Madeleine McCann was 3 years old when she disappeared from her parents' vacation home in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3, 2007. She and her 2-year-old twin siblings were asleep in the home while their parents, Kate and Gerry, dined in a nearby restaurant with friends.
Around 9 p.m. that evening, Gerry went up to check on their three children, and all was reportedly well. An hour later, Kate went to check again.
This time, Madeleine was nowhere to be found.
Gerry and Kate have been searching for her ever since. Though it has almost been 10 years since she disappeared, Gerry and Kate still have faith that their daughter will one day be returned to them.
And now, for the first time since Madeleine disappeared, a former nanny who watched the McCann children while the family stayed at the resort is speaking out.
According to the Mirror, the woman was an employee of the resort where the family vacationed.
The former nanny said that it was “normal” for parents to leave their children in their rooms while they dined elsewhere. She said she never for a second thought Gerry and Kate neglected their children or had anything to do with Madeleine's disappearance.
However, the woman said that the resort was considered incredibly unsafe for its employees. She admitted that she never felt welcomed by the locals during the time she worked there.
Nannies were often issued rape whistles and told not to go outside alone.
The woman had allegedly looked after Madeleine and her siblings several times before her disappearance. In fact, according to the Daily Mail, she had been with Madeleine hours before she disappeared.
She said the night the girl disappeared will stay with her forever:
"[Kate] was pacing up and down. The worst possible thing had just happened to her. [...] She was crying, but almost in a catatonic state, and Gerry was very distressed.
That's the one thing I really remember from him, looking under the cars. I can't forget that."
The former nanny took issue with the way authorities handled the investigation. She alleged that the police were not swift in arriving on the scene — they showed up 90 minutes after Madeleine was reported missing — and missed “chunks” of information.
She told the Mirror:
“I think a lot of things should've happened differently. Unfortunately the effects were catastrophic.”
And as to whether she still believes Madeleine is alive, the former nanny told the Mirror that she can't let herself believe anything else:
“I hope she is still alive. It's probably very naive, but the best case scenario of a very horrible situation, is that she was procured and taken for a rich person who didn't have children.”
However, she firmly believes that the only person who knows the truth as to what happened that night is Madeleine herself.
The former nanny stopped working at the resort as a result of the disappearance.
Over the past five years, more than $16 million in resources have been used in the search. Currently, four officers are still assigned to Madeleine's case, compared to the 30 officers who started out.
There are only enough funds to keep the investigation going until September 2017.