Private investigators searching for Madeleine McCann found a blonde girl who had been kidnapped by a Moroccan family, it was claimed yesterday.
The discovery will give new hope to Kate and Gerry that their daughter is still alive and in a “similar situation.”
Sources inside Spanish detective agency Metodo 3, which has been hired by the McCanns, said Interpol is investigating the discovery of the blonde girl living in the Rif mountains—the area where they are searching for Madeleine.
Private investigators hunting for Madeleine believe she is being held in the Moroccan mountains.
An insider said: “She was not Madeleine but she was an English speaker, possibly an American.”
The boss of Metodo 3 said he believed Madeleine was abducted by a care worker on the instruction of a paedophile gang who stole the child to order.
He believes another girl matching Madeleine’s description, who has been spotted with a woman aged about 60 in the Rif mountains by 10 different people, could well be the four-year-old who went missing from the Algarve on 3 May.
Francisco Marco, Metodo 3’s director-general, said: “My own feeling is that this woman is some sort of carer who is working on behalf of other people. We can’t be certain it’s Madeleine but several unconnected people have told our informers of the same girl with the same woman.
“The only difference is that she has slightly shorter hair than Madeleine had when she disappeared. Everything else matches.
“They’ve been seen over a wide area but always within the confines of the Rif mountains.”
Kate and Gerry McCann told a television interviewer last week they believed their daughter is still alive 6 months on.
Madeleine was six days short of her fourth birthday when she went missing from the family apartment at Praia da Luz. Her parents, named as official suspects in her disappearance, have always insisted that she was abducted from her bed while they dined nearby.
The insider at Metodo 3 said of the American girl: “Investigators came across her as they were working to find Madeleine and have tipped off Interpol. There is a long history of girls being kidnapped from Europe and ending up in Morocco.
“It’s a very secretive country and the area of the Rif mountains enjoys official protection because of the importance of the hashish production and trafficking that goes on to the country’s economy.
“It was obvious to the investigators that this girl was not with her natural family. It’s entirely feasible that Madeleine could be in a similar situation.
“Seeing this other girl gave investigators a lot of hope that Madeleine too is alive.”
Metodo 3, based in Barcelona, currently has three men on the ground in northern Morocco, including a former head of the Spanish National Police’s organised crime squad. They are also thought to have an army of informers working for them.
Sources close to the McCanns yesterday claimed Portuguese police now believed Madeleine was kidnapped by a paedophile gang—after allegedly discounting the theory favoured by former lead investigator Goncalo Amaral that Madeleine died by accident and her parents disposed of her body.
An insider said: “Kate and Gerry are a lot happier with the way the investigation is being run under the new Portuguese police team.
“As far as we understand, the U-turn has resulted in the new team revisiting all the evidence that was already out there and coming to a vastly different conclusion to that of Amaral.
“There are a thousand cases of children being abducted and ending up in Morocco. Blonde children are a very valuable commodity in places like North Africa. It’s the obvious conclusion to come to, not some far-fetched flight of fancy.
“The theory that Madeleine was kidnapped is now top of their list. And the possibility she is in Morocco is something they are considering.”
Last week Metodo 3 launched a phone hotline. Anybody with information should call 0034 902 300 213.