What happened to Madeleine McCann?

Review of The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann Directed by Chris Smith, Executive Producer Emma Cooper
Rating *****

Eight part Netflix documentary series

As a fan of documentary series, I was quick to put the Madeleine McCann docuseries into my watch list. But then I sat on it for a while. After all, I already know that Madeleine is still missing. There is no conclusion. Don’t let that knowledge sway you from watching this fascinating series.

This eight-part Netflix documentary series hits on numerous topics with Madeleine’s disappearance and her parent’s efforts to find her always at the center. What starts out as a case of a missing child, evolves over time into one misstep after another.

Madeleine disappeared in May of 2007. Just about anyone who follows world events knows parts of the story. It’s widely known that the parents became prime suspects at one point. What isn’t as widely known is how inept the initial investigation was. Chief detective Gonçalo Amaral is a model of incompetence. First, he goes after a Portuguese citizen who lived nearby and showed more interest in Madeleine’s disappearance than seemed warranted, according to members of the press who pointed him out. Once Gonçalo had his suspect in his sights, he began an all-out assault against this man. When the man wouldn’t confess, he used the media to put pressure on him.

Next Gonçalo goes after the parents because of some inconsistencies in their statements and some questionable evidence derived from two dogs. The basic theory is that Madeleine was drugged by her parents to get her to go to sleep and that she died as a result of an apparent overdose. The parents then concocted the kidnapping story to cover up their negligence. If you want to see how investigators can develop tunnel vision and then manipulate evidence to fit their theory, this case is example one. When the people with the McCann’s party dispute the investigator’s version of events, Gonçalo concludes that they are all lying. When DNA evidence clears the parents of any involvement, Gonçalo claims that the results were manipulated.

Other topics that are covered include false confessions, child pornography rings, fraudulent investigative agencies, social media’s impact on driving public perception, mistaken identity, and media bias.

A lot of money was spent on efforts to locate Madeleine. There were several different hotlines setup looking for leads. But I don’t remember seeing anything regarding a reward. Seems to me that a reward would have been a logical first step.

Madeleine may still be missing, but she has not been forgotten.

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