Lieve Pellens, spokesperson for the Federal Prosecutor, stated that, "The Belgian Federal Prosecutor has received no information from the British or Portuguese investigators according to which the little English girl Madeleine McCann would have been abducted at the instigation of a Belgian paedophile network," the information coming from the British media. Once again, this trail is not new. We have already spoken about it. It was Toscano who started this rumour. This Spaniard passes himself off as a journalist, specialising in missing children, having already found several. He was interviewed on several occasions by the Portuguese authorities but his allegations were very quickly ruled out.
We have even stated here that Toscano was, "not credible," and we stick to it. Above all, Toscano was seeking to get himself talked about when he was intending to publish a book. As for the children whom he would have found, he has never been able to prove it. It was he who had set off the false trail for: El Frances. El Frances was found a short time later. He is interested in little boys and not little girls. He was very quickly ruled out as a potential suspect following thorough checks. The British press is coming up with that old story as if it was a new lead and Clarence Mitchell is still acting surprised as if this was the first time it was mentioned!
Alright, let's be clear that if there are paedophile networks, they are not structured. The networks, "get their supplies," another way. First of all there are members of the network who, "offer," their own children. Then, there are parents who rent out their children for an hour or for a whole of a weekend. The networks get their supplies, in Belgium, as in France, in the UK and in other countries, in certain of their country's orphanages who all rent out children. A Belgian journalist is in the process of preparing a comprehensive book on the subject. And finally, it is very very easy to buy a child.
In some countries, less industrialised than us, a real parallel economy has been developed in the sale of children. They are sold with a guarantee of their good health. Satisfied or exchanged! Genuine!! These children are sometimes sold for just 40 €! So, why take the risk of abducting a child abroad, traveling with her, with the risks involved, without taking into account the infrastructure and people needed to organise, plan, logistically support and move a kidnapped child!! Abductions are mostly carried out by a lone predator or by a very small group of two or three predators, often badly organised.
The Maddie frenzy having restarted, I am ready to bet that we will soon have new witness statements from people who are will have seen Maddie in all corners of the world!
In this case there is a lot of talk about dogs that detect blood and dogs that detect bodies. They have played a key role in the aftermath of events. To understand how these dogs react, we asked an expert on the subject. But before asking him questions, we need to understand that a dog trained by the police has nothing in common with one privately trained.
The police have technical resources available but above all criminal experience on the ground so that the training of their dogs has nothing in common with clubs for training open to individuals. This idea is important because it lets us distinguish between the objectives of a private trainer who does not have the skills of the police and those of a professional police dog handler, trained in techniques of which the individual has no idea.
We must also understand that the dog's sense of smell is trained and by his training the police dog surpasses his peers in the use of the same organ. Or to give you a clearer idea, an individual's normal untrained dog is capable of smelling a drop of vinegar in a bathtub full of water. This capacity being developed by his training, you can easily imagine the power of the sense of smell of this type of dog.
Our expert, who must remain anonymous, is a chief dog handler for finding human remains. A serving police officer, he and his dog are known and respected in police canine circles. Being still in service and not yet having received a positive response from his superiors for participating in our interview, we are obliged to guarantee his anonymity.
- Can the odour of blood be detected after a detergent wash?
The dog is perfectly able to detect traces of blood, dilute residues. These residues may be trapped in minute spaces between fibres. Thus, in one case, our dogs found residues trapped in the joins between the floor tiles of a room.
- How long after cleaning can the dogs still smell the odour of blood?
We have had positive results several weeks after the fact. According to the frequency of cleaning, this time limit may be shorter. If premises are cleaned daily or several times a day, the time limit for detection may be reduced to a few days, rather than weeks. On the other hand, if cleaning is only weekly, the time limit may be four weeks before the disappearance of the odour for the dogs.
- The dog only detects the odour of blood or the human cadaver odour?
- For how long must a body remain in place for the odour to be detectable by the dogs?
There are several possibilities. If there was blood flow at the time of death, the odour would be detectable immediately. What we call, "blood flow," signifies that the victim had blood loss. Whether due to blows received or banging themselves while falling, doesn't matter, as long as there is blood flow. It is here that having two dogs makes sense. Ours immediately smells the odour of blood, although he detects both. The British police will go with the two dogs but only the dog that detects blood will react. In short, the dog will detect the odour of blood (due to blood flow at the time of death) sooner than cadaver odour which will not yet be well-defined.
On the other hand, if there was no blood flow, death by strangulation, for example, there is a certain delay before decomposition of the body. As long as that decomposition has not taken place, the dog would only be able to detect the scent of a human being. Thus, if there was no blood, - I stress, the body would take several days to decompose. Under normal atmospheric conditions, in our climate it will be several days before the odour is detectable by the dog.And this,even if the body is buried beneath several metres of concrete or camouflaged by other subterfuges which I cannot talk about here. Of course, decomposition can be more rapid. If the body is stored in a damp cellar, decomposition would be more rapid and as a result, the odour detectable more rapidly. According to a police convention between several European countries and outside the EEC (Editor's note: a convention that both the UK and Portugal are part of), it is accepted that the body takes 72 hours before the odour is detectable.
- In the context of the accidental death of a child, could the odour be detectable if the body only remained a maximum of two hours in the apartment?
Once more, we must be careful. If there was no blood flow, then I am clear: NO! It is impossible! The dog would have smelt the laying down of human scent. And if there was blood flow, only the dog that detected blood would react and not the one that detected human cadaver odour. The body could thus be moved during, around 72 hours, before the cadaver odour was detectable. This time limit is reduced to 48 or 24 hours hours in tropical climates.
- Cadaver odour detected by the dogs, could it come from contamination? Clothes bearing cadaver odours which were contaminating the room where the dog works?
Yes, it is theoretically possible. Contamination of a place by clothes already carrying cadaver odour is plausible. Thus, a person working in a morgue could, through negligence, contaminate another place by carrying the odour there. But the dog has not failed in his work. In our example, the dog will mark the cadaver odour because that odour is well and truly there! The way that odour was brought into the place is another thing which the investigators, and not the dogs, have to clear up! On the other hand, if the odour of blood is also detected, then we can reasonably place in doubt the theory of contamination. This remains very theoretical and I must say that in 15 years of work and practical canine interventions in complex criminal cases, I have never come across this. Because to be valid, the person contaminating the place would have to be there in their work clothes (in the example of a morgue employee). If that person has changed their clothes or washed, there would be nothing to contaminate the place.