Thursday, November 22, 2007

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: The Last Photo of Madeleine McCann: Fact or Fake?

Some people think that the final photo of Madeleine McCann at the pool with Gerry and her sister, Amelie, is a forgery. The claim is that the photo really was only of Gerry and Amelie and that Madeleine was added in through photo enhancement, a ploy to cover up the fact she was already dead by early afternoon on day she was said to have gone missing.

I have to admire the effort to consider this possibility and the effort put out to analyze all the details of the photo and question some of the elements. It is always good to be curious enough to delve into an aspect of a case and see if there could be any clues there.

In this case, I would have to say the explanations of the photo being a fake are not strong enough for me to believe that Maddie’s death/disappearance occurred earlier than 6 PM in the evening.

My thoughts on the photo:

1) While it is true the picture is not perfectly composed with a centering of the threesome (and if Madeleine is not in the picture, then Gerry and Amelie are in the middle), this is not all that uncommon. With the advent of electronic photography, photos are snapped much more carelessly than when one had to pay for developing the prints. Cameras now are used more often as spontaneous recorders of events rather than composed photos for display.

2) That Madeleine’s outline is not overlapped by any person or object is likely just coincidence. If one snaps enough photos, some of them will have isolated objects.

3) The fact the brother is not in the photo simply means he was running about. Again, this is not a posed family portrait.

4) The fact Madeleine is laughing at something out of sight and her father and sister are not laughing is not particularly meaningful. Children tend to laugh spontaneously at whatever they think is funny. Sometime this is just something that strikes them amusing such as their big toe or an expression on someone’s face.

5) The fact that Madeleine is not in a swimsuit proves little. The outfits on the girls look like play outfits and the trio just happened by the pool area and sat down to relax and dangle their feet in the water.

6)The mo st telling clue in this photo that tends to go against the possibility of any forgery is in the clothing of Madeleine and Amelie. Take Maddie out of the picture and what you have is a little girl dressed in a horribly clashing outfit; an orange play suit and a fancy pink hat. Mothers do not tend to put such an outfit on their children and let them out of the house that way (especially a mother who is as fashion conscious as Kate). Maddie’s white hat would look better with her clothing.

The sportier white hat on Madeleine’s head does not clash with her girlier pink dress-like outfit, but that pink hat on Amelie’s head would go with it better. Put the two girls together on an outing and my guess is they started off with the better matching hat, and through play, the girls ended up with the other’s hat on their heads.

It really makes little sense that this photo would be manufactured. If Madeleine had been missing for the majority of the day, there would be far too long a period of time to account for and greater likelihood that Maddie’s invisibility would have been noticed. Furthermore, if she was killed in the morning, it would have been far easier for the McCanns to simply claim that while they were out at the playground or popping in and out of stores while they were shopping, they turned around and Maddie was gone. It is a much simpler story.

But, if Maddie died in the apartment while Gerry was at tennis, or after he came back, or during the tapas bar rendezvous, then the children were already in for the night and the chances of an abduction from the apartment story being created makes far more sense.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown


Anonymous said...

More on the Last Photo Here:

Anonymous said...

The most telling thing, when you are adding something to a photo, as is alleged by some in this case, are the shadows and the quality of the lighting on the subjects.

They are the hardest aspect to contrive or alter. The shadows are so hard that the easiest thing to do would be to stage a photo as the donor image such that the subject were placed carefully and the photo taken at the right time for the shadow angles to match.

To contrive and execute such manipulation while on holiday seems far fetched, to say the least.

preraphazon said...

If they premeditated killing her and they were thinking about using the camera as evidence, then they would have staged a genuine photo before rather than faked one up. The camera should record the time of the image and the original shot be recorded on its memory drive, I should think. Usually they're numbered, so if a photo in sequence is missing, examination of the memory or drive or whatever they're using should show a gap.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown said...

This was NOT a premediated crime unless it was a pedophile abduction. I cannot buy any theory that the McCanns went off to Portugal with a plan to off their daughter. And, if they had planned to do such a thing, they sure picked a hard way to do it.

No, if Madeleine came to harm at her parents' hands, it would have been an accident or a result of frustration gone overboard.

SE109 said...

I don't believe that photo was forged. However, I was wondering if you had seen the interview where Gerry is asked about sedating the children and he looks down at his knee avoiding eye contact and then scratches his ear. Avoiding eye contact and scratching your ear are both signs that someone is lying. I wanted to know your thoughts on this. The video is on youtube if you haven't seen it.

Your right, Gerry's entire blog is pretty weird but his entry on Madeline's sixth month anniversary was just disturbing. Particularly when he states "It is so painful for us simply being separated, but all the more distressing when we have to speculate about the situation Madeleine finds herself in. We have no idea whether she is suffering but we have to hope and pray that she is being treated like a princess, as she deserves." When he says "the situation madeline finds herself in" it's like he's blaming her for whatever happened. They've really absolved themselves from any form of guilt which is apparent from them still refusing to admit they did anything wrong by leaving three children alone so they could go enjoy themselves. The princess comment was just weird. Who talks like that? There was no real emotion behind it. It was empty and fake. Like a corny line from a movie that brings you back to reality and makes you roll your eyes.

SE109 said...

Oh, I also wanted to mention if you'd notice on Gerry's blog when he refers to people he usually refers to them as well wishers or other names but when he's specifically talking about the general public and he uses the word people he ALWAYS puts ordinary in front of it. Ordinary people. He does this a few times. It just really stuck out to me because I don't think I've ever heard someone refer to people as ordinary people. They just say people. And I follow celebrity gossip sites a lot. And no I don't consider them celebrities but apparently Gerry disagrees with me.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown said...

You know, se109, this couple makes so many weird statements, it is hard to keep up with them! And it helps to have "ordinary people" ::snicker::I just couldn't resist:: like you note the oddities. I had missed that line about the "situation Madeleine finds herself in." And, you are so correct, it makes my skin crawl. It don't know if it is so much blame as the usual refusal to take true responsibility for his actions and also minimize the circumstances (as with that princess bit). He does actually say that he has no idea if she is suffering, which is the first I have seen of any recognition that Madeleine might not be just a house guest somewhere (outside of the one Kate statement where she asked the abductor not to hurt Madeleine).

In the long run, it is the totality of the information that sways the theory. Even a guilty person can can sometimes say ir di the right thing and an innocent person can say the wrong thing or do something dumb. But, it is the pattern over time that leads us to believe a person is either more likely to be innocent or more likely to be guilty

Anonymous said...

Thanks Pat, for your analysis on a very controversial picture.

I wonder why there aren't more holiday photo's of Madeleine or even video's like the one taken on the shuttle bus to the Algarve. Just seems so strange. And then to top it off, the McCanns publish old pictures of Madeleine for posters.

Anonymous said...

I would ask Pat and readers to carry out the following actions with an open mind. It takes only a few minutes.

Ideally save an image onto your PC and open it up in software you can zoom into.

Zoom in to Gerry's lower arm and examine it. See how it disappears behind Amelie's hat. Look closely at the line between Gerry's lower arm and the rocky wall behind. Look at the general shape of the arm. Do you notice anything that looks a little strange? Does this look like an arm to you?

Where is Amelie's right arm? Wouldn't you expect the material of her T-shirt to be pulled back if it was behind her? You can see the frilly edging at the end of the sleeve. So where is her arm?

Now please look at shadows. Draw a line with your finger from the left hand side (as you view it) of Gerry's sunglasses to the corresponding shadow on his T- shirt. To help locate this, you can see the shadow of the arm of his sunglasses on his T-shirt. Note the shadow of his ear. Draw a line from extremity of ear to extremity of shadow of ear. Same angle. You can now project a repeated series of shadow lines from hats and Gerry's chin etc in parallel lines. Dozens of lines all in the same direction.

What a coincidence Madeleine's right arm follows the shadow line exactly. To the nearest degree. If I was going to superimpose Madeleine's image onto a photo but her left arm was going to overlap with other objects, like Amelie's arm, meaning I would have to try to create shadows, I might just create a new arm on Madeleine's right hand side. The easiest way would be to follow the shadow line exactly.

Look at the shadows of Amelie's hat on her T-shirt. Now look at Gerry's shadow of his face and glasses on his T-shirt. Now look at Madeleine's shadow. The shadow of her face appears to exactly end at the top of her dress. Top of her dress, as you view it, no shadow. Shadow above. Blurr your eyes and it exaggerates the effect. If I was superimposing the image of Madeleine, convincing shadows would be the most difficult thing to create. I might be tempted to do exactly what you see here.

Why are Madeleine's legs and her lower dress so washed out and out of focus compared to Amelie's amd Gerry's? Zooming in slightly may make this more noticable.

Ireland Here said...

I don't think it is fake. Gerry has less shadow on the right side (as we look at it) as well as Madeleine. Plus the pool looks to be curved so there is more brightness on the right side of the 3 subjects.

Madeleines Lower body is more faded because she isn't the center of the photo so she isn't the focus, Gerry is what the lense would have focused on so would have taken the clearest picture, everything around the focus point won't be as clear, especially the closer to the camera you get. Also her shorts look to be white, and on such a bright day, with her closest to the picture taker, and not being the focus, that is the best one could get.

Gerrys arm does look odd, very wide for an arm, but photos can be decieving. Though they say the camera never lies, photos can be very decieving.

I also can't see the point in faking a photo either. The only reason to fake it would be to show she was in that spot, alive, with the family at 2.30pm. BUT there are independant witnesses who saw Madeleine up to 5.30pm. (possibly 6pm) She was in the creche. So faking the photo is pointless when there are witnesses who saw her after the 2.30 time.

I'm sure, that almost any photo you pick out, or find on the internet, one could examine it and find many many things to make one think it was a fake. We could do this with almost every single photograph. (especially the ones i take) :)

I honestly don't see a point in faking it. Only if no one saw her that day. But there are witnesses.

Anonymous said...

Re the pink hat & orange dress color clash: note that the orange dress that Amelie is wearing has PINK trim (arms and hem, and front motif), so a pink hat with that dress would be appropriate, tho maybe not stylish! Peace.

Eyes said...

Photographers know about something called EXIF. EXIF stores information about a digital photo, and whether or not it was edited.

While there are ways to edit this information, most people are not aware of it or how to change it.

An expert in photography could probably give a quick and accurate assessment if the EXIF is original, edited or potentially tampered with.

More on EXIF:

Knowing a little about photography myself, the shadows appear to be genuine and detailed across the board of the photo -- indicating it is a real photo of all three of them.

One would have to be very talented artistically to put Maddie in the photo afterwards and get this so accurate.

I believe the photo is genuine, personally.

fritzthekraut said...

First of all thank you very much for your fair and utter intelligent analyses of the 'Case McCann'. I really love to read them.
I agree with you that working about the last photo as a fake is probably a - very honorable and admirable - waste of time. If I had the abilities perhaps I would also try it, because there is a real important problem in the background for those who believe the McCanns staged an abduction: the time frame and trying to broaden it.

As we know (or are told so) the couple had only 2 and a half hour to spirit Madeleine away: Between 6:00 p.m. and about 8:30 p.m. In this 'window of opportunity' there had to happen a terrible fatal accident, they had to overcome the shock and the grief and to make a somehow strange decision, i.e. to hide the corpse and to fake an abduction.

If the news of the reaction of the cadaver dogs inside the appartement 5A are correct, the window even becomes closer, because there has to be some time to develop putrefaction the dogs can smell. The corpse had to be in the dining room for some time, the Portuguese are said to believe 2 hours at last. I think this is an absolute minimum.

If this scenario is so far correct there HAD to be some help of the friends. Then my question would be: In most thinkable scenarios of an deadly accident our couple would have the simple possibility to lie a bit. On weak evidence probably no public prosecutor in the world would accuse them (also out of pity with the grieving parents).
If their friends helped them, why should they do it at all? Just lie a bit and you have probably an real easy way out. The friends were there with their own children, and I can't imagine, they would risk a lot by staging something without some very good reason (for them of course):

No one had guilty feelings about neglecting their children - this is not a good reason - and no one of them seems to have guilty feelings at all, the McCanns inclusive. Everything they did was okay. Why this weird reaction?

I thought a lot about this riddle and some days ago I found - perhaps only for me - a satisfying explanation for what seems to me a psychological problem: If the child had an accident and they tried to help her resulting in a destorted corps - I thought about a tracheostomy - I could imagine the McCanns' doctor friends would help out of distrust for foreign police forces and out of guilty feelings - the McCanns were the newcomers in this holiday group. The rest is history..

A little addendum just for the argument: There was some blood under the tiles of the dining room (so we are told), may be the rest of some bloodshed. In which case of bloodshed responsible caring parents would help some friends who are accountable for her little daughter's death to cover up and thereby risk their own future?

Thinkable or ‘utter rubbish’? I would appreciate it very much if you would give me the honor of your professional opinion (and would forgive my bad English!).

Indiansummer said...

You have been warned early on, the behavior of and K. G. McC. Deute pointed out that they could indeed to be involved. What has made you suspicious? Christian Lüdke: I have in the past few years, many parents care, the children lost through violence. They were mostly under massive shock, were helpless, desperate, went back. Many are also divided. They made their massive accusations, not enough attention to her child to have.
What was the McCanns different? Lüdke: You live quite differently. Publicly, harmonious. Already after a few days, they went jogging, as if nothing would ever were only together. These parents, the public relations into their own hands instead of the police alone. They separated from the other two children, even on Europe tour to go - that seemed questionable. Was it perhaps an accident, which she hush? Lüdke: no. In such a case, it is after the first shock of the police or members confided. Both parents are doctors, in a disaster if they had tried to help or to get help. It is also unrealistic, that two doctors three young children alone in a foreign environment behind, yet this evening. I have many physicians as patients. As professionals, they know what can happen to all children. And, as parents, they are extremely overcautious.
What could have been the motive, which own daughter “to disappear”? Lüdke: There are parents who are not or only a low emotional attachment to their child. Sometimes such children as a contaminated site herumgeschleppt, brutal or abusive nature to be disposed of. The best known is the Münch-house deputies syndrome: Mothers torture their children almost to death, and then get the police, because they have an overwhelming desire for attention.
Do you think it is possible that the parents Madeleine ® together killed and hidden? Lüdke: I think both have at least offender knowledge.
You think the McCanns have the death of their daughter? Lüdke: Yes. It is possible that they are indeed long planned, but at least in the imagination through several times and also among spoke it over. Otherwise, they would contradict himself now.
If the parents are in fact guilty-displace it? Lüdke: Unlikely. You are in clear conscience, give interviews, yes, travel. It is easier for them to deny, as the truth. A psychosis can be ruled out. Much speaks for a mental disorder. The children of the McCanns are to my knowledge been artificially begotten this can cause problems in the partnership. Perhaps it was self-value problems, which were not disclosed. Perhaps the child must die for a problem that has lasted many years.
But the McCanns seem to be the perfect, loving parents. Lüdke: This image to the outside world may be a protective mechanism, as well as the media campaign to the actual problem of defense.
Why not return to Britain? Lüdke: Even that speaks against them. Parents who lose a child, usually want quick to relatives, in familiar surroundings. Because if they continue to reside at the place where they are the worst happened, what parents can befall a child-namely to lose, it means a permanent activation experience. As head in a movie ever again run these images. That the McCanns not return home, where they are beautiful memories of time with their child, this could be an evasion, not to actually deal with it.
The World public to the pope considered it impossible that the parents are guilty. Lüdke: The media are possibly the McCanns on the glue gone. They have very quickly just about them instead of the child. The parents were accompanied like Beckham. On the Internet diary of the father writes almost daily banalities about it and also what shirt he wore, how the weather is. That makes no father, who is desperate. Statistically, 70 percent of all cases of violence against children relationship deeds of their parents, relatives, acquaintances. That unfortunately remained largely ignored. The Portuguese police, who pointed out, was unfairly attacked.
You have suspicions against the parents expressed when hardly anyone wanted to know about it. Have you been criticized? Lüdke: Yes, very solid. There have been open letters, a campaign on the Internet with professional associations. I have not done more than the whole thing as an outsider. Dr. Christian Lüdke worked for ten years as psychologic for crime.

I hope, all can understand this. It is an interview in a german paper. It was one of the first after the disappaerance in a german paper.

Anonymous said...

How do we no when this photo is taken we only have mccanns word it was taken on the 3ed is it possible it was taken a dif day