True Crime Intertexuality is a valuable tool for understanding one case through the known circumstances of another. It does require more than a little expertise in true crime to understand how a reference case matches up, and how it doesn’t. Obviously if one’s understanding of either case is flawed, biased or bogus, then the reference itself is flawed, biased or bogus.
In the misleadingly titled Netflix Documentary THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MADELEINE MCCANN two American reference cases are cited: firstly, the disappearance of Etan Patz [in 1972, in Soho Lower Manhattan], and secondly the murder of Adam Walsh [in 1981 from a mall in Hollywood, Florida].
The expert prognosticating on these references is the head of a large missing person’s organisation in America. An expert in missing persons may seem like an expert in true crime and criminal psychology, but alas, true crime isn’t nearly as simple or obvious as it seems.
The obvious similarities between the abduction-sex-trafficker scenario punted by the makers of the Madeleine McCann documentary vis-à-vis the two American boys [the reference cases] are in four extremely broad, basic areas:
- All three scenarios involve young children.
- All three scenarios involve young children disappearing.
- Two scenarios strongly suggest the children were abducted because of a sexual motive.
- In all three scenarios the bodies of the missing children were never found.
That’s really where the similarities or “references” end. A proper true crime analysis reveals not so much an overlap between the Patz and Walsh cases to the McCann case, but in fact why the cases are distinctively different to what happened to Madeleine.
Although no bodies were found in all three cases, in both the Patz case and the Walsh case it is generally assumed that both boys are dead, both boys were murdered and the identities of their murderers isn’t mysterious or unknown.
In the Walsh case the boy’s decapitated head was found within a few weeks, however his body has never been recovered.
It should be noted that when it comes to children abducted by sexual predators who are strangers, the children must be disposed of quickly or else the perpetrators face a real risk of alerting family members or passersby to the taboo of an adult keeping a small unrelated child in their possession and raising suspicions. The same situation doesn’t apply when the predators are family, familiar or otherwise trusted by the victims.
The destruction of their little bodies is meant to completely conceal the circumstances surrounding their final moments, and death, from the public’s view. In a scenario where the children become famous in the media, the necessity to dispose of them, and destroy their bodies completely is even more urgent. It’s vital for the predator to make sure no connection can ever be made between the eviscerated corpse and himself.
In a genuine abduction scenario, a case can clearly be made not to alert the media and to alert the authorities discreetly, in order not to provoke, alarm, aggravate or frighten the abductor into doing something rash.
The Ramsey Ransom Note alludes to this cliche, and does so because it’s so typical.
This is why in kidnapping cases the kidnappers insist that the authorities are not contacted, and that if they are, the victim will be killed. The situation for the kidnapper becomes untenable if the victim becomes a public figure. The same applies to an abductor, except there is less incentive to return the victim [now a potential witness] to the custody of the family and/or authorities.
When I researched the JonBenet Ramsey case I was surprised at the persistence of the pedophile narrative in that case. Sure, pedophiles exist. They’re a scourge in our society. But pedophiles more often tend to lurk INSIDE families.
Where family members prey on family members this is especially true when the victim is much younger and more vulnerable. The custody and trust situation of the guardian relative to the child is what is abused, and is both a smokescreen for the crime and the cover-up [which can often go on for years, even an entire lifetime].
When the victims are very young, as in the case of six-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, the perpetrator tends to be younger as well, often children themselves. Crime statistics confirm this. Thus the common abusers of very small children tend to be older children, not adults, and often older siblings.
JonBenet was abused, but she was a six-year-old beauty queen. Madeleine McCann was three-years-old when she “disappeared”, but there is no forensic evidence of abuse. The closest symptom to anything approximating a molesting scenario is that she had difficulty sleeping. [JonBenet Ramsey also struggled with insomnia and chronic bedwetting, according to the housekeeper Linda Hoffman-Pugh]. Well, so do many three-year-olds.
The notion that a criminal would target a three-year-old child for sexual purposes as a typical scenario is absurd in the extreme. Although – tragically – grooming of young children for sex-trafficking is not completely unheard of in our society, if the child is abducted as a toddler this means the child has to be adopted and raised [fed, housed etc.] for several years, a scenario well beyond the scope of most if not all pedophiles or traffickers.
In a high-profile scenario, the costs to prevent or avoid discovery of the groomed victim skyrockets, making the “investment” worthless. Madeleine McCann is world famous, the most famous missing child in history by a substantial margin. So, even following the theoretical concept to its conclusion [and assuming she’s still alive], the likelihood of any transaction with such a high-profile-high-risk candidate is untenable, to put it mildly.
Back to the reference cases.
Both children in the reference cases were boys, and both were twice the age of Madeleine when they were abducted. Both boys were also cute kids, which is why they were targeted both by the men [probably closet homosexuals] who abducted them, and by the media who covered them.
Those men who abducted these boys didn’t traffic them – the abuse was very brief and intended for discreet, private consumption.
But the area I want to emphasise cuts to the specific circumstances of both theses cases that are pertinently NOT similar to those in the McCann case.
- Both boys were abducted opportunistically, that is to say randomly in public areas. The children weren’t studied or stalked, they were encountered by chance. There was no premeditation of the specific victim. Although the execution may have been planned, and the crime a fantasy, the identity of the specific victim was random. In the McCann case the apartment was supposedly targeted, that is to say, not random and not opportunistic.
- Patz was abducted by a store keeper with the lure of a soda, and Walsh [it was theorised] through the lure of toys and candy. Walsh was in a toy store, or the toy section of a store, when he was lured into a van. In Madeleine’s case there was no lure, and apparently she [and her siblings] slept through the abduction.
- Both boys were murdered shortly after their respective abductions, Patz on the very same day, and Walsh within two weeks of his abduction. Despite their ages, there was virtually no attempt to accommodate, feed or raise them. There is no reason to believe if Madeleine survived her “disappearance”, that she would have been kept alive for any extended length of time, let alone twelve years, given the ongoing risk her life presented to her supposed abductor/guardian/trafficker.
- It took Patz’ parents several hours to raise the alarm. Patz disappeared in the morning, and his parents only alerted the authorities in the evening. In Walsch’s case, the boy’s mother spent more than 90 minutes searching fruitlessly through and around the store. They also used public-address system. Only when these measures failed did Revé Walsch finally call the Hollywood Police [at 13:55]. In the McCann case, however, both parents knew instantly Madeleine had been taken, and were scornful of the notion that she might have wandered off, or gotten herself lost. They were also contemptuous of the “slow pace” of the Portuguese cops to arrive, when in fact the police response was normal given the situation.
The McCanns’ absolute conviction so early in the investigation knowing exactly what happened is a lot more sinister when juxtaposed alongside the responses of parents in genuine abduction scenarios. [Incidentally, Patsy Ramsey shared the same absolute certainty during her 911 call, although the bogus Ransom Note provided some reinforcement to her certainty. JonBenet’s body meanwhile was lying in the basement of the house all along. In other words, Patsy’s “certainty” was misleading, and arguably more than that – misdirection.]
Although Patz was “missing” for decades, and declared legally dead as late as 2001, 22 years after his abduction, the mystery of what happened to him was finally solved after 33 years even in the absence of recovering his remains. In other words, even though no body was recovered, there’s no doubt that the child is deceased. As such, is the Patz case really an approximate reference case for Madeleine McCann?
In May 2012 the New York Times reported:
A New Jersey man was arrested in the killing of Etan Patz, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced on Thursday, an extraordinary moment in a case that has gripped New York City’s psyche ever since the 6-year-old boy vanished in SoHo on his way to school in 1979. The man, Pedro Hernandez, told investigators that he lured Etan to the basement of a bodega where Mr. Hernandez worked at the time with the promise of a soda, Mr. Kelly said. Once Etan was inside, Mr. Hernandez choked him, stuffed his body into a bag and took the bag about a block and a half away, where he left it out in the open with trash, Mr. Kelly said.
…It is unclear whether investigators have been able to corroborate the account Mr. Hernandez has provided. Without any trace of human remains or other forensic evidence, any possible prosecution of him would face significant evidentiary hurdles.
…Mr. Hernandez, who was 18 at the time Etan vanished, worked as a stockboy in a bodega at 448 West Broadway that is now an eyeglass store, Mr. Kelly said. Etan disappeared on the first morning his parents allowed him to walk alone from the family’s home on Prince Street to a school bus stop on West Broadway.
Mr. Hernandez was working in the basement, which had a separate door to the street, Mr. Kelly said. Etan was at the bus stop when Mr. Hernandez led him away and to the basement, Mr. Kelly said…Mr. Hernandez’s name was mentioned in a 1979 detective’s report as part of the investigation into Etan’s disappearance, Mr. Kelly said. The report listed him as an employee of the bodega, but Mr. Hernandez was never questioned by investigators, Mr. Kelly said.
“I can’t tell you why, 33 years ago, he wasn’t questioned,” he said. “We know that other people in the bodega were questioned.”
A woman interviewed by The New York Times last month who ran a playgroup in SoHo at the time Etan disappeared recalled seeing mounds of garbage bags in the days after the boy vanished, which included Memorial Day weekend. “I always thought there were so many garbage bags out and why did they not search them,” said the woman, Judy Reichler, who now lives in New Paltz, N.Y. “For three days everyone piled bags on the street and then they got picked up.”
In the McCann case it appears the McCanns have not been questioned by British authorities. And when Kate McCann was questioned by the Portuguese police, she refused to answer. That’s the real mystery behind this case.
More: NOT IN THE FRAME: Maddie cops say they have ‘no reason’ to investigate Kate and Gerry McCann as they rule out four suspects – The Sun
Top British cop says Madeleine McCann’s parents are ruled out as suspects in her mysterious disappearance – The Mirror
Madeleine McCann: police target 38 potential suspects identified in review – The Guardian
British detectives open new investigation after reviewing all evidence into disappearance of three-year-old from Portugal
Redwood said none of the individuals was connected to Madeleine’s family or friends who were with her parents on holiday at the time. The Met team’s work leads them to believe Madeleine was abducted in a criminal act by a stranger.