At the end of May, my wife Sofia visits me at the offices of the Department of Criminal Investigation in Portimão. She brings a flower basket filled with orchids, roses, lilies, and gerberas, decorated with butterflies and birds in shades of green and yellow, the two colours symbolising the mobilisation around Madeleine. A little note from my daughters accompanies it: “Papa, we love you, don’t forget about us, but find Madeleine. Rita and Inès.” That bouquet stayed in my office, withering as the days went by and the hope of finding Madeleine alive dwindled.
It is at this time that, suddenly, the parents seem to admit the possibility of their daughter’s death. Afterwards – and to this day, if I am not mistaken -, they take exception to this hypothesis. Perhaps we were being naive, but it had seemed to us that Kate was going to provide us, indirectly, with indications about where her daughter’s body was to be found. Thus, at the beginning of June, she informed us that the body could have been hidden in the outlet of a sewer pipe at Praia da Luz, or on the cliffs to the west of the beach, where she happened to run. She will say later that this information had been given to her by mediums possessing psychic power.
IN SEARCH OF A BODY, WITH KRUGEL’S MACHINE
Kate heard of a man called Krugel, a former South African army colonel, who had allegedly perfected a machine enabling him to detect the presence of a body. A decomposing body emits particles: if hair from the deceased person is placed in the machine, it detects identical particles. On June 9th, Kate asks friends to go to her home in England to collect some of her daughter’s hair and send it to Krugel.
On June 28th, the McCanns request Krugel’s presence in the Algarve. They want to make his intervention official and seek the agreement of the PJ. Thanks to Madeleine’s hair, the South African allegedly determined a sort of imaginary line that allowed him to state that the body was in the Vila da Luz area. The Portuguese and English police learn, with amazement, about these supposed cutting-edge technologies dedicated to locating bodies. Of course, we knew that such apparatus existed, especially in the United States, but Krugel’s mysterious, “machine,” leaves us all speechless. Kate and Gerry, they stick to their guns. They saw a television programme in which the effectiveness of Krugel’s method was demonstrated, and so are persuaded that the man will be able to move the investigation forward. Without being convinced as to the validity of the method, the police end up acceding to their request.
The show is about to begin.
At customs – in South Africa as well as in Portugal -, Krugal refuses to allow his machine to be submitted to security control: it must be neither x-rayed nor opened. He claims that this would damage it and that his production secret risked being unveiled. Finally, after long hours of negotiation, the man, his apparatus and the journalist accompanying them take off for the Algarve. It’s now the middle of July. In late afternoon, they are driven to the Department of Criminal Investigation in Portimão, where a PJ team of investigators is waiting for them. They suggest that we watch a video about this famous invention – produced by the woman accompanying him – so that we can judge for ourselves. We are still not convinced. The following day, a few inspectors accompany Krugel to Praia da Luz for him to officiate.
Operations progress in the following manner.
1) Krugel climbs to the highest point west of Praia da Luz, places a hair into the machine and traces an imaginary line in an easterly direction. 2) He repeats the operation to the north of Praia da Luz and traces another line towards the south. 3) He then determines the point of intersection of these two lines. 4) From this point, he defines a corridor about 300 metres wide, bound by the cliffs on the right and the Roman Baths on the left.
The inventor then states: “Madeleine’s body is in this area.” The National Guard – who had already combed this area after the disappearance – conduct more searches. Once again, to no avail. As bothered when he left as when he arrived, Krugel goes back to South Africa, taking machine and journalist with him.