British detectives working on the Madeleine McCann case are still pursuing “critical” leads as the 10th anniversary of her disappearance approaches.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said there are “significant investigative avenues” of “great interest” to the UK and Portuguese teams.
Officers have sifted through 40,000 documents and investigated more than 600 people since 2011. Mr Rowley confirmed that four people considered possible suspects in 2013 have been ruled out.
Madeleine was three when she vanished from the family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3, 2007. Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, of Leicestershire, have vowed to “never give up” hope of finding her.
Mr Rowley said: “We have a significant line of inquiry which is worth pursuing, and because it’s worth pursuing it could provide an answer. But until we’ve gone through it I won’t know whether we are going to get there or not.
“Ourselves and the Portuguese are doing a critical piece of work and we don’t want to spoil it by putting titbits of information out publicly.”
He declined to expand on the nature of the working theories or reveal if any suspects were currently being considered.
Mr Rowley said: “We’ve got some critical lines of inquiry, those link to particular hypotheses. We’ve got some thoughts on what we think the most likely explanations might be and we are pursuing those.”
He described the possibility of a “burglary gone wrong” as a “sensible hypothesis” which has not been “entirely ruled out”.
The senior officer was asked about the theory of a sex predator being responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance.
Mr Rowley said: “That’s been one key line of inquiry. The reality is in the modern world, in any urban area, if you cast your net widely you will find a whole pattern of offences.”
Mr Rowley said there was no “definitive evidence” if Madeleine is alive or dead – but however the child left the apartment, she was abducted.
Kate McCann described the tenth anniversary as a “horrible marker of time, stolen time”. In a message on the Official Find Madeleine Campaign Facebook page, she added: “We are bracing ourselves for the next couple of weeks.
“It’s likely to be stressful and painful and more so given the rehashing of old ‘stories’, misinformation, half-truths and downright lies which will be doing the rounds in the newspapers, social media and ‘special edition’ TV programmes.”
Mrs McCann said they “couldn’t even begin to consider anything in terms of years” when their daughter first disappeared.
She wrote: “Ten years - there’s no easy way to say it, describe it, accept it. And now here we are... Madeleine, our Madeleine – ten years.
“Most days are similar to the rest – another day. May 3rd, 2017 – another day. But ten years – a horrible marker of time, stolen time.”