Madeleine McCann Biography

Madeleine McCann was a three-year-old British toddler when she disappeared on May 3, 2007 while on holiday with her family in Portugal. Her unsolved missing-persons case has become a worldwide sensation.

Who Is Madeleine McCann?

Madeleine McCann was a three-year-old British toddler when she went missing on the evening of May 3, 2007 during a family holiday trip in Portugal. Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, were considered suspects during the height of the investigation by the Portuguese police but have since been cleared. The McCanns have used private investigators in addition to the Portuguese investigation, and in 2011 they received even more assistance by Scotland Yard, which launched its own inquiry, called Operation Grange. Even though the 10th anniversary of her disappearance passed in May 2017, Madeleine McCann is still one of the most famous missing-persons cases in the U.K. and in Portugal. 

Madeleine McCann Photo

Madeleine McCann in 2007.

Recent Updates

As of January 2018, British and Portuguese authorities are reportedly looking into important avenues of interest and pursuing a "person of significance" that, according to Scotland Yard, has become a "critical line of inquiry." The investigation has even reached Bulgaria, where authorities are searching for a "woman in purple" they want to bring in for questioning.

The British Metropolitan Police believe that Madeleine was most likely stolen during a botched burglary or by child sex traffickers or the like. A former Met police chief has requested that Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry, as well as their friends who were dining with them that night (known as the Tapas Seven) be interviewed again, since they've never been questioned by British authorities. 

Ever since Madeleine's disappearance, there have been over 8,000 potential sightings of her, with the investigation reaching close to a controversial £ 12 million pounds (almost $17 million US dollars).

The Story / Timeline of Events

Approaching the end of a week-long family holiday in Portugal, the McCanns left three-year-old Maddie and her two-year-old twin siblings, Sean and Amelie, unattended in their rented apartment at the resort Praia da Luz in the Algarve region, while they dined at a nearby tapas restaurant with friends on the night of May 3, 2007. 

The McCanns were on holiday with seven other friends (eight children in total) and began dining around 8:30pm. The restaurant was about 180 feet away from the apartment complex, which was not gated and was accessible to the public. Each parent took turns checking on their respective children throughout the night, and it was at around 10pm that Kate McCann discovered Madeleine was missing.

In the immediate weeks ahead, the Portuguese authorities believed the McCanns were responsible for the disappearance of their daughter, concocting a theory that Madeleine had accidentally died in the apartment and the McCanns had gotten rid of her body. In September 2007 Kate and Gerry McCann were labeled arguidos (suspects), but a year later, the label was lifted due to lack of evidence. 

When the Portuguese chief inspector who led the case to find Madeleine, Goncalo Amaral, resigned in 2008, he shortly thereafter released a book, The Truth of the Lie, which became a best seller. In it he alleges that Madeleine accidentally died in the apartment, and in an attempt to cover it up, her parents faked her abduction. Calling the book "downright lies," Kate and Gerry McCann sued Amaral for libel in 2009and later won, but in April 2016, an appeals court overturned the decision.

10th Anniversary of Madeleine's Disappearance

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance in 2017, the McCanns sat down for an interview with The Guardian, expressing unrelenting determination that they would find their daughter.

“My hope for Madeleine being out there is no less than it was almost 10 years ago,” said Kate McCann. Gerry added: “We are still looking forward, I think that’s the most important thing – we still hope.”

Asked about the controversy over the exorbitant cost of the investigations, Kate McCann had this to say:

“I guess the one thing – because you always do feel guilty as the parent of a missing child – is that other families haven’t had the publicity and the money. The positive is that it has brought the whole issue of missing children to the forefront and I think people have benefited in different ways.” 

READ ARTICLE: “Madeleine McCann Case: 10 Years Later, What Went Wrong?” on A&E Real Crime Blog.

Madeleine McCann's Age

Madeleine was three years old at the time of her disappearance. In 2012 a forensic artist showed a digital depiction of what she might've looked like at age nine.


Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann are both physicians. Born in 1968 near Liverpool, Kate graduated from the University of Dundee with a degree in medicine. Although she's practiced in various fields and has taken time off, Kate is now a general practitioner. 

Gerry was born in 1968 in Glasgow and graduated from the University of Glasgow with a bachelor's in physiology/sports science in 1989. In 2002 he received his medical degree. He's currently a cardiologist consultant.

In 1993 the couple met in Glasgow and married five years later. They welcomed the birth of Madeleine in 2003 and then twins Sean and Amelie in 2005. 

When and Where Was Madeleine McCann Born?

Madeleine was born in Leicester, England on May 12, 2003.

Physical Description

Madeleine is described to have had blonde hair and green-blue eyes. The most important physical distinctions she had was a brown spot on her left calf and a rare, dark blemish in the iris of her right eye.  

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