"Still very much missed. Still looking. For as long as it takes," the parents wrote emotionally.
On May 12, the day of Madeleine McCann's 20th birthday, her parents penned a touching note to their missing daughter. "Happy birthday Madeleine," they wrote on the Official Find Madeleine Campaign Facebook page. "Still very much missed. Still looking. For as long as it takes," the parents wrote emotionally, per PEOPLE.
Along with the letter, they provided a link to a YouTube video that was 3 minutes and 50 seconds long and featured photographs of young Madeleine as well as posters that were distributed when the British girl went missing in 2007 while she was on vacation with her family in Portugal.
Her parents were eating at a restaurant 130 feet away, leaving her and her 2-year-old identical twin siblings alone in an unlocked rental. Madeleine was gone when Madeleine's mother Kate went to check on the kids. Her parents were initially thought to be responsible for her disappearance, but the authorities later exonerated them.
Prosecutors declared in 2020 that they think Madeleine was killed after being kidnapped, the BBC reported. The inquiry, known as Operation Grange, is being led by Detective Chief Inspector Mark Cranwell. He said the suspect, Christian B, who was 30 at the time, frequently visited the Algarve between 1995 and 2007 and would spend "days upon end" there in his camper van while leading a "transient lifestyle."
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When she vanished, he was in the Praia da Luz neighborhood where the McCann family was staying. "We are assuming that the girl is dead. With the suspect, we are talking about a sexual predator who has already been convicted of crimes against little girls and he's already serving a long sentence."
However, her family has always held out hope that they may one day discover her alive. The spokesperson for the McCann family, Clarence Mitchell, spoke to the media in 2020. "All they have ever wanted is to find their daughter," Mitchell said.
"To establish the truth of what happened back in May 2007 and to bring whoever is responsible, whether that's one person or more, to justice. They have never given up hope of finding Madeleine alive, even now despite all these grim reports that are emerging, because they haven't had anything to suggest the worst has happened," she added of the family.
Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, recognized that it had "been a very long time" on their website devoted to recovering Madeleine as they marked the 15th anniversary of her abduction on May 3 of last year. "Regardless of the outcome, Madeleine will always be our daughter and a truly horrific crime has been committed," the pair wrote. "It is true though that uncertainty creates weakness; knowledge and certainty give strength, and for this reason our need for answers, for the truth, is essential."
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by (L) Handout; (R) Dan Kitwood