15 Dec 2007


The only trouble is it is almost too heartbreaking to read about yet another victim of Kate and Gerry McCann: 'I just want my lifeback' says Michaela - who is there to help her?

Madeleine: Murat's girlfriend says she's being 'maliciously accused to protect the McCanns'By ELIZABETH SANDERSON - More by this author » Last updated at 18:51pm on 15th December 2007
Comments Michaela Walczuch had just dropped off her eight-year-old daughter at school when she heard the news.
The detective agency Metodo 3 had uncovered a lead in the Madeleine McCann case... and apparently it involved Michaela.
A Portuguese lorry driver said he had seen her handing over a child in a blanket to a man in a black car, two days after Madeleine went missing on May 3.
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Angry and defiant: Michaela Walczuch and Robert Murat last week
Maddie: 'Kate and Gerry McCann would be in jail if they were Portuguese'
McCanns' private detectives: 'We know who took Madeleine - and she'll be home by Christmas'
Then, on June 15, Michaela had apparently been seen again, this time by a Spanish woman who said she had spotted her in a town in northern Morocco, moments after she had seen a girl who looked just like Madeleine.
For Maddie's parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, this was a much needed lifeline, a chance that their daughter might still be alive. For Michaela, however, it marked another devastating episode in a nightmare that seemingly has no end.
It began when her partner, Robert Murat, became the first "arguido" or official suspect in the early weeks of an investigation that has since become the most high-profile child-abduction case in history.
Neither Robert nor Michaela has ever been charged and they are no longer the focus of police inquiries. But for Michaela the stigma and the terrifying memories remain.
She was subjected to hours of intense interrogation at the hands of the Portuguese police.
The 31-year-old divorcee has since watched her property business collapse and has been unable to get another job as local businesses have refused to employ her.
She regularly receives anonymous threatening phone calls and her daughter has been so affected by the traumas of the investigation that she is now seeing a child psychologist.
But worst of all is the way she feels she has been cynically used by Metodo 3, the Spanish detective agency employed by the McCanns, to take the spotlight off them.
Metodo 3 - which last week insisted that the family will have Madeleine home by Christmas - has never spoken to Michaela and she has consistently said she is innocent, yet the new "lead" they announced three weeks ago once again cast a cloud of suspicion over her.
Now, in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, she tells of the terrible personal price she has paid after becoming unwittingly involved in the search for Madeleine.

Mystery: A sketch of a man seen carrying a child on the evening Maddie vanished
Pretty, with blonde hair and wide-set pale-blue eyes, she is by turns angry, upset, weary and defiant.
She says: "I have answered everything the police asked me. They know everything so what right do these 'detectives' have to do this to me?
"They used us. They had to find something, someone, and that someone was me."
Michaela recalls: "On May 5 [when she was allegedly 'spotted' with a child in a blanket] I spent the morning cleaning my house, then I went to the hairdressers and in the evening I had a meal with two friends and Rob [Murat].
"On June 15, when I was supposed to be in Morocco, I went to see my lawyer and then had lunch with Rob and his lawyer. After that I went to the bank."
It has also been insinuated that Michaela lied about her whereabouts on the night Maddie disappeared.
She told police she had been at a meeting at her church in Lagos but a congregation member said Michaela had been cast out of the church last year.
At the time, Michaela was living with her husband, although they were separated, and was also friends with Robert, breaking church rules.
Michaela says: "I was set aside from the main congregation last year but I was brought back in March and was at a meeting that night with my daughter. There can be about 100 people there at any one time.
"It's entirely possible that someone didn't see me there but at the same time there are also many people that did.
"The worst part is people putting me in this, knowing I have nothing to do with it. They have no feelings, no heart. They are completely empty.
"I don't know if it is the McCanns or Metodo 3, I don't know who it is, but one way or another they are trying to put me in there.
"It makes me sad and it makes me angry. I have nothing but I am still a better person with a higher standard than all that bunch of people. I will not be used and abused.
"I've had enough of this vile game that others are playing. Others that are free to earn money, to walk around, to have a life. What about my life?"
She adds: "It's just like a film. You have the goodies and the baddies. It's as though one side is being supported and the other is not. These people I've never met accuse me of being in places I've never been, doing things I've never done.
"I didn't spend my whole life trying to be a good and happy person for people to come like rats from a hole accusing me of things I've never done."
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Maddie: last week predicted to be home by ChristmasMichaela describes the "sickness" she felt when the claimed sightings were made public.
"When Robert called me to tell me that there was a story about these sightings I went into town and I just saw my face on the front of all the papers. I felt sick.
"I wondered, if I was on the other side, if I didn't know me, if I didn't know that I am innocent, what would I think?
"Would I think I had something to do with it? I just wanted to go all around the town screaming, 'It wasn't me.'" She described her ordeal as a "stupid, disgusting soap opera that has no end".
Michaela's words may seem harsh, given that a little girl is still missing, but then she has spent the past seven months standing by helplessly as her life has unravelled before her eyes.
She recalls how, on Monday, May 14, about ten police officers descended on her apartment in Alagoas, the village next to Praia da Luz where the McCanns were staying.
She says: "It was about 7.30am and I was still asleep when I heard the buzzer going again and again. When I opened the door they shone a big bright light in my face and then a group of men came flooding past me.
"Next thing I remember I was in the kitchen and one of them was sitting there with a piece of paper telling me it was a search warrant."
The police confiscated her mobile phone, her laptop and her daughter's computer and then took her to the police station in Portimao ten miles away. She arrived at 9.30am and didn't leave until 1.30am the following morning.
Michaela says: "It was terrifying - all the time answering these questions, knowing you are telling the truth and knowing it doesn't make any difference.
"When I finally got home I had these voices in my head, pictures of the men in my mind. It felt as if I had been raped. They take your innermost feelings away. Nobody has any respect. Nobody cares how you feel. I hadn't been physically raped but still that is how it felt."
But if her first interrogation was bad, things were about to get an awful lot worse. She was questioned twice more. The last time, she says, was particularly brutal.
"That day I was really treated like a piece of dirt," she whispers.
"All I wanted to do was get out of there and make sure my daughter was OK. When they did finally let me go I drove as fast as I could to her school. She came out of the gate and I couldn't speak because I had to keep the tears back.
"I wanted to be like all the other parents, having that normal joy of picking their children up from school but I couldn't.
"She already had the feeling that she didn't want to lose her mummy and I really thought too that I didn't want to lose my baby, my treasure.
"I know I didn't do anything wrong but I've realised you can be an innocent person in this world and they can do anything they want to you - and they will.
"I lost my faith not just in justice but in the whole system and everyone that supports it."
Two weeks ago the police finally returned Michaela's computers to her. The police have never questioned her - or Robert - again, though he remains a suspect.
Yet the consequences of that time have been painful and far-reaching. A devout Jehovah's Witness, Michaela says it is only her faith that has saved her in the darker moments.
She adds: "Nothing made sense any more. I have a lot of respect for life but there was a feeling of not wanting to live, that life wasn't bringing me any joy.
"But I couldn't do that to my daughter. She needs me more than ever now. As a result of all this she is seeing a child psychologist.
"Every time she sees a police car, she ducks her head. She associates this situation with the police. When I take her to school she holds me and says, 'They're not taking you again.' She can't sleep unless she's next to me because she has nightmares."
The financial implications of the investigation have also been devastating.
The daughter of a German hotelier and a Portuguese waitress, Michaela moved from Frankfurt to the Algarve to live with her grandmother when she was 12 after both parents died of cancer.
When three-year-old Maddie went missing she and Robert were setting up an internet-based property company. She says they can no longer afford to advertise it and that she can't get other work.
Prospective employers tell her, she says, that they "have clients to think about". The one thing that has survived is her close friendship with Robert. The pair met two-and-a-half years ago when they worked for an estate agency in Lagos.
At the time Michaela was still living with her ex-husband, Luis Antonio, a swimming-pool specialist, although the couple had separated two years earlier. They are now divorced.
Michaela says: "We have become very close. A negative thing has become a positive."
And she adds: "His family are like a second family to me. And that is another thing: Robert's mother is 71. She doesn't deserve this. This is destroying her. I'm worried about her health."
And that is the nub of it. Even when talking about the positive things in her life, the conversation inevitably turns to Maddie and the investigation. Michaela is, however, determined that she will, one day, put this all behind her.
She says: "I didn't ask for any of this. I'm not forced to accept what other people seem to want to do with my life. How dare people accuse me, a normal human being - and the mother of a child - for the mistakes of others.
"Somebody comes on holiday and I am left to pick up the pieces they left. I'm not going to be put down by them. I'm not going to be trampled on. Sooner or later, even if it takes some time, I will get a job and I will forget all this."
However, Michaela remains reluctant to make any judgment on the McCanns or the case as it stands now.
She says: "I pray every day that that little child is OK. As a mum I feel for her. She is a child, she is alone and she does not deserve to suffer because of something adults have done.
"But if I'm honest I'm sick and tired of all this. It should be so easy. I don't have anything to do with this. I just want people to leave me alone. I just want my life back


eureka said...

The Mail tells a sympathetic story here, but tonight since 2200 a different tack emerges in a new story that claims that the family have rebuked the private detectives for making "wild claims". It seems that CM may have taken note of some feedback from the forums which point out the obvious stupidity of these claims, obvious to some that is. The DE forum is humming with the 'drones' tonight, they seem positively agitated.

felicity said...

Hi Eureka

Thanks for referring me to further DM story where, finally, the Mcs point out how unhelpful the Retardos are and their contract is being re-considered. I think you are right. They try all these different tacks seeking to obtain a favourable response and when their bizarre schems do go horribly wrong are responding to many of us on forums pointing this out. In similar vein, note how Kate's mum and Philomena have now shut up. Kate and Gerry were liasing with that solicitor for the double glazing man on the Retardos - what a devastating waste of money! There is also the clear suggestion this looks like money laundering to get the funds back to Kate and Gerry. When they allow this kind of farce to continue for so long, prior to putting the brakes on, what do they expect us to think. It is clearly a little late to put right the harm done to Michaela by the Retardo's horrible activities to try and pin the blame on someone else. I wonder how long it will be before Clarence himself gets his marching orders - fat lot of good he has done them.

I have noted the drones going a little crazy tonight - they know the end is in sight. I was very amused by Christobel's comment "Viv is not coming out to play tonight". !

I play a far more serious game.... but feel a lot of my work is done!¬

Lovely to hear from you again Eureka

Kind Regards

Anonymous said...

Viv, me again!

I totally agree with you.
All these PRs and M3 have been a waste of time and money.
Sometimes I wonder if they would have wanted to hire the "right" people to damage them and teir image, could they possibly have selected worst?

The day the family decided to leave Portugal, they signed for their fall into public opinion. Too late now. Life cannot be rewinded...
Poor sweet little Madeleine. May God be with her.
Another opportunity to wish you again a peaceful night.

I am so glad to hear that you are improving so much and almost dancing around!

I am counting the days to fly to Faro and just switch off the City button.
Do not think you shall get rid of me! I shall post all the same from Portugal.

Until very soon Viv querida.



felicity said...

Ola Athena
Beijinhos e ambracos minha querider amiga!

To be honest with you Athena Clarence has been so dreadful I have many times wondered whether he is a mole for the police/government to obtain information against the Mcs - given it was clear they are brighter than the average criminal!

Hiring the Retardos - I know there is a hair brained little solicitor also behind that - he seemed really slimy on Panorama - seriously underestimated the public if he thought we were going to buy that pathetic shower - and it does make you wonder if something is going on with the money - it is so odd that both the McCanns and the slimy sols boss say they are paying the bill.

Honest, decent people - wrongly accused would not have run like that. I for one most definitely would not have done. I would have thought right I am going to stay here and make sure you get back on track and understand I would not harm my own child - but there again they demonstrated the clear propensity to do so - by behaving like very abusive parents. Caring loving parents just do not do what they did! It demonstrates exactly what their mentality and attitude towards parenting really is - and clearly in the mind of the police makes them very good suspects. Often that is how we pick up serious abuse here - b noticing behaviour such as this in the parents - then when they are investigated far more becomes apparent. This, I think, is what we have here.

I cannot believe how much my ankle is improving every day now - only a few days ago - it just did not feel right to put my foot down. Physio on monday.

How many days now until you can switch off and jumo on that plane - how wonderful that will be for you. London sounds like a place where you have to work very hard. So when you do go back have a really lovely break.

Ate amanha minha amiga
Masses of Beijinhos e ambracos

Loads a love
Viv zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Anonymous said...

Long winded pro article in Times