Desperate Days: The Madeleine McCann Mystery

10/04/2007 at 12:00 PM EDT

Desperate Days: The Madeleine McCann Mystery
Sept. 30, 2007: "She's got two beautiful twins and loves them dearly," says family friend Jon Corner of Kate (on her way to church). "She's fighting to give them love, attention and focus. Inside she's absolutely aching for Madeleine."
Peter Corns/Express UK/Zuma
Desperate Days: The Madeleine McCann Mystery| Madeleine McCann

Sept. 30, 2007: "I've seen them in private, both crying," says Mitchell of the McCanns (in Rothley). "They are only human like everybody else."

PA photos / AP

As for the reports that the McCanns have hired private investigators to carry out their own search, much of the talk has focused on Morocco. "We feel it is as valid a place for looking for Madeleine as anywhere else," says Mitchell, without confirming anything. "Suffice to say, Kate and Gerry will leave no stone unturned in their search for Madeleine." Mitchell adds that one thing the family has not done is hire any investigators in Portugal, which would be illegal in that country because there is an ongoing official investigation.

Ironically, the couple have seized upon the dearth of clues as grounds for encouragement, however faint. "As the massive investigation and extensive search did not find any evidence of serious harm to Madeleine," Gerry wrote on his blog, "we started to hope she would be found alive." Those in their camp say they still cling tenaciously to that hope. Walking home from church this past Sunday, Sean and Amelie scooting on ahead of them playfully, the McCanns put their arms around each other's waist. Then Kate could be seen rubbing Gerry's back, as if consoling him. How much it helped in these darkest hours, perhaps even they could not say.

By Bill Hewitt. Pete Norman and Sara Hammel in Praia da Luz, Ellen Tumposky and Shelley Akersin Rothley, Simon Perry in London and Dimi Gaidatzi in Liverpool

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