Analysing 5A: The Balcony and the Bougainvillea

True crime asks simple questions. When? Where? How? Why? Sometimes we don’t get satisfactory answers to one of these questions. When [time of death] – for example – can be particularly troublesome.

In a few cases we may have uncertainty around not one, not two but all of these questions. This is particularly true when the body is never recovered, or [as in the Watts case] chemically destroyed beyond the ken of powerful technologies that would usually shed some light.

Just as in the Chris Watts case, troubling uncertainty persists about where the crime was executed in the McCann case. While many of the hordes have moved on with Chris Watts’ “Second Confession” narrative, they seem to have forgotten the alerts the cadaver dogs made inside the house, including in the basement. These are now simply dismissed as dogs barking for no reason at all. Of course, the same scenario presents itself in the McCann case. Dogs alert, but inconclusive DNA results then “proves” the dogs weren’t necessarily right. But what if they were?

In the McCann case if we are to persist in asking about where Madeleine died [assuming she died on May 3rd at the apartment], there’s clearly no obvious answer. Amaral seems to think the forensic evidence points towards the child falling on the tiled floor beside the couch, and suffering a significant wound leading to arterial spray.

To my mind a significant wound causing significant arterial spray and a fall from less than one vertical metre aren’t compatible. That’s not to say not possible, simply unlikely in my view.

A more plausible scenario for a serious, life-threatening injury is a fall from at least twice that height or even more, and onto an irregular surface.

While researching the DOUBT trilogy, I started investigating an area of the apartment that – to the best of my knowledge – no one else has looked at in any detail. It’s the balcony area outside the main bedroom.

As I persisted in my research I grew increasingly frustrated with this line of inquiry. I couldn’t find any information! I discovered to my chagrin, if there are two areas that are least documented in the Madeleine McCann case they are 1) the balcony outside the main bedroom and 2) the area directly under the balcony.

Typically the view one sees in the media of apartment 5A is this sort of image:

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In effect you can see almost none of apartment 5A other than the two windows on the east elevation, and the entrance to the patio doors.  It’s a patently useless image yet it’s the default image used to depict the scenario rather than the actual crime scene.

Here’s another example of a view of nothing.

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And another.

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And another.

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And another.

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Interestingly, in my attempt to see the balcony from the outside, I was by default proving how nonsensical the statement was that the parents could easily see their apartment from the Tapas Bar [and thus have a reasonable idea that their children were safe]. In point of fact, even from a few metres away, it’s impossible to see the patio doors, let alone a small child moving on the balcony.

I suppose one can argue semantics and say technically a portion of the apartment is visible from a distance, and so if that’s the case the apartment is visible. But when the parents say the apartment is visible the suggestion is clearly that it’s sufficiently visible for there to be adequate supervision from a distance.

But is this suggestion reasonable?

The image below is from the official police photos. Notice the width of the vertical slats in the balcony railing, as well as its relatively low height.

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Clearly from this image taken from apartment 5H, which is one floor above the McCanns’ apartment and to the west, a small child moving on the patio wouldn’t be visible from their position lower down.

The McCanns’ apartment was on the ground floor, and vegetation on the perimeter walls block line of sight. Another reason is that the railing itself at 5A is “curtained” off by vegetation.

In Kate’s book she admits vegetation was a factor, but claims the apartment was “largely visible” from the restaurant.

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Okay, but which part of the apartment was visible?

If one wishes to “see” onto the balcony of apartment 5A through direct line-of-sight, one has to achieve substantial elevation. As soon as one does one notices other idiosyncrasies of the ground floor apartments. They’re the only ones with vegetation growing along the railings. They’re also the only apartments with small garden spaces below, a concession perhaps intended to make up for the lack of a sea view.

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Zooming in…

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PROD-The-Mccanns-ApartmentFullscreen capture 20190426 2034331-fullscreen-capture-20170401-015208-pmtorn bookFullscreen capture 20190426 170826And increasing the angle of elevation…

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Next I wanted to get a view of the garden alcove beneath the balcony at 5A. If images of the balcony were tough to find, the garden area was well-nigh impossible. And cursory research suggested it was unnecessary; the cadaver dogs had alerted in the flower bed on the other side of the apartment, hadn’t they?

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Actually no, the above article is a misrepresentation. According to the PJ Files:

…on 31 July 2007 a search had been performed inside the apartment using English police dogs, one specialised in the detection of traces of human blood and the other in the detection of human cadaver scent.

They informed further that in that search the animal specialised in detection of human blood indicated the possible presence thereof on one of the floor tiles in the living room and that the dog specialised in detection of human cadaver odour had detected the presence thereof in the couple’s bedroom and in the back garden of the apartment.

[They proceeded] with the recovery of the floor tiles indicated by the dog specialised in the detection of human blood, with the recovery of hair in the corridor [pathway] that exists in the area of the back garden next to the window of the couple’s bedroom, with the recovery of several pieces of the branches of the climbing plant in the garden (for later check of possible blood traces on them) and with the recovery of possible fibres on the garden wall next to the climbing plant…

In the end the police reports provided the first, best images of this obscure garden area I was able to find. Ironically the images are provided under the following headline:

OFFICIAL INQUIRY FILES and DOCUMENTS 5A SAMPLES INDICATED BY EDDIE & KEELA REPORT

And so, here they are:

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The sharpness and sheerness of that white paving strip on the ground can be appreciated better from this unusual view of the garden. Notice even from directly in front, and somewhat elevated, the balcony railing on the left side is still obscured by vegetation.

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The above view provided in reverse, looking from the balcony above 5A in the direction of the Tapas Restaurant.

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I mentioned at the outset that an irregular surface was more likely to cause a life-threatening injury from a fall [specifically one leading to a lot of arterial blood spurting].

Here it is:

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But this is another possibility:

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Cadaver alerts, however, were not on or below this staircase.

What’s interesting about the image above and those in the police file is how the vegetation has sprung up over the balcony by July 31st [three months after the incident]. Clearly the vegetation and balcony didn’t look like this on May 3rd. It looked like this:

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But the most important image is this one.

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The Balcony Narrative opens up a bunch of questions, scenarios and possibilities, doesn’t it? While researching DOUBT, it occurred to me we have the whole thing the wrong way round.

We are trying to see from the outside, and trying to examine line-of-sight from various angles. We’re looking at the apartment from the perspective of the McCanns, aren’t we? Obviously this line of questioning seeks to implicate or undermine the McCanns, and seeks to call into question whether or not they could or couldn’t see their apartment from the restaurant.

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But this misses the point.

In a scenario where Madeleine may have fallen over the balcony railing onto the garden and paving section below, irrespective of whose fault it was or what caused it, we have to ask what she was doing there [if that’s where she fell] in the first place.

Put simply: where was she? If she was “there”, why was she there?

Detective Amaral provides some handy insight into this question by way of his explanation of a fall inside the apartment.

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Amaral suggests Madeleine heard her father in the street, mounted the sofa and attempted to climb onto the wall and perhaps open the window, and that’s when she fell.

That’s a good theory, but – in my view – he’s on the wrong track. I won’t go into the reasons why his theory is unworkable other than to point out a fall at 21:00 would not provide sufficient opportunity for the formation of cadaver odor. There are other issues as well, but let’s leave those for the time being.

Yet if we take Amaral’s psychology of Madeleine hearing and then trying to see her father [or anyone for that matter] and we move this psychology to the balcony, we suddenly have a scenario. Instead of climbing onto a couch she climbs onto a railing. Instead of trying to reach a window [to see something] Madeleine’s trying to see over the railing, and climbs onto it to achieve that.

Even from this position clambering onto the railing it’s frustrating for the little girl, maddening in fact, trying to see towards the Tapas Bar and tennis court area which is – after all – right there. It’s so close!

To fully intuit this scenario we must transpose our frustration trying to see into and onto the balcony from the outside, with Madeleine standing on the balcony possibly trying to see out, and becoming increasingly agitated and persistent in her attempt.

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In this scenario it’s not night time, and her parents aren’t necessarily dining at the Tapas Restaurant. One of her parents or someone she wishes to see [perhaps even another child] is in the play area below or at the tennis courts and Madeleine simply wants to see.

For whatever reason, Madeleine clambers onto the railing or through, or over it, just as she may have done in the jungle gym area beside the pool.fplay

But the messy Bougainvillea interferes with her attempt, perhaps causing her to misjudge her effort. Perhaps once she’s in a critical position, stretching to see over a part of it the creeper she injures herself on a barb causing her to let go and loose her balance.

In the earliest footage of that fateful holiday, we see Madeleine eagerly clambering up the stairs into the aircraft and falling. So the little girl isn’t too timid to find her way onto and over things, even something as exotic as stairs leading onto a noisy airplane.

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In some photos of the balcony taken from the side, the railing is no longer there.

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This may be because it was defective, or rusted and needed to be replaced, or because it was removed [after the fact] in order to be forensically tested.

One way to explain why a £12 million investigation into Madeleine McCann was never successful is because the critical balcony aspect has been left out either through negligence or investigators not seeing the wood for the trees, so to speak.

The garden area and the balcony doesn’t appear in Kate McCann’s version of the crime scene, it’s incorrectly reported in the media [if it’s reported at all] and the even the diagram used by the Portuguese police doesn’t consider it part of the crime scene. Amaral himself also seems to exclude this area because he is focused on the possible arterial blood evidence behind and beside the blue sofa.

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The Strange Configuration of Beds and Cots in Madeleine McCann’s Bedroom

The Sun has recently provided some brand new infographics to rejig apartment 5A. It’s brilliantly misleading. The door opens the wrong way. The wardrobe on the left is missing, the drawers on the right are gone and suddenly the small two-bedroom room has exploded into a luxurious suite twice its size.

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Also completely missing from The Sun’s misrepresentation are the blankets on the respective beds and on the cots. The yellow fabric draped on one of the cots is right but it’s supposed to be on the cot closest to the door.

This is how the bedroom is supposed to look.

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It’s easy to miss from this angle, because the door [opening to the right] is sort of in the way. The wall closet on the right.

As can be seen from the above image, there’s a reasonable amount of space for two occupants in this fairly small children’s room. The windows appear to slide open along a track rather than open outward as represented in the graphic.

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In fact this is what the actual sleeping arrangements looked like: it seems as many as four slept in a room that was usually meant for two.

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In the above image, which is an official police photo of the crime scene, we see how the door opens to the right and is partially blocked from opening completely by the cot. That’s how cramped the interior is – the door can hardly open. One can’t see the wall cupboards on the right because the door blocks the view.

The red oval circle distracts from the bed at the far end, which appears far more “disheveled” and slept in than Madeleine’s bed.

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Note the bed by the window has been pushed away from its headboard, and is actually pressed against the window wall, trapping the lower section of curtain. The curtain is still open.

Poor detective Goncalo Amaral was apparently not even allowed to refer to these original images in his book, so he elected to have the images illustrated.

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The illustration above isn’t a 100% accurate representation of the photo above it. The sketch incorrectly shows the bedroom door behind a wide section of protruding cupboard.

The illustration does emphasise just how cramped the little bedroom was. It also gets the idiosyncratic yellow cloth hanging over the nearest cot right compared to The Sun’s disaster.

In the same sketch the bedsheets on the opposite size of the room are shown to be disturbed and in disarray as well.

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In the image above we can see more clearly just how unkempt the second bed is. Notice also a pillow almost in the corner against the wall. If an abductor got onto the bed to climb out the window, we’d expect more disturbance on the right of the bed. Instead, it’s exactly this area where there is no disturbance.

One must also ask, if Madeleine’s bed was right by the door, and since it was the easiest way to exit the room while holding her, why would the abductor not simply exit through the same easy access? Why make it harder for himself? Why fjord through the cots, trying not to bump them and set off baby alarms, why clamber onto the bed, why open the noisy shutter and window [without waking the kids or leaving any prints] and why then escape into the view of the parking lot where a car arriving or leaving could easily catch the abductor in the middle of a very suspicious act?

Amaral reckons the cots were never in the room to begin, but were moved there during the abduction spiel.

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We may say Amaral is being pigheaded about spaces, beds and cots, and is simply spoiling for a fight with the McCanns on this point. Who cares where the beds are, what does it have to do with the price of eggs? Well, potentially everything. Amaral believes this area is so crucial he’s also gone to the trouble to have the main bedroom illustrated using the police photos.

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Once again the bed at the far end of the image looks more slept in than the bed closest to the bedroom door. Note there is no bedside table or lamp for the bed on the right, and notice too the men’s shoes that are on the floor between the two beds. What appears to be a camera bag and a pillow are laid on the almost undisturbed blue blanket on the near side.

If Amaral’s right and there was only one occupant in this room, who was it?

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It’s easier to appreciate the distance between the right-hand-side bed and the main bedroom closet from the two perspectives above. Amaral’s right, there is space in that area for one or two cots.

If the cots were moved after Madeleine’s disappearance from the parent’s bedroom to Madeleine’s bedroom, what does that mean, if anything? Well, for one thing, if Madeleine was “abandoned” in apartment 5A during the course of the family’s first week on holiday, if the three-year-old was the only occupant who slept alone, this would raise eyebrows if not necessarily suspicions.

One reason why the cots may not have been in Madeleine’s room, and why she may have been given her own space is perhaps because Madeleine was a light sleeper, or had trouble sleeping.

All of this is speculation though, isn’t it?

But it’s not just Amaral who says the cots migrated between the various bedrooms. Kate McCann says so too:

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“Back bedroom” is a strangely vague term. Which one is the back bedroom? It refers to the main bedroom where Gerry and Kate slept, but why not simply say so?

Below if the official Política Judiciária diagram of the crime scene. It’s mostly accurate with the exception of the parents’ bedroom, where the beds are not represented as out of alignment with their respective headboards. The bed [#5] in Madeleine’s room is also not shown out of alignment with its headboard, its mattress mooshing the curtain against the wall.

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In Kate’s diagram of the apartment, the cramped confines of the kid’s room is made fairly explicit, as is the direction in which the bedroom door opens and closes. Left out of the diagram is the small chest of drawers between the two single beds, setup against the wall. Note the position of the wicker chair in the corner of the children’s bedroom differs from the police diagram and the photos, where the chair is pulled away from the wall. [Scroll to the end for images of the chair in the corner].

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Kate is very explicit that the cots they requested were placed by Ocean Club staff in the main bedroom, and that they elected to put the three children in the front room [Madeleine’s room] of their own accord.

She mentions they’d “only be using their room to sleep in” which suggests Kate was aware that the room was so jammed up there wasn’t space for anything else [getting dressed, changing nappies, playing games or reading bedtime stories].

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The other half of Kate’s graphic is a little less forthcoming – in my view – than the lower half. Firstly the garden area below the balcony is left out, as are both balcony railings. Then, the bedside table in the main bedroom is missing.

The blue couch where the cadaver odor alerts occurred in the lounge is also missing. The representation of the beds in the main bedroom also doesn’t indicate they were moved away from the wardrobe to create space.

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In Madeleine’s room Kate says the beds were pushed apart to make space for the cots, but from other images it appears the beds are set apart on opposite sides of the room. It’s almost as though Kate confused herself here, or else she’s conflating the moving of beds in a way that might be confusing to others.

In any event, we already have a premise here in this representation for leaving the children elsewhere in the apartment so the adults could enjoy their own space, or as Kate puts it “take this one for ourselves”.

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It suffices to say in this short description, Kate confirms that the sleep arrangements as set out by the Ocean Club staff were “reorganized” by the McCanns. Kate’s version of events was that immediately when they arrived, they efficiently set out to reorder the furniture in a way that suited them better. But is this really the way it happened? Was the reconfiguration really premeditated, if that is the word?

Another possibility is that the family were having trouble sleeping, like so many young families are prone to, and that this eventuality caused a reorganizing of sleeping arrangements.

If the latter is in fact what happened, what more than that? images

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The Ocean Club Perimeter [South Side]

Most of the focus of the crime scene at the Ocean Club fixates on the labyrinth of doors, windows, beehive balconies, apartments, stairwells and foliage surrounding Apartment 5A.

But what about the other end of the complex?

In Goncalo Amaral’s book he briefly mentions that access to leisure areas wasn’t controlled.

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A case in point is the rear area behind the tennis courts, behind the Tapas Bar and kids creche.

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The creche is easily identified as a square, white tented structure.

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Stephanie Harlowe Reviews Final Episodes of “The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann”

I also found the last two and especially the final episode very difficult to get through.

Scams, Cons, Frauds and Liars Netflix Doccie on Madeleine McCann – Episode 7 Review & Analysis

“Rebellions are Built on [False] Hope” Netflix Doccie on Madeleine McCann – Episode 8 Review & Analysis [Part 1 of 3]

“Operation Johnny English” Netflix Doccie on Madeleine McCann – Episode 8 Review & Analysis [Part 2 of 3]

“Lurkers, Lone Intruders, A Suspicious Blonde Fellow, Another Suspicious Blonde Fellow, A Smelly Man, A Man With Dark Skin, A Pock-Faced Man, A Man Wearing a Surgical Mask, A Man With a Foreign Accent, Vast Pedophile Populations, A Wobbly Fat Woman, A Couple Running With a Baby Near a Marina and ‘Keep The Faith Because There is Always Hope’” Netflix Doccie on Madeleine McCann – Episode 8 Review & Analysis [Part 3 of 3]

A Critical Reviewer Has A Change of Heart

After leaving not one but two scathing one star reviews, one reader’s outlook shifts markedly in book 5, DRILLING THROUGH DISCOVERY.

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The reviewer makes a good point that one book isn’t the final analysis on Chris Watts. The books need to be seen as a continuum. Each narrative exposes another facet of the case, and each narrative reflects the knowledge-base known at the time it was written.

In ANNIHILATION I’ll be dealing with Watts “Second Confession” and addressing how the information in that final interview changes things, and why and where it doesn’t. I’ll also be providing a final analysis for where, how and why the crimes took place [based on all the information we now have] and what the murder weapons were. ANNIHILATION will also be explicit about the exact time of death of the three victims.

Something else worth noting – although this series of books is designed not to be read at a snail’s pace,  racing through the content and skipping links means you miss most of the really good stuff. Many subtle, intricate, carefully laid out and meticulously reasoned arguments are missed when the reader starts detaching from the narrative and scrolling on. Don’t do that.

Give the narrative time and opportunity to present its case. Explore some of the reinforcing material if you’re curious or unconvinced. Be curious! Believe me, all the building blocks and explanations are in place, just give yourself the space to absorb them and then decide for yourself how much they resonate.

Buy the 6-part TWO FACE series here for $40.

BOOK 7 COMING [RELATIVELY] SOON…

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Mental Health Expert Dr. Todd Grande discusses Psychopathy, Narcissism, Rage, Infidelity & Murder Related to the Chris Watts Case

I appreciate that this licensed professional counselor of mental health, and also a licensed chemical dependency professional has taken the time to familiarize himself with the minutiae of this case.

Interestingly Dr. Grande said he formed and recorded an initial prognosis but felt, on second thoughts, that it didn’t sit well with him and so he went back, did additional research and reconsidered.

The Chris Watts case seems perfectly simple.  It’s not.

Your thoughts?

Which way did the Abductor Go? The Peppercorn Trees on Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva in Praia da Luz

Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva is the relatively short, quiet, J-shaped road running along the rear [the north end] of the Ocean Club apartments where Madeleine McCann was snatched.

The road running alongside the property to the west side, the road Gerry and Kate McCann used to do their respective checks, and the road Jane Tanner was standing on when she spied Tannerman, is Rua Dr Gentil Martins.

It’s a curious thing that the names o these roads are never really mentioned, but then, they’re mouthfuls to say let alone remember. For our purposes we’re refer to the one at the top as “Da Silva” and the one to the side [the east side] as “Gentil Martins”.

Happy with that?

Before we deal with the Pepper Trees on Gentil Martins, let’s first orient ourselves in terms of the scale of the hotel, also the distance from he hotel to the beach and finally the realistic avenues of flight a potential abuctor could have [or would have] taken.

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In the image above the two red arrows refer to Da Silva at the top [behind the Ocean Club hotel] and Gentil Martins running in a northerly direction along the side of the hotel. Unfortunately the map doesn’t seem to be accurate in its description of Gentil Martins, the road running up to Da Silva.

The two black arrows refer to the Tapas bar relative to the hotel and street grid, as well as the scale. The scale at the bottom denotes “20 metres”, indicative of a relatively compact street grid. This is important, as is the relatively small size of the resort town as we’ll see in the next image.

It’ easy to get disoriented as one zooms out, even if you’re very familiar with the grid pattern.

The original grid [above] is reproduced, with the long red arrow directing the viewer to Gentil Martins [the red location balloon in both images refer to the same location]. The black arrow shows the Tapas Bar and the red oval circle the Ocean Club at a slightly reduced scale.Fullscreen capture 20190329 025007

 

The most important aspect of the above map is the new scale [see blue oval bottom right] – 100 metres. The distance from the Ocean Club to the urban edge of Praia da Luz [or the coastline] is approximately 300 metres if travelling southeast [follow the black arrow down] in a straight line. Not far at all, is it?

It’s also important to remember it’s downhill all the way to the coast, in some places steep downhill, and conversely, uphill all the way back to the hotel, and in some places the uphills are inclined fairly steeply too.

Gentil Martins for example in a road tilting upward from the bottom closer to the coast, to the top, whereas Da Silva – running laterally behind the apartment complex] – is mostly flat. However as the road tilts into a “J” with the tail of the “J” swooping up on the west end, the road necessarily also starts to go uphill.

It’s useful to know the road beneath the black arrow is a major traffic artery running down to the city centre of Praia da Luz, and this road is known as Rua 1º de Maio. The road to the east of this road which sort of connects to Da Silva and loops in a weird dog’s leg alongside the hotel to the east [in-line with the tennis courts and Tapas Bar] is the relatively quiet Rua da Escola Primária. We won’t be paying attention to either of these roads in this post.

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The satellite screengrab ought to make the entire mosaic clearer still. Now we’re on a 50 metre scale with the coastline area missing and some of the distracting urban fabric smudged out.  Not at the top right how Gentil Martins curves upward [black arrow at right top].  We also see a slight kink in Gentil Martins [see yellow circle] inline with the Tapas Bar and close to the southeast boundary of the Ocean Club.

Although the kink is visible in the street grid view, it’s less obvious. The two red arrows do not run in a straight line. The black arrows on the left are Rua 1º de Maio [the main road running down to the left of the hotel, the west, towards the town centre] and Rua da Escola Primária [running further left in a kind of squiggle].

Now we want to take a closer look at the road indicated by the red arrow pointing diagonally down from the top of the map to Da Silva. 

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Specifically note how the long avenue of Pepper Trees runs alongside Da Silva for the entire breadth of the Ocean Club hotel. The small black arrow on the right denotes the entrance to Apart 5A where Madeleine McCann was supposedly abducted. The yellow circle indicates the location of “Tannerman” and the clear “line-of”sight” up Gentil Martins to the T-Junction with Da Silva.

If someone was walking along Da Silva there would be similar line of sight, however if they worked closer to the tree line, or even under the tree line along the hotel parking lot [or along the hotel itself] line-of-sight diminishes and in some cases disappears entirely.

For an abductor carrying a child on foot, it would be important to stay out of line of sight as a matter of urgency. Which route afforded the abductor more cover? To the east [to the right or anywhere on Gentil Martins], or to the west [along Da Silva]…?

“If Madeleine McCann died on May 3rd, where was her body hidden?” [MAP]

Pepper Trees in Portugal – Portugal News

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