CNN’s Randi Kaye reported on the mysterious disappearance of Madeleine McCann back in 2007 and returned to the scene of the crime to examine one of the world’s first viral mysteries after remaining unsolved for a decade.
The three-year-old British girl disappeared from her bed during a family vacation in a posh area of Portugal when social media was still in its infancy and the case quickly took the world by storm. Her disappearance occurred when things like Facebook, camera phones and high-speed Internet were still considered new technology.
“She was really the first Internet case,” Kaye told TheWrap. “Her parents and relatives, within minutes of her disappearing, were able to send video, pictures, links, all sorts of things to TV stations immediately. Her beautiful little smile and those big brown eyes were on the air, and on the Internet, within very critical hours of her disappearing, all over the world.”
Kaye was on the ground to cover the investigation for CNN when McCann first went missing and says similar cases didn’t receive the same global attention prior to the rise of the Internet being used to consume news and spread information.
“That I think is why it resonates with so many people, because she was sort of splashed across our Yahoo pages or whatever… As soon as we signed in, she was there,” Kaye said. “People are still consumed by it. The Internet sleuths who are trying to solve it.”
A decade ago when Kaye first traveled to the scene to report on the crime, the parents were just being looked at as suspects but a lot has changed.
“Since then they’ve sort of been cleared, although there is still a lot of suspicion that hangs over them. Other suspects have been cleared. There have been something like 9,000 reported sightings of Madeleine over the past 10 years, so the case has just continued to balloon,” Kaye said. “There is still a great amount of hope.”
Despite the Internet’s help in spreading information, nobody has been able to figure out how the she vanished without a trace. Kaye said many of the popular theories have been ruled out but she will revisit many of them during her upcoming special.
“Was it a botched burglary where they took her because she was making noise? Did they take her into some type of sex ring? Was she given to a family that couldn’t have their own children? That is what the McCann’s probably hope, if anything, because it would give them a lot of hope that she’s still alive,” Kaye said.
Kaye said that roughly 600 people have been interviewed as part of the unsolved investigation but no one has ever been charged in McCann’s disappearance.
A CNN Special Report “Missing: Madeleine McCann” airs on Friday at 10 p.m. ET.