It’s been over a decade since Madeleine McCann vanished from her bed while on holiday in Praia da Luz, Portugal. Yet this week, the three-year-old’s name once again in the headlines, as authorities pursue a new lead in an investigation that has spanned multiple borders and cost British taxpayers in excess of £11 million (AU$18.8 million).
According to The Sun, British police have travelled to Bulgaria in search of a woman seen near the Algarve apartment complex around the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.
The woman, dressed in purple, was reportedly working nearby as a domestic helper alongside her husband, a now-deceased convicted paedophile.
The couple’s presence was known to police, but investigators were unable to locate them after the little girl vanished.
A source told the outlet, “There is no evidence they were involved but it would be good to eliminate them from the investigation.”
After a year-long investigation by Portuguese police failed to unearth a credible suspect, Metropolitan Police opened their own investigation in 2011, and have since proven dogged in their pursuit of an outcome.
By 2015, they had taken 1,338 statements, collected 1,027 exhibits, and investigated 650 sex offenders and 60 persons of interest, according to The Guardian. Headlines told of a search for a group of British cleaners, probes into a series of burglaries in the area, and the search for a mystery woman seen near the apartment.
Yet, still, there has been no result.
With funding for the search – known as Operation Grange – due to end in September, investigators successfully appealed for an additional £154,000 ($263,300) from the British Home Office, allowing them to continue for a further six months.
It was the second extension they received this year, following a £85,000 ($145,300) boost in March. At the time, Scotland Yard boss Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said investigators would pursue “one final line of inquiry” before ceasing the probe.
“If somebody comes forward and gives us good evidence we will follow it. We always say that a missing child inquiry is never closed,” Sir Hogan-Howe said, according to Metro.
While 29 officers were originally working on the case, Sir Hogan-Howe said that had been slashed to “three or four”.
What women are talking about this week. (Post continues below.)
Throughout the operation, Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, who were cleared as suspects following the initial Portuguese investigation, continue the campaign to help find their daughter.
“We will go on, try our hardest, never give up and make the best of the life we have,” Kate McCann wrote via the Find Madeleine website earlier this year.
“There have been many challenges and low points along the way but the warmth, encouragement and positivity we have experienced from the ‘quiet majority’ has undoubtedly sustained us and maintained our faith in human goodness. And while that is there, there will always be hope.”
Madeline would now be 14 years old.