The Madeleine McCan case may be closer than ever to resolution, and a Spanish investigator may have had a lot to do with it. Heriberto Janosch is a psychologist, he carried out a thesis on Criminology, and has put all his resources and time at the service of a very complicated investigation to try to help.
A few weeks ago, just after the 13th anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance, the German justice announced that they had a suspect who was a fit in the case and among other evidence they used to prove it from an image obtained by Professor Janosch: an image satellite from 2007 in which it was possible to identify what appeared to be the van of the suspect, Christian B, a pedophile serving a sentence in Germany.
Since then the police have not stopped investigating Christian B. They have searched his life and properties and claim to have sufficient evidence to continue doing so. Among them a dungeon hidden in a farm of his property. But the question is: Are we facing the murderer of Madeline McCan? And if so, was Christian trying to kidnap her that night?
The answers are complex, which is why ESdiario exclusively interviews the Spanish investigator who knows the case best.
- When did your interest in the case of the disappearance of little Madeleine arise and why did you pay attention to this investigation? What did you see special in it?
- About ten years ago a co-worker told me: “Have you noticed this case? The crime was committed by the parents ”. As a psychologist, I was struck by parents killing their 3-year-old daughter and hiding his body. As I had access to the Portuguese police proceedings, more than 11,000 pages, I began to study the case. That led me to become interested in criminology and criminology, obtaining my Ph.D. with a thesis on sexual offenders unknown to their victims.
- What tools did you use to calibrate the case? I mean what he had to resort to: visit the area, speak with witnesses, review documentation ...
- To study crimes such as murders, sexual assaults or disappearances, it is essential to visit the area where it occurred. Satellite images or Google Streetview photos are very useful, but they are not enough. You have to be in the place, especially at times and at similar times when the crime occurred. You have a very different perspective.
In the last ten years I have visited Praia da Luz 6 times, staying more or less a week each time. I know Praia da Luz better than my neighborhood, the tourist complex, the restaurants, the telephone masts… After reading the proceedings, I already had several hypotheses in mind, and on each occasion I directed my efforts in the place to check such hypotheses, document everything with photos and videos, and of course, talk to the locals ...
That is how I found out that the apartments suffered, at that time, constant theft. They took money, credit cards, cell phones, laptops ... That helped me formulate the hypothesis that I believed would solve the case: a robbery that escalated into kidnapping.
- What was your impression as soon as you landed on the case?
- The first thing I did was check the hypothesis that the parents had committed the crime. I hadn't read even 10% of the police proceedings, including the crime scene analyzes, the testimonies of hundreds of people, and the time sequence of events, when I realized that the parents had not committed any crime. They had made a serious mistake, leaving the children alone for periods of between 15 and 30 minutes. It was during one of these periods that Madeleine was taken from her room. But there is a big difference between a crime and a mistake! The intention to do harm must be taken into account.
- Would you say that it was a preconceived investigation? Do you think that the investigators soon noticed the girl's parents and directed their investigations there?
- The Polícia Judiciária de Portugal acted very pressured by the repercussion of the case, even so the file contains a lot of information that I consider relevant for the resolution of the same, obtained in a very professional way. In my opinion what has failed was the direction of the investigation during the first five months, since it focused too much on a single lead at a time (first on the local neighbor, Robert Murat, and then on Madeleine's parents) , and all other possible lines of investigation were neglected.
In particular, a dozen cases of robbery, close to Madeleine's apartment in time and space, were already included in the first witness statements, but that track was never followed in depth. Precious time was lost.
13 years later Christian Brueckner, a repeat pedophile, appears on the scene. I would like you to make an assessment of this person as a suspect and the soundness of this line of investigation.
- I am in contact with the German prosecutor, H. Christian Wolters, and I consider him a person of integrity, who knows what he is talking about. He has proof that Madeleine is dead, from searches made in Neuwegersleben, Germany, since February 2016, where a huge amount of pedophile audiovisual material was found, in an abandoned factory that the suspect used to use. I consider this line of investigation not only auspicious but most likely the one that will lead to the resolution of the case. But we cannot rely on the criminal history of Christian B., because someone could have committed many crimes, and not precisely the one that is of interest to us.
You have to get proof that he actually did commit Madeleine's murder. His criminal history can be horrendous, in fact it is, but that does not serve as evidence in the case of Madeleine, and what the prosecutor Wolters needs now is to find the material evidence, DNA, testimonies, telephone records, etc. ... to be able to incriminate him .
- Allow me the nerve: How the hell did you find a van that could be linked to the case looking at satellite photos?
- First of all, it must be said that it is not yet confirmed that the truck I found in a satellite photo is that of the suspect, but it is true that its proportions are quite similar to that of a Westafalia. When the Bundeskriminalamt, the German judicial police, requested help from the population, I tried to travel to Praia da Luz, but they advised me not to go because of the Covid19 issue. So I began to search the satellite photos, in the areas that the suspect frequented: Foral, Monte Judeu, Praia da Luz, and the coastal area from Praia da Luz to Vila do Bispo.
I looked for photos close in time to the day of the crime. In particular, the photo that has appeared in various media showing the van is from June 22, 2007, seven weeks after the crime, and the place is next to the house that Christian B. occupied in 2006, about two kilometers from the apartment where Madeleine slept.
- I am sure you are an excellent profiler. Would you share with our readers the keys to the profile of Madeleine's kidnapper and alleged murderer?
- Today's criminological profiles, in my opinion, have no evidentiary value, they should not be used in a criminal trial. But they can be very useful to guide the police investigation, in the search for suspects. I did a criminological profile on Madeleine's abductor in June 2016.
On that occasion I wrote, among other things: “The kidnapper's primary motive is to steal securities such as money, mobile phones, laptops, watches, rings, etc. Small high-value items that you can easily transport without the need for a motorized vehicle. But a sexual motive cannot be ruled out yet. The modus operandi consists of opening a window from the outside, in apartments that are occupied, but which, circumstantially, at the time of the events, there seems to be no one inside (…). The offender commits his crimes in solitude, or at most he has an accomplice, a companion of adventures, of his total confidence (…). The kidnapper does not know the victim in advance, his objective is another, to steal (…). It is a man between 25 and 35 years old, who lives and / or works in Praia da Luz. He does not present any psychotic disorder, he does not suffer loss of reality. He knows well what he is doing, in this case stealing (…). You have an anti-social or psychopathic personality disorder. He knows how to distinguish what is right from what is wrong, but he is not concerned, he lives according to his own rules (…). It is difficult for the offender to confess, given his psychopathic personality. He will only confess if he is caught and can take advantage of the confession, such as a reduced sentence ”.
I still think that the main motive of the criminal was the robbery, and that only circumstantially did the pedophile emerge when he was surprised by Madeleine.
- Going back to Brueckner. The police focus all their efforts on him. Does Madeleine's family have reason to believe that they are closer to knowing what happened to their daughter?
- Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, now have good reason to believe that they are close to knowing what happened to their daughter. But they will not accept her death without solid evidence. Prosecutor Wolters has that evidence, but will not release it until the appropriate time comes.
-13 years later, that the case continues where it is, is it the result of bad luck, police negligence or the enormous fortune of the criminal?
- In this case the main cause, in my opinion, was the misdirection that the investigation took in the first moments, focusing on only two leads, and neglecting others, some of them much more promising.