or in an open isolated structure. Then, I believe with an hour or so to work with in the early hours of the morning, Gerry may have decided it would behoove him to find a better hiding location and this I believe is most likely to be in a gully on the side of the Rocha Negra, accessible from the beach and full of loose dirt, stones, and rocks that would allow for a quick burial (see previous blog; On Moving and Hiding Bodies).

Then, when Kate told the PJ that she had a dream about Maddie's body being on a slab of rock and the cadaver dogs were heading to Praia da Luz, Gerry might have decided it would be better to find a location away from the town where she would never be found. Some think the body was stored in a freezer at some point but I find this unlikely. If there is some evidence in the vehicle of a body having been on ice, I would be more likely to believe it was literally on ice in the boot. In other words, ice was placed in the boot in a bag or bags as a method of keeping the body cold during transport. Taking the body to an inside location, storing it in a large freezer, and then moving it yet again seems like an awful lot of extra moving of the body and, usually, a person works in the direction of having the body disappear and doesn't take the risk of bringing the body  closer to him and keeping it around for discovery. Bodies found in freezers or kept in freezers usually have that location as the first place of rest, not an intermediary one.

There is also speculation that Gerry and Kate might have had a contingent of helpers outside of the Tapas 7 which I also find hard to accept. The more people one brings in on a criminal undertaking, the more likely it is that someone will open their mouth, even accidentally. Gerry is smart enough to know this is an unacceptable danger (any of the Tapas 7 knowing anything is bad enough but this may have been unavoidable and they may have more at stake to keep them quiet than people uninvolved in the evening of May 3rd and previous days and nights). He is also controlling enough to want to take care of things as best he can by himself.

Before coming to Portugal, I entertained a number of possibilities: the Huelva baths in Spain where the McCanns went just as the cadaver dogs were arriving, removal back to the UK, and incineration. Each had its interesting possibilities but each also seemed a bit too difficult to accomplish (although by no means am I saying such actions would have been impossible) and it is a pretty good rule of thumb that people do what is easier to manage and simpler to pull off. Because of this, I came to two more probable conclusions, both involving Gerry driving the body to a location he felt was secluded and unlikely to be discovered. I was particularly interested in the activities of the McCann in the days before the Huelva trip when Gerry's phone pinged repeatedly in an area to the west of Praia da Luz along the road to Budens, (estre EN125). I also found it interesting that the day he was to leave for Huelva, he was not feeling well, having a bit of an upset stomach. This led me to theorize he could have used that day to move the body or to recover from moving it the day before. I decided when I got to Praia da Luz, I would take a trip down that road to the west and see whether there were any suitable places to lose a body forever.

The first place I looked for was the kind of location for a “proper burial” to occur, a place with some kind of religious significance like an isolated spot in view of a little chapel so that Kate and Gerry could feel they had done right by their daughter, a place they could find again and stop by to spend time with Maddie, to pray for her. Being that Portugal is a heavily Catholic country, I imagined there might be dozens of small chapels along the route much as one can find a plethora of little mandirs (temples) in India as one travels down just about any rural road.

Cemetery on Outskirts of Town
Interestingly, I found none to speak of. I found churches but they were all stuck right in the middle of town. I did find a couple of graveyards on the outskirts of town which had curious possibilities in that inside the walls of these small cemeteries, there were quite a few graves with just a mound of dirt over the body rather than a concrete structure; some folks obviously lacked the money to pay for these nice amenities and had to bury their loved ones in a very simple fashion. When they came into more money, they could then top the grave site with a proper tombstone. In theory, if one could access such a location, one could bury a small body in an already dug grave, put back the displaced dirt and no one would be the wiser that the grave contained an extra corpse. Not a bad concept, but these graveyards appeared to be locked and monitored, so one would have to scale the walls to get in. Possible? Yes, but not probable.













So, I found no really good location within the ping area for Gerry to give Maddie a spiritual resting place. I did find an interesting spot, however, that I thought might have stood in nicely as it had a beautiful view which included the Rocha Negra in the distance.

And up at the top of a hill  overlooking the spot, there appeared to be a cross which would lend some special religious significance, like God looking down upon Madeleine in her final resting place. This location, the Forte de Almadena, is open to the public down a short road that one can access after dark. During the day, there appear to be times when no one is there.

There are the remains of a fort and, nearby, odd mounds of soft dirt that actually already look like a set of graves. Retired British police officer, PM, and I brought out the metal detector and spade and investigated a number of them.



 
The metal detector found nothing. Since it was possible Maddie could have been buried in the oft-discussed missing sports bag, I was wanting to see if the detector would find any metal, metal that might be on that bag. If Maddie's body were buried shallowly under the ground in a sports bag, metal rings attaching a strap or metal zippers (although zippers these days are almost all vinyl) could set off the metal detector. Unfortunately, it remained silent.


Then PM dug trenches across the mounds; we found nothing. Then we drove up to look at the cross we saw on the hill; it turned out to be a windsock. So much for the religious significance, although, if we thought it was a cross, so could Gerry.

Does that mean Maddie couldn’t be buried at the Fort? No, it is still possible. There is a bit of land around it that we did not have the time to totally explore. But, then, I found a better place.

Gerry seemed to be on that road west over a period of three days which to date has not been explained. Was he looking and looking for a spot to bury a body? Driving off the main road to see if there was a good place to move Maddie to? PM and I found an excellent place within hours of leaving Praia da Luz, so I see no reason why Gerry couldn’t have found it as well. However, there is no religious significance to this location; it would simply be a great place to hide a body and never have it discovered.

Would he choose this? Part of me fought against it, thinking these parents, especially Kate, would find comfort and some validation as good parents and Christians if they buried Maddie in a religious place of some kind. However, Gerry seems to be quite practical and rather cold and calculating and he simply may have decided, Kate’s feelings be damned, that making sure the body was never found was of paramount importance and they would have to live with it.

 Monte do Jose Mestre. This huge, desolate area covers many square metres and is filled with a considerable network of dirt roads. Looking down on the area from atop the highest hill is a row of windmills. Small trees and bushes are scattered throughout and the dirt is not impossible to dig in. Gerry had just returned from England and I wouldn’t be surprised, if he is involved in disposing of Maddie’s body, that he brought a small shovel back with him, one that could be tossed into the bushes when he finished digging the grave or thrown away in a dumpster on the way back to Praia da Luz. If the body is buried out there, it would be unlikely to ever be found unless a large contingent of searchers and dogs descended upon the area and then it would still be pretty lucky if they located a grave. I hope, however, this is done sometime in the future.  I would like to know if Maddie is there or not.

Views of Monte do Jose Mestre below.





Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

NOW on Amazon Kindle for $2.99! Only the Truth, my newest book,  a literary mystery. Enjoy!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: On Moving and Hiding Bodies


The Rocha Negra
"Friends help friends move; Great friends help friends move bodies."

Getting stuck with a corpse is not one of those events we anticipate ever having to deal with, unless we are an experienced serial killer. For the uninitiated, panic is the primary emotion at the moment one finds themselves with a dead body and desperation and fear are panic's close companions. Fear of ending up in prison for the rest of one's life, desperation to prevent such a repercussion, and, panic, as one tries to get rid of the damning evidence in a short period of time.

The problem with unpremeditated crimes  is that one usually has little time to think, to cover up what has occurred, and get rid of evidence sufficiently. Most nonserial killers also have the added problem of the victim being connected to them in some way; a wife, a husband, a girlfriend or boyfriend, a child. The police will be showing up on one's doorstep and one has to actually report the person missing at some point and one needs an alibi. Serial killers target strangers (or mild acquaintances) and no one has a clue they are connected in any way to a crime in their community. They have ample time to dump or hide bodies and toss clothing or weapons. By the time a serial killer becomes a suspect, often he doesn't need to worry about an alibi because years have gone by.

Not the same situation for a domestic homicide. The body of the victim usually is lying in the middle of one's living room floor or dead in the bedroom. The person is going to be missed shortly - at school, at work, by friends and family. And we often quickly suspect a relative if that relative was the last to see  the victim alive, especially if he doesn't report the individual missing for days. So what the panicked perpetrator needs to do is get rid of the body immediately, try to stage some sort of abduction, and then report the person missing as soon as possible. This way, he looks as innocent and as concerned as he can and, if lucky, he can try to establish some alibi though this is often difficult (and nearly impossible without involving family or friends).

Because of the fear of what the autopsy will discover and the possibility of DNA and trace evidence linking back to the perpetrator of a domestic homicide, it is common for the offender to attempt to hide the body extremely well or destroy it entirely. Serial killers and sex predators often just dump the body like garbage a mile or so from their home, not worrying all that much that any evidence will be connected back to them unless they have their DNA in the CODIS system and a match will identify them. So when a body isn't found after someone goes missing out of a house, police tend to take a strong look at whomever was at the same location as the victim at the time the person disappeared. This does not mean there aren't some serial killers who work harder at hiding bodies; they may bury them on their property, feed them to pigs, or toss them down mine shafts. But, it is far more common, especially with child sex predators, to dump the body quickly, usually within an hour of two of the abduction, rape, and murder of the little victim. Very few children taken for sexual purposes under the age of five aren't found dead and found dead fairly quickly; those that remain missing often are cases in which abduction is not proven and the parents are person-of-interest.

On the Beach in Praia da Luz Early in the AM
So, on May 3, 2007, if Madeleine McCann did die in Apartment 5A in Praia da Luz and her father or mother or both  found themselves in that unexpected nightmare of dealing with a body, what would they do? Kate and Gerry would likely fear arrest  and imprisonment for one or both of them for murder - even if for second degree homicide as in an overdose or an overdose leading to an accident, or for manslaughter due to neglect and an accident  - if there was something the autopsy would uncover. They would have to get rid of the body, any evidence of Maddie's demise, stage an abduction, and he and Kate would  need need alibis that would cover the time that Maddie would have been "abducted."

If Maddie died in the vacation apartment, it would seem the McCanns were successful at all of the above, barring the alerting of the cadaver and blood dogs to locations and items in the apartment and hire car. And the most important aspect of the cover-up issues is the losing of the body permanently; no body, rarely an arrest. The history of missing children with parents who are suspects has proven this over and over. In just the last few years we have in the United States a number of cases that come to mind: Haleigh Cummings, Ayla Reynolds, Sky Metalwalla, Jhessye Shockley, Kyron Horman, and Lisa Irwin. No bodies, no arrests although at least one parent is a top person-of-interest in all of these cases.

So, let's say Gerry really was seen by the Smith family at 9:50 pm, dumped Maddie's body, and then hurried back to the Tapas restaurant. Why would he bother to move her body? Why not let the police find it and think an abductor took Maddie, killed her, and got rid of her? Likely because of what autopsy might determine (drugs in body, head trauma, positional asphyxiation) and what the autopsy might not determine (violent sexual assault and strangulation by a predator) and trace evidence that might link back to the McCanns and no one else. So, if the McCanns covered up the death of Madeleine, they would have to be sure her body was not found, if at all possible. Maddie's body would have to be moved to a fairly secretive location.

Some might say then that it must have been one brilliant location her body was hidden in that the police never thought of looking because it was never found. Others might say because her body wasn't found in the area, the McCanns must have nothing to do with the crime because they only had a few hours in the early morning hours to move Maddie's body to a better spot and how would they have accomplished this so well in so short a time?

Well, mostly by luck. Luck plays an interesting role in a lot of crimes. One would think bodies of children that families try to dispose of in a hurry should be very easy to find but they are not, often because they are quite tiny and easy to stuff into a variety of places or they get lost in a large expanse of land. That the cadaver dogs didn't hit months later out in the open of Praia da Luz does not mean an abductor trundled Maddie out of town; it doesn't mean that her body wasn't hidden somewhere in the area for a period of time. Although false positives are extremely rare for cadaver dogs, false negatives are more common and it is hard to prove the dogs missed a spot when, well, they missed it. With changing weather conditions and numerous other factors, where a body may have been hidden temporarily may be overlooked by dogs,  the smell having wafted off, well contained, or somehow not being noticeable enough.

False positives and negatives work like perfume; suppose a husband is having an affair with his secretary. She spritzes herself with perfume and the two go to a bar, take a walk in the park, and then come back to the bedroom he shares with his wife and has sex with her there. That afternoon after work, the wife hears a rumor that her husband was seen at the bar and the park with this woman. She goes to both locations, and she doesn't smell the woman's perfume; the bar is too contaminated with massive numbers of odors and the park is too large to figure out where the couple may have been and even the bench the couple sat on and hugged and kissed has been rained on and wind has blown through the spot. But, when the woman gets home, the fragrance of the woman's perfume hits her at the front door, is stronger in the bedroom, and when she picks up her husband's shirt off out of the laundry basket, she is nearly knocked out by the odor. There is no way she could be mistaken about the perfume in her house but just because she missed it at the bar and in the park doesn't mean the couple wasn't there as well.

This is an oversimplification of cadaver dogs and their abilities, but I just want you to get an understanding of why outdoor searches are so difficult, even for the best of dogs. Of course, if they alert on a spot in the middle of the landscape, this certainly is significant, but, not hitting anywhere does not hold the same importance as  making a alert.

So, was Maddie hidden somewhere around Praia da Luz in a public area? Very possibly, in spite of the fact the dogs did not discover that place. She also could have been hidden in a private location but that would be far less likely considering the very few hours the McCanns, if they were involved, had to hide her body. They would have to find a place quickly, nearby, within walking distance, someplace they had a clue existed. The most likely possibilities would be where the McCanns had spent time, walked around or jogged past; it is night and one cannot spend hours scouring unknown rugged areas. That might come later, but it would be unlikely to occur on May 4th before the sun rose.

On the Right Side of Beach Access
Beach Access near Smith Sighting
Sometime after the locals and police had pretty much called it a night for searching, there would be an opportunity for Gerry or Gerry with Kate or Gerry with David Payne to find a good location to put Maddie's body. If I were in Gerry shoes (if he was involved in Maddie's demise and/or disappearance) and had a wife or friend to help me or if I had to do it alone, here are the places I would have considered and rejected. One is anything to the west of the area of the overturned boats (where the road accesses the beach and has good temporary hiding places; see my previous blog post).



Not a great spot to walk or hide a body

I walked further down that direction and it is very difficult to traverse it at night. Lots of craggy, uneven rocks, and no place I could find that would be a good place to stash a body. If one went back up on the road and walked down past the houses, there is a bit of an area that one could bury a body, but that burial site would be hard to disguise.


Trash Bins to East of Beach Access
There are some trash bins which could be a possibility but that would negate the later cadaver dog evidence in the hire car unless some object transferred cadaver odor to that location like a bag or clothing. However, the trash bins  were searched and nothing found unless something was missed.

From the overturned boat area, there is a bit of a beach to the east, full of rocks, which then ends at a stone structure that juts into the water before the church. There were a few places to stuff a body, but I doubt a body could have stayed hidden.

There is the drain, but, again, not a good hiding place except for an hour or two.

From Center of Praia da Luz to West Beach
From the location of the church over to the rocks of the Rocha Negra, there is just beach and no real hiding places. Some have mentioned the Roman Ruins which can be accessed from the boardwalk. It is a very small enclosed location and while I did find one spot one could hide a small body, for the long run, one would think a maintenance person who worked there would find the corpse.

Paraiso Restaurant on Left
So, that leaves the Rocha Negra itself, the obsession of Kate McCann as she mentions it again and again in her book and even called the police to say she had a dream Maddie was on a slab up on the rocks. This is an area both the McCanns were familiar with. One can sit on the deck having lunch at the Paraiso Restaurant and the Rocha Negra  is right in front of you. The McCanns also jogged near and on the Rocha Negra as well.

Foot of Rocha Negra on Beach
There are three possible areas one could try to hide a body on the Rocha Negra. Retired British police officer, PM, and I toured the various areas to see if there was a place we felt was more likely than others that one could move a body to in the wee hours of the morning. We located three possibilities: at the foot of the rocks on the beach or in the water, in the gullies on the slopes, and on the land on the top of the cliffs. At the foot, it first appears this is not a bad choice (above right) and, if it were low tide one could hide a body under rocks and gravel right there at the base where the cliffs meet the sand. However, in higher tide, this is not possible and one has to worry about the smell hitting sunbathers, joggers, and hikers on the beach. It is possible, but not probable. Dumping the body in the water only to have it come back in the tide or trying to pin it under a rock is not very wise if one doesn't want the body to resurface unexpectedly.
Rocks to Beach at Rocha Negra

Rex the Dog's Grave
Next, PM drove me up to the area where one can follow trails up the grassy hills to the very top of the cliffs. We found a dog, Rex, buried here, so it is possible to dig a grave, although the ground is very hard at that location and one would need a shovel to be successful. Also, while it is possible to walk or run to this location (and Gerry was in good shape), it is quite far to go carrying a child, then have to dig a grave, and run back. Furthermore, a fresh grave in the hills would be quite obvious. I didn't think it would be a good choice.

Gullies to Beach on Rocha Negra
Rocha Negra Gully
Then, PM and I explored the gullies that come down the side of the Rocha Negra. This area really sparked my interest. The gullies that were accessible from the beach were only a five minute walk from downtown Praia da Luz.

One can climb up and up (I doubt many do this for hiking as they are not very inviting) and these gullies have a massive amount of rocks and gravel in them and around them which are easy to move and cover a body with.

videoFinding a crevice, secreting a small body, and covering it with a pile of rocks would not take that long. On a night with a full moon, one would not even need a flashlight to accomplish this. The spot would be up and out of the way of beachcombers and a good location unless one thought cadaver dogs were going to be set loose on it. At the time Maddie went missing, no one was looking for a body and as long as an abduction was promulgated and a live child searched for, the PJ weren't bringing in cadaver dogs, which they didn't, until the McCanns became Arguidos (suspects).

Right next to the beach a few metres from the gully area is a road and  public parking spaces (if one wanted to remove the body later and transport it elsewhere.





The cadaver dogs supposedly did search some of the Rocha Negra. I don't know if a moved body, perhaps a well-wrapped on, might not have left a scent for the dogs to find or whether there was never a body there. But, this very accessible location on the side of the Rocha Negra would be my top choice for where I would hide a body if I only had a short period of time and couldn't go very far.

At this point, there is not enough evidence to prove in court that the McCanns are involved with the disappearance of the daughter, Madeleine, or that they moved her body or exactly where they could have moved her body if they were. But, when one puts oneself in the mind of a person desperate to hide a body, it is interesting what one sees as possibilities.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

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