Nearly seven years ago, a blonde-haired little three-year-old vanished from a hotel in Praia da Luz, Portugal, never to be heard from again.
Madeleine McCann was only a few days shy of turning four when she went missing. That birthday and every one since has passed with seemingly no progress made in her case.
Prior to her disappearance, she and her younger twin were sound asleep in their room. McCann's parents left the children unattended, but presumably safe, while they went out to eat and socialize with friends.
When the couple returned at around 10:00 pm, it was her mother who discovered that the little girl was nowhere to be found.
Since May 3, 2007, the date of Madeleine McCann's disappearance, there has been a great deal of speculation as to her fate.
— HuffPost UK (@HuffPostUK) June 3, 2014
Some suspect she was kidnapped by someone who had been stalking the family.
As with the late JonBenét Ramsey, there is even a strongly held belief that the parents themselves are responsible for her death and disappearance.
Now, nearly seven years from the date of McCann's vanishing, British authorities plan to begin digging for possible remains in a wasteland not far from where she went missing.
— Peter Lane (@peterlane5news) June 3, 2014
CNN reports that the digging operation is to be headed by the London Metropolitan Police.
So much time has passed since McCann's disappearance that British authorities are now working under the assumption that McCann is dead. Officials are hoping this project will lead to the discovery of remains or clues as to her fate.
It has been noted that British authorities are not acting in conjunction with Portuguese police and intend to keep the media at bay during the operation.
"We have made it clear to colleagues in Portugal that we will not be giving operational updates," said Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley. "If media interfere with police work, that work will stop."
— BBC Outside Source (@BBCOS) June 2, 2014
Members of the press are gathered outside the section of beach that has been cordoned off for digging.
It is likely nothing will be said to the media about the operation unless something significant to the case is recovered.
— The Irish Times (@IrishTimes) June 3, 2014
Should a body be found, Portuguese authorities have indicated they will likely take over the investigation into McCann's death.
Image via Wikimedia Commons