Madeleine McCann police officers ‘find strips of clothing and bra straps’ as ‘relevant clue’ calls off search and family faces agonizing waits
MADELEINE McCann police officers have found a “relevant lead” after a three-day search for the missing boy at an abandoned reservoir near Praia da Luz.
After digging holes, searching the undergrowth and digging holes at the Abrade Dam, police officers transport the evidence discovered during the excavation to Germany for forensic analysis.
Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha said a “relevant lead” was found during Thursday’s search.
And the discovery led police to focus on a specific area around the dam, with the operation believed to be centered on a “hippie camp.”
It was reported that some of the items found by police were “clothing strips and plastic items.”
They also reported discovering a “bra strap” during the search.
Police are on the hunt for leads as prime suspect Christian B has links to the barren place he reportedly called his “little paradise”.
The sex offender, who roamed the Algarve for years, reportedly frequented the Abrade Dam.
German police are said to have ordered a new search of the area after finding new photos of him there.
Police also denied reports that a manhunt had been launched for a camcorder and gun.
The first results of the forensic tests are expected to be available to scientists next week – but the full report is not expected for months.
Madeleine’s family has to wait in agony while the police continue to try to establish a case against Christian B.
The major operation was the first of its kind since 2014.
German police have said they will issue a statement if searches do not uncover new evidence.
However, if there is new evidence, the statement will be delayed as work is being done to clarify the case.
Police rolled out in force Tuesday for the new Maddie search, including dozens of officers, numerous vehicles and a Rotavator robot.
They worked for three days around the reservoir, which had a lower water level than usual due to a drought.
The site was raided by divers back in 2008 after a local lawyer claimed he had received an “underworld tip”.
He claimed he was told Maddie had been killed and dumped at the dam.
At noon on Thursday, teams began tearing down white tents that had appeared in the search area on Monday.
Vehicles were also seen being loaded with equipment as officers prepared to say goodbye – including Germans who had to make a long convoy journey home across Europe.
Helena Monteiro, the head of Portugal’s Madeleine investigation, was also seen leaving, along with a sniffer dog team and machines used to clear the undergrowth.
When the police lockdown was lifted at 4.30pm yesterday, the search area was found to be concentrated in a small area of bushland no larger than 160 square feet.
Police teams had systematically felled trees and chopped off undergrowth to uncover an area just meters from the shore of the drought-stricken lake.
The site apparently contained the remains of a warehouse with broken furniture, a torn ship’s buoy and even what appeared to be a makeshift toilet made out of a chair.
The alleged crime scene showed signs that police had been paying full attention to him for the past three days.
The ground level appeared to have been lowered in a square area dotted with a bizarre lunar landscape of at least eight holes two to three feet deep.
Experts speculated that the holes could be used to take soil samples for analysis, but they could also have been used by officers using ground-penetrating radar.
A local source said: “It seems clear that the information received has guided the teams to this location.
“By the afternoon of the second day it was already clear that the police were investigating a certain area very closely.
“About six officers drove by the same spot early Friday taking samples and the damage to the view shows their determination.”
Exclusive Sun drone footage and stills captured after no-fly zone restrictions were lifted showed work intensified in the frantic final hours of the search.
Teams in overalls and rubber gloves were led by a senior German officer and a photographer who recorded key clues.
A core team of about six searchers returned to a narrow swath of bushland that appeared to have been first identified as an “area of interest” yesterday.
They seemed to be heading for a spot where important evidence or even a body might have been dumped.
Police officers were seen removing what appeared to be large brown bags of evidence from the search site at the Arade Dam, 50 kilometers from where Madeleine was held in Praia da Luz.
However, they have not disclosed any information about what was found.
Activity was heightened when Portuguese sources claimed a whistleblower who knew Christian B had given police officers a tip – and claimed he was at the scene days after Maddie disappeared.
The clue and geolocation clues found in the heinous 8,000 videos and images of the convicted rapist and pedophile are believed to have sparked the search.
“Concrete” information from the fiend’s former friend is said to have led dozens of officials to the remote location.
German, Portuguese and British police extended the hunt at the Silves dam to a third day in hopes of another breakthrough.
It is believed that police suspect Christian B may have thrown Maddie’s body or vital evidence into the water there.
By evening of the day, two teams were clearly focused on a small patch of land surrounded by trees and shrubs about 20 meters from the waterline.
They returned early this morning and worked methodically on site with pickaxes, shovels, rakes and trowels and appeared to be collecting, photographing and measuring samples.
Our drone clearly showed them scouring the earth for clues while soil samples were taken for closer examination.
The soil was carted away in wheelbarrows as sources said it would be returned to Germany for weeks or even months of careful forensic analysis.
In May 2007, when the drought-stricken reservoir reached normal levels, the bottom was practically at the water’s edge.
And the focus shown suggested the team was acting on information that led them to a likely location.
The search later expanded to a hill and the exposed reservoir bed, where at least 20 police officers with digging tools and equipment formed a line to comb the ground.
But by lunchtime, word spread that the hunt would be halted, and police and aides were seen dismantling white tents and removing equipment from the site.
And just before the midday search began, a remote-controlled crawler tractor that had been used to clear the site was observed being taken away from the site.
Portuguese “forest pioneers” were drafted on Wednesday to help search the nearby forest at the site, 45 minutes from the Praia da Luz holiday home, where Madeleine was abducted in May 2007.
Typically specializing in clearing bushland to prevent wildfires, the pioneers used rotavator-like machines to move through dense undergrowth.
Search parties are understood to have been asked to look for fabric and fibers – they were also said to be looking for traces of Madeleine’s pink pajamas.
German police investigating Christian B believe he may have taken Madeleine to the Cutie Mark after kidnapping her when her parents Kate and Gerry were eating out.
And they remain convinced that the convicted rapist and pedophile raped and killed them before dumping her body.
Christian B, 45, is currently in prison for the 2005 rape of an American pensioner in Praia da Luz, just meters from the McCanns’ home.
He also faces a number of other sexual harassment charges.
German police believe he killed Madeleine – but three years after he became known as a suspect, charges are no closer.
His attorney Friedrich Fulscher insists he had nothing to do with the McCann case and is trying to dismiss him.