Gerry McCann was at work when it happened; his wife, Kate, was at their home in Rothley, England, taking care of their 3-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie. By then they already knew that the big announcement on July 21—billed by Portugal's attorney general as a "solution" to the disappearance of the McCanns' daughter Madeleine 14 months earlier—would be considerably less than that. The case "has been archived," said Att. Gen. Fernando Jose Pinto Monteiro, "as no proof that any crime has been committed by the arguidos [suspects] has been obtained."

In giving up the search for Madeleine, Portuguese officials also cleared the McCanns as suspects—after months of making them the focus of the investigation. Being named suspects "has been devastating," an emotional Kate McCann, 40, said in a July 21 press conference. "It has had a very negative effect on the search for Madeleine."

The pretty, boisterous girl was just days away from her fourth birthday when, on May 3, 2007, she vanished from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, as her parents dined with friends at a nearby tapas bar. Despite rumors of DNA evidence linking the McCanns to the crime, Portuguese police apparently had no solid leads or evidence. Now that they are cleared, the McCanns can examine all of the police files kept from them when they were suspects, so that they can keep searching for Madeleine. "We want ... to see what still can be done," said Gerry, 40, a cardiologist. Added Kate, a doctor who has yet to go back to work: "We can assure you we will never give up on Madeleine."

  • Contributors:
  • Pete Norman/London.