(LONDON) — The parents of one of Europe’s best-known missing children say the discovery of three women in Cleveland who were abducted 10 years ago provides hope their daughter can be rescued safely.
Six years ago last week, Madeleine McCann disappeared during a vacation in Portugal. Kate and Gerry McCann have not wavered from their belief their daughter was kidnapped and is still alive, and they say the events in Cleveland had confirmed their optimism.
“The discovery of these young women reaffirms our hope of finding Madeleine, which has never diminished,” the parents said in a statement provided to ABC News through a spokesman. “Their recovery is also further evidence that children are sometimes abducted and kept for long periods.”
On May 3, 2007, McCann disappeared from an apartment in the Algarve region of Portugal, where the 3-year-old was staying with her parents and twin siblings. The McCanns quickly became suspects, but they were exonerated. They maintain they were having dinner about 150 feet away when McCann was snatched from her room.
Last year Scotland Yard said it believed McCann might be alive, and urged the Portuguese police to reopen the case.
“We are here, seeking to bring closure,” Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood told the BBC’s Panorama program last April.
Thirty British investigators have reviewed 40,000 pieces of information in a review called Operation Grange. It also released a photo of what McCann would look like today. But so far, they have not announced any breakthroughs, nor have they convinced the Portuguese authorities to take another look at what has become a cold case.
Sunday would have been McCann’s 10th birthday. In a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph, Kate McCann described her life as a constant state of limbo.
“As there is nothing to suggest that Madeleine is not alive we have to keep looking for her,” Kate told the Telegraph, saying the family still observes Madeleine’s birthdays and still gives her Christmas presents that fill a keepsake box. “Living in limbo with this void and uncertainty is truly dreadful. It’s hard to rest, to find peace.”
But Kate said that while she spent years “despising” Madeleine’s assumed abductor, today she could forgive, if the girl were found alive.
“I don’t know whether it’s simply because I’m stronger or because there’s no benefit in not forgiving someone,” said Kate, who has become ambassador for the charity Missing People. “I can’t change anything and I don’t want to be eaten up by hatred and bitterness. And maybe there is an element of pity — what kind of person could do something like this?”
Before Scotland Yard launched its review, the McCanns initiated one of the largest and most public campaigns ever created to find a missing child. They hired private investigators and made sure to keep Madeleine’s name in the media.
That need has lessened since British investigators took over. But in the statement, the family asks that everyone continue to help find Madeleine.
“We ask the public to remain vigilant in the ongoing search for Madeleine,” they said. “Our thoughts are with the women in America and their families.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Sugam Pokharel and AJ Willingham, CNN
Ivana Kottasova, CNN