A British couple have opened up after they allegedly spotted a bizarre “shrine” of Madeleine McCann at the reservoir police searched just last week.
Retired couple Ralf and Ann told the Daily Mail just months after McCann went missing that they discovered a memorial and photo of the young girl.
The pair took photographs of the shrine and alerted police to their findings around Christmas in 2007, believing it was of significance - however, they never heard back from Portuguese authorities.
The couple said the makeshift shrine contained boulders in the shape of an arrow that pointed towards a picnic site at the reservoir.
They claimed the memorial, which contained flowers and a photo of McCann, was weighed down by a rock.
A police search team walk on the shore of the Arade dam near Silves, Portugal, Wednesday May 24, 2023. Portuguese police aided by German and British officers have resumed their search for Madeleine McCann. (AP Photo/Joao Matos)
Recalling what they came across in 2007, Ralf told Daily Mail: “Our daughter ran on ahead of us and all of a sudden she just shouted to us, ‘Quick, come and look, someone must have died here.’
“When we got down, we noticed a row of stones stretching out into the water and on the last one there was a bouquet of fresh white lilies. We went out and had a look, and on the stone where the flowers were, there was a photograph of Madeleine.
“There was no note or anything and it was all very strange.”
It was the location police searched and dug over last week.
In 2020, after prime suspect Christian Brueckner was identified by German authorities, they contacted detectives who were calling on any tourists in the Algarve area when McCann disappeared in May, 2007 to get in touch.
They said they got a reply back within a few hours from German detectives who asked a wide range of questions including everything they had seen and asked to locate the position on a map.
The search for missing Madeleine McCann is taking place at the Barragem do Arade reservoir near the town of Silves. Graphic / Richard Dale
The couple said their finding gave them “goosebumps” when they saw footage on the TV of where police were searching, which was just a few hundred metres away from the “shrine.
“Back then when we found it the whole thing was just so weird. At the time I thought, ‘has someone dumped Madeleine in the water and then come back to make a shrine in her memory?’ It was so odd.”
The reservoir was only searched six months after McCann’s disappearance, but only by lawyer Marcos Aragao Corriea, who funded the search on behalf of the toddler’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann.
At the time they uncover a bag of animal bones and a child’s sock.
However, a full police search was never carried out until last week, more than 16 years later.
Police officers talk by an operation tent near Barragem do Arade, Portugal, Tuesday May 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Joao Matos)
Latest stunning search
Fresh information led to German authorities requesting a search of the remote picnic area campsite on the edge of the reservoir near Silves, which Brueckner sinisterly used to call his “little paradise”.
Authorities were tipped off that prime suspect Christian Brueckner had visited the Algarve reservoir just days after Maddie vanished.
Specialist divers have since examined the Barragem do Arade reservoir and about 30 officers with rakes and hoe-like tools spread out in a line and began poking and raking the soil close to the Arade dam.
According to the BBC, police took “a number of bags” away. Police also used a drone to scan the area from above and searched with sniffer dogs on both sides of the dam. Firefighters also carried out searches on the reservoir in a dinghy.
Meanwhile in Germany, Christian Wolters, the Braunschweig prosecutor, stressed that the searches were not based on any confession, but very strong “indications” that the site was of significance.
“The only thing that I would clarify is that it doesn’t come from the suspect. So, we don’t have a confession or anything similar now, or an indication from the suspect of where it would make sense to search.
“It was other indications that prompted us to conduct the search.”
In an interview with NDR, the German public service broadcaster, he said: “We have indications that we could find evidence there. I don’t want to say what that is exactly, and I also don’t want to say where these indications came from.
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