Last Updated: 6:59pm BST 09/04/2008
Page 1 of 3
MAY 3 2007 Madeleine disappeared from the family apartment in Praia da Luz. Kate McCann raised the alarm at 10pm.
MAY 4 Sniffer dogs were brought in, the Spanish and border police and airports notified and volunteer teams combed the village, resort and beach for clues. The McCanns spoke publicly for the first time, directly appealing to their daughter's abductors and speaking of their "anguish and despair".
MAY 5 Detectives said they believed Madeleine was abducted and said they had a sketch of a potential suspect.
MAY 10 Police admitted the ground search for Madeleine was being wound down. Around 350 potential leads - including sketches of potential suspects - had been followed up and produced no breakthrough.
MAY 12 Madeleine's fourth birthday. Mr and Mrs McCann attended a special birthday mass in the village where they said they were convinced Madeleine was alive. Celebrities including JK Rowling and Sir Phillip Green donated towards a £2.5 million reward being offered for Madeleine's safe return. Gordon Brown, then Chancellor, expressed his sympathy for the parents and later talks to them offering to do "anything he can to help".
MAY 14 In the first major development, police launched a search at the home of Anglo-Portuguese man Robert Murat, just 100 yards from where Madeleine disappeared. Mr Murat was taken in for questioning and made an "arguido" or formal suspect, the next day. He said he was being made a "scapegoat" in the investigation.
MAY 16 Detectives swooped on home of Russian computer expert Sergey Malinka, who designed a website for Mr Murat, and interviewed him as a witness.
MAY 17 An official website and fund was launched. The website had more than 125 million hits within a week and the fund has now raised £1 million.
MAY 25 In their first interview, the McCanns told of how the "guilt" of not being with Madeleine when she was abducted would never leave them. Police finally released the description a man seen carrying a child on the night of Madeleine's abduction near their apartment at the time she disappeared. It had been known since the night itself but was only issued after pressure from the McCanns, their legal team and the British Government.
MAY 30 Mr and Mrs McCann launched the start of a campaign to raise awareness of Madeleine's plight by attending an audience with the Pope at the Vatican. They went on to give press conferences and meet officials in Germany, Morocco, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States.
MAY 31 In a sign of increasing desperation, police said they were trawling through two dossiers of emails and messages from clairvoyants who said they knew where Madeleine was. They said they were trying to find out if any of the messages could be from her kidnapper.
JUNE 6 On a trip to Berlin, the parents were shocked when asked for the first time in public if they had anything to do with their daughter's disappearance. They denied any involvement.
JUNE 13 An anonymous tip-off suggested that Madeleine's body was buried in deserted scrubland nine miles from where she was went missing. Police found nothing and the parents were "very upset" at the claims she was dead.
JUNE 17 Portuguese police forensic results revealed nothing of significance. Detectives said Madeleine's friends and family may have unwittingly destroyed vital evidence in the first few hours after her abduction, during their search for her. Spokesman Olegario Sousa says their well-meaning actions could prove "fatal" for the investigation.
JUNE 21 The first of a series of reported sightings of a girl resembling Madeleine are reported in Malta. Other alleged sightings were reported in Morocco, Spain, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and even as far away as Argentina and Guatemala.
Last Updated: 6:59pm BST 09/04/2008
Page 2 of 3
JULY 10 Mr Murat returned to the police station in Portimao for further questioning. He went back the next day for a "confrontation" with three friends of the McCanns - Russell O Brien, Rachael Oldfield and Fiona Payne - who claimed they saw him at the scene helping with searches on the night Madeleine disappeared. Around this time police picked up a new lead and shifted the investigation towards the belief that Madeleine was dead. They focused again on the apartment, which had been rented out again to holidaying couples, and called in specialist British sniffer dogs which could detect tiny traces of blood and human remains.
AUGUST 3 The sniffer dogs started new searches at the apartment, at Mr Murat's house and of surrounding areas. They also searched nine cars, some belonging to Mr Murat, and the hire car of the McCanns. Later it was reported that small traces of blood were amongst dozens of samples being sent to Britain for examination.
AUGUST 8 The Portuguese press started accusing the McCanns and their friends. A family spokesperson said they were disgusted at an apparent smear campaign against them. The couple were frustrated that police had started to take a more formal tone with them, and feared the investigation had gone back to "square one".
AUGUST 11 The 100th day since Madeleine disappeared. The McCanns attended a poignant service of prayers for Madeleine at a church in Praia da Luz. Without telling the parents, Portuguese police acknowledged publicly for the first time that Madeleine could be dead. Mr Sousa said the parents were not being considered as suspects. His comments were echoed later by Portugal's top detective, Alipio Ribeiro.
AUGUST 21 Detectives leading the investigation admitted off the record their main theory was now that Madeleine died by accident. They said the apartment had "all the answers" to the case and that all leads on it being a possible kidnap had been exhausted.
AUGUST 24 In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Mr McCann attacked a series of police leaks which have fuelled "preposterous" speculation about what happened to his daughter. He said the couple were considering returning home and he was thinking about returning to work. He reacted with amazement and fury to a newspaper report claiming "the parents killed Madeleine" and the couple later launched a libel action.
AUGUST 29 Mr McCann made the first direct appeal to the abductors since the first week, urging them to end the nightmare.
SEPT 1 Portuguese police received "significant" results of forensics tests carried out in Britain. Sources said a key piece of DNA had been found in an "area where it should not have been." Mr McCann was called two days later and told he and his wife would be required for further questioning. SEPT 6 Mrs McCann was questioned for more than 11 hours by Portuguese police.
SEPT 7 Mrs McCann returned and was given "arguida" status as she was asked 22 key questions by police. Mr McCann arrived at 2pm to be questioned separately. He was officially made "arguido" status about 12 hours after his wife.
SEPT 9 The McCanns fly back to England with their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.
SEPT 11 Portuguese police hand the papers in the case to the public prosecutor, Jose Cunha de Magalhaes e Meneses, for him to decide whether to bring charges against anyone. OCT 2 Goncalo Amaral, the detective in charge of the inquiry, is removed from the case after criticising the British police in a Portuguese newspaper interview.
OCT 9 The case is taken over by Paulo Rebelo, a senior detective with Portugal's investigative Policia Judiciaria who is normally based in Lisbon.
OCT 25 The McCanns release a new artist's impression drawn by an FBI-trained expert showing the man described by Jane Tanner.
NOV 1 Gerry McCann returns to work as a consultant cardiologist at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital.
NOV 19 A BBC Panorama documentary screens a video of Gerry McCann speaking of his belief that a "predator" was watching his family in the days before Madeleine's disappearance. In the same programme Mr Murat's mother, Jenny Murat, accuses three of the McCanns' friends of lying about seeing her son on the night of May 3.
Last Updated: 6:59pm BST 09/04/2008
Page 3 of 3
NOV 22 Portugal's attorney general, Fernando Jose Pinto Monteiro, says the huge publicity surrounding Madeleine's disappearance could have resulted in her kidnapper killing her.
NOV 29 Forensic experts from the UK and Portugal meet at Leicestershire Police headquarters to discuss DNA samples collected during the inquiry.
DEC 13 Francisco Marco, the director general of Metodo 3, a private detective agency being paid by the McCanns, claims he knows who took Madeleine and that he could have her back with her family before Christmas.
DEC 22 Mr and Mrs McCann send a public message to their daughter, telling her: "Our only Christmas wish is for you to be back with us again."
JAN 9 2008 Mr McCann plays down speculation they may approve a movie about Madeleine's disappearance after their spokesman meets the IMG agency, the firm behind the award-winning drama-documentary Touching The Void.
JAN 20 The McCanns release police artist sketches, based on a statement given by a British holidaymaker, of a man they believe may have abducted Madeleine.
FEB 4 Portugal's top detective, Alipio Ribeiro, says in a radio interview that police were "hasty" in making Madeleine's parents suspects in her disappearance.
FEB 13 Portuguese justice minister Alberto Costa says the police investigation into the young girl's disappearance is nearing its end.
MARCH 19 Mr and Mrs McCann accept £550,000 libel damages and front-page apologies from Express Newspapers over allegations they were responsible for Madeleine's death.
MARCH 26 Kate and Gerry McCann urge Portuguese police to investigate the movements of a suspected Spanish paedophile on the day their daughter vanished. The 52-year-old man was arrested on on suspicion of killing another five-year-old girl.
APRIL 7 Portuguese police arrive in Britain to observe as the friends of Kate and Gerry McCann are interviewed about the night Madeleine went missing.
APRIL 8 Gerry and Kate McCann are asked to return to Portugal to take part in a large-scale re-enactment of the hours surrounding Madeleine's disappearance. They say they will consider the proposal