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- May 14, 2012
- Vol. 77
- No. 20
Madeleine McCann: Is She Alive?
Nearly Five Years to the Day Since the Toddler Vanished, British Police Say They Have New Reason for Hope
It's a bittersweet day filled with memories and tears. But this year, as Madeleine McCann's ninth birthday nears, her parents feel they may have reason to celebrate. On April 25 Scotland Yard declared that a yearlong review of the tot's May 2007 disappearance from the family's rented Portugal vacation home has yielded nearly 200 fresh leads-"genuinely new material" that suggests she could still be alive.
A week after the last alleged sighting of Madeleine-this time in Spain-the news gave the McCanns a much-needed spirit boost. Though Portuguese police said April 26 that they will not yet reopen the case they shelved in 2008, Gerry, 43, and Kate, 44-both doctors, and both briefly eyed as suspects before being cleared-were still "hugely encouraged," said their family spokesman. And the review isn't over: With more than 100,000 documents from three separate investigations-by local police, the McCanns' private eyes and the Portuguese cops-British police say they're just a quarter way through.
On May 3 the McCanns privately observed the fifth anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance with friends, relatives and twins Sean and Amelie, 7. "For us it's just another day," Gerry told PEOPLE in 2010-the "harder" day, Kate added, being her birthday. "They have good days and bad," says a friend. "Coping has become their normality."
As has waiting. But from this latest twist, they've drawn new strength. "Every time they have doubts, something like Jaycee Dugard happens," says the friend. "So they think, 'Hang on-we're not wrong to have hope.'"
- Simon Perry/London.
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