On May 3, 2007, three-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared from her hotel room in Portugal's Praia de Luz resort. It sparked a frantic, but ultimately fruitless, search for the girl. Media outlets latched onto the case of the English couple, Kate and Gerry McCann, whose daughter seemingly vanished without a trace in a foreign country. However, some tabloids (and, later, online sleuths) pointed the finger at Kate and Gerry, coming up with wild theories as to what happened to Madeleine.
Nearly 12 years after Madeleine's disappearance, Netflix is diving deep into the case. On Friday, March 15, the streaming platform will release The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a docuseries that interviews investigative journalists, private investigators, forensics experts, and friends of the McCann family in hopes of coming to a deeper understanding of a complicated case. According to Netflix, it will feature "never-before-heard testimonies from those at the heart of the story."
There is no definitive answer about what happened to Madeleine the night she vanished from the seaside resort. However, in today's true crime obsessed world, some people claim they have the truth — or some version of what that truth could be, at least.
Reddit sleuths have plenty of theories and here are some of the most popular.
Note: These Reddit theories are direct comments made in an online forum and have not been checked for factual accuracy. They are a reflection of opinions on the McCann case, not conclusions made by law enforcement.
Madeleine Died In An Accident Outside Of The Hotel Room
Many Redditors suggest that Madeleine left the room on her own accord and died in an accident while wandering around the resort.
“I think she woke up, left the apartment and wandered off. She either died either by drowning in the ocean (kids her age love water) or by some other form of misadventure. I do not think foul play was involved,” writes one user.
“I believe the theory of the kid walking out to find her parents. it happens very often and especially since they did leave the locks open,” writes another. “I know a kid of a relative of mine who wandered out of their apartment, went down the flight of stairs and most likely got distracted by the pool, he tried to touch the water and ended up falling into it head down and drowning. so it wouldn't be that unlikely especially bc at that its easy to get distracted by anything.”
Kate & Gerry Covered Up Madeleine’s Accidental Death
One prevalent theory in the case is that Madeleine died in the hotel room that night and that Kate and Gerry, afraid of being blamed for her death, faked an abduction. Some people believe that the parents gave Madeleine sedatives so that she would stay asleep and quiet while her parents and their friends were out for dinner.
“I think her parents sedated her, something went wrong, and they accidentally killed her. I think they used the times they returned to the apartment to check on the children to stage the kidnapping,” writes one Redditor.
"I go with the theory that they drugged all the kids so they could go out without worrying about them waking up when they weren't there. For whatever reason — a cough/cold, asthma, overdose — Madeleine didn't wake up. They panicked, stashed her body, then disposed of it later — forensics found traces of Madeleine in a hire car that they hired after she went missing," wrote another.
Madeleine Was Kidnapped By A Stranger
Madeleine was left without supervision with other children in the hotel room. Some believe that she was kidnapped as a crime of opportunity.
“She was kidnapped...then killed and the body disposed of in some way which is hard to find,” writes one user. “[It] happens all the time. It's just that this case was picked up by the tabloids.”
"An opportunist snatched her, and was well out of the area before any proper investigation started to take place," another writes. "It could've been either kid, her sister just got lucky. Only one was taken, so it's going to be one kidnapper and likely unplanned beyond having seen Madeleine during their holiday."
These are simply theories; there is no definitive conclusion to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Whether the Netflix documentary will illuminate some hint of truth or only provide more theories as to what may have occurred is yet to be seen.