Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: The Madeleine McCann Letter

Someone has sent a letter to the Dutch press claiming that he knows where little Madeleine McCann is buried. Apparently this fellow had sent a similar letter last year when the police were searching for the missing Belgian sisters, Stacy and Nathalie, which arrived just on the day they were found. Is this a hoax or could this be the abductor of all three girls? Now, there was an arrest made in the case of the murdered Belgian girls, but this letter writer is said to have known where they were buried by the train tracks and so the police are taking the Madeleine letter fairly seriously.

Let’s profile this letter and see what the possibilities are. First of all, the Belgian girls were killed within hours of their abduction and if Madeleine’s body really is where this writer says it is – seven miles from the resort from which she was taken – I think we can eliminate the pedophile ring scenario (a scenario I never really bought). The Belgian girls were raped and killed quickly; there was no transporting of them anywhere and certainly no time to do any selling of them or videotaping of them being tortured and murdered. If Madeleine is found right in the vicinity of the resort, we can eliminate any fancy sex ring kidnapping little kids for profit.

Therefore, in both cases, we would have a pedophile or a pedophile duo grabbing and amusing themselves, not involving themselves in organized crime. The letter writer could, in theory, be a traveling man and have gone to Belgium, found a couple of victims, left the country and sent the letter when he was back at home in Holland. He could have been on the road again, come across another child left unattended (the Belgian girls were left to play in the street at midnight while their parents were drinking it up inside a bar), grabbed her, raped her and killed her, and then gone back home to Holland where he once again writes a letter at leisure to the newspaper he must read all the time. He would be a publicity lover and get a kick out of having the girls found and reading about the discovery over his morning coffee. Of course, there was a man convicted of the sisters’ murder but it is possible he isn’t guilty, just a dupe, and the real killer finds this annoying and wants to set the record straight.

This is one possible scenario. However, there is a problem with it. It is said that the letter writer was right on the money as to where the sisters’ bodies would be found. I beg to differ. The letter writer marked a location that turned out to be one mile away from where the girls were found. This wouldn’t be such a big deal if he was one mile off from where he claimed Madeleine would be found – six miles or seven miles on a lonely road – well, maybe he just didn’t remember exactly how far he drove, but being one mile off of the sisters’ dump site is a different story entirely.

The sisters’ bodies were found within 300 meters of the bar, not over a mile from the bar. I would think a killer well know the difference between “at the end of the block” and “more than a mile down the road.” Furthermore, a killer who leaves the kids at the end of the block probably doesn’t have a car and the one who would leave them more than a mile away would have to have a car to carry them that far.

At this point, unless Madeleine is found exactly where the letter writer claims, the letters were probably the work of an armchair detective who just guessed where he thought they might be. If you add to this toss of the dice to all the possible locations any other tipster gave and all the psychics gave, someone is likely to get lucky and get close to the right spot.

The police, of course, would be remiss not to check this out just to be sure they aren’t ignoring a serial killer’s clues. But, chances are, there are two different pedophiles at work in these crimes. Unattended children are easy targets for pedophiles and just because the MO is similar, it doesn’t mean there is just one guy committing the crimes. Yes, there is a serial killer of children out there, but whether there is one serial killer or two serial killers involved in these crimes remains to be seen.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown


Ronni said...

It is so discouraging when cases such as this one and Natalee Holloway drag on for so long. I hope they find Madeline.

mairead said...

I think this is absolutely the fairest commentary I have read on the Madeleine case, and it is full of sense and totally unbiased.
Thank you very much for this, Pat.