Could the Madeleine McCann case finally be solved?
Or is this just another wild goose chase?
Last week, Portuguese prosecutors suddenly reopened their investigation into the 2007 disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann.
British and Portuguese media now report that the leading suspect is Euclides Monteiro, an immigrant who was a restaurant worker at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz, which is where nearly 4-year old Madeleine was last seen. Mr. Monteiro was fired shortly before her disappearance and may have kidnapped the girl as an act of revenge against his former employer, according to the Portuguese daily Correio da Manha.
Another theory is that Monteiro stumbled upon Madeleine when he was robbing her parents' room. Monteiro was a heroin addict, reports the Daily Mirror, and was fired for stealing from the resort.
Portuguese detectives suspect that he may have killed the child after seeing the huge media coverage the crime generated, the Correio da Manha reports.
There is no official word on the case from Portuguese police, who had said upon reopening the investigation that legal constraints prevented them from making public statements.
Monteiro died in a tractor accident in 2009. His widow, Luisa, insists her husband is innocent.
“It is disgusting they are now looking for a dead man as a scapegoat," she told the Daily Mirror. “It’s very easy to blame someone who can’t defend themselves anymore. My husband would never be capable of committing such a crime.”
The British newspaper also quotes Monteiro’s friend Sergio Paulo, who confirmed that his friend's drug habit led him to a life of crime – although he, too, doubted that Monteiro would have kidnapped Madeleine.
“Toni was a good guy but had some serious drug problems. He would smoke heroin and became a slave to it," said Paulo. “I know he would sometimes break into apartments and rob them. He was taking valuables from rooms at Ocean Club and selling them for drugs.”
Madeleine disappeared from her parents' room at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007 while her parents were dining with friends at a nearby restaurant.
Portuguese police closed their investigation in 2008.
British police welcomed the decision last week by Portuguese authorities to reopen the case, according to Reuters.
"But both sides of the investigation are at relatively early stages, with much work remaining to be done," said Mark Rowley, assistant commissioner for Specialist Crime and Operations at London's Metropolitan Police.
"This new momentum is encouraging, but we still have a way to go, and as with all major investigations, not all lines of enquiry that look promising will yield results," said Rowley.
British police said this month they had received hundreds of calls following a new television appeal that suggested Madeleine was snatched in a planned abduction and that they wanted to trace a number of men, including some thought to be either Scandinavian or German.